I have enjoyed the outdoors from my youngest days growing up in Iowa to the majority of my life living in Arizona. Hunting with a shotgun or a rifle seemed like the normal way of chasing birds or big game.
Six years ago, as I was about to complete a coaching career, my wife, Kathy, bought me a fully-rigged compound bow for Christmas. This gift changed my appreciation of big game hunting.
I commonly laughed at my buddies who were in pursuit of an animal with a "string and a stick" weapon. Well, needless to say, I am now one of those avid archers who try to outfox an animal in the outdoors of Arizona.
This state offers more opportunities to hunt big game, and the seasons are longer, if you choose archery. One can spend two months trying to shoot a deer with an arrow because of the various hunts that exist annually. The best thing about this is that an archery deer tag can be purchased over the counter.
If you didn't draw a rifle deer tag, you can spend the last two weeks of the year hunting in units 22 and 23 with an archery deer tag. The odds are low of tagging an animal, but the experience in the outdoors can certainly give you some great memories and some good stories to tell.
The archery experience dictates that you must be up close to have a chance to be successful. There are so many variables that come into play. On my archery cow elk hunt, wind shifts and my movement had an impact on the reason the elk won this year's contest. Every time an archery hunter enters the field, a new lesson can be learned, and let me tell you I have learned my share over the last five years. When it all comes together, and it will, the thrill of a successful hunt is hard to beat. As I spend those multitude of hours sitting in a tree waiting for that 30-yard shot or less, I need to remember it only takes one chance and it can happen in a few seconds of time. We are so conditioned to schedules and time clocks, and when we enter the woods we are on the animals' turf and they react instinctively. One of many important aspects of archery hunting is to place your stand where the animals frequent, which could be a waterhole or a commonly used trail. Then, don't miss your chance. During my archery hunts for elk, I am sitting in my stand before work and after work waiting for that one opportunity. I have often joked with my friends that I have been sitting in a tree so long that I start to grow feathers and hoot at the moon. Another key is to spend that quality time when the animal is moving in its domain.
Two PHS graduates, Rayne Rohrbach and Clifford Pirch, did their homework, followed their lesson plan out and connected with two trophy bull elk in the late archery season. I know of the countless hours they both spent in pursuit of big game. Archery is a great way to spend time in the field.
Whether you are a hunter or casual outdoorsman, take a little time and enjoy God's creation.