It is just a matter of time. If you hunt long enough, the question isn’t if it’s going to happen, but when. Sooner or later, you’re going to miss a shot. For a myriad of reasons, or excuses, it’s just not meant to be.
It was all happening in Pike County, Ill. The bucks were chasing; it was colder than hell; and life was good. A couple of good old Louisiana boys made the trip up for a bow hunting adventure, and they were armed and dangerous.
After a morning hunt, Wynn Watkins and Darrin Hoffpaiur headed into town for vittles. It was at the café, they learned later, that Darrin left his archery release. He was frantic for the next day’s hunt, but Wynn had a spare release and graciously offered it.
As fate would have it, the next morning a giant northern buck walked right in. The buck presented a textbook broadside shot you dream about. Darrin tried to control his blood pressure, but his heart was racing. He drew back, centered, released and missed.
He fumbled to knock another arrow, but the big buck walked away on red alert.
It’s an indescribable rush of emotions that consumes a hunter on a blown shot. It’s always a shock at first; then it quickly morphs into pure pain when the reality of a miss sets in. It’s sort of like getting punched in the stomach.
This feeling is usually followed by a re-enactment of the shot and a desperate attempt to figure out what went wrong. One thing is for certain: you have to find something to blame it on.
Darrin reacted to the miss in a routine fashion. He became completely stove up in a full fetal position, curled up and unresponsive. He wasn’t able to hunt at all the next day, and barely able to venture out from under the covers. He mumbled occasionally — incoherently, and was basically in bad shape.
On day two, he began to rally. He found his release, and with Wynn egging him on, he arose from the dead — hallelujah! He returned to the scene of the miss, hunting from the same stand, and it was on.
Like clockwork, another mature buck closed the distance, and it was déjà vu all over again. On an instant replay shot, Darrin drew, centered, released, and whacked this giant bodied Illinois buck. As bad as the miss had felt, this sweet shot made it all good again. There’s nothing better than getting a chance to redeem yourself and executing the shot. This scenario is where the old saying “from the outhouse to the penthouse” originated.
But give credit where it’s due. Darrin wasn’t comfortable without his tried and true release. It provided an easy excuse, and even a legitimate one too! But, in truth, he manned up and admitted nerves had gotten him. He had trouble keeping it together, and may have rushed the shot. So he is human.
It’s the inevitable miss that really makes you check out your hunting character. When you’re knocked down, you have to make a stand. Darrin was naturally traumatized, but got over it, and pulled his boots back on. He had to get that bad taste of a miss out of his mouth, and the only way to do it was to gut it out and keep on hunting.
His second-chance buck turned this trip from a nightmare to a dream. Just for lagniappe, Wynn scored a very nice mature eight point of his own that really made the drive home a piece of cake!
Get out and support your local basketball teams. There’s some quality competition right now in the local high school ranks. The teams put on a great show. Or gas up the car and check out McNeese at Burton. It’s great entertainment, and cheap too, cher!