There I was...high above the forest floor, taking in all the beauty that Mother Nature provided on this cool Autumn day. Time seemed to stand still for a while as I took in the parade of colorful leaves cascading all around me. The bright sun just made the leaves that still remained hold fast to their tree, shine even more than they already did. My mind was lost in the moment when the silence was interrupted by the sound of an approaching whitetail. Oh yeah, hes a shooter and one that I had not seen in these woods before. I thought for a moment that this would be a perfect opportunity to try the crossbow.
I do realize that using a crossbow is frowned upon by some bowhunters out there, but I am not one of them. It is my opinion that the crossbow controversy is similar to the argument that bow hunters had when the compound bow was first introduced to the archery world. I remember hunters complaining about how it is too easy to draw back and hold, unlike its predecessor, the recurve bow.
If we look back at the evolution of bows, we will see that with new designs came with it technology that made every generation of bows a little easier. First was the long bow, which is still used by some traditional archers. Then came the recurve, which proved to be a little easier to draw back because of the recurved limb design. This popular bow is still used by some archers that demand a little more of a challenge to their hunt. Soon after that came the early versions of the compound bow. Although primitive by todays standards, the compound bow made it much easier to draw back more weight and hold it still for a longer time. Today, many different companies are manufacturing a new and improved compound bows every year and this is all accepted by the archery world. These modern bows shoot deadly groups of arrows at high speeds. Bows are so fast, that for some, it is no longer necessary to judge distance as accurately as you once were forced to if you wanted success in the deer woods. Some come with an 85% let off which means that 85% of the weight drawn is taken over by the cam/wheel design depending on the model you are looking at. This, in turn, makes it much easier for the hunter to hold back a heavier weighted bow with ease for a much longer time. This too has been accepted by the archery world. Why then has the crossbow caused so much controversy in some States? Oddly enough, if we look back in time, the crossbow was used by archers way back in the Middle Ages and is just being re-introduced to archers of today.
Recently, Ten Point / Wicked Ridge wanted me to try out their new Raider CLS crossbow. I spent a few weeks before the season dedicated to practice with this crossbow. It was all very new to me. I had never shot one before and I have to tell you, I loved it. It was so accurate that it was scary, quick and scary. I found it easy to cock and load. It was a little heavy but with the kind of torque it uses, the weight is a welcome sight and helps with the accuracy of the bolt.
I installed a Trijicon ACOG sight on the crossbow and was amazed at how accurate that was. Of course it comes with that famous Trijicon fiber optic technology which really is second to none. For the first 30 yards you use the green triangle, the VERY bright green triangle. Anything beyond 30 yards has a corresponding crossbar that is in 10 yard intervals. There is even a built in range finder that shows you how far your target is. Very cool. Have I mentioned I love this sight?
The majestic buck that I mentioned in the beginning of this column slowly worked his way toward my position. He seemed to use his nose on every piece of brush that was near him looking for any signs of danger. I was excited at the chance that I may get to use the crossbow for the first time and my heart was thrust into overdrive.
Earlier that morning, I placed a blow-up doll in the field-now get your minds out of the gutter. It was Tinks version of a doe decoy called "Miss November." It looks very realistic and is lightweight for easy transport in the field. To be honest, I will never hunt without it. It really works and works well.
As the deer moved closer to his unfortunate demise, I slowly moved the crossbow into position. I was hunting from a tree stand and my eyes were glued on the buck. I accidently touched the side of the stand with the crossbow. The sound was deafening to me. I thought to myself that it was all over, but Miss November came through and the whitetail had all of his attention on her. He was about to have a bad day.
The Trijicon ACOG sight showed me the exact distance of my target and when the buck turned broadside, he offered a perfect broadside shot at 50 yards. I settled the pin just behind the front shoulder and let the bolt fly. The arrow found its mark and with the power of the Wicked Ridge crossbow, the bolt went through the whitetail and into the field beyond him.
The memory of that hunt will last a lifetime. It reminded me of the first deer I ever harvested. The feeling and excitement was the same. This is what hunting is all about and we as hunters should not spend time complaining with each other about using a crossbow. I just feel that it is not worth the time. Use that time for something more productive, like bow hunting.