Beauty and the Beasts

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That stunning last light of the day, when the beautiful ball of golden fire barely dips beneath the western horizon, its final glow burning that magic shine on the world, is not only some of God’s ultimate eye candy, but viewed from a tall tree-stand in game country, may very well be one of the most gorgeous moments in life.

Now, add to this inspiring setting, that same special light glimmering upon the flowing blond locks of a svelte young woman next to me, and I am here to tell you that I am not sure I can control myself. The final stimulating ingredient putting the whole deal over the top would be a bow and arrow in her hands, and, well, I simply must look to the heavens and pray. Truly, I am not worthy.

But this is how I know conclusively that God must love me madly, for I get to repeat this dream numerous times each fall and winter as the humble guide, servant/vidcamdude for the world’s sexiest bowhunter; Mrs. Backstrap, my gorgeous wife, the Queen of the Forest, Shemane. I’m lucky I can hold the camera steady and find the record button without falling out of the tree. But as the trooper that I am, I take a deep breath, review my responsibilities as ace vidcamdude for our Spirit of the Wild TV show on Outdoor Channel, and do a valiant job of capturing all this wonderful stuff on video tape for all the world to see and enjoy. You owe me.

My Queen of the Forest, Shemane.

Today Shemane is one of the most professional, dedicated, deadly bowhunters I know. She has put her heart and soul into learning all there is about wildlife, conservation, and ultimately about the healthiest lifestyle and diet available to mankind; pure venison and the duty bound procedure to be a hands-on environmentalist. She knows that killing deer is the perfect thing to do, and she is really good at it.

Having never touched a bow or gun in her life prior to us meeting back in 1988, she was nonetheless a gungho athlete and one smart cookie. Winning medals and awards in swimming and ATV racing competition, this wild woman was no wall flower I assure you. Being raised basically as a city kid, her love of the outdoors, boating, skiing, hiking and off-roading, was nearly as strong as her love for shopping and fashion. And we all know that is really saying something in the always fascinating world of women. Fascinating and oftentimes bewildering, dare I say.

Well, the poor dear, unbeknownst to her, was on a collision course with the last of the Mohicans. She was about to rendezvous with a strange character, some say a dangerous man from another time and place, The WhackMaster, The MotorCity MadMan, Uncle Ted, Reverend Theodocious Atrocious, LoudMan, Captain BackStrap, Master of Sparks (OK, I made that one up) but nonetheless a well mannered, kind gentleman that would sweep her off her feet (some say she simply felt sorry for me) and lead her down the glorious path to spiritual redemption via the mystical flight of the arrow. Say HALLELUJAH!

Maybe Mrs. N wouldn’t characterize the whole ordeal exactly like that, but once the initial shock wore off (she claims it is still building) she indeed plunged full tilt into the world of my beloved Fred Bear, and within weeks of our “connection”, she was flinging arrows with the best of them. In fact, based on my long, intense life of gungho archery/bowhunting trial and error, she greatly benefited from my gentle, easy going tutelage by circumventing years of typical mistakes committed by beginners with less than ideal introductory instruction. Now that is true love, ladies and gentlemen.

Baptized on a youth recurve bow, at a short-range 15 feet from a large Olympic type bale target, she grasped killer archery form in a mere few minutes. Of course, I am a hands-on kind of guy, so I made it a point to gently steer her into perfect position with my strong, guitar playing hands placed strategically on her beautiful athletic torso, so as to guide her very being into the picture of archery grace and fluidity. Sometimes I had to remain firmly in control of her body throughout the shooting sequences just to be sure she didn’t move wrong. I held her with much respect, I assure you. She actually seemed to enjoy it. I was strictly doing my job as a professional, remaining very business like and serious. Inside I was about to blow up of course. Dear Lord she is sexy at fulldraw! I have never loved archery more than when training and shooting with Shemane.

Now that magic last light is melting into dusk, the mystical bewitching hour that causes goosebumps on goosebumps for hunters. Game is stirring, and my camera lens is capturing a glow of its own on her blond hair when I see a glint off to the left in the mesquite scrub. From beneath the green canopy of an ancient, towering live oak tree steps a handsome whitetail buck, followed by three more that all look pretty much the same.

Alert, they all take turns, nipping at acorns and jerking their heads erect, testing the air with wet nostrils. Emboldened by the coming of darkness, they cautiously walk in single file toward another oak tree when the largest of the group veers right toward our ambush site.

Shemane follows him like a predator tractor beam, bow up, ready to rock. In one smooth swing, the buck lowers his head as Shemane draws back her arrow, and in an instant, her white feathers are disappearing into the ribcage of the backstrapper. It lunges hard and pivots away, kicking up dust and a divot of earth in his scramble to flee.

But Shemane’s arrow has already done its work, and after a25-yard spurt, the buck looks around confused, and in seconds, crumples to the ground, stone dead with a hole through his vitals for the quickest, most humane kill possible in the wild. Shemane pulls off her facemask, shakes down her gorgeous long hair and smiles big and beautiful at the camera like the satisfied reasoning predator that she is. A job well done indeed.

Filming her recovery of the magnificent beast, I could not have felt more proud. She articulated with passion her sincere dedication to conservation and a healthy environment through the balancing of the herd each hunting season. She rejoiced in the bounty of her effort and exalted the health benefits of not just harvesting the surplus, but the perfection of a venison diet for her family. We were in backstrap heaven, together.

Shemane brings home the bacon nearly everytime she hunts. Her Queen of the Forest segments on our Spirit of the Wild TV show are by far the most popular. Through her public speaking presentations and in her writings in various publications, she has educated many to the logic and essentiality of the hunting lifestyle. She mentors kids and other women into the soul cleansing outdoor lifestyle, and I am in love with her more now than ever. She is doing God’s work with the bow and arrow, and I thank Him every day for bringing my best hunting buddy into my life. She deserves the long, protracted kisses and hugs I give her on every hunt, and I still like to hold her when she shoots, just to be sure she does it right!

For information on Shemane Nugent’s Queen of the Forest program visit

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