IT WAS A SUNNY, warm fall day in 1957, and my cousin Mark and I were on safari along the Rouge River in Dearborn, Michigan. The Dearborn Hills golf course was our own little dream wildlife paradise, and we stealthily scooted along the fairway edges with our yew longbows tightly gripped, cedar arrows cocked, locked and oh so ready to rock!
At the tender age of 9, I was already alive with the Spirit of the Wild, and my youthful critter radar was always on red alert. Mark and I simultaneously saw the movement above on the towering oak limb as a big bushytailed fox squirrel le
Without a hint of hesitation, I went into full Gonzo mystical flight of the arrow predator mode and instantaneously my Bodkin tipped shaft was unleashed. Like a tractor beam with a life of its own, on a mission from God, that arrow arched up and over and intersected square into the shoulder of the fleeing limbrat, knocking the rascal clean off the branch, thudding to the ground.
Our over the top excitement could not be measured by any human measurement, and we celebrated like maniac kids the 3rd such arrowkill of the morning.
In those early days of my youth and reawakened bowhunting in America, the natural hand-eye coordination and ballet-like archery form we honed and practiced on a daily schedule was as pure as any endeavor of mankind.
Such exciting, well-rehearsed hand-eye coordination could be witnessed by America’s youth at the baseball diamond, on the golf course, the basketball court, the hockey arena and the football field all across the country.
I dabbled in those universally celebrated ball sports, but none could come anywhere even close to the thrill of my bowhunting dedication.
When a target was identified, the graceful ballet of archery form completely took over my physical being, but more importantly, much more importantly, the path of my arrow took over my total spiritual being.
Even as a nutty, hyper, roustabout kid, my archery cravings consumed me more than anything in my young life this side of my guitar.
I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, but my inner instinct to discover my samurai Zen was coming on strong, and my total fascination with wildlife and the mystical flight of the arrow was already the driving force in my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness American Dream.
Those days in the 1950s were not only pre-compound bow, they were pre-recurve bow!
The bows and arrows I started out with were pretty much the spitting image of the archery gear used by Cochise, Sitting Bull, Ishi and Crazy Horse.
Somewhere along the development curve raging towards the phenomenal compound bow technology, such old-fashioned equipment began being referred to as traditional archery.
Okay, I get that. But I am of the thinking that genuine tradition has way more to do with how one mentally approaches a given activity than it has to do with what gear one chooses with which to pursue the endeavor.
As I prepare to celebrate my 71st birthday and hunting season this year, I absolutely believe that my days afield with my state of the art Mathews Vertix compound bow is as pure bowhunting as any bowhunting that has ever taken place.
I need to know and respect the game and its habits and haunts.
I must play the wind, sun, moon and barometer.
I must be at my utmost A-game of stealth and awareness no matter what bow design may be in my hands.
I must practice diligently and constantly to be absolutely deadly accurate and one with the bow and arrow when I traditionally pick a spot and the shot happens.
The tradition of responding to the powerful reasoning predator instinct and connection with God’s miraculous creation as the fall season comes on is as pure as the very first hunters in pre-history, time immemorial.
My natural participation in tooth, fang and claw nature is the epitome of tradition.
Hunting is a grand tradition and we should all celebrate and promote how all good American traditions should be pursued and enjoyed.
When I pick a target for my arrow in 2019, what I experience is as pure and wonderful as what that little kid in Dearborn felt and enjoyed way back then. Bowhunting, anyway you cut it, especially in this day and age, is a radical tradition. And I like rad trad!
Email Ted Nugent at [email protected]