During the next few weeks, waves of deer hunters will be entering the woods with bow in hand to take part in one of the greatest American traditions: opening day.
As I think back to my first season of bowhunting, I remember being unsure of myself. I let all of the negatives dominate my thoughts. Will I get a shot off? Will I miss? What if I just wound it? I was the rookie, and all of my hunting buddies wouldn’t let me forget it. I knew they were just messing with me, but they had no idea how unsure of myself I really was.
When the gift of bowhunting was introduced to me, I realized this stuff ain't easy. And that's what hooked me. I love the challenge of bowhunting, and I'm constantly looking for ways to improve my skills. The simplest way to improve is to practice, and with my crazy schedule, it can be difficult to make time for.
It’s not like I can take my bow with me everytime I fly to L.A. And besides, where would I shoot? I don’t want to end up on TMZ for putting an arrow through someone’s Rolls Royce. Larry the Cable Guy and I did use to set up a target backstage to get some practice in, but we didn’t want to push our luck, and we made a lot of security people pretty nervous.
But, in months leading up to hunting season, I make sure I can get my practice in. I shoot as much as I can, as often as I can, and if my schedule prevents me from getting to practice for a couple of days, I overdose on practice when I get back home. I shoot until it's too dark, then I go in and watch the Outdoor Channel and go to bed with the satisfying knowledge that we are yet one day closer to bow season.
As hunters, land managers, and outdoorsmen we owe it to ourselves, the sport and most importantly the animals to prepare with our bows. And becoming one with your bow does not mean that we become numb to the one thing that attracted us to bowhunting in the first place: the unbelievable excitement of getting so close to the animal you're hunting. If you're anything like me, you'll get buck fever every time you get any deer that close. And that, my friends, is why I bowhunt.