One of my hobbies is looking for artifacts from hunters that were here long before we hit the scene. Early man and Native Americans have always fascinated me as well as what they were able to harvest animals with. Early weapons like spears, atlatls and bows; and the men that built them and hunted with those weapons are a part of our hunting heritage and I feel a kinship with them. Finding the intricately knapped points that were used with their different weapons are always a treat. After a hard rain I will often walk a long way looking for artifacts that make me think of what things must have been like years ago. Rules on picking these up even on private land vary state to state so make sure to check regulations before ever picking up an artifact.
After finding some artifacts right before turkey season. Early hunters were still occupying a lot of my thoughts as I went out to try and harvest a turkey with my recurve bow that is nothing like the totally handmade bows our ancestors shot. Despite feeling that I can’t relate on many levels to our early ancestors and their way of life. In some ways I feel can.
I know some bowhunters wouldn’t have even considered shooting the Jake. I know even more that wouldn’t have considered the Jake a trophy. For me though, the thought of passing the turkey hadn’t even entered my mind. Once I saw him he was destined to be dinner if he got in range. Since I also consider every animal a trophy, it was double jeopardy for this young turkey if he continued on his path.
As he got closer my grip on my recurve tightened and I started trying to calm myself down by playing the same game Chuck Adams had taught me about negative thinking. I kept telling myself that I probably wouldn’t get the shot or that the bird would probably change directions at any second or that it would probably catch me drawing. Despite my best efforts to calm myself down I could still hear my heart pounding in my ears the way it always does when I am hunting, and a wild animal is getting close.
I wonder if early man had these same feelings when starving was a real possibility if they weren’t successful. I was excited to try and not only harvest the bird but to also put dinner on the table that I harvested myself. Realistically though, if I miss or am unsuccessful I can always go to the store. So starvation doesn’t really enter my equation. So not a fair comparison since I can make a turkey sandwich from a plastic wrapped domestic turkey someone else killed and packaged for people that can’t or don’t want to provide their own meals.
The bird was closing fast, and my eyes automatically went to the spot on the bird that would cause my arrow to angle into the bird's chest. I looked at the spot and released. That’s when the reason I love traditional archery happened. My arrow went right where I was looking. The turkey made a ten-yard sprint and dropped with my pink fletched arrow in the air as a marker.
I was happy for a lot of reasons that all bowhunters can relate to. First and foremost, I had made a quick, clean kill. My arrow had gone exactly where I wanted it to and having struggled the last few years with some shoulder issues, I felt good, it had been a rough run with super light bows and pain every time I drew.
I was elated and ran out of my Muddy blind to claim my prize. A beautiful Colorado Merriam's Jake. It wasn’t the first Merriam turkey I had ever harvested. In fact, I have been lucky on a few turkey hunts over the years with my recurve. But my heart was pounding, and I was enjoying the hunter high from having another successful harvest with my recurve.
- Fred Eichler