Out of Step or On Target?

MARQ

Sponsored by: Dead Down Wind & The Archery Hall of Fame

 

By: M.R. James
By: M.R. James

LET ME BEGIN WITH A CANDID ADMISSION: I’m hopelessly out of touch with the so-called younger generation. And for me, now rapidly approaching my 73rd birthday, the “younger generation” includes Baby Boomers, Gen-X and Gen-Yers, Millennials, and virtually everyone else who’s currently living south of eldercare but north of baby diapers.

My bowhunting heroes are still Fred Bear and Howard Hill. My all-time favorite hunting bow is still a custom made Black Widow recurve, crafted for me by the Wilson Brothers 40-plus years ago. And given the choice, I still prefer to sharpen my own broadheads with a file, oiled stone, and leather strop, testing each personally honed edge by dry-shaving hair off my forearms.

Finally, I long for the time when I was still a purely instinctive shooter, when my arrows magically flew where I looked without me ever giving a single thought to yardages or the need to fumble with a rangefinder before drawing an arrow and picking a pin.

 

This corner of my Memory Room contains about a dozen record book mounts, including several tagged on bowhunts taped for TV broadcast. But with or without a camera present, I can still remember every shot and the smallest details of each challenging hunt. I respected the animals in life and permanently honor them today.
This corner of my Memory Room contains about a dozen record book mounts, including several tagged on bowhunts taped for TV broadcast. But with or without a camera present, I can still remember every shot and the smallest details of each challenging hunt. I respected the animals in life and permanently honor them today.

Anyway, I felt it necessary to offer this brief bit of personal perspective before mounting my metaphorical soapbox (and preaching to the choir, as some would say) and asking a few questions that have been bugging me for several years now:

*Is anyone else bothered by a current generation of bowhunting’s ostentatious young guns, guys and gals who march to the throbbing beat of a much different drummer who’s been body-pierced and tattooed and pounds out a heavy metal rock beat theme song that’s loud enough to spook deer in every surrounding state? Ted Nugent singing about “Fred Bear” was plenty good enough for me, thank you.

*Is anyone else troubled by the ego-driven, look-at-me exhibitionists armed with a video cam and a bow. You know, those in-your-face clowns who find a sponsor and proceed to “whack” or “stick” or “smoke” or “hammer” a variety of wildlife along with more than a few game farm critters. These are the same leering jerks who call themselves bowhunting “thugs” or “assassins” or “freaks” or “hit men” or “headhunters” or the “bloody arrow” gang or some such disrespectful nonsense. They shoot something and grin their goofy grins, pump their fists, high-five cameramen, dance a jig while flashing the thumbs-up sign, and generally act as if their IQ is substantially less than their bow’s draw weight. Being rightfully excited is one thing; acting idiotic in front of a camera is something else entirely.

I’ve tagged several P&Y Moose but this smallish Montana bull, arrowed at 3 yards during a video shoot for Bowhunter TV, was my most exciting on-camera moment. Regardless, I didn’t do any mugging for the camera. After the shot, I simply glanced at cameraman Jim Van Norman, smiled and whispered, “Was that close enough?” Viewer feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
I’ve tagged several P&Y Moose but this smallish Montana bull, arrowed at 3 yards during a video shoot for Bowhunter TV, was my most exciting on-camera moment. Regardless, I didn’t do any mugging for the camera. After the shot, I simply glanced at cameraman Jim Van Norman, smiled and whispered, “Was that close enough?” Viewer feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

*Is anyone else bothered by the camera shots that linger a bit too long on bleeding, dying animals as they struggle to live? And what about those slow-motion impact shots that are replayed whether the arrow flies true or hits “a bit high” or “too far back,” while the shooter breathlessly tells viewers how pumped he is at causing that ol’ buck to “take a dirt nap” within sight of his stand. And then there’s the recovery footage complete with counting points, estimating a green score, and proclaiming the deer a “Poper” or “Booner” for sure, not that the mouthy hunter will bother to enter the trophy in either record book.

*Is anyone else weary of vapid television shows that amount to little more than wildlife snuff films, where animal after animal is duly arrowed with no real sense of storyline and plot, of time and place? Seems more like egotistical exploitation than outdoor adventure entertainment to me. And what’s wrong with providing helpful information and advice along with the hunting action? Just asking.

This whopper whitetail fell within yards after I sent an arrow through his vitals. At the time I was taping my own hunting action on a Michigan hunt with American Archer Tom Nelson. The footage was some of the best action I’ve captured during any self-filming adventure. I “celebrated” by whispering, “Oh, man!”
This whopper whitetail fell within yards after I sent an arrow through his vitals. At the time I was taping my own hunting action on a Michigan hunt with American Archer Tom Nelson. The footage was some of the best action I’ve captured during any self-filming adventure. I “celebrated” by whispering, “Oh, man!”

*And, finally, is anyone else tired of seeing the shameless promotion of this or that brand of camouflage clothing, hunting bow, arrow, broadhead and boots, deer scent and masking scent and calls, video cameras, and everything else mentioned that’s designed to appease current or potential sponsors? Whatever happened to subtlety, anyway? It’s enough to make me wonder what happened to creativity, imagination, and good old-fashioned respect for the animals and viewers, much less non-hunting channel surfers who just happen to see the flickering images and are disgusted by the on-air garbage they see.

PLEASE DON’T GET ME WRONG, because there are some excellent, high-quality hunting shows available on the outdoor channels. A few of my favorites involve friends of mine, all experienced bowhunters, men and women alike. They’ve been successful for decades and deserve the recognition they’ve earned. What all have in common is an obvious respect for the animals they pursue and a burning passion for the sport they plainly love. Simply put, they’re genuinely enthused, have fun, and it shows. Best of all, that natural enthusiasm is contagious. There’s nothing faked or forced about it.

After I taped hunting buddies Bob Delaney and Dyrk Eddie stalk and arrow their free-ranging P&Y British Columbia bulls, Dyrk manned the video camera while I eased within 40 yards and shot this old record book bison. As I walked up the mammoth bull, I looked skyward and said, “Thank you, Lord.” Hokey maybe, but heartfelt emotion on display for all TV viewers to see.
After I taped hunting buddies Bob Delaney and Dyrk Eddie stalk and arrow their free-ranging P&Y British Columbia bulls, Dyrk manned the video camera while I eased within 40 yards and shot this old record book bison. As I walked up the mammoth bull, I looked skyward and said, “Thank you, Lord.” Hokey maybe, but heartfelt emotion on display for all TV viewers to see.

The value of quality videos and televised bowhunting shows cannot be overstated. Their instructional and educational benefits are obvious. Also important is the entertainment element, because all bowhunters I know are dreamers, and what dreamer doesn’t like to experience the vicarious thrill of tagging along on hunts they’ll likely never make in places they’ll probably never visit? It’s not the same as doing it yourself, but it’s arguably the next best thing.

It was Papa Bear himself who said something worth remembering by all bowhunters, especially those attention-seeking individuals who want to follow in his size 13 boot tracks and represent a sport he helped to popularize: “Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the animals we hunt, and for the fields and forests within which we walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It’ll cleanse your soul and make you a better person.”

End of this month’s sermon from the Book of James.

For more please go to: Thoughts and Tips

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If you like to read M.R.’s bowhunting adventures you will love his newest book, Hunting the Dream.
Hunting the Dream is available now so be sure and get your copy of this great book.

23 Responses to "Out of Step or On Target?"

  1. Janice spicha   2013/10/16 at 3:11 pm

    So very well said
    T We are retired and are blessed to be able to hunt the public land almost daily. Social security doesn’t support paid hunts but we didn’t take them when we were working. Love the feeling of scouting year round for deer sign roost trees etc. Most of all love being a real part of the animals lives we hunt. Have except for a few actual shows by true hunters quit watching most of the shows on the outdoor channels. When we do see something unethical or disrespectful of the animals we do express our concerns to the sponsors of those shows
    Wouldn’t it be great to have a real hunting show. Life in a tent. Carrying our own backpack and blinds, hiking way up into the wilderness , no ATVs, cutting up our elk 3 miles from base camp and carrying every bit of meat down on our backs dead tired after several trips Then striving to keep it cold and treat it right. So many roughing it becoming one with the prey to be the predator stories that the killers on TV will never be able tell because they’ve never known hunting only killing. How sad

  2. Alex Breen   2013/10/16 at 3:37 pm

    I could not agree more. They play to the egos of the Xbox / Play Station generation. To them it is no longer the thrill of the chase but the kill which excites them.

  3. Dick Tone   2013/10/16 at 3:50 pm

    M.R. Very well said. Our sport of bowhunting has a longer history than any other sport ever invented. The history and traditions of our sport are being lost to the peer pressure and false hype created by some of the programs that are being shown on TV. It is sad to see some of the direction our sport has taken.

  4. Jerry Gowins   2013/10/16 at 5:00 pm

    AMEN! I couldn’t agree more.

  5. Dave Kocher   2013/10/16 at 6:42 pm

    Well said no argument from me.i think what is going on is terrible

  6. Allan Schwindt   2013/10/16 at 6:44 pm

    Bravo to MR for what he has written here. He certainly has hit the nail on the head. I long for the hunting shows by Dwight Schuh & Larry Jones who did the job so much better than most of the shows today. The didn’t whisper 7 smile to the camera during the stalk and they showed respect for teh animals they hunted. We see so little of this today in the over-edited videos and whispering that no one can hear.

    Regards, Allan Schwindt

  7. Rich Walton   2013/10/16 at 7:33 pm

    As usual, M.R. has the insight and experience of decades behind the string as both a hunter and businessman. He also has the wisdom and the age to be able to speak his mind which is why I am honored to have him hosting his own column each month on bowhunting.net. We work with Camo Clan TV and when I first met with the guys who produce that show I noted pretty much what M.R. said here. I think it mostly has to do with good taste and respect. I hope we will be able to live up to what M.R. so eloquently notes here. Being a marketing man and knowing that nothing you see or read is without sponsorship, I do try to walk the fine line between promoting our great sponsors both of bhn and Camo Clan TV without insulting the intelligence of our audience. Thanks M.R. for another pointed and compelling column.

  8. Rick Holley   2013/10/16 at 8:51 pm

    Very well said!i will read your book!

  9. Wade Nolan   2013/10/17 at 8:02 am

    Also an old timer, I’ve hunted with M.R. and many of the real bowhunters. I also was one of the first ones to make hunting videos and bring the hunt to the public. Over 550 folks have gone through my outdoor television courses and I pound into them respect, quality and honor. The direction that almost all TV killing shows have gone is embarrassing. I don’t watch the outdoor channels. We have done a pathetic job of representing the hunt.
    I’ used to be offended that there was no teaching or how-to imbedded in these shows. Now I have come to realize that the hosts don’t know any hunting strategies, they don’t know whitetail deer habits or behavior. They are all about “Me”.
    Most shows could be called or at least sub-titled, “Look at me, ain’t I great”. Hunting TV has not educated hunters nor has it promoted our sport. In the same way that “Reality TV” has prostituted reality most of the outdoor channel hosts have contrived the hunt to a point where it is hardly recognizable. I say “teach me something…share the magic of the whitetail woods,” oops that’s above their pay grade.

  10. Michael Fenn   2013/10/17 at 10:15 am

    M.R. you made me feel good about myself after reading this. I thought for the longest time something was wrong with me for not acting like so called T.V. stars, but no realize I am normal and sane. Well written and thanks again for another great writing.

  11. Carl Woody   2013/10/17 at 11:29 am

    Well said Mr. James. I’ve got certain shows I watch that have true hunters on them. Eastmans Hunting, Western Hunter, Midwest whitetail, on your own adventures just to name a few. I glad I’m not the only one that feels this way!!!

  12. Tim Gompf   2013/10/17 at 1:17 pm

    Wow!! That is exactly what I’ve been telling some of the guys that I know for the last couple of years. I honestly don’t know anyone that acts the way the so called “celebrities” do when they take an animal. I’ve never seen high fives, whooping and hollering, crying, screaming,etc come from people that really hunt. Precisely why I don’t watch hunting shows anymore…..except for Predator Quest with Les Johnson. He’s about as down to earth and level headed as they come.

  13. Allan Schwindt   2013/10/17 at 2:59 pm

    In response to Collin Cottrell’s reply, I’ll agree totally with his assessment of the hunting shows today. Several years ago I conducted a survey of the hunting shows then on two different channels. The response was quite revealing with many who agreed with Cottrell’s opinions. Many have been bitten by the “Hollywood Star Syndrome” and it continues to get worse as time goes on. If anyone has ever watched Fred Eichler go into orbit when he shoots a critter of any size, its easy to conclude, “this is not hunting, its all about the hero.”

  14. M.R.
    Once again, you make us proud

  15. M.R.
    Once again, you make us proud.

  16. Larry Velvick   2013/10/20 at 8:51 pm

    M.R.,very well said! I’d love to see a program that described the hunt specifics, such as why the blind was placed where it was placed, why the critters were found where they were found, etc …Tired of all the smokin, hammering, fist pumping. VERY tired of all these hunters pimping for their sponsors. Good job M.R.!!

  17. Bryce Lambley   2013/10/20 at 9:23 pm

    Agreed with every sentence of it and have been feeling that way for a long time.

  18. John Vargo   2013/10/21 at 8:34 am

    Well spoken MR. The only time I “smoke” a deer is when I get my Brinkman and bag of charcoal out of the garage. These deer punks and deer thugs need to be led to the woodshed and tought to show some respect for the animal they just killed. It’s really sad when you look at how the sport has degenerated over the years. Who would have thought that getting a “boob job” would one day be a legitimate business deduction for someone in the bowhunting business.

  19. Biggie Hoffman   2013/10/21 at 11:43 am

    Very good M.R. These things should be obvious to any bowhunter, it’s a sad state that they are not

  20. Terry Receveur   2013/10/23 at 11:36 am

    Very well stated M.R.! I sure hope we aren’t a dying breed to be replaced by the deer “thumpers”. These type of hunters and shows are one of the greatest threats to our hunting heritage. Public perception of the non-hunting public will dictate our ability to hunt in the future and these slobs are not helping it at all. Jim Posewitz recounts this often. Thanks M.R.! Keep up the good fight.

  21. Rich Walton   2013/10/23 at 5:40 pm

    Here is my prediction: TV Shows that glorify the kill will continue to lose viewers. there is too much variety available on TV now and if the show does not follow basic rules like character development, humor, suspense, excitement and class and give the viewer a reason to come back, they will not hold sponsors and will fall by the side. I’ve said this before, how many times can one watch an animal getting shot? For all shows, it has to be about much more than just putting an arrow through a deer. This is what is happening now and we are in the culling out stage.

  22. Shawn Meyer   2013/10/25 at 7:08 pm

    Exactly right. I don’t watch the shows but from what little I have seen it’s not how I interact with nature.

  23. Kenn Young   2013/12/06 at 8:49 am

    Don’t get a lot of comments on this one, likely because too many hunters recognize themselves in his comments. Today deer hunting, and hunting in general, has evolved into the ‘win-at-all-costs/look how great I am’ mentality that is destroying not only hunting, but our country as well.