We have the tremendous privilege of publishing, each month, on bowhunting.net, chapter by chapter the full book ‘An Empty Quiver – A Lifetime of Bowhunting Adventures‘ by Dr. Dave Samuel. Our heartfelt thank you goes out to Dr. Dave one of our industry’s most educated, avid bowhunters and conservationists. Thank you for this honor Dave. And now, the first installment:
I never gave much thought about writing a book on my favorite bowhunts until a few years ago. I do game dinner talks and often, after the evening quiets down, some in the audience will come up and ask if I have a book covering some of my bowhunting adventures. Hmmm. After this happened several times I got to thinking about such a project.
I realized that my name recognition wasn’t all that much. Truth is that I’m not known as one of the big guys when it comes to bowhunting. I’m just a retired college professor who loved to bowhunt and worked two jobs so I could take some hunts. Professor during the day, outdoor writer at night. I started my wildlife management teaching job in 1969 at West Virginia University, and my outdoor writing career in 1970. In 1971 I became the Conservation Editor of Bowhunter magazine with their initial issue in October of that year.
During those early years I could not afford the big hunts. There was the occasional guided hunt, but most of the time I drove around the country hunting on my own. As I got older and the bills got lighter (and the income a bit more), I was able to do some of the more expensive dream hunts. Not any of the sheep, or Alaska moose, etc. Those just were out of my league from a financial point of view. A teacher’s salary just doesn’t allow such hunts. But there were other great hunts. Of course there were many hunts that ended in missed shots or no shots at all. But, on some of those hunts, the Lord blessed me with some super animals.
Even so, I still didn’t think that my bowhunts would be of interest to hunters until I had the occasion to spend time with Jim Zumbo. It was at a deer show in Wisconsin where we were both speakers and Jim and I roomed together. Over the years Jim evolved into one of my outdoor writer heroes and I’d read his material in Outdoor Life for years. As we visited over the weekend I discovered that not only was he a great writer and hunter, he was a wonderful person.
At breakfast one morning I was recounting a story on a huge bear that I lucked into in Alberta, and he interrupted me to say . . . “Dave, you need to do a hunting book.” Jim has done a number of hunting story books and they’ve sold well over the years. But I questioned whether a book done by someone less well known would hold enough interest for the average hunter. After all, I’m not Jim Zumbo. Jim begged to differ and urged me to give the project more thought.
After much deliberation, I decided to tackle the job and see what I could come up with. Once I decided to do this book, the question arose as to how one puts such a book together. I’ve often been asked “What is your favorite hunt?” So do I rate the hunts from my favorite on down? In a way that is like asking what animal you prefer to hunt? With me it is the whitetail, and thus, my Boone and Crockett Iowa buck might be my greatest bow adventure. Then again, that Coues deer was really special. My number 3 SCI buffalo . . . he was great. Getting a billy goat at age 66 was definitely a challenge and a hunt I will long remember. The Shiras moose was special and those trips to Africa were fantastic. As I write this Preface, I’m still not sure how I will arrange the chapters, because I still am not sure what my favorite hunt was. And I’m not sure how many hunts I’ll include. I’ll just dig out my hunt diary and delve into this book.
I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to hunt in many places. Teaching bowhunter education classes first took me to Africa, and I returned seven more times to bowhunt. Great memories. Then there was New Zealand, but no success. It was interesting and beautiful and I did take some goats and a small stag, but there just isn’t much of a story, so you won’t read that here. Then Argentina, but again no red stag. Not that I need to only write about hunts where there was a kill, and I did take a couple of hogs and a water buffalo that I will include here.
One last thing. This book is really about an average guy who scrimped and saved and worked two jobs for 30 years, using funds from the writing job to pay for my bowhunts. Some hunts I just could not afford until I retired and bills were gone. That mountain goat hunt is an example. From a physical point of view, I definitely should have done it when younger but the funds just weren’t there. I had a horseback hunt for moose scheduled for the Yukon in 2008 and it would have been a very pricey hunt. I was 67 at the time and waiting for a better opportunity just didn’t make sense. It was time to sell some retirement stock and do the hunt. But a surgery that went bad and severed the nerve to my diaphragm leading to permanent pain and breathing problems precluded that hunt and many future hunts. Since that bad surgery things have not been easy and there is no way to repair the cut nerve to my diaphragm. My breathing is bad, my stamina not close to what it once was and my bowhunting has been limited to certain hunts. I cannot fly in planes (I tried, and it was bad), so that further limits the bowhunts I might do. I cannot shoot standing up due to balance problems, but I can get in ladder stands. Ground blinds work as well, though I’d much rather hunt off the ground.
Though the types of hunts I do since 2007 are limited, many of the hunts in this book are ones that most bowhunters can afford to do. No question that some are more expensive than others but with some sacrifices, they can be done by many of you.
All of this leads me to believe that my past hunting memories are more important than ever. Doing this book takes me back to the adventures that mean the world to me. Bowhunting wise, I’ve entered the late fall, a time to reflect on great times in the woods. A time to reflect on a lifetime of bowhunting adventures. Sharing hunts is something that hunters love to do, and I am no different. My hope is that in the telling you might decide to tackle such a hunt in your future. But even if that is not possible, I hope you will find these adventures interesting and fun.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. David Samuel spent 30 years as a professor of wildlife management at West Virginia University. He is now in his 44th year with Bowhunter Magazine, where his Know Hunting column still appears. He currently writes the Know Whitetails column for the Whitetail Journal, The Future of Hunting column on www.bowhunting.net and writes a weekly outdoor column for WV newspapers. His activities on behalf of wildlife are diverse: from initiating the West Virginia Bowhunter Education Program to helping get bowhunting legalized in many European and African countries.
He has won honored lifetime achievement awards from the National Bowhunter Education Foundation, the Wildlife Society, the Quality Deer Management Association, and Whitetails Unlimited. He is in the SCI Bowhunter’s Hall of Fame, and his greatest honor was being inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame in 2007. He has written 9 books, with his three most recent books being Whitetail Advantage, Whitetail Racks, and the one being presented here, An Empty Quiver – A Lifetime of Bowhunting Adventures. You can find the table of contents for the two whitetail books, and get autographed copies of all three of these books on Dr. Dave’s website, www.knowhunting.com.
For more also go to: Straight Talk Interview: Dr. Dave Samuel