Sponsored by: Black Eagle Arrows
Valentine’s Day held the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Convention in Nashville, TN. The event alone was phenomenal but what lingered in my mind all through the day and on into the night was the New Breed GX2 a friend had urged me to shoot in the New Breed Archery trailer. I had not shot in a while, but left amazed at how smooth and simple shooting this bow was. There was no recoil in my wrists and the New Breed Staff member, Derek Hunter, even commented, “Your hand didn’t move.” I went home that evening unable to contain my excitement. I was like Little Ralphy from “The Christmas Story” talking to my wife about the bow and how much I would love to have one. The only drawback was the expense of the bow, but my wife simply stated we would start saving. With all the excitement of the day and support of my family I couldn’t sleep that night.
While sipping my morning coffee I sent an email to New Breed Archery wanting to seek out the founder to share my enthusiasm and excitement from getting to shoot the bow and the staff support available. Kyle Null, founder and president of New Breed Archery, sent me a reply the following Monday informing me that he offered military discounts. Another reason to buy this great bow.
While on 24 hour shift at work, I received a phone call from Kyle Null letting me know he posted my email to his Facebook page and was receiving a lot of positive feedback. Randy Kitts, the owner of Black Eagle Arrows responded to the post, “Kyle, get in touch with SGT Shepherd, send him the bow he wants and send me the bill.” I was speechless as Kyle explained the situation. I told him that Randy didn’t need to purchase the bow that I only wanted to share my experience with his bow, the great work done by his staff and what a great impact they had made on me while at the convention. Realizing declining was not an option, I gave Kyle the information he asked for; type of bow, draw length, draw weight and even color of strings and cables. Within a few weeks I would be the owner of a New Breed GX2. What an incredible turn of events and what a generous man Randy Kitts is.
To show my appreciation, I went to the Black Eagle Arrow web site to purchase some arrows from Randy; it was the least I could do. I messaged Randy with questions on the spine chart he had listed on his company’s site. I wasn’t sure how to read it exactly or what it was for. He was quick to reply explaining how to read it and had asked what type of arrow I was wanting. I told him I was looking for an arrow I could go hunting and shoot targets with. He recommended the Zombie Slayer as a good universal arrow; he then asked for my information wanting to send me a dozen of these arrows. Again, I was overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude for all the support being given from a man I’ve never even met.
Kyle posted my Facebook information and I was getting all sorts of friend requests and messages thanking me for my service and congratulating me on my new bow, but the one that made this story possible was a message from the man I shot that GX2 with in the New Breed trailer Mr. Derek Hunter. He had asked me if I could get some time away from the military to go on a turkey hunt with him. I was blown away at the opportunity offered to me, and all in the same day of me receiving the news of the bow and arrows from Kyle and Randy. Overwhelmed was a complete understatement. Derek had stayed in touch with me throughout the month of March leading to April 8, the weekend of the hunt.
I arrived in White County Tennessee in the small town of Sparta, where I met up with Derek and started planning our hunt for the following morning. That night I was Sleepless in Sparta as visions of Eastern Long Beards strutted through my head. I was so excited to hit the blind I couldn’t stand it. 4 A.M. couldn’t come fast enough. When it finally did I quickly got ready and checked the weather. No rain in the forecast but it was super cold for April at a bitter 30 degrees and high winds. As we moved out to the blind my mind was racing with questions due to the cold snap that came through that area over night. Dawn started to break approx. 6 A.M., and I hadn’t heard a peep other than the wind howling through the blind windows. We were set up on a Chufa field, so I had no doubt in my mind that we eventually would see turkey. It was only a matter of when.
I sat patiently waiting, listening to the wind whip through the blind when out of nowhere a group of 10 hens and 3 jakes crested off to the left of the field. We watched this group walk up to the blind so close I could have slapped them out of one of the windows. Though it was tempting to take one of those jakes, I kept my composure in hopes that I would see the Eastern Long Beard I was after.
An hour had come and gone since the first sighting when off to my left I spotted a hen walking the field’s edge 45 yards from the blind and back into the wood line. It wasn’t but a matter of seconds before the bird I was hoping for came out from where the hen had been. He stood there for a couple minutes looking around and then followed the hen into the wood line. I felt a quick pang of disappointment but I was so pumped seeing the action I had seen thus far I just knew today was just getting started.
Once the tom went into the wood line Derek looked at the time and told me we would give it until around 9 A.M., and if we didn’t see anything we would head out and shoot the Center Hill Lake 3D Shoot and return that afternoon. I kept my eye on my watch counting every minute that passed leading to the 9 A.M. hoping to see more turkeys make their way to the field. As the time slipped away, Derek pointed to his watch letting me know it was time to go to the shoot. Then, as Derek started to lean out of his chair he sat back down slowly, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “There’s a jake to your left heading this way. Get your bow ready.” It was show time and immediately my heart started pounding as my adrenaline shot up. I felt frozen in my chair as I waited for the jake to come into view from the blind. Derek had eyes on it the whole time. As the turkey got closer he whispered, “Buddy that’s a long beard. That’s a long beard.” At this point the shakes came over me. Sitting frozen in place was no longer an option. I sat shaking with my eyes focused straight out of the blind window when suddenly he came into my sight picture. I had ranged a patch of grass earlier that morning at 22 yards and the ole’ boy was standing in that patch. I whispered softly, “I’m gonna take him.”
I drew back the GX2 and let the Zombie Slayer fly. Feathers flew everywhere as this big bird ran about 10 yards and took flight. Derek stood and leaned out of the blind window watching. I was really disappointed, telling Derek, “I missed, I can’t believe I missed him.” Derek came back in the blind saying, “Calm down, you stuck him son.” He had blood coming out of both sides as he flew off, clean pass through. So now, instead of dejection I sat there with a big smile on my face as we waited about 20 minutes. Then we walked out and went to the where I had hit the bird and retrieved my arrow. Looking at the arrow I knew this bird was mine. Now all we had to do was track him, find him and rejoice.
We ended up tracking him to a creek bottom where we found him dead. I was super pumped and very grateful for all the experiences I had within these last few months. I have so much gratitude for these 3 men, and I tell my wife every day I have been truly blessed that the Lord put these men in my life. We have developed a friendship that won’t be broken. Their generosity still amazes me.
So, how did the products perform? The New Breed GX2 and the Zombie Slayer arrows are both 10’s. I can’t imagine shooting anything else.