Hobby (hab’e) n., Something that one likes to do; pastime, leisure-time activity, fun, entertainment [As in Get A Hobby.] ______________________________________________________________
He brought this on himself … my husband did. If he didn’t want me splurging on a new AMS Fish Hawk bow he shouldn’t have insisted I get a hobby. A hobby? Was he insane?
I hadn’t had a hobby since – well, how long had it been? I had a baby with a birth defect that took two solid years of weekly medical care to correct; then his father left us and I had to work full time for another two years as a single parent; then I got remarried but also pregnant right away so I lost my job and we struggled through the financial drain of re-starting the taxidermy shop while trying to raise two kids on a wing and a prayer and none of this even mentions my mother – but that’s its own Greek tragedy altogether.
Baby, Shawnee, Chriss and unlucky target
That whole hobby thing came up because he came home from hunting one day and complained that I was a grouch. “You’d be a grouch too if all you got to do was stay home with kids wiping dirty noses or dirty butts while your husband is out hunting or fishing every spare minute he gets! “
“So get yourself a hobby!” He yelled back at me. Ah, it seemed so simple to him, yet utterly impossible to me.
Then Everett was a year and a half old, mostly weaned and walking, so I thought, “Finally! ? maybe he can stay with Daddy once in a while so I can go get that hobby now.”
Everett draws, takes aim
The double pink lines on the new pregnancy test dashed all those hopes. Instead of regaining any independence, I was fixing to lose more of it. Soon I would be tied down to two babies in diapers hanging off of my hips. And again my ever-attentive husband says to me: “You need to get a hobby. You need to get out of here once in a while. You just sit around getting grouchy.”
Fearing for his life as he realized he’d actually spoken that thought out loud to a fat, pregnant lady, he got in the truck and went fishing. I was left at home to ponder this whole hobby idea as I washed dishes with a crying baby on my hip.
Meanwhile my belly grew bigger along with my temper.
Eventually, Winter gave way to Spring. Spring, and a long walk to the park, gave way to Garrison. He made his dramatic debut at the stroke of midnight.
Garrison, wrapped up and ready to float
Two days later my mother died. We’d taken her to the ER on Friday. They sent her home. Saturday she was much worse. Sunday, being a week over due already, I packed birthing supplies in my car and we took Mom back to the ER. This time they kept her. On Monday they transferred her to a hospital in another city. On Tuesday they said she would be fine. On Wednesday I gave birth. On Thursday we were in the car rushing to see her because the doctor said, “Oops, I goofed. Your mother probably won’t last through the night.” On Friday I was at the funeral home making arrangements. On Friday night, she died. On Saturday, lets just say the games began.
I mean no disrespect whatsoever but in her ripened stage of manic-depression, Mom left a heck of a mess. We discovered that she had recently charged eighty-two dollars worth of underwear at Sears. Sexy stuff too, which was so confounding to us because Mom was the teetotaler who would claim Immaculate Conception three times in a row to explain her three children.
She still owed on the deep freezer she charged which sat empty in her bedroom. “I can’t afford food.” She whined when we’d asked her about it months ago. Um, I think the intimate apparel bill from Sears explains that one, however, she’d bought thirty cans of deviled ham at the Dollar General and her shower was stacked with no less than a fifteen different bottles of shampoo. In her cupboards, drawers, dresser, shelves, jewelry boxes and everywhere else, she had what amounted to a thirteen gallon trash can full of prescription pill bottles, full of pills of every variety dating back fifteen years, and for some peculiar reason we’ll probably never comprehend, she collected the tops off of milk jugs. Then, just to keep life interesting, while legally blind and heavily medicated, she also bought and drove a fairly expensive little sports car.
Oh, and did I mention that after living two blocks away from her and being her sole caretaker for the past ten years of fainting spells, car wrecks, diabetes, divorce, anorexia, two strokes, crippling rheumatoid arthritis, manic episodes, increasing blindness, heart conditions, cancer, surgeries and ever increasing schizophrenic tendencies, she wrote me completely out of her will?
Yup, you can begin to understand why that hobby was starting to sound better and better all the time. The fact I discovered after I lost Mom was this: For the past decade, all my spare time had been devoted to her. Mom was my hobby! So what would I do now?
I didn’t expect bowfishing to become my new hobby. I sure didn’t expect I could do such a thing with two babies tagging along. I just wanted a diversion from the stress of cleaning up after my dearly deranged mother, God rest her soul. But I liked the sport enough Chriss bought me that new Aim recurve. I did OK with that, taking in a short nosed Gar using my new AMS tip. But the teeth are what did it for me – that thrill of looking down the throat of this fish that could saw my arm off flopping there impaled on my arrow.
Ah! What a rush!
I started setting my sites a little higher. I didn’t want to satisfy myself with a few Drum and an occasional little Gar. Nope, my attention span wasn’t long enough for that – I had a lot of pent up frustrations to make up for. It was time inspire my children and follow the advise of my husband. I set out to grab the hobby-bull by the horns! My new goal was Monster Gar! And for that, I needed the right gear.
“What’s that?” My husband’s expression was pure trepidation as I carried the large package in from the UPS truck.
“My new hobby.” I said, unpacking the box.
“Your new what?”
“Hobby? You told me to get a hobby, so I did.” I held the AMS Fish Hawk bow and tested the string. “Oooh Baby! How sexy is that?” I grinned at my reflection in the buffet mirror.
“What hobby?” He asked, still looking scared.
“I’m going after the Monster Gar, Baby! I’ve been reading articles on the bowfishing site and decided that little Aim wouldn’t cut the mustard on those big fish.” I purred at my new equipment. Chriss gave me a nervous giggle.
There’s a couple things I learned right off the bat that day. First of all, the if you’ve never used the No-Glov finger tabs, they can leave a whale of a bruise on your forearm if you’re an unsuspecting beginner like me. Um, don’t ask me how I know that.
The next thing I learned about the Fish Hawk is never leave it unattended in a room with a two-year-old boy. Because the AMS zero drag Standard Retriever has (duh!) zero drag, a kid can have all thirty-five yards (that’s one hundred and five feet!) of line pulled out of the bottle and tied up in knots all over the bow in under two minutes.
I wonder how much of this stuff is in here?
Initially the Fish Hawk was heavier than I had anticipated. After shooting my recurve it took a little practice to feel comfortable with the Hawk’s weight. The cam, idler wheel and cable guard on the Fish Hawk seemed a bit foreign to me, too; keep in mind, however, I only started shooting a couple months ago, and the recurve was the only experience I had to compare with.
I took the Fish Hawk to the back yard and set up the fish manikin.
With some minor adjustments my husband reduced the draw weight of the bow to a manageable level, which is one of the beauties of the Fish Hawk – adjustable pull. Then he modified the position of the reel slightly so I was able to reach the trigger to retrieve my line after I shot. Talk about power! Where my Aim would penetrate the manikin, the Fish Hawk would completely drill it, coming out the other side. There was a huge increase in arrow speed also.
Next day we visited The Village. I let my brother-in-law and other fellers shoot it. They kidded me about the “weight” of the bow but were impressed with the Fish Hawk’s speed and distance. Now the only thing left to do was try it out on the water!
Three kids and two adults on a fourteen foot Jon boat that isn’t anything like a twenty-two foot Premier Castaway with a 150 horse Evinrude is a lot to manage but as usual, flirting with that thin line between brave and stupid, we did it anyway.
We came in to fish immediately out on Lake Tenkiller. The clear water was deceiving in judging depth, but soon I learned that the Fish Hawk allowed me to take fish from deeper water than the recurve.
Eight-year-old Brian got in to the action this time with us, using that old kiddie-bow I had started out with. Considering he had begged off going on our previous trips thinking it would be a bore, he came away from it that day saying how fun it was despite not getting any fish. He made a lot of shots though, put a lot of schools of minnows on the run, and since he didn’t have to be as quiet fish-hunting as he has to be game-hunting, it worked out a lot better with his hyperactive personality.
Brian getting ready for his ‘shot’
All in all I can see where the Fish Hawk is going to give me a leg up in the bowfishing game as I become better at using it. The Retriever reel lives up to its claims of no-drag and faster shooting speeds. The Fish Hawk definitely delivers the power, which will only increase as I become a stronger shooter.
Shawnee drawing down on a soon to be skewered fish
After years of having the kids spill my straight pins or run over their own hand with my sewing machine if I attempted to sew as a hobby; years of scattering my beads if I tried picking up my bead work again; years of Tonka trucks trampling my flower or vegetable gardens; years of them needing a drink, food, diaper, band-aid or crayon or whippin’ every time I sat down to read a good novel; years of sitting home ?. Aggravated ?.. I’m finally a little easier to live with.
Bow fishing is a hobby my kids can’t quite destroy! They can even participate in it with me – although admittedly I did ask a particular Monster Gar guide in Texas if his wife would baby sit so hubby and I could go bow fishing with him by ourselves some day.