Old Rockdog, New Bowtricks By Ted Nugent
Mar 10, 2008 - 6:01:28 AM
Young Nuge hunkered down in the puckerbrush of multi-flora rose and various prickled shrubbery at the edge of the Dearborn Hills golf course, not far from the Detroit city limits, Osage longbow in hand, Port Oxford cedar arrow nocked, locked and ready to rock, doc! My gungho youthful predator eyes were locked onto the fat, russet bushytailed fox squirrel running along the powerline overhead. You would think I was ambushing a wounded Cape Buffalo by the intense passion of the moment, and as far as I was concerned, I was. I was bowhunting baby, and these neighborhood limbrats absolutely qualified as big game for my cousin Mark Schmitt and I. BloodBrothers on the hunt. Serious stuff.
This was way back in the 1950’s, pre-Kwikee-Kuiver era, so my bowhand held onto two spare turkey fletched arrows, ala Cochise and Ishi, ready for backup. As the hi-wire squirrel loomed directly overhead, I peeked out from under the canopy of leafy cover, smoothly stepped to the side and drew back my bow like a SpiritWild ballerina, and let one fly. The big, wide, three blade Bodkin broadhead smacked the unsuspecting rodent square in the head, catapulting it up and off the wire, tumbling to the ground, arrow and all. Headshot shish-ka-rodent. It was beautiful!
As I raced to snatch up my prize, Mark yelled to me that there was another golden furred target now scrambling a few yards out in the line of bushes behind us heading for a nearby house. I pivoted and nocked another arrow just as the squirrel reached the top of the ten foot fencerow brush, and arrow number two in less than ten seconds was launched.
This arrow had an old MA3, three blade head, which sliced in and out of the bushytail square in the shoulder, dropping it like a bad habit. Mark and I grabbed our pair of big game prizes and held them up high with broad smiles, praise and glory, when both of us noticed yet another limbrat scurrying from limb to limb on a huge old white oak tree thirty yards away down the hill towards the golf course fairway.
We dropped the rodents and sprinted down the hill to cut off squirrel number three. With my one remaining arrow I gazed way up into the towering oak, while Mark skirted the big tree on the downhill side. I saw a slim whiff of bushytail blowing slightly in the breeze as the crafty squirrel attempted to hide from our view. With but a sliver of body showing above the heavy oak limb, I nonetheless brought up my bow, yanked the bowstring bringing the arrow nock into the corner of my mouth and touched ‘er off. Pook!
From my little lightweight, 30# longbow, this slow moving, but pretty lobbed arrow skewered the fat booger midship. It failed to make a critical jump, crashing to earth with a pleasant thump! Mark and I danced a pure American Indian tribal bowhunting celebration dance right there on the edge of the golf course, as passing golfers watching with interest. I remember it all vividly as if it occurred this morning. Wonderful memories.
In those early years of archery purity, I had the natural hand-eye thing down. No thought process, no pressure, simply pointing the arrow at what I wanted to hit and letting it go. I purchased all my arrows from the old Miller Feed Store on Grand River Avenue, in Redford nearby, with hard earned lawn cutting and snow shoveling money, so I consciously took shots that would allow me the best opportunity to recover my precious projectiles. But other than that, we were just having fun. Good, clean, all American quality youthful outdoor, natural fun. And good Lord did we love our bows and arrows. Gungho, hardcore, over the top, extremist bowhunters were we. Perfect.
I went from that first longbow to a semi-recurve Shakespear bow in 1959, both of which I still have, then graduated up to Wing, Herters and Damon Howett recurves over the years, ultimately into the wonderful world of Fred Bear laminated works of archery art. And boy oh boy could I shoot! Back then, it seemed I just couldn’t miss.
To the best of my knowledge as a kid, there were no such things as bowsights to assist my accuracy until the 1960s. A review of my cherished Bear Archery catalogs from that era show ever increasing bowsight development. We all learned the point and shoot, gap method of arrow placement. Even as I grew older and eventually went compound, I stuck to what I knew best and continued to shoot instinctively, even canting my compound bows exactly like I would my old fashioned bows, ala Fred Bear and Howard Hill. Dealing with the curse of target panic for a while did drive me to experiment with various bowsights in the 1980s and ‘90s, but when it came time to bowhunt, 99% of the time I went bare bow, no sights.
Having great admiration and respect for gentleman bowhunter and innovator Claude Pollington, I came to appreciate his ingenious Red Dot sighting system on his amazing CP Oneida bows, also adapted to other makes and models as well. But I always went back to instinctive shooting.
October 2007, and the fall solstice was erupting in an orgy of venison afoot. I had bagged a few splendid whitetails in Texas and Michigan in the first few weeks of the season, when the new Sims fiber optic bowsight showed up along with their new drop away rest. Checking in with master bowman Bryan Schupbach in Jackson, Michigan, he convinced me to try something new and different with my first drop away rest and these killer new sights. Why not? Gordy, his master bow technician at Schupbachs Sporting Goods took my New Martin FireCat bow and set it up just like he would for himself, and handed it to me.
The bow felt perfect and I must say that when I came to fulldraw, the little kisser button naturally snugged right into the corner of my mouth and the 20 yard pin settled deadcenter into the peep sight on my string without any adjustment whatsoever. I gently squeezed the trigger on my Scott release and I’ll be damned if that zebra arrow didn’t smack deadcenter into the Delta deer target’s vitals perfecto! Wow! It felt as natural as a kid whacking squirrels with his longbow 1955.
I was a bit surprised at how the bow and sights came up naturally. About one hundred deadly accurate arrows later I left the range and headed back home to the woods. That evening, just before dark, a big, fat Michigan swampdonkey doe snuck up the ridge below me, and at twenty yards I repeated my shooting mantra of the day and drilled her perfectly through both lungs for my first deerkill using sight pins, a peep and a drop away arrow rest. It felt as wonderful as any instinctive mystical flight of the arrow in my life, and I must say I was very intrigued if not downright hooked on this new system.
I went on that season to truly whack em and stack em in four states, and didn’t have any trouble adapting to my new bowhunting tricks. In fact, my lightweight 50 pound FireCat delivered killer penetration on many a big, hard boned deer and hog, with deadly efficient arrow flight from what I believe now to be the most forgiving arrow rest I have ever experienced. There is no question that a drop away rest provides total arrow and fletching clearance, resulting in the straightest, most efficient arrow energy and penetration delivery.
Let this be proof positive that an old dog can indeed learn new tricks. I highly recommend that every bowhunter and archer keep abreast of new gear and be willing to experiment with advancing and changing technology. There may be some little gadget or adaptation and change that you discover that will make you a better shot and more effective in the field. We will never know if we fail to scrutinize the various possibilities out there. After a long, fifty plus years of arrow flinging excitement, I know that I will be on the lookout for new and innovative equipment and accessories that may make me a deadlier bowhunter. I’m celebrating this fact with tender backstraps over mesquite coals tonight, and it doesn’t get any better than this.
For signed copies of Ted’s book, “BLOODTRAILS II-THE TRUTH ABOUT BOWHUNTING” call 800-343-4868 or visit tednugent.com.