I grew up in the small town of Copley, Ohio. Americas heartland, where corn and soy beans are the cash crop, and the whitetail bucks grow big. It was there that I cut my teeth as a bow hunter. The year was 1969, I was 9yrs. old and my weapon of choice was a lemonwood longbow pulling 30lbs. My arrows came from the hardware store, they cost 35 cents a piece and I always chose the black ones with red cresting and green barred feathers. I don’t remember having a shooting glove, or arm guard, or any knowledge of their existence.
I do remember the sound of a rabbit running on top of crusted snow on a cold winter morning. I remember the sound of a cock pheasant cackling as it exploded up out of the cattails. And I remember the baying of a fine little beagle named ” Fanny”. Fanny was my first love, I believe she was the first girl I ever kissed. Standing 13 inches tall at the shoulder, she would fit into an assortment of brush piles, hollow logs, and ground hog dens. Fanny understood that her mission in life was to make me happy, and together, we pursued every living creature within walking distance of my home.
I had limited success on rabbits and ground squirrels, but the flight of the arrow captured my affection like a living thing, and set the stage for a lifetime love affair with archery…
When I was 11yrs. old my family stopped at an estate sale while visiting relatives in West Virginia. I followed my parents around the property, idly observing the life long possessions of another family. As another pile of stuff was brought up from the basement, a ray of light burst forth from heaven and illuminated a green recurve bow lying on top of the pile. I cautiously picked up the bow, handling it with the reverence that a knight would give that fabled sword, Excalibur. A close inspection revealed no major flaws or defects. The bow was a 40lb. Ben Person Wildcat. Made of solid fiberglass, it had a black rubber handle that would allow the bow to be shot either right handed or left handed, and was minus a string. I asked my mother if we could bid on this bow and she said “yes”! After an eternity, the bow made it to the auction block. The opening bid was .50 cent. By the time my mother caught me and gained control of my arm, the bid was up to $4.50, with me running back and forth bidding against myself, no one else being the slightest bit interested in that old bow. Arriving back in Ohio, I purchased a universal bow string from the Acme Click store. The string had a loop on one end and was extra long so the archer could tie it off with a bowyers knot, thus making the string fit any bow. By todays standards it wasn’t much of a bow, but to me it was a quantum leap from the 30lb. lemon wood long bow I’d been shooting. I now had a bow powerful enough to launch my fathers hunting arrows with authority, and I suddenly felt dangerous and alive!