Thanks for the Tip & Happy Birthday

My father was a professional reminiscer. He jumped at every opportunity to tell me about the good old days. With vivid clarity, he could recall the price of eggs, gas, and milk from 1945. Most of his stories revolved around the cotton mill, fishing, archery, and hunting. Many was the day that he told me about taping a match stick to the riser of his bow for a sight.

My archery journey has been all about experimenting with various methods of aiming and shooting. Yet, here I am at 50 years of age, and I’ve never taped a match to my riser. So, yesterday I went out back and did exactly that. The head of the match was much too large for precision aiming, so I broke off a toothpick, dipped the tip in white cresting paint, and taped it to my bow. Within minutes, I had a single sight pin that worked nicely from five to eighteen yards.

The forest was deadly still this morning – so quite you could have heard a squirrel snoring in its nest. As night gave way to dawn, I could see that a large gray blanket of fog covered the Red River, which was still swollen and muddy from last week’s storms. Soon, black turned to blue, then pink on the eastern horizon.fullsizeoutput_1b2a.jpeg

With a hint of heat, the fog began to fade. The tops of red oaks with a few golden-brown leaves still desperately clinging on emerged from the gray. Then, suddenly, it was as though new life was breathed into the fog. It started to swell and roll. Like smoke in the wind it began climbing the bluff where I sat watching over 250 feet above.

In a matter of seconds, I was completely engulfed the cloud, a unique position from which to watch the visibly silent fog creep through the trees. Once up, the sun quickly burned the fog off, and the forest came alive. Birds flew branch to branch sounding an alarm for breakfast. A family of chipmunks began squabbling over a nut on a nearby log.

I saw the doe out of the corner of my eye. She was moving from the river up the ridge. Twenty meters back there were two more does. The lead walked with purpose up the trail adjacent to my stand. I prepared to draw when her head disappeared behind a large maple. A tug of the string, limbs bent, and the bow was cocked. I put the tip of the toothpick on the spot and the arrow was gone.

The doe bound up the ridge leaving my arrow on the ground, soaking wet with blood. The big doe only ran thirty yards and lay down, where she expired.

We lost Daddy this July. Today, is his birthday and he would have loved nothing more than to have spent it hunting. He would have been 87. Happy Birthday, Dad.fullsizeoutput_1b2b.jpeg

A Great Day of Hunting

It was one of those still mornings when you feel like the sound of your own breath will wake the entire forest. It was, as Dickens wrote, “summer in the light and winter in the shade;” crisp and cool for the first morning this fall.
From the time I stepped onto the stand, I expected to see deer any minute. Everything was perfect, yet the first four didn’t arrive until 7:43. Two does and two fawns came in fully alert. The first doe looked straight at me and began the head bob. I assumed that the gig was up. She even stomped the ground several times. I dug deep into my Ranger Ninja bag of discipline and froze. I refused to even blink, and eventually she decided to eat an acorn.
The biggest doe, the one I wanted, came in last. She finally worked her way into a position for a good shot and fate favored me. All four had their heads down, so I drew the bow. She did not flinch. The arrow disappeared through her, and when she ran I saw it lying on the ground drenched in blood.
Content with another deer down, I relaxed in the stand, but the morning was just getting started. At 8:13 another doe approached from the opposite direction. She was coming straight at me, but I knew that as soon as she smelt the blood she would run. I had to get the shot before she reached the arrow. She was five yards from my bloody arrow when she spooked but she didn’t run, and that proved to be her fatal mistake. I drew the bow, set the gap, and once again got a clean pass through. My arrow stuck in the ground on the opposite side of her.

I ended up seeing ten deer and killed my sixth and seventh of the season. Freezer is looking better every day.

Elbow Tendonitis and PRP

Elbow pain? Can’t shoot your bow without sharp pains in your elbow? Well, don’t give up hope. During the summer of 2011, I began to notice pain on the outside of my bow arm elbow. “Tennis elbow!” all of my friend told me.

I iced it, took anti-inflammatory medications and pressed on. The pain was bearable during the 2011 IBO World Championship. In fact, I was able to shoot through it, and win the worlds that year, but soon after worlds it rapidly got worse.

Over the following two and half years I received three corticosteroid injections, and considered a witch doctor. Each injection enabled me to shoot for four to six months’ pain free, and then it returned with a vengence. I soon noticed a knot forming on my elbow. I tried to take periods off, but it killed me not shooting – I was stubborn!

My ability to practice appropriately soon became impossible, which led to poor performances in tournaments, and that resulted in frustration and depression. In November 2013, an orthopedic surgeon recommended that I try a Platelet Rich Plasma (PHP) injection. I agreed. I would have tried anything at that point.

They drew a vile of my own blood and spun it, which neatly separated the platelets from the red and white blood cells. The surgeon then drew out the platelets with a syringe, and injected it directly into the most painful area. The platelets attacked the area thus stimulating my own body to heal it. Within a week I could tell a difference. It was working! In December I returned, and asked him to give me one more injection before I departed for Afghanistan.

I deployed to Afghanistan the first week of January with no bow. I planned to give the arm a complete rest from shooting. Convinced that I needed to strengthen the arm, I hit the gym pretty heavily, but I let pain be my guide as to how much that arm could handle. At first it was sore, but still seemed to be improving. It’s April 25, as write this and I have been completely pain free for over two weeks. There was a time that I could not pick up a soda can with my left hand. If I bumped the elbow I was in tears. Today, I am hammering in the gym and back to normal activity.

If you are suffering from tendonitis in your elbow see your doctor and ask about PHP. Best of luck.