A bowyer’s letters beyond the veil

Several years ago I wrote a series of letters to my grandfather who passed away in 1980.  They were primarily about squirrel hunting with a bow and arrow. I published a series of three in Primitive Archer Magazine.  I thought I’d share this one, which was written 5 years ago.

Dear Pa,

The kids are becoming quite fond of archery.  They just love shooting arrows out back of the house, but none of them surpass Logan’s love of shooting.  He’s only three-years-old, but with my help he can fling an arrow with any of them.  I get down on my knees behind him, he puts his hand against the grip and locks his elbow like he’s trying to stop something from rolling over him and then grabs a hand full of string with his other hand and pulls for all he’s worth. I then move his bow arm so that the arrow is pointing at the target and tell him to let her go, and he does, with a giggle.

They like shooting the small game paper targets, but their favorite game is when I throw an old flip-flop on the ground, call it a squirrel and we see who can kill it first.  I usually give them a couple of arrows each before I shoot and that is all it normally takes for Kasey to put an arrow through the flip-flop and to then boastfully inform me that there is no reason for me to shoot since dinner is already on the table. I wish you could see them shoot, then again maybe you can.  I know your Heaven has to have squirrels, bird dogs, and of course fishing.

A few days ago I eased into a large tree on the Wheeler farm to wait on a big buck I’ve been chasing all season. Pink light was just on the horizon when the squirrels began to rummage around the woodlot leaves, looking for a nut, like a dog that buried a bone but can’t remember which hole he put it in.  Soon a squirrel at least 75 yards from me began to bark loudly.  He was all worked up but I knew that there was no way he could have seen me so I wasn’t sure what had him so agitated. He clearly felt threatened and wanted everyone to know that danger was about.

I kept watching in his direction and soon I caught a glimpse of movement, colorful movement.  It was a red fox.  I’d seen him before about this same time, but going in the opposite direction.  His path was parallel to the trail I used to enter the woods.  He was moving along quickly and it appeared that he would pass by my tree giving me about a 20 yard shot.  I’ve wanted a fox hide to use for a back quiver.

When he got about 35 yards from me his path crossed where I had entered the woods. As soon as he hit my trail he stopped dead in his tracks and began to sniff the ground intently.  He looked up and searched the forest.  He was onto me.  I considered the shot, but thought better of it in hopes that he would conclude that there was no danger after all.  After a few minutes he backtracked about 20 yards and began a wide circling arch to avoid the area where he smelt danger.  I placed the back of my hand to my mouth and began sucking loudly.  That got his attention and for a minute he thought about checking it out.  It could be a rabbit in distress.  His survival instincts saved him and he continued circling me and disappeared into the forest.

The squirrels remained quiet for quite some time before coming back out to keep me company on the deer stand.  This same scenario played out about a week earlier only it was a large owl that spooked them and interrupted breakfast.

I hope to get a shot at a winter turkey one day this week.  I’m allowed a hen for the next two weeks and I could use her wing feathers for some more squirrel arrows.

Your Loving Grandson,


One response to “A bowyer’s letters beyond the veil

  1. That was great!! My grandfather passed not too terribly long ago and reading this brought back great memories of him. Thank you Sir!!

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