Just Get Out There and Hunt – Trophy Tales

Guest Post by John Eggenberger

  • Land Type – Public
  • Bow – Browning
  • Time in Stand – 60 Minutes
John with state land buck.
John with state land buck.

November 11, 2005

After getting my kids got on the school bus it was 8:11am before I got into my tree stand, well after shooting light. With a 10:30 meeting at work I knew I’d only have an hour and a half to hunt – but it was the rut and anything can happen. Fortunately, there was a small chunk of public land not too far from work that made it nice to slip in for such short hunts.

My stand was in an old, dead tree that didn’t offer much cover. It was, however, in a position to take advantage of a small finger of cover that deer used as a travel corridor. It was also fairly close to the parking area. After I’d been in my stand 10 or 15 minutes I did a little calling but nothing showed up. A bit later I decided to do a little rattling. After rattling I grabbed my bow, stood up and glanced at my watch, it was just after 9. A few minutes later I heard something that didn’t sound like one of the million squirrels that were around me.

As it got closer, moving quickly, I was certain that it wasn’t a squirrel. Over my right shoulder I finally saw movement; a deer. Then I could see it was a buck, moving right toward my tree. When it was 6 yards away it stopped. Since I was obscured only by some light brush, I couldn’t move, nor did I have a clear shot. It looked around, even looking right up at me, but didn’t even seem to notice me. I could only see one antler and although the beam looked decent I didn’t notice many points. Then it moved to its right, away from me, and after several steps took a sharp left turn.

As it passed behind a tree I drew. After a few steps it was in a shooting lane 14 yards away. As if on cue, it stopped, quartering away. The bow was already drawn so I settled the pin on the vitals and released the arrow. The deer jumped a little, took one leap and then walked slowly away. The shot looked a tiny bit back and the deer’s reaction caused me some concern for a brief moment. Then, as it walked I began seeing a LOT of blood pumping out and felt better.

When it was 30 yards out it stopped and I could hear air coming in/out of the entry/exit wounds. It continued bleeding very badly. The buck walked about 15 more yards, stopped and fell down. Then it got up, which scared me. However, it took only one or two steps and fell down again. It simply laid there, no thrashing, and its head slowly lowered. Wow. I looked at my watch, 9:11 – exactly one hour from when I got settled into my stand.

After waiting a few minutes I got down, took down my stand and climbing sticks, hid them and then picked up a couple scent canisters I had put out. When I picked up the arrow, which I could see from my stand, only the front 2/3 was there. Even though I could see the deer, I followed the blood trail. At one point I couldn’t believe how wide the swath of blood was so I paced it off – 5 steps. That thing was spurting blood 2-3 yards on both sides – no wonder he didn’t go far. When I got to the deer I was delighted to see a beautiful 8 point rack. The other end of the arrow was on the ground right next to the deer and it must have been hanging on by a thread.

After a quick gutting job I lugged it out of the woods – thank the Lord is was a short, mostly downhill drag. My hunting vehicle was a Ford Taurus so I struggled to get the big-bodied buck into the trunk and made it to work at 10:35. Not a bad way to start the day.  Too bad about the arrow, though. This buck was the third deer this arrow has killed, all bucks. The other two were perfect pass through shots. I saw all of these deer go down.

After processing the deer I cleaned off one of the jaw bones and asked some reputable and experienced hunters to estimate the deer’s age based on tooth wear. One said 3 ½, one said 5 ½ and most said 4 ½. Its body size, grey muzzle and Roman nose all point to a mature animal. While I didn’t weigh the buck it was certainly one of the two heaviest I’ve ever gotten. So, even when you only have a short time to hunt, get out there! Anything can happen, especially during the rut.

-John Eggenberger

  • Years Hunting – 25+
  • Fun Fact – Owns his own business



It’s True. Michigan has Deer

I went two seasons walking aimlessly through the woods with a loaded gun before I decided something had to change.   I wanted to bow hunt, but I never saw a dear within gun range let alone bow range.   Something wasn’t right.    I needed to make a change in my strategy, which up to this point wasn’t a strategy at all.

Like in business, I thought if I surrounded myself with people who knew more than me, then hopefully they would impart some wisdom on me (Thanks John E. and Gary K.).  Although I had technically hunted two years in row, my third year hunting was really when it all began.  I found out my co-worker actually wrote a book on hunting and the husband of a friend of mine was an avid hunter.

I found myself spending more time with these guys asking them questions and trying to apply what they said.  When I was invited to hunt on Gary’s property, I could not have been more excited. I had a bow that fit, I had practiced repeatedly, and thought I was good to go.

Not knowing the property very well, Gary walked me out to a stand known as the Turkey Foot.   He wished me luck and then headed off to his stand.  My first impression of what would later become my favorite stand was that “there ain’t gonna be any deer here.”

I sat there fidgeting a bit, thinking about whether or not this was a good location.  As I sat there my mind began to drift. When my mind drifts, I go into deep thought.  When I’m in deep thought I become less aware of my surroundings.  I remembered reading articles in Deer and Deer Hunting about becoming a better hunter by looking for parts of deer rather than the whole dear.

So I got out my glass and began to survey the area.  I felt a little silly because the area seemed so open.  Yes there were trees and small vegetation, but it wasn’t like anything could have swooped in without me noticing.  Still, I said to myself, “look everywhere.”   Look buy that bush…. Nothing.  Look by that tree….. Nothing.   Look by that log…..That’s funny, that log kind of looks like a deer.

Wait a minute.  That log really looks like a deer.  I can’t believe it. That log is a deer.  It wasn’t off to the side or really far away.  A deer wandered 30 yards, directing in front of my and I never even saw it come it.  It was absolutely quiet, having not made a single sound.

I began to understand why I had never seen a deer while hunting before.  I had never actually looked.   When I wasn’t looking, I wasn’t careful about being quiet myself.  If I wasn’t careful about being quiet, the deer would never come in.  It was a vicious cycle.  I learned several things in that moment.  Deer are sneaky. You need to look for them.  You need to be silent.

I saw a deer for the first time while hunting and I had mistaken it for a log.  As I watched the deer walk away from me I could help but feel a sense of accomplishment.  I had not done anything, and yet I felt as though I had achieved some great victory.  As I was basking in this victory, something amazing happened.

One by one a small herd filed past me from my 7 o’clock.  Doe, Doe, Doe, Doe, Buck!  What do I do?  Within minutes of seeing my first deer I saw a buck.  It was a four point.  I stood at ten yards to me and presented me with a broadside shot.  Deer just kept coming and going.  I had to make up my mind, was there a bigger one behind him?  Should I shoot? Should I?  Well?

Nobody was there to answer me.  I had to decide on my own. I had been hunting less than 2 hours.  I saw a herd of does and a young buck.  I decided not to shoot.  I want something bigger.  So, you see, I went from never seeing a deer while hunting to being selective.

The deer did not see me. I was able to move freely up in my tree and they didn’t seem to notice.  Or so I thought.  Just then I heard something.  It came from behind me.  I slowly turned an looked back.  A big mature doe was staring up at me.  She moved her head up and down.  She stomped her foot.  I stood still. But I was busted.  She bolted and everyone followed her.

No other deer came in that night.  But you better believe, I was waiting and ready.  Now, I’m always waiting and ready.  It would be a month before I saw another buck.  Gary insisted that I made the right choice not to shoot that little four point, but I questioned that decision everyday for several weeks.  In my third year of hunting (first year bow hunting) I was finally able to conclude that Michigan has whitetail deer.


A Simpleton’s Guide to Accessorizing your Hunting Bow – Sight

Continuing our discussion of accessorizing our hunting bow, I’d like to turn our attention the bow sight.  This is perhaps my favorite bow component to tinker around with.  I feel a sense of instant gratification, when I make a simple adjustment and then hit the bulls eye.   It seems as though all other tuning on the bow requires countless repetition of shots and analysis to determine what is the  proper adjustment is.

Of course, even though my sight is probably my most critical “bow sniper” component, this is yet another accessory that was simply not a part of traditional bows.   Countless deer have fallen victim to recurves and long bows aimed with nothing more than the culmination of experience.  I commend every archer who can hit that pie plate 15 yards or more without using a sight.   I’m working up to it I suppose, but for now my sight allows my to hit what I want, where I want, at any distance I want.

Sorry Katie (wife), but the sight I’m using did not come with my bow.  I bought after experiencing some difficulties with my original sight.  In fact, the sight I’m using now cost more that my first two bows combined.   Some of you reading this may remember an earlier post of mine where I mentioned I was frugal.  Don’t question me on this yet, hopefully I can explain the necessity.

I have bad vision.  It’s terrible actually.  I need all the help I can get.  Currently, I use glasses.  I never wear contacts, because I don’t like dealing with them.  My search for a new sight came about in part as a result of the fact I wear glasses.  At first I used a three pin sight; Set up for 20, 30 and 40 yards.  The pins were green, red, green.  Interestingly, not all the pins appeared to line up.

See how the red pin doesn't appear to be in line with the others?
See how the red pin doesn’t appear to be in line with the others?

My red pin seemed to go off to one side compared to my green pins.  What’s more, when I would look at the pins through my peep with my glasses at an sight angle, the problem got worse.  Perhaps it had something to do with how my lenses reacted with the colors (refraction?).  Although the sight was very durable, I was disappointed in the fact there were no left/right adjustments.

At first, I tried to compensate for the red pin’s stubbornness by shimming the pins.  But this didn’t work well.  I began to wonder if there was a sight manufacturer that made pins with a left to right adjust.  Because of me glasses, I knew that any sight I bought would have to have a right to left adjustment if I used multicolored pins.

That’s when a friend of mine turned me on to a company called Spot Hogg.   He used a Spot Hogg, Hogg-It and was very happy with it.  Once I learned what he paid for the sight however, I did not think this was a brand for me (I was wrong).  While perusing Spot Hogg’s website I noticed their single pin sights and began wondering if a single pin sight was right for me.

Because my vision isn’t great, I thought it would be easier for me to focus on just one pin.  I thought to myself, if a deer is at 26.5 yards, do I use the 20 yard pin? the 30 yard pin? or do I split the difference?  How about I just set the dial to 26.5 yards and not think about?  Um, yeah that sounds good to me.  I bought the Boss Hogg and I couldn’t be happier.

I also think that people who shoot lower poundage bows such as myself would greatly benefit from a single pin sight.  Because our aren’t as fast, high/low misses are more noticeable.  By eliminating the concept of averaging pins, if my range calculation is correct my arrows hit where I want them to.

The biggest challenge in using a single pin sight is making sure checking the yardage is part of your shooting routine.  When I first got the sight sight, I made the mistake of taking the shot without checking the yardage. I missed the target completely.

Now, whenever I go hunting it is set for 25 yards.  That way if I forget to adjust it, I’d be no more than 2 inches high at 15 yards and no more than 3 inches low at 35 yards.  But even still, I won’t ever forget because I now checking yardage is just part of my routine.

One thing to focus on.
One thing to focus on.

I will admit I struggled for a bit in making the decision to switch to single pin.  I even considered getting the Spot Hogg Boss Hogg with 3 pins even though it is an adjustable sight. However, in addition to the three pins there is also a vertical wire for helping set the 3rd axis on Spot Hogg sights, and I found all that to just be too distracting for me.  Your preferences may differ so I encourage you to try both styles out if you’re on the market,

Although I love my sight, some might not like it for competition.  If you shoot Hunter class in 3D  shoots, make sure you check your rules regarding moving pins.  Many rules require that the sight stay fixed once you begin.  For this reason, I almost passed up on this sight.

My preference is to use a movable pin sight for less high/low error.  I’m willing to trade this for the extra step of adjusting the pin before the shot.  Without this type  sight, I don’t think I would be comfortable taking long shots on game.

At this point our bare bow now has an arrow rest and a sight.  These are the minimum accessories for most people.  Still yet to come in this series of posts: releases, string accessories, stabilizers, and quivers. What kind of sight do you like and why?

A Simpleton’s Guide to Accessorizing a Hunting Bow – Arrow Rest

Bare Bow? It sounded kind of silly of the first time I heard it.   But both Pro Shops and private sellers who are trying to sell their high end bows, often sell them with nothing on them.   Since entering the archery community, I have learned that a bare bow consists of only a riser, the limbs, and the strings/cables.  In a world where more is more, why would it be so common to sell bow’s in an unshootable condition?

The answer is preference. Shooter preference is the most commonly discussed differentiator on all the archery forums.  People like different things; they like them different ways; and it all comes down to the fact that we are all so different.  The next round of posts will focus on accessorizing you bow for hunting.  As we go through the many accessories available, you will see why the idea of preference plays such and important role in building your bow and why it makes more sense to buy a bare bow to maximize happiness.

Arrow Rest

Feeling Restless

Unless you are shooting a recurve and are shooting off-the-shelf, the first thing every bare bow needs is a rest upon which the arrow is launched.  In the olden days, an aftermarket rest not a necessary component of a complete bow.  Arrows could be flung off the shelf.

Example of a bow that shoots off the shelf.
Example of a bow that shoots off the shelf.

The Bear recurve pictured above demonstrates the concept of shooting without a rest.  Technically speaking, the soft padding acts as a rest.   Fletching contact with the rest and riser will most certainly affect down range accuracy, but there’s no mistaking that this method has served mankind for centuries.

On a modern compound hunting bow, I would not recommend such a method.  However, there is a growing trend to hunt with ‘modern’ traditional equipment.  It may sound like an oxymoron, but bow snipers of this variety choose modern recurves and shoot with their fingers.   With the infinite adjustments of a target bow, these setups can be much more precise that my old bear recurve.

Keep them contained

When it comes to hunting from a tree stand, there is probably no better choice than a full containment rest.  Why?  Because the arrow won’t fall off the rest.  When you’re up in a tree, there’s nothing more frustrating than spooking a deer with needless movement.  For years, hunters considered the prong style rest (shown below) to be the best.

Developments in the fall away rests and the advent of the whisker biscuit have made it easy for hunters to keep their arrows nocked while in the tree without risking a falling arrow when maneuvering.  As far as full containment rests are concerned, the drop away rest is my first choice.  But, as I’ve stated before, there is much consideration for personal preference.  Therefore, I’d like to make a case for both and let you pick which is right for you.

Drop Away Rests

My hunting bow has a QAD Ultra Rest.  This rest has served me quite well, but it has failed me.  Luckily, the folks at QAD were very helpful.  They sent me a brand new unit when mine failed.  The story went like this.  I was shooting 3D with my friend Gary and my brother in law Brad.  It started to rain a little but we were almost done so we decided to push through to the end.  Although the rain was light, the rest failed to fall in time and the my vanes hit the rest causing my arrow to fly erratically.  I began to question the rest in rainy conditions.

Drop away rests have several moving components and therefore are more subject to failure.  They require the proper initial setup and need to be appropriately timed.  But there is an upside to these rests which is the reason they are still my preferred rest.  First and foremost is accuracy.

This is what a drop away rest looks like when it contains the arrow.
This is what a drop away rest looks like when it contains the arrow.

Unlike all other rests, drop away rests when appropriately set up will have no fletching contact with your arrow.  This increases long range accuracy.  It also allows the shooter the option of using fletching (feathers) or vanes (plastic, fake feathers).

To me, I’m a fan of technology and I like the idea of having cool and fancy trinkets on my bow.  I like the feeling of being in control and a drop away rest requires a little more effort, which I find satisfying.  My rest locks down tight and I don’t fear that it will move on me when I cart my bow around.  Unlike the whisker biscuit below, this rest and other high quality rests use a set screw to keep the rest from pivoting around the berger hole.   Beware, the set screw will leave a small scar on your riser.

Once the string is released the rest drops away to let the arrow pass.
Once the string is released the rest drops away to let the arrow pass.


Whisker Biscuit

The whisker biscuit gets its name from the fact that it looks like a little biscuit made from….eh…..whiskers.    Advocates of this rest will tell you that the fletching contact has little impact on accuracy at bow hunting ranges (<40 yards).  This full containment rest is probably the best value in a hunting rest.  I picked up the rest below, on clearance for under 25 bucks.

It’s cheap and easy to use.  Here are the downsides to this particular rest.  If you bonk it, it will move. It also lacks adjustment indicators which aid in tuning.  It can only be used with plastic vanes rather than feathers lest you are a gluten for arrow maintenance.

This whisker biscuit fully contains the arrow.  Fletching contact is unavoidable.
This whisker biscuit fully contains the arrow. Fletching contact is unavoidable.


Let it go, Let it go, can’t hold it back anymore….

For those of you who choose to release your bows with you hands, containment is the least of your worries.  Archers Paradox is the phenomenon where the mere act of releasing the string kicks the tail of the arrow off to the side.  Without getting into the concept of paper tuning, if you find your self desiring to shoot with just your hands consider the following rests.


My daughter's Genesis has a flipper rest.
My daughter’s Genesis has a flipper rest.

Flippers are common on entry level bows such as the Mathews Genesis picture above as well as on entry level recurves.  Flipper are sometimes spring loaded but can also be found in the form of a flexible piece of plastic.  They lack any real sense of adjustment.


Flipper with adjustable plunger.
Flipper with adjustable plunger.

The more viable option for the finger shooter is a rest with an adjustable plunger.  This idea here is that the rest is still a flipper, but you can adjust the center shot (left/right adjustments) to ensure that is arrow flies consistently.

I Can’t Shake ’em, Stay on Target.

Where containment is not a concern, you additionally have the choice of prong and lizard tongues.  No, I’m not referring to heavy metal bands.  I’m still on the subject of arrow rests.


Once considered the state of the art style of rest, this rest still finds a large following in the archery community among the target  crowd.  Sure, you can use it up in a tree, but I would make certain you are confident in your form.  Canting the bow too much might leave you wishing you had listened to me.

Here is a top of the line prong style rest from Spot Hogg
Here is a top of the line prong style rest from Spot Hogg


Lizard Tongue

Three words.  Not for hunting.  This is ultimate target rest.  This rest is designed so that there is no fletching contact.  But unlike the drop away rest, the archer has additional adjustability in the rest tension (a prong rest has this too).  These rest offer little room of accidently canting your bow.  If you shoot high poundage and don’t practice a lot, this could be a concern.  As for me, I shoot the best in the 52-55 pound range.

Similar to a prong rest, this Lizard Tongue mainly used for target shooting.
Similar to a prong rest, this Lizard Tongue mainly used for target shooting.


Give it a rest

It’s late, I’m tired and I need a rest.  Wait! no I don’t; I have every rest imaginable.  But my hunting bow will probably only ever have a drop away on it.  This is one of those annoying situations where there is no wrong answer. Every archer/hunter has different needs and preferences.  The trouble is, it’s hard to know what you prefer unless you get out and try different things.

I’m glad that good bows come bare.



Thinking about buying a bow? Here’s how I came by mine.

I made so many mistakes as a new bow hunter, I’m surprised I hung in long enough to actually become one.  After seeing how much fun it was to hunt, I thought I would buy a bow and start bow hunting.  Although I knew a few hunters, I hadn’t yet hooked up with dedicated bow hunters like Gary K. and John E.

People new to archery don’t know what they don’t know.  I didn’t think to ask anyone what to look for in a bow.  After all, isn’t it as simple as pulling back and letting go?  Nope, I would buy two bows before realizing the errors of my ways.  I mentioned my interest in bow hunting to a fellow co-working who promptly told me that he sell me his old bow for 50 bucks.

This bow was too big.

Fifty dollars?  What a deal!  Or was it?  My co-worker stood about 6’3″ and weighed in at over 220 pounds.  I’m only 6′ and weigh a mere 150.  I paid him for the bow and went about my business.  This bow had about a 31 in draw length.  I shoot at 28.”   Needless to say the bow was too big.  If you are reading this and don’t know anything about draw lengths, just remember this if your bow if too big for you, you’ll never shoot accurately and you’ll probably hurt yourself.

I never actually shot that bow.  I could tell something wasn’t right so I started googling it.  Sure enough, many sources told me to go find a bow that fit.  So that’s what I set off to do.  I went down to the bow shop.  They measured me and almost sold me a bow.  I wasn’t ready to unload 300 bucks on a starter bow just yet.

I started searching for another used bow.  This time I needed one that was either 28″ or at least adjustable.  I found one.  It was 125 dollars and it was adjustable.  This time however, I would exhaust myself after one pull.  Nowadays, I can pull back anything, but when I was just starting out, I could not pull 70 pounds.  Even if I turned it down to 60, it was a lot of work.

This bow was too strong.
This bow was too strong.

So I swallowed my pride a little bit and looked for a bow that had a 28″ draw length and fell in the 50-60 pound range.  One small problem was that I still had the first two bows.   How was I going to tell my wife I needed another?  Well, I didn’t!  Not at first anyway.

In fact, I limited my search to Mathews bows.  Somewhere I read that the solocam’s were easier to tune.  At this point I was done looking for cheap used up bows.   I figured instead of buying a new starter  bow, I’d look for used flagship models at started bow prices.  I needed something that was neither too big nor too small.  Something with good damping.  Something that was quiet.  And something that looked cool.

Looks wasn’t the first thing that came to mind, being as cheap as I am.  But having finally visited a bow shop, the newer parallel limb bows just looked so cool compared to the older compounds.

It wasn’t long before I found someone with a should injury unloading their  Mathews Reezen.  It was a Mathews; it had the looks; and it came with receipts.  I liked knowing that I was getting $1,400 dollars in archery equipment for $550  (Katie, if you didn’t know then, at least you know now).  It was a lot of money for me, but it was totally worth it.

Now that I had my hands on some decent equipment, I could finally focus I building up my muscles and working on my form.  I was doing a lot of research now.  Unlike before I did not want to keep making mistakes.  I bought a bow that I thought would last me ten years or more.  For $550 bucks, I felt that it was worth it.  Besides, if I found out that archery wasn’t for me, it would be a lot easier to unload a Mathews.

Luckily, archery was for me.  The only reason I’d have to unload my Reezen would be to upgrade.  But I’m not ready for that.  Maybe it’s my 20 year bow.

This bow was just right
This bow was just right
I upgraded the sight.  More on that in a later post.
I upgraded the sight. More on that in a later post.
I'm trying out a new stabilizer.
I’m trying out a new stabilizer.
I can't stop looking at it either.
I can’t stop looking at it either.

Thirty and Nerdy. The Unsuspecting Hunter – Part 3

No one heard anything.  No one saw anything.  After the morning hunt on the last day of camp, me and the five other guys  decided there was still time to make it to the late service at our Church.  Some went in their camo, others were not quite so bold.  I joined my wife in our usual spot in the sanctuary and told her I had a good time.

I good time meant we had burgers cooked over an open fire.  Pasties brought in from a local bakery. No one got hurt, everyone had fun.  It was just a pleasant experience.  Two days of hunting and my first season of deer hunting was over.  But I was left with a sense of curiosity.  Why didn’t anybody see anything?  Why did guys pick the spots they hunted.  Was there a method to all of this.  Or is it really just a matter guys getting together to have fun.

I was bothered by these questions but I tabled them for the following year.  I knew I’d get invited again but I would not want to borrow a gun.  If I was going to do this annually, I would need my own gun.  My wife seeing my genuine interest didn’t see a problem with me making the investment.

If anyone would were to look at me, the last word that would come is hunter. Nerd? Fragile? Chess player, perhaps?  All these words would probably come to mind, but not hunter.  I’m a franchise attorney, about as skinny as a rail,  have glasses, and my forehead has a dominating presence.   In fact when I mentioned I was going hunting to the people at work I may have heard more than a few chuckles.

A lot has happened since that first hunt camp. For instance, I’ve bought guns. Sold guns. Bought bows. Sold bows. I think at one point I had nine bows.  Although you may see me out occasionally during gun season, I consider myself almost exclusively a bow hunter.  I’ve learned a lot along the way and I’ll try to use these posts as a means of sharing my experiences.

Thirty and Nerdy. The Unsuspecting Hunter – Part 2

I borrowed a gun. I borrowed some camo.  I borrowed a sleeping bag.  All I had to do was show up.  Of course I was late.  After getting lost a few times trying to find the camp, I pulled in to see several cars parked near a cabin.  Dim lights came from inside the rented rustic at Brighton State Recreation.

I thought to myself.  Do I try carrying everything in at once.  Do I go in first and introduce myself.   I paused and considered why I am I even thinking about this.  Just half grab everything and go in.  Wait! No.  Grab a casual handful so as not to look like I’m trying too hard.

I walked in.  Several men sat in the lantern lit cabin towering over a map.  I recognized two men right off the bat although I had never really met them.  I introduced myself and started to hover over the map as well.  I shook my head and nodded as they discussed ridges and bedding areas.  I wasn’t sure why that was important but of course I would never admit that (except to the world, on a blog, four years later).

Food, Bonfire, Beer (but only in moderation for us Lutherans), and stories.  Most had a least one good hunting story.  Me? I never hunted; I didn’t know any hunters; the only hunting story I knew was someone shot Bambi’s mom. I kept my mouth shut.  The cabin’s bunks were surprisingly comfortable.  I slept well but was up well before the sunrise.

When the first alarm went off everyone shot up.  As if all were reading from the same playbook we got dressed and geared up without saying a single word.  Finally, I offered some muffins that my wife had baked for breakfast.  My wife is known for her healthy cooking style.  More than one joke surfaced about the effects of eating a bran muffin, the day after drinking some beer, while miles away from the nearest outhouse.  But the idea of going out on an empty stomach was no joke and everyone took a muffin.

Mike asked me if I knew where where I was going.  I think I said I was going “hunting.”  Knowing I had no clue where I was going, he graciously offered for me to come sit in his blind was him.  I accepted.  We sat in the blind in total darkness for awhile.  I questioned why it was important to get out so early when you can even see anything.  As I thought this, Mike said that one thing he loved about hunting was seeing the woods come alive.

I pondered about what he said for a moment.  What did it mean for the woods to come alive and why did he like it so much?  As I sat there in pitch black, my eyes began to adjust to the darkness.  However it would be another 20 minutes before I knew what he meant.  Shapes began to take form.  Lines, streaks, and other images.  I could not make them out yet but I could see something.  Finally, the unmistakable presence of the woods was there.  Its was though it came to me rather than me going to it.

I saw the beauty of the woods and laughed in my head at the thought that this spot had been here for thousands of years and that daybreak had shown down on this spot day after day with only a few people seeing it’s splendor at this early hour.   At that moment I felt very small.  To this day, the morning hunt is always my favorite.  As much as I hate getting up early, there’s something special about seeing the sun join the day.

Five Suns
They say a pictures is words a thousand words. But your eyes are worth more. I called this picture Five Suns


Thirty and Nerdy. The Unsuspecting Hunter – Part 1

“Jon, would you like to come to hunt camp?”

I was new to the church and didn’t really have any friends yet.  I appreciated Mike’s invitation to attend this camp even if it only meant I got to meet a few new people.  I thought to myself, “are kids really interested in hunting?”  After all, isn’t that what Mike meant?  Some day-camp where a few 10 year old boys got to shoot 22s under the supervision of thier dads trying to teach them gun safety.  What else could it mean?

Mike took the time to invite me, but he assumed I knew what hunt camp was.  I’m not one who is open to letting people know that I haven’t got a clue.  I have become a master at playing along and learning on the fly.  But had no idea what I was in for.

Each Sunday as this “Hunt Camp” got closer, I was approached with all sorts of unusual questions.  “Do you have a gun? Camo? How about a sleeping bag?”  Why would I need any of that for a camp, I thought to myself.  Slowly the picture became clearer and I realized I wasn’t going to be teaching kids where the safety was on a Ruger 10/22, but I was actually going to participate in the act of hunting.  Hunting, isn’t that dangerous?

No I did not have a gun.  No I did not have any camo.  No I did not have a sleeping bag.  No I did not want to go to Hunt Camp!  But I went anyway; mainly at my wife’s encouragement.

I bet she’s sorry now.