All bowhunters have standards or goals. And contrary to popular opinion, it doesn't
matter a hoot what they are. We are not the same standard.
Too personal for that.
We determine what is right.
We are alone.
Archers cover the breadth of the spectrum from pure meat hunters to trophy hunters.
Some bowhunters will tag any deer, while others just bucks and still others will take only
mature, big-racked animals.
And so it goes.
We eat them all and make them part of ourselves and our families.
But it doesn't make sense for a beginner to hold out for a monster buck. Too many
lessons to learn before we can be so bold and full of ourselves to think we can take on a
sly, worldly monster buck in our first year out there in his world. After all, whitetails do it
for a living.
We must be there to learn. There is no other way but to live it, breathe it. Oh, we talk
a lot, read, watch videos. But that's not being there.
At the moment of the shot we hone our desires into one thin pointed wire, centered in
that m ass of muscle, bone and nerve endings we call our bodies. The backdrop is of
huge, ultimate importance. We will take an animal's life.
And one more time we touch our hunting heritage. Maybe all those hundreds of
thousands of our ancestors going back in a straight timeline who were all good hunters,
are talking to us up through our DNA. The old double helix is like an amplifier or a cell
phone. Listen to them. They were good or they would have starved.
But I'm here and you're here because they were good hunters.
Call it historical resonance.
Our nerves hum when we draw back the bowstring and settle the sight pin at the front
of the bow's riser on the buck's pump house.
And when we take a whitetail which is beneath our standards and goals, there's a taint
of chagrin. The ultimate moment of meeting and attaining our standard is now not
possible. We're done. It's all over for another year. The final and last page is turned.
Once you let the arrow go, you can't bring it back.
And we are human. So we settle on that wide margin in between yes and no. Some
days it's wider. Some days it's narrow.
Seems like every ridge in the Southern Tier of New York and the northern reaches of
Pennsylvania holds all kinds of deer, one for everyone's standards. But for most, they
don't get it done.
The buck appeared in what we call "first light." It was gray. No color. Looked like a
black-and-white TV out there.