Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Everything Old is New Again

This is a guest post by Sonny Ithipathachai.  This story originally ran in an edited form in NC Sportsman Magazine.  This is the unedited version.

I’ve been around for about 43 years now, and one thing I’ve learned is fashions and trends never die, they just get recycled every 10 years. I call it the, “Everything old will be new again theory.” So goes my first hunt, first shot, and first deer of the 2011 North Carolina season.

This was my first time in the deer woods and I dusted off my early 1968-1970’s Bear Kodiak Magnum 55 lb. glass powered recurve bow. I had made two nice wooden arrows tipped with 125 (+/-) grain Steel Force glue on broad heads. These wooden arrows are heavy and weigh approximately 600 grains each. Arrows were dressed out in NCSU colors, so go Wolfpack.

The weather had cooled down significantly that Saturday afternoon. Last Thursday the high was up in the 90’s, and Friday morning I drove to work through a brisk 57 F! It had been raining, and the clouds had rolled in threatening showers for the day.

I had not been scouting, but knew this little bottle neck in the woods that was a perfect spot to set up in. I was excited and looked forward to just spending some relaxing time and self reflecting in the woods. Things had been hectic lately, and hunting is cheaper and more therapeutic than a $200/hr shrink.

We bow hunters are a ritualistic bunch and have our own little routines. We dress outside, wash our clothes in no scent detergent, and shower with no scent soap. We do everything that it takes to reduce our scent signatures. Yet with all the meticulous steps and planning, I always forget something. This time it was my shooting glove, so now I have to shoot with bare fingers.

I put out a scent wick with some 2-drop supreme a little upwind from the area I was hunting, and then I climbed up a nice straight young pine about 12-14 feet. I didn’t want to get too high because of all the leaves and branches. The recurve is very limited on range and I am only accurate out to about 25 yards.

A beautiful red fox ran by just 30-yard directly in front of me after a mere 30 minutes of sitting. It was beautiful, with red fur on its sides, dark gray fur in the middle, and the tail was tipped with black. The wind was picking up, and it was nice and cool. I remember I did not break in sweat at all walking the 200 yards in, and knew this was going to be a good day.

Time slowly ticked by as I sat motionless, scanning the woods for movement with my eyes going from left to right. A squirrel feeding at eye level just 15 yard in front of me kept me entertained.

That little bushy tail would stand on its hind legs and grab berries and eat. Then it would hang upside down like a monkey and eat. It is funny how one passes the time watching the littlest things when you’re in the woods. I was surprised that the squirrels were not on the ground looking for food, but would rather gather something to eat up in the trees.

By 5:30 p.m. I heard my 1st buzz of a mosquito the size of a cricket. I quickly turned on my ThermaCell, and all is good with the world again. The wind must have died down a little as well.

It was now 6:30 p.m., and I saw movement directly in front of me just 40-50 yards away. It was a buck moving from right to left on a trail in front of me. He disappeared into the thick woods, and I slowly got into the standing position…waiting for him to show up again.

Then from the left corner of my eye I saw movement. There were two does walking, stopping, and feeding up a path that was to my left. They moved at a normal pace and had no idea they were being watched. Sunlight was starting to leave me fast, and I wanted to wait for that buck to come back, but hunting with the recurve is a game of opportunity. So, I had an opportunity to harvest a doe, and that’s exactly the decision I made.

The two does were walking from left to right, and when the bigger one paused long enough in an opening. I was able take a deep breath and draw my bow. She had turned completely broadside to me.

Replays of past failures flashed through my mind. I had missed on a nice doe at 15-yards last year because I thought she was out farther and aimed high. The arrow sailed over her back. Everything looks different when you’re up in a tree above 12 feet.
I kept saying BRASS in my mind, Breath, Relax, Aim, Sight, Squeeze, just replace squeeze with smooth finger release. Aiming carefully……I took the shot, “Whooshed” went the arrow, and then that familiar “Crack!” sound.  A recurve bow is extremely quiet.

I could see the arrow flying straight towards the two deer, and it looked like a good clean shot. The two does bolted in opposite directions. Looking down at my watch, it was 6:45 p.m. As always, I thought I had missed. When I got down on the ground to where the two deer where, I couldn’t find my arrow and thought it might had just buried deep in the ground. The ground was wet from all the rain.

I saw no blood, but for some reason I decided to walk and look for my arrow in the direction the larger doe ran. I didn’t find my arrow, but did find her lying on the ground just 35-40 yards from where she was shot. I was so happy, and looked up and thanked God. Taking anything with the recurve is a gift.
Sonny and his trophy.

The entry wound was slightly above her right front shoulder, and the exit wound was well behind the opposite rib cage. When I looked at her closely it did seem like I got both lungs and grazed the heart. I’m guessing my arrow travelled around 175 to 190 fps, and she probably jumped the string a little, this was why she was hit quartering to and not a 100% broadside.

I was able to pace out the distance from where she was shot and it came out to be 23 yards. It was getting dark and I got out of the woods by 7:00 p.m.

The next morning I went out and found my arrow. It was intact and laying on the ground just 15 yards from the point of impact. It didn’t have much blood on it….just a little on the fletching, but then I did remember putting about 8-12 layers of clear coat on it. No liquid would ever stick to those arrows. It must have stayed in and got pulled out as she ran.

I’d had that old Bear bow for about 10 years and have killed a couple of deer with it. It’s probably older than me. I did notice how the popularity of traditional archery is making a comeback. I’d often wondered if that bow could talk what stories would it tell, would it say to me “Everything old is new again. Although an archer may shoot a million times, every shot is a new beginning.” I don’t know, I just know that I’m very happy with my 1st hunt, 1st shot, and 1st deer of the 2011 season.

Story by Sonny Ithipathachai

Bill Howard writes a weekly outdoors column for the Wilson Times and Yancey County News and the bowhunting blog site He is a Hunter Education and International Bowhunter Education instructor, lifetime member of the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, Bowhunter Certification Referral Service Chairman, member and official measurer of Pope and Young, and a regular contributor to North Carolina Bowhunter Magazine.


  1. If it takes killing a deer with a bow, knowing that it could potentially only wound the animal causing great pain from a slow death, I hope one day you, sir, experience a death just as slow and excruciatingly painful. Is the "joy" and "macho" feeling of killing something who has no chance against you and cannot take aim at your lungs and heart so pleasurable? You are a man who is little in every way & must find the need to show you are not the weak coward you really are.

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