The Old Phartt, The Big Bad Wolf and
The Three Little Pigs
The Story of a Bow Hunt
This is the second longest story I've ever told on the web, and kind of complex in its structure. I've tried to label the sections so you know where you've been and where you still need to go to finish it. It will be a little over a month in the telling...
September 26, 2009
Once upon a time, down in West Texas, there lived three little pigs, Oinky, Snuffy, and Herman. These pigs were fat and happy down there, living on a ranch called “7th Age Bowhunting”, where there was enough water and plenty to eat. There were gullies and brush to hide in, and they figured they had it made.
However, up in Seattle, WA lived a weak, out of shape old man called The Old Phartt. In a very unlikely combination of circumstances, Old Phartt got a chance to go down to West Texas to hunt pigs with 7th Age Bowhunting in late October. In an even more unlikely set of circumstances, his wife not only agreed to his going, but said the expenses could come out of the family pot rather than his hobby money! The happenings were made even more incredible by the fact the OP wasn’t a hunter! He had never even seen a wild hog, never bowhunted for deer, hadn’t even bowfished for carp! In spite of this, he set his mind on Oinky, Snuffy or Herman.
Unfortunately, OP knew his chances of success were diminished by his circumstances, particularly the fact that his normal draw weight was only 27#. He wanted very much to get Oinky, Snuffy or Herman with a bow of his own making, but the heaviest one he had was still only 32#. He started his walking program back up and did some light hand weight exercises, to get into slightly better shape in the month he had to prepare... or at least as “good shape” as a more than 70 year old retired desk jockey and storyteller could get.
Another of OP’s problems was that he wasn’t really a good shot. Oh, he made it around many a 3D course and hit most of the targets, but he’d lost a lot of his form when he was weakened by health problems and wasn’t as consistent as he wanted to be. Plus, he’d been so busy building bows he had neglected his shooting for several months. Of course, he started practicing, shooting at a javelina target. He even put screw in broadheads on the 1716 arrows he used with his 32# bow and made sure they flew well. He settled down and started doing better, in just a few days of serious effort.
In spite of some improvement, OP was still concerned about that bow weight. Even though Texas doesn't have a bow weight limit, if he did get a shot at Oinky, Snuffy or Herman, he wanted to get a good solid hit, preferably a pass through. He tried some heavier bows he owned, even though he hadn’t built them, bows in the low to mid 40# range. He became satisfied that while his draw weight was limited when going out to shoot a good practice session in the yard, or a 3D round, where lots of arrows would be shot, he could get a few good shots off with a heavier bow, and he did like the fact that they let him shoot a heavier 1916 arrow that hit the target with a good bit more authority.
OP decided that what he needed was some mojo… some really serious mojo. What he needed to deal with Oinky, Snuffy and Herman was a Big Bad Wolf! However, Big Bad Wolves are kind of hard to find in a North Seattle neighborhood. There was no choice, if he wanted to shoot one of those pigs with a bow he’d made, he’d have to make a Big Bad Wolf! While the 40# range he'd tried was a strain, maybe about 38# would be doable.
Fortunately, OP’s wife was going on a trip and he’d be alone for ten days. Not only would this let him eat real man food, like jalapeno hot dogs and hot chili every night, he’d be able to work in his shop all day every day, with no one around waving a daily errand and chore list! “Oh, boy,” he thought, and headed down to the shop to look over the wood and glass supply. After the first day’s work, wood rustling and decision making, he had cut billets, resawed out lam blanks and cut out a riser for The Big Bad Wolf.
BBW will have a zebrawood back veneer, two tapered lamboo cores and a belly of honey locust, with a zebrawood riser. With a little luck, it'll come in at close to 38#.
To Be Continued….
September 27, 2009 - Practice
For last night's practice session, it occured to me to check over my bows again. I have two Hill Longbowman's Choice bows, and, sure enough, as I recalled, one is 38@25... just what I plan for The Big Bad Wolf. So I strung it up. Wow! Kind of a stiff 38#, but I could string it by hand. I grabbed my 1916's and went out and did really well, so I was very pleased.
I took it out again for my morning practice this morning. Practice consists of shooting from various points walking around the yard, including kneeling and sitting on a stool, and from distances of 8 to 15 yards. I had been shooting from out to 20, but the guy in charge has assured me that if I get a shot from 15 yards, it will be unusual, so I'm concentrating on that distance and in. That's a relief, because I hadn't been doing that well at 20. Within this range, I think Oinky, Snuffy and Herman may be in trouble:
That looks like a hurtin' piggie, and I'm doing this pretty consistently.
Those two by the nickel are as tight together as they could be without damaging the first arrow. I could hear it twang when the second one went in. Oddly, they weren't the two closest shots.
When I went back in and unstrung the bow I was again hit by the feeling that this was a mighty stiff 38#. I hadn't shot this bow in maybe two years. I strung it back up and put it on the scale. It showed between 40 and 41 pounds. That showed me why I hadn't been shooting it. If I can bring BBW in at a true 38# I'm going to be a very happy camper.
October 5, 2009 - Practice on 3D Pig
As noted above, my plan was to build a 3D pig for broadhead practice. Couldn't get around to that until the Big Bad Wolf bow was built. That took longer than expected as I ended up building two (See: Building Big Bad Wolf - Link below. However, I did get the 3D pig built and he's grand! His name is Herman. (See: Building Herman - Link below.
Here's Herman's first introduction to Wolfie 1:
Building The Big Bad Wolf - A Short Side Trip: While definitely not a buildalong, I thought it would be interesting to show Big Bad Wolf's creation in a quick series of pictures of the basic stages from wood selection to finished bow. It's kind of like watching a butterfly emerge from various insect stages...
Building Herman - Another side trip: In order to practice with broadheads, I want a foam target that is repairable. I therefore decided to build a foam, more or less three dimensionl, pig... or, as it worked out, javelina. Here is a link to the building of Herman:
October 12, 2009
I’m not sure how much this will be of interest, but since this is my first time going on any kind of organized bow hunt, I thought I would discuss some of the problems I had getting things organized. If it helps anyone else who’s reading this and thinking they might like to try it, that’d be great.
I’ve already discussed my activities in getting bows made
for the trip. That wouldn’t be a problem for most folks since they would
likely have suitable bows to begin with. My situation was a bit different
in that: a. I make bows and wanted to do the hunt with one of my own, and
b. my normal bows were/are of a lighter weight than I thought would be advisable.
You’ve been through all of that with me above.
What came up next was the problem of getting equipment to the hunt site. I could have handled that a lot better, and cheaper, if I’d had more experience.
The camping equipment could have been simple, but I let it drag on too long. I should have taken care of that first and gotten it out of the way, but I got involved in the bow building. Ah, well…
The instructions were that we needed a tent and sleeping gear. Cooking gear was already there, and food could be picked up on the way through the small local town. I had a lot of camping gear, but over the past few years, as I got older, I concentrated on comfort… a full cot, a large outside frame tent and a really heavy sleeping bag, as I tend to sleep cold and the nights here in the Northwest in the spring and fall can get quite cold. We woke to snow in camp at Moses Lake last year.
Since everything would have to be shipped, I wanted to “strip down” a bit. I got a new smaller, lighter mummy bag, good to 15 degrees (it says) and one of the new self-inflating mattresses in 2/3 body size. The cot would stay home. I emptied my shed (it really needed it!) and found I owned five tents! I selected a small 7’ dome tent that packed up small.
Ultimately, all of this gear went in my old army duffle bag, along with a three legged stool that we were told we needed, my boots, some assorted spare clothing, a tin box with 18 broadheads in two weights and 9 blunts for rabbits and my mosquito repelling equipment. A word about that… I had never heard of Thermocell. It seems it’s a special system developed for the military, consisting of a dispersal unit and refills. It’s allegedly odor free and incredibly effective. It’s worn on the clothing, and is surprisingly large. It’s also incredibly expensive; a unit and a weeks supply of refills cost me $100! However, I was repeatedly assured from multiple sources that due to recent rains mosquitoes would be a real problem and that this was the only way to go any more. Again, ah, well… Thermocell also apparently cannot be taken on a plane so it had to be shipped, hence it had to go in the duffle.
I also managed to forget to include a knife in my duffle, so, since I want to have only carry-on with me on the plane, I’ll have to buy a new knife when I get there, a mistake you can avoid. The airline I’m flying on charges $30 for the first piece of checked baggage, so that will help with the knife.
More on the total shipping situation in a bit.
The Bow and Arrows
As you know by now, it was my intent to take two longbows. Shipping problems and costs simply eliminated that option. The airline wanted $150 for a bow as oversize luggage. I ended up shipping Wolfie 1 in a tube, along with 18 arrows, nine each 1816 and 1916, the two sizes that Wolfie seems to agree with. I’m hoping to do some shooting in when I get there and then decide which size to use… 1816’s with 100 gr. heads or 1916’s with 125’s. I seem to do OK with either. If 18 arrows isn’t enough, I need more help than having more arrows would provide!
This is where I really blew it by not having enough experience or information in advance. This whole trip came up suddenly and I let shipping time slip away from me. To ship as inexpensively as possible, and that’s very relative, you need to send stuff ground at least two weeks in advance. Once that window closes, you’re stuck with priority mail or private shipping, like UPS, FedEx or DHL. A longbow in tube can be send priority for about $30. However, it turned out that the little town in Texas I was shipping to doesn’t have Priority Delivery, adding a day or two to the shipping. Express shipping, which is normally overnight but is two day or three day to real small towns, was $65.
The camping gear in the duffle was an even bigger problem, since it was both large and heavy. The rough quote was $120 for express. Well, I decided I would have to bite that bullet… except that: a. I forgot about Columbus Day being a holiday, and b. our organizer sent a message that he was going from his place (the shipping point) out to the ranch several days early! Ouch!
So, this morning I got the packages organized and labeled and took them to our local multi-shipping point and sent them FedEx air at a cost of $45 for the bow (got off easy there) and $175 for the duffle. Free piece of advice: Pack in a box, not a duffle; they measure based on the largest lumps in the duffle bag when determining its size.
For return shipping, the organizer will handle getting the stuff into the mail if you make it easy for him by having all the gear repacked and the labels ready. I have that covered. It will, of course, be a lot cheaper since I will be in no rush to get it back and it can come ground. Finding that he would handle this was a huge relief, as we had not thought ahead and arranged to fly back home on Sunday, when all the post offices and shipping points would be closed.
Notes for the Future
I’m still very nervous about having only one bow, but that’s life. For future consideration, if I do this again, I will definitely have at least one three piece bow, preferably two identical. The shipping of the bow, in a smaller total package along with the camp gear, and much earlier, will be much cheaper. Also, if I have two, I will be able to send one and take one with me on the plane in checked luggage, thus having insurance that at least one will definitely be there when I am.
Addendum: I finally couldn't stand it and decided to pack a 3 piece takedown "just in case". I turned out not to need it, but I felt better about it. Obviously, packing a 3 piece is the way to go on a travel hunt. I came up with a very nice system for packing bow, arrows, hunting knife, and broadheads neatly and found that the airlines had no problems at all with it. As soon as I can get around to it, I'll do a little "how to" on how I did it.
I’m now reasonably comfortable that I’ve done what I can to make the trip go as smoothly as I can at this point. I have one worry left, and that is the handling of any meat. I hadn’t expected this trip and it’s being done on something of a shoestring… not as much of a shoestring, unfortunately, as I had hoped. With the shipping costs and some new camp gear things are very tight. I’m told that if we bone our meat, there is a place that will freeze and ship it for $250… which I don’t have. I’m hoping at this point that some other alternative will present itself, some local person or group who can use it, or something. I’ll deal with that as it arises.
For now, I have a 3D shoot this weekend, which I would have loved to use to practice with Wolfie 1, and for which important elements of my gear are not available, being in transit. I’m going to drive down separately each day and shoot the closest bow I have available. I’m also going to tell everyone right up front that I will be taking all shots from close up, pig range, and why.
I might drop another report in after this shoot, but if not, the next report you’ll get will be when I get back.
The story of the hunt will be quite long, and told in a double form... first a narrative, then a picture layout with additional comment. It will be in four sections, not quite by day, just the way it seemed to break up for good telling...