Floyd Oakes with his 50th Anniversary Buck
As I sat on my comfortable hunting chair behind an old log and looked out onto the lake in front of me, I thought back to the events that had steered me to this point. Fifty years ago I was sitting in the waiting room at my workplace waiting to go to work at midnight and one of the men who worked on the shift came in with his new Bear recurve bow and a quiver full of arrows.
I was immediately in line to hold the bow and ask questions. While talking to him about the bow and where he had purchased it I remembered the Howard Hill movie I had seen some years prior. I was soon to learn that Bear Archery was the top bow company and I decided right then to get an outfit for myself. That night I sold two guns I owned and made up an order…I was on my way.
About a year later I sold the Bear Grizzly bow and got a Howard Hill longbow from Kittredge Bow Hut in California. I’ve been hooked on longbows ever since.
About a year ago I made a short hunt in Missouri (at the Schell-Osage Conservation Area where hunting is permitted) and found it to be such a beautiful place that I wanted to plan a longer hunt for the next year. I planned a one week hunt in Arkansas with my friend, Mitch. Afterwards we would join Stanley and Ronnie in Missouri for a hunt. It was about this time that I realized this hunt would take place in my 50th year in archery. Little did I know how special this hunt would be in terms of game, scenery and good friends.
Ronnie drove up and met Mitch and me at Mitch’s place in Arkansas. The next morning we were headed for the Show-Me state to meet up with Stanley.
Photo at right of Mitch congratulating Floyd on the fine buck.
We pulled into the motel and Stanley was waiting. After greetings and some catch-up talk we grabbed our archery gear and headed for the hunt area to scout for the next morning. Stanley and I checked out one place where I had hunted the previous year but sign was scarce so we went to another place I had wanted to look at but never got the time.
We walked around the edge of a small lake and found some sign at the back point of the lake where a small drain came in from the valley going back into the oak covered ridges. We walked up the drain several hundred yards and found some good buck sign and picked out a tree for Stanley to hunt out of the next morning.
We made our way out to the point where the creek emptied into the lake. The sign was good but the thing that impressed me was the beauty of this spot. Looking out on the lake with the sun setting behind it made it just the kind of place I was looking for. A pile of logs about 15 yards up from the trail at the lake’s edge was perfect for my ground blind.
We were all set for the morning. Mitch and Ronnie had found good spots and were as satisfied with theirs as Stanley and I were.
Photo at right of Stanley also congratulating Floyd on the buck.
We had supper at a local café and hit the sack early as everyone was worn down from the drive in and the scouting.
The alarm too soon fired up the troops, but all were ready to go quickly. As is the case in most small towns the breakfast choices were limited…you either drove through MacDonald’s or grabbed a Coke at the gas station. When we cleared that hurdle we headed for our appointed places.
As Stanley and I walked around the lake going to our stands the ducks and geese were already on the move. I knew this would be a great morning…I just didn’t know “how” great. I set up my chair behind the log and put everything in the proper place, touched up my Wensel broadhead and settled in to watch the morning appear.
Ducks and geese were all over the place. The sun rose over the ridge and started warming my side of the lake. I was happy to be there and to take in the beautiful sight shown at left..
About 8:30 I received a call from nature, so I eased out of the blind and went up hill to take care of this. A while later as I sat on my comfortable chair and waited for Stanley to return at our agreed upon time of 10 am, I reflected on the fact that I had been bow hunting 50 years this year (1958-2008). It seems like such a short time, but as I sat there I could recall many hunts and many friends that I had made due to the love of archery.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I caught movement. As I slowly turned my head I expected to see Stanley coming from behind the line of bushes along the lake bank. Wow!! It was not Stanley but a very nice 8 point. He continued to follow the lake trail and this brought him by my location at about 16 steps. As his head passed behind one of the oak trees I raised my bow and made ready for the shot. He continued on until he was directly in front of me broadside where he stopped to survey the lake ahead.
Photo at right of Stanley at Schell-Osage.
I picked a spot and drew my homemade longbow and let fly. He wheeled and ran across the creek and into the flat on the other side. It was not too thick but I lost sight of him. I sat for about five minutes and let it sink in. It was 9:30 am and I was at the most beautiful place I had ever hunted and had just been delivered a great deer. It doesn’t get any better than this. ∆
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