The Voices in my Head

Minnesota Archery Opener 2009


My splint cast and release I wore for hunting opener

Having taken just enough college psychology to be dangerous and irritating, my favorite crash test dummy for armchair analysis is myself. Understanding people is a fascination of mine and trying to figure myself out is, too.


Those thoughts were in my mind as I walked out onto my cabin porch on archery opener this year, camo’d up and carrying my compound bow with its disabled shooting device removed just two days before. The constellation Orion greeted me in the southern sky as it does every year on this day. However, with no moon, I could not even see my truck a mere 6 feet away. The air was still and the dampness of early morning had made all the new fallen leaves as soft as apple peels. I prayed before my hunt, clicked on a micro-lite and started my journey to the only tree stand I could probably manage to get to on time.


“Normally”, the doctor began, “we see patients able to remove their cast and begin activities in 6-8 weeks.” “Normally?” I queried. “You’re not normal,” he continued in the deadpan matter-of-fact typical dry demeanor that I’ve heard is common to orthopedic surgeons - as he pulled out a dictation device and started recapping my case.


Me with face camo paint and the doe I arrowed on opener in the background

“Okay then, you’re not normal” said the voices in my head. Next topic. He continued on that I had lifestyle of climbing trees, archery hunting, using chain saws, roller blading, skiing, kick boxing, riding motorcycles…… and I cut him off. “You’re right, the cast stays on, but I am going to bow hunt so I need a disability permit.” I was ordered not to manually pull my bow with my broken arm till December.


We’ll just see about that.


I am one of those who falls through the cracks of the Minnesota DNR system, so I could not get the permit. The doc had to sign off that I would be disabled for a minimum of two years, which of course he could not do. I guess hunters who break their arm during the summer just have to forget hunting for a year, or so the law is written. I found this out after I had the mechanical device installed on my bow to the tune of nearly $200. It was four days before archery opener and it was either break the law or take matters into my own hands.


I had the draw device removed, a new whisker biscuit arrow rest installed and sighted the bow in at my cabin the evening before opener. I strapped my caliper release on over my cast, cranked the draw weight down from 47 to 37 pounds and zeroed it into 4 inch arrow groupings at 20 and 30 yards. Party time!


I had also safety checked 8 tree stands against doctor’s orders so I had several venue options for archery opener.


September 19th:

Me two weeks later with the buck I arrowed

It was one of those mornings where everything went right even though everything took much longer. Once settled quietly in my tree, I just gelled there, so thankful to be hunting at all. As the sun rose and woods awakened, I heard the clearly discernable sound of something large coming thru the woods. A perfect six point buck presented itself in the food plot. My heart began to race even though I knew I would not take a shot at this deer. I didn’t want to burn my buck tag on opener and I also had hopes that if the animal continued a pattern thru this field, perhaps one of my son’s as yet deer-less friends would get a shot at it in November. The buck walked under my stand and was gone.


Moments later, two mature does arrived, each with twin fawns. They milled around for 20 minutes before I went to full draw on one of the adults. Then the voices in my head began again. I got to pondering the nuances of this shot and believe me, the atrophied muscles in my left arm were not happy with my brain at this point. Pulling my bow I had barely mastered, but now holding it at full draw had my deltoids screaming for mercy.


The does were still nursing, two fawns were buck fawns and one doe fawn still had spots. I did a change of course and let the arrow fly at the remaining doe fawn, thinking too, with my arm being weak, dragging a large doe out of the woods would be impossible. It was a 15 yard double lung pass through, 50 yard run, expired in 60 seconds – the kind of humane shot we always want. I waited 45 minutes, and then followed the textbook blood trail. Back at camp, I dressed, skinned and quartered the deer for processing later. Two weeks later, I arrowed a good sized management buck and dragged it 100 yards to a food plot as I mentally pictured my newly castless arm snapping off.


The splint cast came off the week after archery opener. I confessed to my doctor that I had hunted opener with my bow, pulling it manually. I expected to get spanked “Did you get a deer?” he asked. “Yes”, I said sheepishly. “Alright!” he chortled as the conversation turned to hunting and pretty much remained there except for his warning to stay off roller blades till December. The voices in my head summarily agreed.