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Barnett Penetrator Crossbow
by Sue Burch, WH Founder, South Carolina
Weight, performance, and looks, plus a crank-cocking attachment built right into the stock sold me..
Slowly I peeled back the warm covers on the bed. Stiff and sore from the last six days spent in the cold, sleet, and rain of Buffalo County; I was left dreary and dazed. A cup of hot coffee was definitely in need. The freezing cold kitchen floor met me with an awakening jar. I quickly shuffled to the carpet and looked out at the morning blackness wondering what the monster buck I saw two days ago had on his agenda today.
I tried to imagine whose wall he would grace come gun season and if there was any way St. Hubert’s Outfitters out of Durand, Wisconsin would have me back for a second round at taking the monster. Imagining different scenarios in my mind, I mechanically made my way down to the basement to start a fire in the woodstove. Reaching for kindling, pain shot through my right elbow. A couple days before I had slipped down the face of a wet rock when leaving the woods coming down hard on my right elbow.
Striking a match to the dry kindling I knew it wouldn’t be long and my little pile of wood would quickly burn out. Seeing the woodbin was empty, I cringed at the thought of braving the cold of the garage to replenish it. But since I was the only one awake to do the deed, I slipped on a pair of hunting boots and sloughed into the garage.
The sub zero cold hit me like a hurricane and I gasped to catch my breath. Stepping down into the garage, a sudden movement caused me to jerk to attention. Looking up I saw the leaping 60 pound ball of fur and fluff of my Shepard/Chow cross dog “Annie” bounding my way. Excited to see me after six days away she had forgotten I came home late in the night. Far beyond the point of self-control she closed in with the velocity of a speeding bullet. Annie clipped me off at the knees sending me spinning wildly through the air, careening towards the cold cement floor.
Breaking the fall with my right elbow and face, I immediately found myself in horrifying pain. Fighting off a face washing and hair combing, compliments of Annie’s excited muzzle, I tried to struggle to my feet. I managed to half crawl and half stumble my way to back into the house; collapsing on the floor evaluating damage.
Years of being bucked off by the horses I was training taught me to never get too excited unless need be about injuries. Every thing seemed to bend but when to turned my right arm side to side it snapped. “OK”, I thought, “I’m in trouble…” After rousing my daughter, Brittany, from sleep to take me into the hospital it was confirmed. The same elbow I had fallen on two days ago was now broken. I was done not only with archery season for the year but gun seasons, both in and out of state would also have to be cancelled. Now I cried with good reason.
As an archery hunter I had never been in favor of the crossbow, but being faced with not being able to hunt at all, it was suddenly an option to entertain. Within days I had a crossbow permit and my Ten Point Crossbow was on the way. I soon learned, however, that having a permit and being able to shoot it responsibly were two different things. Weeks would pass before I could support even the smallest amount of weight with my right arm let alone master the act of pulling a trigger.
All hunting seasons were coming to an end when I booked a hunt with Forest of Antlers Outfitters in Minocqua, Wisconsin. It was my last chance at harvesting a whitetail this year and on a cold (-15 F) morning I headed out, coyote hat on my head and crossbow in hand. Every step brought a challenge as I was warned that if I were to slip and fall on my injured elbow it would most definitely mean surgery. So, walking on eggshells, I carefully stepped up the rungs leading to my treestand.
In this extreme cold, EVERTHING made noise. It was super still and sub zero. Any shift of weight caused the hard steel stand to pop. Three hours on stand was enough and I was about to give up when I caught movement through the pines 35 yards to my left. I stood stone-still and gripped my crossbow tight.
At a brisk walk, he passed my stand at 20 yards and just as so many problems become blessings, my cameraman moved the cold swing arm attached to the camera and it let out a loud squeak. This stopped the deer broadside long enough to put my crosshairs securely behind its shoulder and pull the trigger. It all happened so fast none of us could register what had just transpired. The deer hurriedly walked away and looked back once before piling up only 26 yards from the stand.
|A broken elbow can’t keep this girl down! When it comes to hunting, where there is a will, there IS a way!|
Reality set in as I high fived my cameraman. I did it!!!! The minus fifteen degree temps now seemed like summer! My heart raced as I clamored down the stand to put my hands on the massive rack. My smile almost literally froze in place.
The lessons learned through adversity are many and lasting. I learned that appreciation for the ones you love; the freedoms you have and the physical ability to do the things you do daily should never be taken for granted. Loose any one of them and your life will change forever. I also learned that there are a lot of people out there willing to help you when you’re down. I am thankful for a hunting community in which help can be found everywhere when the chips are down. Thank you friends, your unselfish sacrifices have not gone unnoticed. With your help it turned out to be a lucky break after all!
When I turned twelve my dad wanted to constantly take me hunting. I have no clue how many times we went out. My grandfather also took me out on weekdays during Christmas Vacation. It was last year, deer season 2004, in Pennsylvania. It was hard to find a deer because everyone else had taken them down. I hadn't seen a deer yet when I went hunting. My dad wanted me to go out even more so I could see a deer. I really wanted to one. It was getting very distressing and I was about to give up on seeing a deer.
Then, on the last day of muzzleloader season, my dad took me out three times. On the third time, it was around two or three o'clock.
I was waiting in a tall platform on the hillside. Then my dad pointed out a doe standing at the top of the hill. My heart was racing and I was awestruck when I saw it. I was shaking heavily and my dad kept telling me to wait until it got closer, since we only had a crossbow with us.
My dad tried calling it in. It just stood staring. A couple of minutes later it took off down the hill, past the platform, and back into the brush. I was so amazed, and actually somewhat proud, for some reason, that I had finally seen a deer.
Memorial day has become a transitional period between spring and summer, an extra day of rest, its original purpose lost in a swirl of picnics and appliance sales; of flower bed plantings and weekend getaways.
It has not always been this way.
The idea of Memorial Day goes way back to the years right after the Civil War when relatives of soldiers who had been killed would decorate their graves with flowers. Three years after the end of the Civil War, General John Logan proclaimed this practice a holiday declaring it Declaration Day.
In 1882, Declaration Day was given its modern name: Memorial Day, and in 1971 Memorial Day was declared a national holiday.
It is easy to get caught up in the trappings of barbeques and family get-togethers, but at the same time it is imperative to remember all of our armed forces, and recognize their tremendous sacrifice.
As we pay tribute to these individuals, we are reminded that freedom is never free; it is a gift purchased for us, by others, at a great cost. I was reminded of that last Memorial Day weekend when I looked in the eyes of 22-year-old retired Marine Lance Corporal Chase Savage, Purple Heart recipient who lost his right arm just above the elbow while defending our freedom in Iraq.
Being honored by Red, White, Blue Outdoors television, with an invitation to accompany Lance Corporal Savage and active duty, Army Major Jerry Gray, Army aviator for 23 years on a Buffalo hunt outside of Floresville, Texas was in itself a tremendous privilege, and there was no better way to spend a Memorial Day weekend in the woods with these two fine heroes.
Red, White, Blue Outdoors television is aired on the Men’s Outdoor Recreational Channel. Their mission is to provide returning and wounded soldiers, and those in the civil service, who have displayed tremendous valor, an opportunity to hunt with outfitters that donate their time and resources to honor those who serve.
Tony Dukes, the concept originator of Red, White, Blue Outdoors is a man on a mission. Tirelessly, he continues to contact sponsors for equipment support and outfitters for donations of hunts and lodging for his organization. His entire focus is showing our active and veteran servicemen and women that they are appreciated, that they are not forgotten, and just to give something back, a smidgen of gratitude for what they have done and continue to sacrifice on a daily basis.
“It is not enough to honor their sacrifices simply on Memorial Day,” Dukes said, “We should remember then throughout the year, as we enjoy the freedoms they've won and preserve for us.”
Department of Public Safety officer E.T. Hughey, owner of Lon Lease outfitters, located in Lavernia, Texas, donated two buffalo hunts to Red, White, Blue Outdoors.
An easy going, soft-spoken man smiled when he said, “Even if I have nothing left but my family on this earth and I am sitting by a campfire with not even a soda to drink, I can still look back and say, ‘Yeah, but remember when those two soldiers came out to the ranch….’ There is nothing like giving back, there is nothing I would rather be doing.”
With the help of his long-time friends Bob, Brian, and Josh with Cactus Creek Bowhunting we set out on Saturday afternoon the find the mighty buffalo.
Lance Corporal Savage was set up first. We set up in a Double-Bull Blind on a path that the outfitters were certain the buffalo would cross, and we waited.
Storm clouds threatened in the distance, and thunder would occasionally rumble deep and ominous, and still we waited. The buffalo, at first detected in the brush, spooked and crashed through the thicket. They are powerful and strong, known to be aggressive, so caution was to be observed, and proper shot placement was imperative.
LCpl Savage waited with his cross-bow braced across his prosthetic arm, posed and ready, but opted not to take the shot. The distance was too great and the chance that the animal might be wounded, rather than a clean kill, was his primary concern.
We would get another chance.
About an hour later, the buffalo returned, they ambled across the clearing, unaware of our presence, until one bull stopped and looked in our direction with a beautiful broadside target. The opening was brief, but LCpl Savage grasped the opportunity, and he nailed a great shot, clean through at 48 yards.
The eyes of that young man have seen horrors that, I, as a civilian, could not imagine, but for the brief moment, they reflected nothing but victory and happiness. He flashed a grin in my direction that I will carry with me forever.
The following day dawned soggy and wet from a torrential rain the previous night.
Brian decided it would be best for us to spot and stalk the beasts because of the condition of the terrain. The day promised to be hot and humid, with rains coming in late in the afternoon. We had a rugged day before us and time-constraints to contend with. This was Major Gray’s day, and he was up for the challenge.
Brian guided the Major, myself and Rex, the cameraman for Red, White, Blue Outdoors television, and Tony Dukes right-hand man, through thick brush and thorny mesquite. The bugs were relentless, and we were covered in sweat. The buffalo came into our sights several times, but would move off, just out of range, only to be lost in the deep woods. We continued to track them, wanting to get within close range with the cross-bow to avoid arrow interference from branches.
The Major’s first shot was straight and true, only it did exactly what we had been trying to avoid: at the last minute it struck a tiny branch, altering its course, luckily landing below the animal rather than wounding it.
This made the massive 1000-pound animals slightly more skittish, and potentially more aggressive, so caution was in order.
When we finally got in range again, a female buffalo, lagging slightly to the rear, stopped and quartered on us bringing her head and shoulders around to see who was in the brush, exposing a prime target area. Major Gray took the shot and completed a perfect two-for-two Memorial Day buffalo hunt. The stalk took a total of six hours, and we covered an abundant amount of ground at a very quick pace, but the prize was before us and the weekend was complete.
As the buffalo were cleaned, and congratulations were shared, I looked across the group of men whom I had shared an unforgettable weekend with: these men who gave and continue to give for their country and the men who unselfishly give of their time and resources to say thank you for the vigilance, courage and resolve through their donations; I was in the best of company.
For more than 220 years our military has provided a bastion against our enemies. In that time, our world has changed and our armed forces have changed with it, but the valor, dignity and courage of the men and women in uniform remain the same.
Since the Revolutionary War, more than 42 million men and women have served in America’s military. More than 600,000 of those dauntless, selfless warriors died in combat, and countless, like Marine LCpl Chase Savage have been injured, and their lives changed forever.
We fight because we believe. Not that war is good, but that sometimes it is necessary.
Regardless of personal feelings about our war and conflicts, it is important to stand behind the soldiers who keep us free. I look at men like E.T., Bob, Brian, Josh, Rex, Tony Dukes and organizations like Red, White, Blue Outdoors.
They are an inspiration.
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