My name is Dawn Farrar and I am 46 years old. I have been shooting a compound bow for 10 months now. Although due to a foot injury and location, I was only able to shoot for a week in each of the first 5 months. I love archery and I love hunting. Being able to get out in the woods and be a part of nature makes me feel blessed. My boyfriend is to blame for it all. He is the best archery coach, the best hunting scout and teacher, and he is the best life partner a girl could ask for.
I met Bill on the internet over 5 yrs ago. I can remember how he impressed me. He had a passion for two things, dancing and archery. Even though we had never met in person, I always felt left behind. When it was dancing, he would tell me he had a full dance card and had to go. But when it came to hunting, he had to be to bed early and get up before the sun. That's when I discovered his passion for archery and hunting was an obsession, not just a passion.
We decided to meet in person and he invited me to have Thanksgiving Dinner with his family in Pa. I was meeting the whole family. They were great and made me feel very welcome. Bill and his nephew are close and used to shoot and hunt together. They could talk for hours about hunting and shooting and the woods. His sister would say "That poor girl, having to listen to those two tell their hunting tales, " She has to be bored out of her mind." What she didn't know was that I was fascinated. Little did I know that I would share this passion and be exchanging my own hunting stories with Bill's nephew on our next meeting.
I had Surgery on my ankle in March of 2002 to repair a fracture and torn tendons. I was in a cast for 3 mos. I came to Tennessee to visit Bill while I was recuperating. In my first few days here, Bill was to attend an ASA Tournament. I was excited. I had never been to an archery tournament before. His friend John Jackson, who shoots for PSE, made me feel very welcome and was very helpful to us. It's not every day a girl goes traipsing thru the woods with these guys and especially one on crutches. When we arrived in Oakridge, Tn, it had been raining and there was plenty of mud. Parking was at least a mile and half from the main registration area. All the folks that helped run the tournament were great. They called for a 4-wheeler and had someone pick me up and take me to the registration area, where I waited for Bill and John. I immensely enjoyed the tournament and being outside. I was invited to rest and elevate my foot in the PSE tent. Jim Landrum from PSE was great and I loved listening to his Bear Seminar. While Bill and John practiced I would sit and listen to Jim talk about PSE and hunting. I was still really fascinated by it all. Bows have changed so much since I was a Camp Fire Girl and shooting a little bow at a bale of hay. Also I couldn't believe how many women were shooting at a national tournament and how many of them were Pro's. I met so many people and heard so many times how I was a trouper, following Bill around the tournament. And all the time I was thinking of how great the guys were, putting up with me being on crutches and slowing them down.
When we returned to Paris, Tn, it was back to work for the guys and resting for me. It wasn't long till I got bored and Bill would take me to work with him at Hulme Sporting Goods. It is a family owned business and they would let me sit behind the counter and watch Bill as long as I didn't interrupt his work. After the second day Bill had me go out on the shooting range with him and he had me pull back a bow. It was a 50 lb. PSE Spyder with the stinger cam. Not that I knew what all that meant back then. Bill set the bow up for me and taught me how to shoot it while sitting in a chair. When I was the only one on the range he would take me down to ten yards and have me shoot till I was making good groups. From there I was shooting sitting down from the twenty yard line. I was so excited. This was something I could do and I was fairly good at it. That first weekend they had a local tournament and I asked Bill if I could try to shoot it. He said that if I really wanted to it was fine by him. We got a chair that I could take around with me and put a strap on it so I could sling it over my shoulder and carry it while walking on crutches. Again all the guys were great. They carried my equipment for me and helped me over the rough spots in the woods. I would shoot the stake last and Bill would discuss the range with me. It is still my biggest opportunity in shooting a tournament. After we discussed the range of the target, I would make my shot. I didn't do very well that first tournament but I had so much fun.
Soon it was time for me to go to Florida to visit my family and then back to New York to the Doctors and on to physical therapy for my ankle. I returned to Tn. a few times over the next two months, getting to shoot my bow for a week at a time. I bought a trailer and was making plans to move here when things settled with my foot and ankle. I shot my second tournament wearing a boot cast. It wasn't as hard as crutches but it was very awkward. I shot my bow when ever I had a chance. I loved it and I loved the competition. I became a member of the ASA, even though I knew I probably wouldn't get to shoot a tournament.
Bill was going to the ASA in Roanoke, Va. and invited me to join him. I told him to bring my bow with him because I always left it in Tn. He didn't know it but I was planning on shooting this tournament. We met in Roanoke and I registered to shoot. I was armed with my ankle brace and bug spray and I was determined. Now I didn't have a problem shooting at a 3-d target... but a real animal was something else. I didn't do great in the tournament, but I didn't come in last either. I did however make some new friends and learned that I wanted to go hunting.
I moved to Tn. the end of August and had only shot my bow for about 5 weeks from March until then. Hunting season was falling upon us and I only had 5 more weeks to practice my with my bow and be ready for opening day.
I loved the woods and I loved shooting my bow. I would take my bow and take my camera and I would shoot something in the woods. Bill started taking me scouting with him and I found it very difficult to walk in the woods off the well beaten trails of a tournament. He made me a walking stick and I got a pair of snake boots. Add my ankle brace and two pair of socks and it was like wearing my boot cast. It made the woods easier to handle. I still had to be careful, but I was on my way. He taught me what signs to look for and sounds to listen for. He set up a tree stand that was light enough for me to carry and rigged it so I could climb a tree using my right foot for the strength and the left only for stability. My arms got a very good work out too. I was climbing a tree to 20 ft in no time. My pull up rope was thirty feet and Bill tied it off to twenty. When I could feel my bow tugging the rope I was high enough in the tree. He marked a 20 yd. circle around my tree and I could shoot anything that was inside my circle. I was fairly accurate at 20 yds. We walked my trail into the woods and marked it with reflective trail tacks and I practiced climbing my tree. I was ready for opening day.
We always talked about what deer liked to eat. How you knew if they knew you were there or not. When to move and when not to move. There was so much to learn about hunting and opening day was just a week away. I practiced climbing and I practiced shooting and picked Bills brain every chance I got. I was determined to do this and I wanted every advantage. I washed all the camouflage clothes in a dirt scented detergent and on opening morning showered in dirt scented shampoo and gel. I pack water and a snack along with my scent spray and dirt wafers and I am ready to go. We get to the woods and it is pitch black out. It is then that I realize, I am really out here in the dark and I am going to be alone.
Bill makes sure I have everything organized and that my light works. I have practiced this several times in the daylight. I am scared to death. He kisses me and asks if I am all right and I tell him I can do this. I know where he will be if I need him. As he drives off I keep telling myself over and over, I can do this. I double check my safety harness, put my stand on my back, sling my bag over my neck, and pick up my bow and walking stick. I am finally ready, I think.
I slowly started down the logging road. It is so quiet all I can hear is my steps and my breathing. I see the first tack on the trail and I am relieved. Then I spot the next tack and then the next and finally I am at my tree. I am so glad Bill made me practice with the tree stand. I was up in my tree and ready before first light. I still don't know if I can shoot an animal yet, but I am in a tree with my bow on opening day.
I saw several doe with fawns and start getting excited. They are too far away but where in NYC can I look at this. After a couple of hours I hear a noise off to my left. I look up and there is a buck standing just out side my 20 yd circle. He is amazing. But I am not suppose to shoot outside my circle. My chances of missing are greater and I didn't want to just hurt a deer, so he walks.
All the deer that come by me also go by Bill. When he asks if I saw that big buck, I told him that he was just outside my circle. It was there that we laid down the ground work for shooting a deer. The 20 yd circle was a guideline so I didn't have to worry about ranges and pins in the excitement of shooting. That's when I exclaimed that I didn't get nervous like all the guys talked about. I had too much to think about when trying to shoot to be nervous. Bill and John couldn't understand that, they both get nervous and shake. Bill was a little disappointed, thinking that I really didn't like it out here.
By the next week of hunting I am getting pretty good at this. I have a new tree and it's harder to get to. But I slowly make my way to my tree and get set up. I bought a scent attractant, Buck Snort Persimmon Gel from Evolved Habitat, and put it on several trees in my 20 yd circle. I climb my tree and wait for the sun. I really like watching the sun rise from a tree. The sun is just clearing the tree tops when I see two doe off about 40 yards. Then I see the buck and he is walking right for me. Right to the tree I placed the Buck Snort Gel on. He is 10 yards directly in front of me. I have the perfect broadside shot. I reach for my bow and I cannot even stand up, let alone draw back my bow. I can't breath, I am so nervous. I am shaking so bad I am sure the tree is moving. The buck moves off and lives another day. It is then that I realize I have the ability and the will to do this.
The next morning we are out in the woods again. Always have to be in the tree and set up before first light. The sun wasn't t even up for half an hour yet when a nice doe is walking right to the gel attractant. I keep telling my self, I can do this, I can do this. She is 15 yards and stops. It is a perfect broadside shot again. I slowly stand up and draw my bow. I take aim. Shoot. Miss. She jumps and runs 40 yards and stops looks back to where she was standing. Slowly she walks back to the same spot. I whisper if you come back I won't miss again. She stops in the same spot. I take aim again and shoot. It's a hit. A good hit. She runs in a partial circle and then turns and heads for the logging road. I know she is headed for the field. I watch her and she falls. Her legs kick up. She lays still. It then hits me, I just shot a deer and I am hugging my tree. I slowly sit down and make myself breath. I wait a little bit and get down from my tree. I go to the logging road and I can see her. I did it I got my first deer. I have so much adrenalin that I drag her 20 yards to the road by myself. I go and get Bill and we take the deer to the area where we field dress them and prep her. She weighed in at 88 lbs dressed. We took pictures and headed for the processing plant. Linda Barrett at Barrett's Processing was so excited for me she took my picture with a digital camera and printed it for me.
Some of the things I have seen in the woods could be put on a greeting card. Listening to the falling leaves, watching the frost melt, sitting in a tree with a gentle rain falling, or watching a doe with her fawn. I saw deer every day but two. I walked into the woods one day in the dark and a deer stood on the ridge and watched me. His eyes glow in my light. I would take two steps and stop. He would take two steps and stop. We did this for about five minutes. I just walked to my tree and he just walked off. One time I was taking a nature call before climbing my tree and I look to the left and here is a deer watching me. And the time there was a turkey roosted in my tree. I didn't know it was there and when it took off I thought the whole tree was coming down on my head.
My hunts have not all been perfect. I have dropped my bow from 30 ft. and then had the deer watching me climb back up my tree. I have forgotten my light. I lost my way once. I get hot climbing my tree then cold. But all in all I love being in the woods and I really enjoyed hunting.
I would like to thank to Evolved Habitat for making a product that works so well. Every time I used the Buck Snort Gel, I always had deer in my 20 yd circle. I would also like to thank PSE for make a good entry level bow for women and young people who have a shorter draw length. It made learning to shoot fun while allowing me to be very accurate. Hulme Sporting Goods allowed me to practice daily on their indoor range. And last but not least thanks to Jim Landrum, from PSE, for telling his stories with such spark and enthusiasm that I could not help but become interested in the hunting aspect of my bow shooting.
It is time for the archery tournaments to start again and I am practicing a lot. Bill is coaching me and helping me with all my equipment. I have a new bow and sight this year and I am getting better. Ranges and judging yardage still remains the most difficult thing for me to learn. My ankle is still a problem and probably always will be. But I am not going to let that keep me from doing what I like. The 3-d tournament season will be fun and it helps to make me a better shot and gets me ready for the next hunting season. I am really looking forward to being out there in the woods again and learning more about hunting. I am glad I met Bill and I am glad we share this obsession.