"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." - Aldo Leopold

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Adventures of the Novice Bowfisherman

As if life isn’t complicated and frustrating enough, I decided I wanted to take up bowfishing. I put a starter’s kit on my letter to Santa, and lo and behold, it was under the tree Christmas morning. He’ll be taking note of the naughty in 2011...at least the naughty words.


Before we get to my nincompoopery, let’s tell ya what I got. It is a PSE Kingfisher kit – a recurve with two arrows and a spool you wrap with 80lb braided line. The spool goes where the stabilizer normally would, and the rest is a roller of sorts. I will be replacing the spool with a reel when I’m done paying off my sizeable Most Wonderful Time of the Year debt.

Not being the engineering type, I was a touch dismayed that the kit came disassembled - even more so when I realized there were no instructions, in French, Korean or otherwise, included in the box. But what the heck, I am a pretty smart guy, I should be able to assemble this with little problem.

I screwed in the limbs so the bow would resemble your standard half-moon shaped archery tackle. But the string was too long. Hmm. My first thought, naturally, was someone else had erred severely. Where the hell does the tension necessary to fling an arrow past my feet come from when I have six inches of bowstring coiled around my hand?

A dim bulb brightened. Maybe they are on backwards. So, I took it all apart and re-screwed the limbs in so the rig was inverted. Guess that's why it's called a recurve. Ha! I looped the string on and the loops correctly locked into the notches at the ends. (My archery terminology sucks, BTW. Feel free to correct me.) Then I realized that the thick part of the string (See?) that held the nock (Better.) was upside down.

I started to back off the screw to correct this problem and thankfully realized that the strain would be too much. Either the limbs would crack and it’s be all over, or it’d come whipping apart leaving me with fewer teeth. After consultation with a friend, I learned I could use my own brute strength to flip the string around without damage to the bow or my face. I was ready to shoot.

And here’s where the real trouble started.

I went up to Homosassa to my in-laws’ river house for New Years. Dreams of smoked mullet chased me up the road. Alas, the water was murky and the sky overcast. Nothing moved. (Basically just described my actual bow season this year.)

Just for the fun of it, I fired an arrow off the end of the dock. A manatee roiled a few yards away. That would have been embarrassing. I would have had to cut the line, wipe the bow of fingerprints, and toss the albatross into the nearest channel for the Navy Seals to find for their prosecution. Lesson relearned – don’t shoot into what you can’t see.

Moving along, fully expecting angry e-mails for confessing that, I shot at leaves in shallower water where I could see clearly. I learned some fun things. One, make sure the fishing line is clear of any snags on the bow. One arrow flew playfully back into my Thank God I Was Wearing Jeans At The Time left leg. The arrow popped off another time, and I had to roll up aforementioned jeans to wade into the frigid water to recover my dart. Finally, if the breeze caught the fishing line correctly, the braid would come unwinding off the spool, hence my desire for a reel.

I truly feel, though, wisdom comes with courting advice from those in the know. We repaired to a party up the road where I knew the boys there had been bowfishing for some time. As expected, they were whacking fish like starving Aborigines.



They imparted that the trickiest part of this – and here I thought assembly and preventing self-harm were the trickiest parts – was aiming below the target fish. More so the deeper the fish is underwater due to the refraction of the water. I'd learned this from shooting at the leaves, sometimes aiming as much as a foot below the objective.

They plucked away at a school of mullet. I'd left my bow at the house because I truly, truly hate being embarrassed in front of others. Plus, it was New Years Eve, and if I'd nearly impaled myself and an innocent sea cow while sober...

Anyway, New Years morning I staggered back down to our dock and found a young stingray lounging in the shadows.

Easy.

Three shots later, the ray finally tired of the ploinks of my wayward arrows and drifted into the manatee-infested dark water.

Sigghhhhhh.

This is part of an actual review of the PSE Kingfisher kit on Cabela's website from PGKIRK of New Holland, PA:

"This is a fun package...Whacked a monster fish with my 1st shot."

New Holland, PA, birthplace of liars.

But I enjoy the challenge. I have no familiarity with a recurve and aim to learn to aim one properly. Plus, it gives me another toy to fiddle with and customize.

As always, I invite tips and hints for such things. I’m looking forward to plunging my first fish. And with your gentle advice and guiding hand, it’s possible you may spare me embarrassment.

You may end up saving a me few pints of blood along the way, too.

4 comments:

Hunt Like You're Hungry said...

I've seen Bowfishing on various hunting shows... It seems nifty but incredibly difficult. I'll make a note that if I ever do try to bowfish, I'll specify that the bow needs to be pre-assembled.

Good luck with it!

Happy (bowfish)Hunting!

HLYH

Albert A Rasch said...

Ian,

Before you neuter yourself, Put a field point on the thing if possible, and shoot it repeatedly at a bale.

Watch you don't wrap that string around a finger. It will do a world of hurt to you.

Learn to throw a cast net. Much easier and effective.

Go offshore in a kayak.
Bring chum.
Chum water.
Attract sharks.
Stand up in kayak.
Shoot shark, much bigger,much easier.

See! All problems solved.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Albert Rasch In Afghanistan™

Ian Nance said...

And Mr. Hunting Expert reveals his true identity!

CJ Williams said...

Great post Ian. I've always wanted to try this. I saw a show not too long ago on the outdoor channel where these guys would drive their boat really fast and fish would jump out of the water as the boat went by. They would shoot them out of the air with their bows! You'd have to see it to believe it I guess. Anyway keep us posted on your bowfishing misadventures! Take care.