Ups & Downs of Bowhunting
by Christy Barney
Kisser, nose, Squeeze. Kisser, nose, squeeze. It is the same every time. Kisser, nose, squeeze. So if it is the same every time, why is the outcome not the same?
The ups and the downs, the successes and the failures, the great hunts and unfortunately the horrible hunts happen to us all. That second you let go of the arrow you want it back, or you smile with a sigh of relief. The only thing that separates those two moments is practice. I was once told by a professional archer that it did not matter how many arrows I shot as long as I shot them the right way. So, what is the right way? The right way is your way, your kisser, nose, squeeze. However, it does not always matter how much we practice or how hard we try. Sometimes the hunting gods are just stacked against us. Whether you sit twenty yards from the buck of a lifetime for two hours before he busts you and blows out of the canyon, or a 30-minute stock and fire an unsuccessful shot. If you have hunted you will fail but, you will also succeed. It may not be today and it may not be tomorrow, but as long as you keep your head up and keep hammering away it will come to you. And when it does there will never be a better feeling than that feeling of accomplishment.
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to travel half way around the world and hunt game in the plains of Africa. I had a very successful hunt and harvested several different species, including the surprisingly elusive giraffe. The one animal on this earth that is nearly impossible to stalk due to their height. Riding high on the success of that trip, I came home only to have several failed attempts at harvesting a javelina, a stinky little ole javelina. I had hunted javelina for 4 years, but always without success. It was not for lack of effort either, but I knew if I stuck it out I would one day succeed. Every year we would hunt hard and cover a lot of ground. Some years we would make successful stalks with missed opportunities and some years our stalks would fail. The sheer disappointment of one simple mistake, the tilt of the bow or—heaven forbid—the dreaded buck fever. There is never a bigger let down than making a successful stalk, but missing a 20, 30, or even a 40 yard shot. However, when that arrow made contact at 23-yards with my javelin—that is the moment I choose to remember. Not the missed attempts or the blown stalks. As I stood in the Arizona desert alone, watching my javelina expire, the sense of accomplishment overwhelmed me and I was surprised at how emotional I had become. I realized the unsuccessful stalks and the missed opportunities were an education I gained along the way. That one successful shot was worth all the hard work.
I can promise if you hunt long enough there will be some kind of disappointment along the way. It may even be another hunter or another outdoorsman, but we all have to remember we are in this together as hunters and outdoorsman we have to strive to help one another to look out for each other. The last thing we need to do is let the other groups and activists come between us. We work too hard and have too much passion for the things we do and the places we go. We need to stick together because once you succeed, that sense of accomplishment, that satisfaction of a successful hunt is all that matters in the moment. We all have the failures and the let downs. The tough part is coming back from the let downs, getting your confidence back, picking your head up and saying next time I will succeed. Because that next time may be the 200-inch mule deer, or the 400-inch bull elk that has only been a dream until you finally succeed. Just remember all those failed attempts are our education. The high fives, those are the memories we choose to remember.
Christy Barney was born and raised in Southern Utah. She grew up water skiing, camping, four wheeling, and hunting with her family. After meeting her husband Bronc, her best friend and hunting buddy, she was introduced to archery hunting. It wasn’t long before archery hunting became her new passion. Whether competing at archery events or hunting big game, archery has taken her to many places domestically and internationally. Among all of the amazing experiences the sport of archery has brought into her life, one of the most treasured are the friendships and relationships that she has acquired along the way. She currently works for Worldwide Trophy Adventures and anxiously awaits her next outdoor adventure.