It was another one of those magical, very special Saturday afternoons on a beautiful, warm, sunny summertime day in the 1950s. I hadn’t reached the age of 10 yet, but my total addiction to tromping the woods and the mystical flight of the arrow was irreversible.
By Ted Nugent
Dad was taking me into town for a little shopping and stuff, but all I knew was that we would stop by Millers Feed Store on Grand River Avenue in Redford within the Detroit city limits, where the walls were lined with bows and arrows.
These were the early years of the renewed modern day bowhunting phenomena driven by the master entrepreneurial visionaries of Fred Bear, Howard Hill, Roy Case, Ben Pearson, Gale Martin, Glenn St. Charles and a handful of other very special men.
I had a little Osage orange longbow that I shot incessantly, but arrows were at a premium. If I ever had two or three good ones at a time, I was doing pretty good.
A visit to Millers Feed Store was always exciting if for no other reason than to simply gawk at or ultimately fondle their extensive display of gorgeous Port Orford cedar arrows all festooned with high profile real turkey feathers of assorted colors.
I recall a few years following the fall/winter hunting season, that Miller’s would have a sale on arrows where you could purchase these phenomenal artistic projectiles for ten cents apiece! Are you kidding me? Ten cents apiece!
With my homemade back quiver stuffed with six or eight of these arrows, I would explore and wander the riverine jungles of the Rouge River which wound forever right across the street from our home.
Back then, cousin Mark and I would spend our entire waking hours walking and stalking this wildlife rich wildground with bows and arrows in hand, learning hands-on, boots on the ground our real world, natural predator relationship with critters and their world.
And we would shoot, and shoot, and shoot some more. Every clump of dirt, rotted stump, piece of trash, river rat, chipmunk, rabbit, squirrel, dove, robin, woodchuck, quail, crow, snake, possum, coon, skunk, fish, it didn’t matter. We learned through nonstop trial and error how animals reacted to our movements, stealth and presence.
From every imaginable angle and distance, we would aim small miss small and learn about arrow trajectory and flight. The fun factor was indescribable, and we honed our predator touch and instinct to its fullest potential.
I still conduct such adventurous random foot safaris now and then in my old age, but of course we cannot shoot robins or other critters based on legal seasons and whatnot. And of course the incredible cost of a complete arrow nowadays is more expensive than shooting .460 Weatherby Magnum ammo, so the days of casual arrow flinging may very well be a thing of the past.
But with a little forethought, using Judo points and bright fletching with Lumenok lighted nocks, finding arrows is a little easier now than when it was back then.
And do not underestimate how this type of ultra-fun practice can tune up our predator radar, hand-eye coordination, overall sense of awareness and understanding of animal behavior. And not just for bowhunting efficiency, but for increased predatorship using any and all choices of weaponry and game pursued.
This roving “stump shooting” fun is the foundation of the National Field Archery Association, the largest and oldest family archery organization in the world. You find a champion NFAA archer, and you have found a deadly shot at varying ranges and conditions, and even if we prefer treestand ambushing, all the assorted lessons learned out there in the wild will help us make the right decision when the beast is in our zone.
Going slow and paying ultra-close attention to our surroundings will simply better tune us in to the world we cherish beyond the pavement come hunting season. Plus, I can’t think of another activity that is so much fun for every family member no matter what the age. Go for it. Aim small miss small live big!