“My love for bowhunting started at a very young age”.
By Zach Welch
I can still remember the times I sat at the base of my dad’s tree while he sat in his stand. I would daydream about the day I would be old enough to hunt deer on my own. It seemed like my 12th birthday would never come. In Nebraska at the time, you had to be 12 years old to hunt deer. This all changed my 6th grade year when they changed that law to 10 years old. I was finally old enough to hunt deer and before I knew it I was already in the treestand. The first time I ever sat in my treestand, a doe came out at 60 yards and I began shaking so bad I don’t think I could have shot her even if she came close enough. This first experience was enough to keep me coming back for more and I found myself in the stand again the next weekend.
The next weekend was one that I would never forget. The wind was blowing 40 miles per hour and the tree was swaying so bad I was worried about falling out. My grandpa was sitting across from me about 70 yards. About an hour into the set, a small 4×4 walked out in front of me at 21 yards. At the time, this was my maximum shooting range. I remember settling the pin on his last rib as he was quartering away from me. I let the arrow go and watched it as it hit right exactly where I wanted. The buck took off and I looked across at my grandpa as he was giving me a thumbs up. He came over and got me and said we had to wait a half hour before going to track him. Waiting for a half hour seemed like an eternity while I sat there replaying the shot in my mind. Finally, my grandpa said “okay, its time now.” We went back to where we last saw the buck and began following the trail. I was shaking so bad and was nervous that we weren’t going to find it. After about 5 minutes, I heard my grandpa say “well look there, someone must have lost a deer.” I looked up and saw my first deer laying 10 yards from us below a cedar tree. I ran over to it and began to tear up as I wrapped my hands around a little 4×4 that I was so proud of. This sparked an obsession with the sport of bowhunting that would last my entire life.
Through the years, I have hunted many species of big and small game. As of lately, bowhunting has taken a new meaning for me. To me, it has been less about the harvest of the animal as I have grown older. Lately to me, it has been less about who can shoot the biggest buck or the most fish, or shoot the best, it has become more about the experience. Every time I go hunting now, I look forward to simply seeing things that I don’t get to see everyday. To walk into the stand in pure darkness and silence as I wait for the sun to come up over the horizon, or watch the fog lift off the river, to watch the sunlight flicker off his tines as he makes his way towards me with my heart pounding out of my chest, all mean more to me now than the harvest of the animal itself. Everytime I go hunting, I simply look forward to being out doing something I love. Every year, I see young kids harvest their first animals with their bow and I know they were bitten by the same bug I was at a young age that hooked me on bowhunting for life. I look forward to passing on the tradition to my kids and to watch them harvest their first animals and share those memories with them. Bowhunting is a huge part of my life and always will be.