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The giant American bison was seventy-five yards across the slope of the stunning South Dakota hillside. My Lakota guide had directed me to make the final stalk on my own and the Great Spirit of the Buffalo enveloped my pulsating world like lightning bolts to my soul.
All those youthful years of sneaking up on river rats with my trusty longbow outside Detroit gave me an incredible edge as I invisibly tip toed toward the monarch of the mountains. I had learned to read the body language of my prey and only inched forward as the huge bull’s enormous torso stepped, swayed or flexed.
When the bull froze, I froze. When he munched or moved, I mirrored his action, no more, no less.
At one point his mammoth head jerked erect as he tested the wind, his beady, omniscient glaring eyes wet and visible even from where I stood. Now at fifty yards, and I dared not move a twit. Satisfied all was well in his domain, he resumed to nibbling casually on the succulent grasses and vegetation of his paradise mountain.
Taking my final silent steps to the last bush between us, I leaned out, drew back my Martin bow, and centered the Pollington Red Dot sight high and slightly behind his shoulder. My back muscles instinctively took over from a lifetime of archery imprinting and my arrow took off on its own.
Like my bowhunting heroes Fred Bear, Howard Hill, Bob Munger, Ed Bilderback, Doug Walker and Ben Pearson before me, I was shooting an all-white arrow with high profile white feathers and this extremely visible projectile made the mystical flight of my arrow all that more mystical when it slammed home on the dark brown rug of my buff.
The fact that I hit the ball joint of his shoulder with nearly no penetration whatsoever made it all the more graphic and telling, and I was instantly compelled to reload and touch off arrow #2 within mere seconds.
Making one the greatest shots of my life, (with witnesses mind you) that second all white arrow struck perfectly behind the same shoulder and penetrated to the fletching at nearly 70 yards. The beast lurched and thundered off headstrong.
Wow! What a memory branding moment that was!
With both lungs empty, the old trophy bull was down and out within a short deathrun, and much rejoicing ensued as we prayed and offered up the ceremonial sweet grass ritual as a prayer for the wildthings. These are very moving moments that one never forgets.
The spirituality of the encounter with such a magnificent beast is indescribable and buoys the psyche like few moments in life can. But it is the eye candy visual of that glowing white arrow that sends the most powerful signals to the brain, that we are dealing with a very special, dynamic and in this case, massive creature and a very simply small shaft that we send on our mission with precision forethought.
I often reference the mighty “Mystical flight of the arrow”, for it holds a magical power over us when approached and performed with maximum dedication.
Many archers are missing out on this spellbinding experience by using dark, camouflage fletched arrows that are invisible in flight. With the incredible velocity achieved with modern bow components, the flight of the arrow is for all practical purposes lost to the archer.
More often than not, a bowhunter has no idea where or if the arrow struck its mark and can be clueless as to the potential lethality of the hit unless the invisible shaft can somehow be recovered and examined for blood spoor.
I am here to highly recommend that those who cannot see their arrows in flight make some simple adjustments in order to better celebrate this exciting element of our archery/bowhunting ballet.
Gold Tip produces my own signature line of state of the art carbon arrows in my favorite zebra striped finish. With black on white, black on green and a pink zebra pattern available, these shafts are highly visible to the naked eye even when launched from blinding speed bows. Add a colorful crest and white or bright colored fletching and now we are able to watch our arrows hit home with certain confirmation.
I have been fletching my arrows lately with the highest visibility fletching out there, the glowing Norway Industries day-glow Neon Fusion 3” vanes that are also slightly ribbed for increased aerodynamic flight stability.
And of course the ultimate beacon of visibility is the amazing lighted Lumenok that shines brightly once the arrow leaves the bow. I simply won’t hunt without them. These lighted nocks have become extremely popular and make hit identity and finding our arrows a breeze.
Anyone who watches our Spirit of the Wild on Outdoor Channel or most of the outdoor TV shows these days will see these lighted nocks in action and realize why they are so popular.
Give it a shot. Everybody who upgrades the visibility of their arrows all agree it brings a dramatic upgrade to the overall archery and bowhunting experience. It is true that the cost per arrow these days is outrageous, but the more visible our arrows are, the easier it is to find them and get more mileage out of our hard earned arrow money.
I have been using white fletching for years for that reason, especially in grass much easier to find. From behind the arrow not much to see unless distance is involved.
I too have been mystified by the flight of the arrow. I use Victory “pink” carbon arrows that give a spectacular view from bow to prey. The world seems to slow as the arrow takes flight. You are so right about our other brother bowhunters that use camo arrows. They miss out on the “experiance”.