Fifty-Five years of bow hunting, but who's counting?


If you treasure the great outdoors of Mississippi during the fall, and if you crave a grilled venison steak every now and then, you oughta give bow hunting a try. That is, if you haven't already.

Oh, I realize there are drawbacks (pun intended) to hunting with a bow, but if you're able-bodied and know anything about deer hunting at all, most anybody can become a successful two-season hunter.

Heck, look at me (not literally; you'll throw up), I'm 69 and still climbing trees with my Ol' Man stand (appropriately named).

In fact, though not to boast, I took a fairly decent 7-point with my trusty Mathews bow (obvious plug) last year while hunting with my good friend, Terry Phelps.

Admittedly, I did need help getting the fat critter field dressed and the meat to a cooler, but thanks to my young buddy, Patrick Hankins, that was no big problem.

Though I thought I'd never be truthful in saying it, but bow hunting is easier than you think, especially with today's modern equipment.

For example, when I started bow hunting 55 years ago, we had nothing more than a “stick and a string.”

Now we have highly efficient compounds. And here in Mississippi, you even have the option of using a crossbow.

Modern stands also make bow hunting easier. When I was young, just after the last dinosaurs disappeared, there was no such thing as climbing stands.

There were no lock-on or ladder stands, either, unless of course you built your own out of 2X4s.

They weren't very sturdy or safe, though, especially after a few years out in the weather.

How well I remember a rotten step that broke almost at the top of my ladder, even under the light weight of my bony butt.

Fortunately, I was able to hang on and shimmy down safely.

Nonetheless, moving right along, there are really too many new archery innovations to mention that make the sport easier, safer and far more efficient.

For instance, the only arrows one could purchase “back in the day” were made mostly of hickory. Then along came aluminum and finally carbon arrows.

I remember, too, when bow sights first came on the market. That alone brought groups down from basketball size to half-dollar size. Oh, for you young 'uns, “half-dollar size” could be closely equated with that of a “credit card size.” LOL!

Early on, bow hunters had but a handful of hunting heads to choose from. I chose the old Fred Bear Razorheads, which were considered THE best on the market at the time. But, not to belittle the works of a great bow hunter, today's hunting heads – from fixed blades to switch blades - are far superior.

And, speaking of Fred Bear, The Father of Modern Bow Hunting, I met the man in his later years and we became friends.

At the SHOT Show held in New Orleans, he insisted I get a picture of him and what I THINK was the World Record brown bear.

He autographed my copy and from time to time sent other photos of himself and game he had taken with his bow. We stayed in touch until his passing, and it was a true honor to have known the man.

  And why do I mention Fred Bear as a friend? To brag? You're (dang) right! You see, if it weren't for innovative folks like him, we might well still be shooting with a “stick and string.” And I don't really think I could pull that off that off at my age.

I could go on and on about how innovation has made bow hunting possible for so many these days. But, as usual, that would only serve to bore you more. I will say this, though, and that is if I have persuaded at least one person to give bow hunting a try, DON'T DO IT ON YOUR OWN.

Get with a bow hunting friend, someone who knows the ropes. If you're like me and don't have any friends, talk to pros at several archery shops and get a consensus of what they advise. After you have made your initial purchase, learn your bow and other gear from top to bottom.

Archery season for deer in the Southeast Zone in Mississippi begins Oct. 15, so that'll be pushing it a bit. However, the Archery/Primitive Weapon season opens Jan. 23, 2020 and lasts until Feb. 15.

Therefore, it's really not too late to get into bow hunting for deer in the Magnolia State. The main thing is to obtain the best gear (not necessarily the most expensive) you can afford, then practice, practice, practice. Who knows, it might just put a beautiful buck mount on the wall or those venison steaks on the grill.

Regardless of how you choose to hunt, or even if you prefer to fish, get out there, have fun, be safe, and take a kid with you … every time you can.

Email PineBelt News outdoor reporter Phil DiFatta at, or send him a text at (601) 596-4475. Just be sure to include your name.