Allen Bolen, FE Bowhunting Editor
The following is a true story that took place in northern Manitoba in September of 2017.
Over a period of two weeks, none of the eight hunters in camp saw a single caribou. During these 14 days of agonizing boredom, the author engaged in these specific conversations with two of the camp’s residents: an older southern gentleman and a young Delta Airlines pilot.
Day 1 – At the Dinner Table
Allen: So, what do you do for a living?
The Gambler: I used to play golf for money. Now I just manage my deer ground and shoot my guns.
Allen: You have a nice range set up?
The Gambler: It’s really something special. I shoot out to 1,000 yards a day.
Allen: That’s awesome. There’s nothing like daily shooting. It’s therapeutic. I shoot my bow every day, but I’ve never heard of someone doing that with their rifles. Do you kill a lot of deer as well, managing your property?
The Gambler: I know this will sound unbelievable, but I’ve killed over 3,000 deer in my 76 years. Of course, 99% of those were does that needed thinning, and of course, cull bucks.
Allen: That’s amazing. If a caribou ever shows up, I think he’s in trouble.
The Gambler: As long as I don’t have to walk. My body isn’t what it once was, even 10 years ago. It’s no fun getting old. Enjoy this stuff as much as you can while you’re young.
Allen: My wife would tell you, I don’t skimp on time in the field.
The Gambler: Good for you, son.
Day 3 – At the Breakfast Table
Allen: What did you mean by, “played golf for money?”
The Gambler: (grinning) I specialized in extracting cash from the wallets of rich men who had gambling problems.
Allen: Wow. That was your job!? You must be a heck of a golfer. What’s your handicap?
The Gambler: It’s not about golf. Let me tell you something, son. And never forget this. Every bet is won or lost on the tee box.
Allen: Okay… so it’s a mental thing?
The Gambler: No, more of a strategy thing. Consistent winners don’t take bets they won’t win well over half of the time. The professional waits patiently and bets small until the right terms are offered on the right hole. These guys I played with got a thrill out of playing for big money and eventually, they’d get stupid, and then, I’d go all-in.
Allen: Ahhh. So it’s about waiting for the right odds.
The Gambler: That’s how you retire to manage your whitetail ground.
Day 6 – At the Dinner Table
The Pilot: My rifle shoots ½ inch groups at 100 yards.
The Gambler: Really, what are you shooting?
The Pilot: Gunwerks. 6.5 Creedmoor.
The Gambler: Did they set that up for you? Ran you about $10K right?
The Pilot: Yep. It’s flawless. Out to 1,000 yards, in any wind conditions. You just follow the system.
The Gambler: That’s certainly impressive.
Day 10 – At the Breakfast Table
The Gambler: Allen, I see you out my cabin window shooting your bow for hours every day. Looks like you shoot well, and out to 100 yards.
Allen: Well, I’d rather be shooting at a big bull caribou, but at this point, I think the odds at a Sasquatch are higher.
The Pilot: I love bowhunting too. But I brought my new Gunwerks on this hunt.
Allen: (pondering) I wonder what is more accurate at 100 yards, a bow, or a rifle, shot off-hand of course?
The Pilot: (scoff)
The Gambler: It depends on who is shooting
The Pilot: There is no way a bow can outshoot a rifle.
Day 12 – At the Breakfast Table
Allen: Wow, it is a beautiful, calm day out there. A great day for shooting.
The Pilot: Yes, a good day to shoot.
Allen: I’m still wondering about how a well-tuned bow would fair against a good, custom rifle.
The Pilot: I’m telling you, there is no way it’s close.
The Gambler: It’s an interesting question.
Allen: Maybe it’d be fun to put a little friendly bet on the experiment?
The Pilot: I’d put $100 on that for sure.
Allen: Let me think on that.
The Gambler: (whispering) Allen, take his money. Now.
Allen: So… I’m really curious about this. But since it’s a bow vs a rifle, we should do 3:1 odds. That would be fair, don’t you think?
The Pilot: So, I put up $300 and you put up $100? Easy decision. Let’s send it.
The Gambler: We’ll measure the widest part of a three-shot group, for each of you. The smallest measurement wins.
Day 12 – At the Firing Line, after Three Arrows and Three Bullets
Allen: It wasn’t my best group. I got a little nervous and pulled my last shot.
The Pilot: It was harder to hold on target than I thought it would be. But I felt pretty good.
The Gambler: (looking through the spotting scope) Well gentlemen, we can walk up to verify, but the arrows are within 10 inches of each other, and the bullet group is twice that, easily.
Day 14 – At the Airport
The Gambler: Well, Allen, you need to come out and shoot some deer at my place.
Allen: I’d love that. I really enjoyed your company up here.
The Gambler: Son, I’m going to tell you something I hadn’t planned to admit. I wanted to take your bet. So later that same day, after you set the trap for the bow vs rifle challenge, I went into my cabin while you were shooting at 100 yards and tried to hold the crosshairs of my rifle inside of your groups. I couldn’t do it off-hand.
Allen: (grinning) You really did that?
The Gambler: Son, you had that bet won on the tee box.