Letter from an air bow hunter

By Anonymous

I’m a single, white, able-bodied male, and I’m a closet air bow hunter. I’m writing this to let others like me know they’re not alone. This is my story …  

I was raised by a helicopter nanny in Tacoma, and I didn’t do anything adventurous until I kicked around downtown Seattle while attending U-Dub. After graduating I moved to San Fran as an analyst for a major tech firm making ridiculous money. I found great comfort knowing that everything I’d ever need was just a DoorDash from my condo. But then the pandemic hit.

About the time the looting started and the police were defunded, my cousin from Texas called me, concerned. I told him the grocery stores were looking anemic and restaurants were being closed. After poking fun at me for being a “helpless commie,”  he invited me to his annual bowhunting camp to, again I quote, “get my own damn food.” I needed a little getaway anyway, but I was worried because I hadn’t shot a bow, ever.

“You’ll be fine,” said my cousin.

When I arrived at the camp the following Friday evening, one of my cousin’s buddies, a party animal from Waco, insisted I use his “air bow” the next morning, because he said he had killed a nice buck with it earlier that day and he’d be too hungover to go out the next morning. Skeeter was quite the Texas alpha male stereotype, but a heck of a guy. 

“Air bow?” I asked, halfway skeptical, halfway intrigued. 

“Next best thing to a rifle,” he said while handing it to me. Intricately machined and with a large scope on it, I was awestruck. “Just wait for a critter to turn broadside as it stuffs its face with corn, then put the crosshair behind its shoulder and squeeze the trigger,” advised Skeeter as he laid into the tequila.

In three days I killed a buck, a doe, two hogs, a racoon and a feral cat. From my cell phone in the tower blind, I ordered the exact same air bow from the Dallas-based AirForce airgun company—the TalonBolt—and two extra packs of arrows. The pneumatic-powered airgun is simple, shoots arrows at nearly 400-feet-per-second, and, if the hit/miss data gleaned from one hunting camp is not an anomaly, it appears to be significantly more effective than compound bows when user-error is factored. Plus, it can be shot from a truck or ATV while driving around, a tactic that’s part of the game in Texas. Most significantly, after a half-dozen shots I became an expert in air-bowmanship. This is huge, considering my distinct lack of hand-eye coordination and my work schedule (not to mention condo living space) that allows little to no practice.

Although I was still a total rookie when I left Texas, I was now a hunter. And yes, it does feel great knowing that I’m not totally dependent on Gavin Newsome to feed me. Mainly, though, I learned that hunting was also damn fun. 

Soon thereafter I moved to Park City, Utah, mainly because I had the hunting bug. I figured finding some hunting buddies there would be easy. 

I sought out online hunting forums and found a website promoting a group of self-described inclusive outdoors people who claimed they love to hunt and fish in the backcountry. It sounded exactly like the type of group I was looking for so I paid for a membership and then traveled to a “rendezvous” where I’d get to swap hunting stories, see new gear and meet new friends. But as I walked around looking for someone to talk to, I overheard a conversation about some former member who they suspected of using a crossbow. 

“Crossbows are ruining the northern hemisphere’s entire ecosystem,” said one well-exercised chick.

“A barbarian in Filson clothing,” chimed another. “He probably fishes with hand grenades.”

“They should be outlawed just like semi-autos, high fences, capitalists and private land!” spewed another.

“Crossbows aren’t the worst of it,” said a strange-looking dude with a pedo-stache. “Have you heard of … I hate to even utter it … air bows?” The crowd gasped in unison. 

“Simple solution,” said a righteous guy wearing a “Me for Congress” sticker on his blazer. “Jail anyone who even thinks about using one. I’m serious. The FBI’s on our side.”

“Yes, yes!” the group agreed as they clanked their hard ciders. 

Instinctively, I began backtracking toward the parking lot where my new F-250 dwarfed all the Subarus. I sped home thinking about what the hell had just happened. Was I not a real hunter?

For a long while I never spoke a word to anyone except my Texas hunting buddies about hunting with the air bow. Even today when I hunt, I keep it hidden in a bow case until I’m far back into the forest for fear of being ostracized by the very people who claim to promote hunting. 

The good news is that I’m becoming more confident as a hunter, and as a man. Maybe someday I’ll return to the rendezvous with my Talonbolt strapped to my back while wearing my Private Land Hunter Hat and guzzling Busch Lights. Then I’ll move to Austin, or better yet, Waco. But I’m not there yet.  

From the FE Films Archive

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