Banner for nature photograher and songwriter, A. J. Windless. See all of his inspiring work on this website.
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Antlers covered in velvet, a beautiful mule buck stands in the forest facing the shooter, in this case a photographer not a trophy hunter.
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Writers and movie producers either don't seem to understand or don't seem to care that an arrow is not as fast as a bullet. (And I am pretty sure that a knife, or any other hand thrown object, is even slower than an arrow.)  In the movies I see guys armed with a bow shooting a gun out of someone's hand faster than the gunman can fire. In real life, even if a deer is looking the other way, he will hear the twang of the bow and will  jump reflexively, more often than not avoiding the arrow. The archery industry sells "string silencers", dangling rubber strands or other contrivances attached to the string that reduce the loud "twang" to a more muffled "twung". I never had much luck with that. In a forest that is always quiet and quite natural, I think even a "twung" is quite startling. To me it seems that the most effective way of avoiding the dodge is to get within 20 yards of the buck. That way he will have a lot less time to react. But getting close is not always possible, and every meter added to that 20 yards will make the effort increasingly more difficult. Of course, it depends on what kind of deer you are pursuing and how much hunting pressure they have had. In this photo, with the deer looking right at me, it would be quite difficult to succeed unless I am very close. With a rifle, on the other hand, this buck cannot escape. From a hundred yards, even with nothing to steady the rifle on, it would be difficult to miss. Of course, whether you are shooting a bow or a rifle, there are always those deer that stand there and naively look at you even after you have already missed several times. Once in City Creek Canyon I watched hunters unload an entire box of cartridges on three buck that stood high on the mountain staring down at them. As for me, I haven't shot at a living creature of any kind since I was in my mid-twenties. I put away my bow and my rifle and have taken up the camera, not only as a way to preserve the life of this buck while I continue to hunt, but to preserve this eloquent image of him still standing on his own four feet to share with all of you. You can go on an intimate hunt with me and read about how and why I went through this transformation. (click here) Later that same title served as the inspiration for this song that I wrote and performed. (click here)

(Note: I am drawing mostly from my experience with a recurve bow, that is the old wooden bows with the curved tips. Today's compound bows, the ones with cables and pulleys, enable you to shoot a more powerful bow with the same or less arm strength, and therefore would be a bit faster than the recurve bow.

(Photo: Sept. 1, 1992 Film: Kodachrome 64)

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