It’s been a little while since my last update. So, what’s new since then? If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been plagued by health problems this year. And, even more difficult for me, I recently lost my father to terminal brain cancer. Needless to say, 2016 has not been a good year in general. And the same can be said for my hunting season so far.
My season got off to a late start due to the passing of my father. He died just a few days short of the start of bow season. The 4 months before his death were dedicated to caring for him and getting him to and from appointments, so there was no time to prepare for deer season. On top of that I had been newly diagnosed with Graves’ Disease (hyperthyroid disease), and was struggling to get that under control.
My life seemed to be falling apart and it was a struggle trying to take care of dad and work full-time. So, I had to make the difficult decision to cut back on my hours at work. This in turn has led to financial struggles. My income had dropped but my bills were still the same. Plus all of the new expenses that were accruing. It wasn’t cheap driving to all of those appointments, and Dad was always wanting to eat out. How could I say no? He was only given a few months to live and if he wanted to eat at Frisch’s everyday, then that’s what we would do! The problem with that of course was less money coming in, so I did something I swore I would never do; yes, I ran up the credit cards.
Okay, now for my biggest hunting struggle. Since I had no time to prepare for season and had not done any target practice, I was very shocked when season came and I could not draw back my bow. I was devastated! This alone made season a little less exciting for me. I absolutely loved shooting my compound bow, and to me there was just something special about taking a deer with it. I was afraid it just wouldn’t be the same if I had to use the crossbow. This had become my major dilemma: “Would using the crossbow make me less of a hunter?”
Alright, up first is my health. I am still struggling with my Graves’ Disease. I am on medication, however, I continue to get worse. I will be seeing my doctor in a couple of weeks, and I am hoping she will be able to do a little more to help me out. But, even if I can get my Graves’ Disease symptoms better controlled, I still will be unable to shoot my compound bow. I had also been having a lot of neck and shoulder pain, so I went to the doctor for that. I was told that I have arthritis in my neck. Not surprising; I also have it in my low spine. I’ve been dealing with that for several years now. I was given some exercises to try for my shoulder, but was also told that they may not help. I am being told that my shoulder is pretty much shot and that the only way it may get better is through surgery. Unfortunately that is just not an option for me right now, as I used up all of my available time off (including a large portion of my FML) in order to take care of my dad. Had I known, I would not have done anything differently. Those last few months with my father were far more valuable to me than anything else. My shoulder can wait.
What about my financial situation? No, it has not gotten any better. As I am still struggling with my health problems, I decided to stay part-time at work. I work 12.5 hour shifts with 3 hours of driving time. It is just so hard on my body right now. On the bright side though, I will start teaching part-time again in January. I was fortunate enough to land a teaching job at the local college; it is only for 1 semester every year, and it is only 1 day a week. So, it is much less stressful on my body. It helps with the finances a little, and it is something I truly enjoy. I am also trying to make a go at it selling Deaux Girl products. I tried the products out, so when they decided to go the direct marketing route, I jumped on board. Right now I am not making any money, but I am hopeful it will pay off in the future!
Up next, my bow dilemma. How do I feel about it now? I will confess that I still miss my compound bow! Given a choice, I would choose it over a crossbow any day. However, that is not an option for me right now. I hope that someday I will be able to return to using it, but for now, I am hunting with a crossbow. And, I am okay with that! I let other peoples’ opinions play a large role in my struggle to use the crossbow. I have read so many articles and posts that are anti-crossbow. I’ve heard people say the crossbow is cheating; it doesn’t count. Yet, I had hunted with a crossbow in the past. I knew there were special challenges to using the crossbow, just as there are special challenges to using a compound. Some of these challenges are the same, while others are very different. So, I have now decided to carry my crossbow with pride. I am thankful it is an option. There are so many of us out there who love to hunt, but just aren’t physically capable of using a compound bow. Or. maybe just prefer the crossbow. And, there is nothing wrong with that! So, to all of you crossbow haters, don’t be so quick to judge. You, too, may someday need to pick up the crossbow. It is about getting out there and doing what I love! And, I love hunting, so here’s to the crossbow and all those who proudly carry one!
MY LATEST STRUGGLE
Yes, I have a new problem to add to my 2016 list. And, this one is another heart breaker, in more ways than one. I have been pursuing what I believe to be the same buck for 2 years now. At first I was not convinced it was the same one from last year until I saw him in person this season. I just couldn’t see it in the trail cam pictures, but now I am 100% sure. I seen this buck several times last season, just never could get him in bow range. I have now also seen him several times this season. I even had him come in at 20 yards with no shot opportunity. So, I have seen him enough to know that it is the same buck.
After watching this beauty for 2 years, I finally got him patterned. I figured out where my best odds were, so my husband and I put up a new stand in the spot that would give me the best shot at getting him. We just recently did this a couple of weeks ago. I have only had the opportunity to hunt the stand 3 times so far; however, this was during the rut. I did get to see him, but he was chasing and there was no getting him to stop. Well, now the rut is over, and I’m sure he is back to his usual patterns. Yet, I am not able to go and hunt him at this time, and may never be able to again.
Why, you ask? I am afraid my pursuit of this buck has come to a tragic end, however, in a much more tragic way than I could have ever imagined. This buck is not on my land; it is on a farm that my husband and I have hunted for several years now. When we first starting hunting this farm, we had no idea that we had gotten far more than just a great hunting location, we had just gained a great new friend. This man who was allowing us to hunt his farm turned out to be one of the nicest men a person could ever hope to meet. And, he was truly one of my biggest supporters in my hunting ventures. He was always cheering me on. Sadly, this incredible man suffered a massive heart attack last week and was not able to recover; he lost his battle just 2 short days ago. My husband and I are still reeling with shock; it was so unexpected. You truly just don’t know what life holds in store for you. And, there is no guarantee of a tomorrow. We’ve all heard that saying a million times, and I unfortunately have seen it far too many times over the past few years.
So, does this mean that we no longer have rights to hunt this farm? I don’t know the answer to that right now. And honestly, I don’t care at the moment. I am much more devastated at the loss of our dear friend than I am at the loss of hunting a buck. I could have hunted this past week when everyone was at the hospital and nobody was home, but it just wouldn’t have felt right. There would have been no way I could have enjoyed it. Not to mention, it would have felt disrespectful to the family. How could I be out there enjoying myself while he was lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life? I couldn’t.
And, who knows, maybe I will get to continue hunting there. Maybe even this season. Just not now. And, that’s okay, because there are things in life that are far more important than hunting. Sometimes it takes something tragic to make us realize how irrelevant our struggles truly are.
RIP Jack. You will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing you.