What a weekend! When I left Virginia early Thursday morning, I don’t think it’s possible I could have imagined a more perfect trip to Northern Illinois. I was looking forward to the trip west; driving through the mountains of West Virginia, across the Ohio River, through Indiana farmland and into the beauty and nostalgia that is Northern Illinois. However, the events that followed made this one of the best weekends of my life.
Friday morning started off with a trip to the Bowhunting.com office to meet Todd and Justin and before I knew it, I was working on my first blog as a Bowhunting.com Pro Staffer! It was cool to just be working alongside Todd and Justin after following them through their gear review blogs and videos the last two years. After publishing my first blog, a review and video of the Gorilla Exo-Tech Safety Harness, Todd and I grabbed lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise where we further discussed my responsibilities as a Pro Staf Gear Reviewer. Here I am, one day just a farm hand from Western Virginia, the next, a member of the best bowhunting team in the country!
Here I am shooting my bow off Todd's back porch. While he got the better of me overall, I did manage to outshoot him on a couple of targets!
After getting back to the office we realized we embarrassingly had forgotten to grab Justin something to eat, who had worked through lunch. Sorry Justin! That afternoon we stayed busy around the office working on final preparations for the Get Together the following day. Once our work at the office was complete, and I managed to break the parking garage door, Todd and I headed to his house to shoot a few arrows to make sure we were dialed in. Although I got the better of Todd on a couple shots, he outshot me overall. Jason from New Archery Products (NAP) then showed up and the three of us spent the better part of an hour just sitting on the back porch, enjoying a summer afternoon and of course, talking about bowhunting products. In the process, Jason managed to sell me on the NAP 2-Blade Bloodrunner, which I’ll hopefully introduce to some Virginia whitetails this fall. The day concluded with a trip to Paradise Campgrounds where I was finally able to personally meet some of the guys whose gear reviews I've been reading. Even though I didn’t get to stay long, it was nice to put some faces with names with some of the guys!
Having little time to make sure Friday wasn’t a dream, Saturday morning found me at Coon Creek Hunt Club ready for a day of shooting bows. Admittedly, I was pretty nervous about the shoot because I had never shot in front of anyone but my brother and I think it showed! I got off to a rocky start, however, once I settled down a bit I shot consistently well. I did have the chance to witness some great shooting by the other members in my group. Fellow Pro Staffer Dustin DeCroo made an unbelievable 108 yard shot on the 3-D elk; right in the kill zone! Pro Staffer Jessica Edd dispels the notion that men are superior archers than women making great shot after great shot all day. All the while Richie Music smoothly punched the 3-D targets with as only a left-handed shooter could!
Perhaps what I enjoyed most on Saturday, however, was finally meeting my good buddy Mike Willand. Mike has been a big supporter of my writing and I have to thank him the most for this awesome opportunity. I’ve been emailing and conversing over the phone with Mike for the better part of two years, and I look up to him as a hunter, person and writer, so it was awesome to finally be able to meet him!
Unfortunately, I had to return home for work Monday morning, but I left Northern Illinois having experienced an incredible time. I had little idea what I was getting into when I left for this trip, but by the weekend’s end, I had met some great people, competed against some awesome bowhunters, and had my dreams come true. Look through my blogs from the Get Together for more pictures! I’m really looking forward to sharing my bowhunting experiences and product reviews with you and I hope that I can provide information that will make you a better informed and more successful bowhunter!
God Bless and Happy Hunting!