I pulled my truck and trailer up to the boat ramp on a recent bowfishing trip and was greeted by the manager of the marina at the lake. Knowing that I was going out after the large carp the lake offers, he shared his disgust in the current carp situation on the lake. He was doing his best to clean up dead carp that were floating around the boat docks. “There’s dead fish everywhere,” he said. He went on to tell me that there were 60-70 dead fish floating around the boat dock and where the lake tour boat came in and out with guests. “These guys are shooting fish with their bows, whackin’ them on the head with a ball bat to kill them, and then throwing them back into the lake,” he said.
His frustration with bowfishing was obvious. And I could sense that he was hoping to encourage me to help with their current problem. Fortunately I had my big “fish tub” in the boat and was able to assure him that I was not a part of the problem as I shoot and remove all fish I kill on the lake with the use of the fish tub. He thanked me for my willingness to not only help reduce the carp population in the lake, but also in helping try to keep the lake looking nice by removing my dead fish.
The author sees an opportunity to be part of the solution during a recent trip to the lake for some bowfishing fun.
As I motored across the water I quickly saw that the issue with dead carp was much bigger than what the manager had originally thought. Dead fish floated all across the lake. But the worst part came when I trolled up in the shallows. Dead fish littered the shoreline too. They were everywhere. Rarely did I encounter a 20-yard stretch along the bank that didn’t feature dead carp. I immediately became very concerned for the future of bowfishing opportunities on this private access lake. I knew full well that bowhunters and bowfishermen were quickly becoming frowned upon because of the nasty situation that was resulting from their recreation.
What We Do
The things we do as bowhunters can have a dramatic impression on the non-hunting world around us. The largest group out there is not hunters, or anti-hunters. Its non-hunters. My desire is to see these non-hunters influenced by what we do in a positive way, making them want to join the ranks of bowhunters. However, the negative things we do as bowhunters could easily tip them in the opposite direction, causing them to join the efforts of anti-hunters. We need to answer the question, “What am I doing as a bowhunter to directly impact the non-hunting community?” and “Are my actions as a bowhunter positive or negative in the eyes of the non-hunting world?”
Archery is a great way to open the door to the non-hunting community. While they may not be a hunter, they often see archery as a natural activity that every child ought to have the opportunity to be a part of, much like fishing, shooting a BB gun, etc. As archers and bowhunters, we need to take the time to be pro-active in the positive promotion of archery and bowhunting in our communities and across the country.
What We Leave Behind
As bowhunters, we must also be conscious of what we leave behind…both literally and in our long-time legacy after we’re gone. Whether it’s dead fish, a gut pile, or other leftovers from our good times in the field or on the water, we must be conscious of what we leave behind and the effect it will have on those who encounter it after us. I’ve got a buddy that lost permission on one of the hottest deer hunting spots in the county because he left deer gut piles in plain sight of the farm road used daily by the landowner. The landowner’s wife was repulsed by the sight of the gut piles. The day her dog came back to the house covered in blood and guts after rompin’ around on a fresh gut pile was the day my friend lost permission on this great farm. Laziness and a lack of respect for the landowner cost him hunting opportunities on a great piece of whitetail property. Think about the things you leave behind and the impression it will make on others.
Everything we do (as bowhunters) has an impact on how we are viewed by others outside of the bowhunting community. Every now and then it is important to stop and think about the impressions we are making not only in the field….but everywhere we go.
And what will we leave behind once our journey as a bowhunter comes to an end? I thank God for the man that shared his old Bear recurve bow and a handful of arrows with me as he passed on his passion for archery and bowhunting. With great patience he shared his time, gear, bowhunting books, and words of wisdom with me as I dove head-first into the world of archery and bowhunting. His days of enjoying archery and bowhunting are long gone, but his legacy of bowhunting lives on within me…and now my son.
What are you doing today that will make a difference for tomorrow? What will you do and what will you leave behind that will have a positive or negative impact on others? Never forget the duty and obligation we have as bowhunting ambassadors to make things better for those that come behind us.
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, and seminar speaker. Check out his website www.thrutheseason.com.