Never Too Old to Bowhunt

By Brodie SwisherJanuary 29, 2024
Everett Park shares insight from his “Pop” on how to keep bowhunting, even into the later years  of life.
As I stepped into the woods, I could see a single, red light in the dark. It was the glow of Pop’s lighted nock, marking first blood. Making my way to the area he usually hunts, I expected to find him waiting on me to begin tracking his deer. What I found instead was a familiar sight, my 70+ year young father standing over a really big, nanny doe! He had, as he often does, a very short track, and a very dead, mature animal. So he had taken it upon himself to drag her the 40 yards back to where he shot her. As we worked together to gather up his climber and crossbow, it dawned on me how remarkable the last few years have been for us hunting together. 
Pop grew up in New England and later made his way to the deserts of New Mexico. He hunted and killed plenty of animals with a gun before life got in the way. With four kids, hunting had to take a backseat. And it wasn’t until I found a spot for us to hunt together just a handful of years ago that we started making up for lost time.
Never Too Old To Bowhunt

One of his first purchases was a $200 crossbow on sale at Cabela’s and after some tinkering and toying, he settled on a fairly heavy lighted bolt. Paired up with a cheap fixed blade broadhead similar to what I was shooting out of my compound, he proudly joined me in our first archery season together.

The years have flown by since then, but if one thing has remained exactly the same it’s the consistent quality of deer and precise shots the old man keeps putting together. He’s killed as many as five in a season using this same old crossbow, and tossing in whatever gun he occasionally wants to “try out“ before returning to old faithful.

I’ve dragged him all over our part of Georgia, public lands in Kentucky, hiked mountains, and accessed hunting spots by water. He’s straddled four wheelers, golf carts, and held on for dear life while I motored us across icy lakes in my NuCanoe kayaks. And fairly often, he’s rewarded me with something heavy to drag out.

At the root of our family tradition is a deep love for God‘s creation, appreciation for the food that it provides us, and the joy of fellowshipping as a family. Over the years, we’ve gotten to see both my boys kill their first deer, then a first buck. We celebrate every time one of us harvests an animal, and put in the work and the time to make sure the next season is always better.

Never Too Old To Bowhunt

It’s hard to watch our loved ones age, even if they are earning a legendary reputation like Pop. He gets a little slower every year, not going as deep into the woods, or sitting on stand as long. But here’s a few tricks in his own words, that should keep a few of you old dogs on the trail way past retirement. 

1. Take Your Time –  Try to get in early for your evening hunts. It helps to get a little nap in before deer-thirty. Here’s where a comfortable seat pays off. My climber is adjusted so well for a long sit that I feel safe and cozy, even after 4 or more hours. If you’re retired, what’s the harm in heading to the stand after a nice lunch? Early morning hunts are my biggest challenge, so I don’t stress about those 4AM days anymore. Fortunately, there are plenty of big bucks that feel the same, and will meet you later in the morning. I killed my biggest buck a few years back at almost 11AM.

2. Know Your Physical Limits  Leave your ego in the truck and never be too proud to ask for help. Dragging a stand in, or a deer out, is sometimes a two-man job, and a great opportunity to teach the next generation something you have learned. Facebook and forums are loaded with guys who are eager to learn. But, if you have a son, grandson, or any relatives of any age or gender, teach them while you are here. And get them to help you along the way – it’s worth it!

3. Be Flexible – By flexible I mean adapt to the hunt you have in front of you. The boys and I have gone in to a small private spot, and killed from a hastily put up ground screen two hours later. Ladder stands are easier, but don’t allow you to play the wind. The frame of a climber stand hung on a big tree makes a nice and comfortable ground-level seat, If you can’t have a more comfortable option, like a box stand.

4. Stay Active and Exercise – Don’t try to go from the recliner to the climber! Get a lightweight, comfortable climber and practice with it while wearing your safety harness. Find a telephone pole or pine tree to get some weekly exercise in to stay in shape. And don’t be scared to sit lower than you used to. You’re old and wise enough to find the right tree with enough cover.

5. Dress Warm – Wear the clothes to keep you comfortable. You have to have some circulation in your body after long hours in the tree. The worst thing you can do is climb down because you can’t hold out. Long sits are always key for me. You gotta be there when the deer walks by, so be sure to dress warm.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice – Your whole hunt strategy should be familiar, whether it’s the mechanics of the hike in, tree selection, safe climbing, staying warm and comfortable, waiting out that nosy doe that knows you’re there, or making the perfect shot. 

Above all, remember why you’re putting up with all the “uncomfortableness.” If you love something, find a way to do it. The meat and the memories are always worth the extra effort.

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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