By Dennis Dunn
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- As all serious bowhunters know, determination, persistence, and patience are the ultimate keys to success in the achievement of any hunting goal.
My recent November hunt on Sitkinak Island, AK, reconfirmed that conviction for the umpteenth time! Though I had taken a Sitka Blacktail forked-horn many years ago on the way to my Super Slam, five additional hunts in pursuit of a trophy-quality buck had produced nothing. My seventh hunt for the species, however, finally netted me a Pope & Young animal, as the accompanying photo will show.
When I accomplished the first-ever, “barebow” North American Super Slam with strictly instinctive shooting back in the fall of 2004, I counted up those species where my best harvest was NOT of sufficient quality to qualify for the Pope & Young Records Book. It turned out 17 species had qualified, but 12 did not measure up.
With that awareness in mind, I immediately set one further hunting goal for myself — knowing that I would really be in an adversarial race with Father Time. During the past 14 years, I’ve been seeking to “upgrade” to trophy-quality status all 12 of those animals that didn’t originally “make book.” I was already 64 then when I set the new goal, and I will soon turn 79 this coming spring.
By the fall of 2006, I had knocked three off the list, but I then made a decision that raised the bar significantly higher and made my self-imposed challenge all the more daunting: namely, I hung up my compound bow for good and returned to my roots in traditional archery. Since November of 2006, starting at age 66, I have only hunted with recurve bows, longbows, and selfbows. In the course of the past 12 years, I have continued pursuing my “impossible dream” — having hunted all nine remaining species at least once, but some of them as many as eight times without success.
The good news, however, is that my “magic number” now stands at two. Only the Bison and the Alaskan Barren Ground Caribou lie between me and my goal. Although there are, indeed, five or six individuals who have managed to place all 29 N. A. animals in the P & Y Records, no one has yet — to my knowledge — succeeded in doing it with purely instinctive shooting and fingers on the string. Those who have done it, all with yardage sight-pins for aiming, hunt with compound bows and trigger-releases, as well.
Whether or not my present good health will stay with me for another few years, long enough to allow me to reach my goal — that is the big question to which only God knows the answer. And He may not have made up his mind yet! What I do know with certainty is that, ever since I went back to my traditional roots in archery, I have been blessed with more good luck in the field than anybody deserves to have in an entire lifetime of hunting! Since the fall of 2006, three SCI World Record animals have fallen to my traditional bows and cedar arrows, and — in just the last 38 months — three Boone & Crockett animals, to boot. No one deserves to be THAT lucky! Which is why I fear I may well have used up all my hunting good luck for the rest of my life!
Born under the sign of Taurus, nevertheless, I’m about as stubborn and determined as they come. If the Good Lord will just bless me with a few more years of good health, perhaps I may be able to achieve my goal before old age finally knocks me out of the arena — into a grave or a wheelchair. Every hunt now seems “harder” than the last, but I will never willingly give up the chase, as long I have breath to fill my lungs and strength to draw my bows.
About Dennis Dunn