My worn out shoulder

When I get back from Canada in the middle of October, I will hunt for the very first time with a crossbow. I am plumb ashamed of myself for doing it, but I can’t hunt this year with my bow because I have a problem with my right shoulder, which is my string-pulling shoulder. I have nearly worn it out casting fishing lures.

I tried to calculate how many casts I have made in my life while fishing. If I figure right it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5 million, give or take a couple hundred. I have worn out a lot of fishing reels and they have nearly worn out my shoulder in the doing of it. Being the father of a doctor, I have an idea of what has happened.

I think the knob that holds my shoulder on to my rib cage has been ground of a little, because of the heat developing from the friction of casting and heaving giant catfish over the side of my boat on a consistent basis. That worn down knob makes it difficult to pull back my 80-pound bow. I could set it down to 60 pounds but that is sort of like stopping to ask directions. Real men don’t do that kind of thing, as it is an admission of weakness. Any grizzled old outdoorsman like me would just as soon wear an earring or get a tattoo, or repaint his pickup than to make his bow weaker.

Some might wonder if a crossbow is more accurate and if that is one of the reasons I have resorted to such a cut-rate kind of deer hunting. For some, that might be the case, but not with me. I can shoot a bow with the same kind of accuracy of Fred Bear back when he was alive. Many’s the time I have dead-centered a running armadillo from my tree stand at a distance of 40 or 50 yards. Thinking back on it, I cannot remember ever missing a deer, but as you get older you forget, so it may have happened.

But seriously folks, after the first frost I am going to hunt with a crossbow, one I paid more than $300 for at Walmart. It seems to be a good one. One like it at Bass Pro Shops was about a $1,000.

I might get a young turkey this year while hunting with that crossbow, because there are so many where I hunt. It won’t be much of a job, because I can call them fairly close in the fall by imitating a mother turkey. I like to shoot them in the head so I have to call them to within 40 or 50 yards! When I shoot at a turkey much farther than that, I seem to miss about half of them.

You can call loud and long in October. A hen turkey trying to call her brood together sounds a little like Vernon Cantrell’s wife use to sound when she caught her husband playing pool in our pool hall when I was a kid. It is a loud screeching that goes on for quite a while. You could hear her all the way to the drugstore. Hen turkeys are like that in the fall!

In much of the area that I hunt in the fall, I find plenty of deer too. You can gauge the number and size of bucks in an area when bow hunting, and exploring in October. The rubs on trees with a four or five-inch diameter are the ones made by bigger bucks. I don’t want any more of those. There ain’t hardly enough room in my storage shed for another set of giant antlers. Those 20-point bucks with antlers spread out three feet or so taste awful, like a groundhog that’s been feeding on buckbrush.

I want some good deer to eat, while we still aren’t afraid to eat deer meat. Chronic wasting disease will change that in the future. We’ll have to hunt squirrels and wild hogs when that day comes, if we want to ill the freezer.

Did you know you can also can get an idea of what big bucks exist by examining the droppings along trails, because if you know what you are looking at, the droppings tell you the size and sex of the deer which left them. Kind of an unsavory thing to be talking about in a family-type outdoor column, but it is the truth. If you wouldn’t know the difference in deer droppings, you certainly are not a grizzled old outdoorsman. You likely live in the suburbs and watch those outdoor shows on TV and go to Bass Pro Shops where you buy a lure for $10 that I buy at Walmart for four!

I was thinking the other day about that term, “pro.” I would love to be called a pro-something, and while I can’t be called a Bass Pro or a turkey calling pro, it might be that I would classify as a johnboat paddling pro. Maybe a pro crossbow man someday! Every man ought to be a pro at something. And in this day and time, it seems most everyone is! I feel so left out.

Anyhow, in a couple of weeks, I will let you know how the fishing was in Canada, and what it is like hunting with a crossbow, even if I am ashamed of myself for doing it.

Not long ago I wrote about having a fish fry Oct. 15 at the Panther Creek Youth Project near Collins. I am going to have to change the date to Oct. 22, which will be a better day. I was in the woods the other day leaning up against a tree about half asleep and a gray squirrel ran up and told me that it is going to rain on the 15th! I wouldn’t have believed a fox squirrel if one had told me that, but you can depend on a gray squirrel or a chipmunk. Both are very dependable. You can’t trust a fox squirrel.

This is something I want to do to let some of our donors and supporters to see what we have accomplished there. It is a marvelous place, and someday I really feel we can use it to change the lives of boys without fathers and underprivileged kids. If you live far away and want to come, we can arrange for you to spend the night there, so you have to let me know. And if you intend to be there to eat dinner with us at 2 p.m. please let me know, because I have to catch a lot of fish to feed everyone who is coming. Last time we did this we fed 51 visitors. To let me know you are coming, call our office, 417-777-5227 or email us at I have a map to send you and it is very easy to get there.

I often speak to Christian men’s groups at things they call a “weekend retreat.” The places they hold these retreats are expensive, and I want to make Panther Creek available free of charge to such Christian retreats, even women’s groups. It isn’t just a place for kids. We have never rented a cabin or a room there to anyone, and never will, despite the claims of a very greedy and evil neighbor who has worked to destroy this project since we began, simply because he wanted it for himself.

I really do not know if I am smart enough or rich enough to make this unbelievable tract of land with so many features into the kind of place I dream that it can be. But if God wants it to happen, it will. And I have been convinced that He still has a purpose greater than my vision can see. Please join us on Oct. 22 and see if you agree. But don’t forget to let me know if you are coming. I have lots of fish to catch and I do not want to put more stress on my casting shoulder than I absolutely must!

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