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Until the Mountains Meet the Sky

Posted: May 23 2018

By Staffer: Caroline Pruitt

My fingers wound and unwound in my lap under the table, hiding the only outward sign of the nervousness I felt sitting in the green canvas chair under the big plastic sign reading “Great Spanish Hunts.” Hunters and fishermen from all over the world in suits or khakis or camo, plus a few wives in leopard print dresses or pant suits and the occasional youngster, streamed past in the aisles like schools of fish. They carried khaki bags silk screened “Safari Club International Annual Convention 2013” and a few stopped at adjacent booths to barter bear hunts in Canada or fishing trips in Alaska or plains game safaris in Zimbabwe or dove hunts in Argentina, or sometimes just to catch up with an old friend.

            Dad was sitting next to me, negotiating with Ignacio about the possibility of a Gredos Ibex hunt with him in late May, just over four months from now. The only kicker was that I would be using my longbow, rather than the conventional rifle or even a compound bow. If successful, I’d be the only woman (recorded) to do it. “The Stick,” made by our dear friend and archery mentor Tim Strickland’s bow company “Strickland’s Archery,” was indeed a stick. It was a beautiful three-piece takedown with thin, sleek carbon fiber limbs and a smooth grip that felt like it was created for my hand. When I nocked an arrow and pulled back the string with three fingers, anchoring my index finger in the corner of my mouth, nothing felt more natural. Relaxing my fingers as I let out my breath and watching the bright red Lumenok soar through the air made time feel like slow motion, and yet charged with electricity. It was my favorite method of hunting, and hours of daily practice had honed my accuracy, but it was still a risky and more difficult manner of hunting—much less certain than with a rifle. Ignacio’s initial apprehension was not without valid reasoning; even I was initially hesitant on whether or not a longbow was a good idea on a mountain hunt. Mountain animals are smart and elusive. Even getting as close as one hundred yards away for a rifle shot is sometimes impossible. My maximum range that I felt comfortable with a longbow was only thirty yards. There’s no sight pin to rest on the animal, no break-over in the draw to decrease the holding weight, not even a peep sight—instinctive shooting at its best. No room for error­­, as my dad would say. Adding that to the physical challenges of the terrain and the elements of nature, we’d have ourselves a very difficult hunt. But even so, I believed we could do it. Thankfully Ignacio believed it, too, and the hunt was on.

TO BE CONTINUED…