“Want to go on a truck ride?”
I answered my father’s rhetorical question by bouncing down the back steps and crawling up into the cab. “May I drive?” While my question may have seemed ludicrous at age 6, I was allowed to drive the old farm truck in my dad’s lap on private dirt roads, dreaming of the day I could reach the pedals.
We wound through the woods and finally stopped. Hopping out, I trotted to keep up as Dad strode below the towering boughs, examining various trunks and finally halting before a hickory tree, tall and straight, about 10 inches in diameter. He walked around it, looking it up and down, before smiling at me. “This is the one.”
I was instructed to keep a fair distance and plug my ears as he revved the chainsaw — one of only two power tools he allowed himself throughout the process of handmaking his own long bow (the second was an electric jigsaw to cut out the nocks). After he cut the desired section of the trunk, he handed me a bottle of Elmer’s Glue and told me to coat one end with it, while he applied it on the other. “The glue will keep the tree from drying out too fast and cracking,” he explained. With our hands now coated in dried glue, we sat on the back of the tailgate and immersed ourselves in the satisfying task of pulling every last strand of glue off our skin.
Dad propped that log up in a corner of our mudroom where it slowly dried for two years before he began hewing and carving it into a bow. Each evening, he would go down to the basement after dinner and meticulously chip away at the tedious process. The climax came when, after months of carving followed by much practice, he took his bow hunting and arrived back with a doe for the freezer.
The art of crafting hunting weapons from the materials readily available in nature is a passion that several Columbians share. Read on page 70 about the sport of stealth and patience that is traditional bowhunting as well as stories about people like Marty Daughtry and Tom Jeffery who excel in crafting extremely practical works of art.
I hope you enjoy this and the other articles in this issue. Happy fall!