How old were you when you started hunting?
I was 19 or 20 (when I started bow hunting). I had been hunting since I was a kid. I just got interested in hunting out of gun season. I like to spend more time in the woods with the deer and the animals. They act more normal than shotgun week. After they get shot at a few times, they run around more.
I was 8 or 9 when I started gun-hunting small game. It was with my dad — we lived in Virginia at the time. I trapped a little bit before that. I got my first deer with a bow — that was in Ohio.
What’s it like going out in the field on a typical day of bow hunting?
Usually I’m trying to get out of work in time to get there and go. Once you get home, get the gear ready and relax a little bit. I take my time getting out there; you don’t want to run out and spook the deer. Once you’re in place, everything gets back to normal. Nature has so much entertainment for you when you’re out there. All the animals begin to do what they normally do. The better you are at “hiding” the more you get to see, and that doesn’t necessarily mean deer. It could be rabbit, pheasants, squirrels, hawks—you get to see everything on a regular basis. It’s fun watching it all.
Do you have any tips for anyone who wanted to start bow hunting?
Practice. Practice. Practice. Patience — don’t rush it, take your time.
Is bow hunting a little bit safer because of the shorter range of the arrows?
Yeah, I would put safety in front of practice, especially if you’re in a tree stand. Know your bow. The more practice you get with your bow, the less likely you are to maim or injure an animal. Once you know your limitations, then you’re good. Safety-wise, it’s more about personal safety at that point, because your arrow doesn’t travel nearly as far as with a bullet.
How much meat does one obtain from a deer versus its original weight?
What I’ve found out is that you get 50 to 60 percent weight on a bow kill. You can do that with a gun, too, depending on shot placement, but if you hit on certain areas of a deer, you’ll ruin a lot of meat. You have to throw that away because it gets torn up.
Why is deer meat, venison, a particularly good meat to eat?
Well, I like the flavor of it. I like the fact that I processed it, I went out and got it, I know where it came from. It’s a lot lower in fat that beef. It actually beats out most domesticated animals as far as protein, fat and cholesterol; it’s a lot healthier for you.
Are there any questions about deer hunting that I haven’t asked you?
A lot of people are judgmental. A lot of people don’t know what hunters do and what they go through. It’s not something you just jump into. We’re not out there doing things that aren’t ethical. Most hunters are genuine and they’re out there for the right reason and that’s to do the right thing. If we didn’t hunt deer in Ohio, they would flourish and there would be a lot more deer-vehicle hits, deer starvation, vegetation loss. Check with your community’s laws about shooting weapons within the limits. Check with the (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) for the season details and regulations.
What do you like to do for hobbies?
I spend most of my free time fishing or hunting.
Have you had any trying times while out in the field or woods?
I’ve been in a couple of situations, some hunting and some fishing. I guess the worst was hunting, when I was muzzle-loading about 20 years ago. A cold front came through and it was 5 below zero and I was well away from my camp down in southern Ohio — Noble County. It was quite an experiment trying to get back with frozen clothes. That was pretty cold. I was glad to get back to camp and warm up.
Chronicle photographer Chuck Humel shines the spotlight on the people of Lorain County each week. Know someone worthy of 15 Minutes? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.