Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dennis Dunns Massive Book Barebow!

Okay, I’ve been busy trying to make my house, yard and whatever, look somewhat presentable to my soon-to-be-here guests. Chas and Holly will be here to hunt birds but Michelle, my wife, would like for me to make things look a little presentable considering that we are in a constant state of remodeling! But, mixed into that task is trying to get the next issue of The Pines Review out. I’ve been held up on a couple of things and one of them has been writing the review of Dennis Dunn’s massive tome Barebow!, his account of his 40 year quest to be the first person in history to complete the North American Grand Slam of big game animals with a bare bow. For those of you who don’t know a bare bow is one that is sans all of the sighting gadgets that are hung on most of today’s hunting bows.
This is a pretty incredible book. First from the size and second from the content but even more so by the scope of the story and finally by the most unlikely looking appearance of Dennis Dunn, because he looks like a nerd! Actually, that isn’t too far off because he has both a BA and an MA in Romance Languages, and his BA is cum laude from Harvard! To complete his quest he climbs mountains, has a face-to-face encounter with a grizzly bear and gets charged by the most unlikely of big game animals. (I’ll let you find that one out for yourself.)
The whole story is pretty remarkable and the book reads extremely well. My review for The Pines Review is much more detailed and covers a lot more ground, sort of like Dunn’s book. But, when I finished writing my review I asked myself another question—is Dennis Dunn setting archery hunting up for a flood of new hunters who attempt to duplicate his feat, or at least take up hunting bare bow? The truth is that every person I have ever met who is a bow hunter (except for one, and he was a national champion archer) needed those sight pins and whatever else they were using. In fact, I tend to think that without those sighting aids that are hanging on those hunting bows most bow hunters would be wounding and losing a lot of game.
Damn few people have the perseverance to truly master instinctive archery and bow hunting today is not instinctive archery—it is hunting with sights and aids all designed to help the hunter but equally important those aids reduce the number of wounded and lost game. I think all but a very few hunters need those sighting aids.
Dennis Dunn is a remarkable man. What he did is an achievement that will always rank at the top of archery hunting history but it is not for every bow hunter. I hope that bow hunters who think they are capable of hunting the way Dunn did give it a lot of long and careful thought before making the attempt. Every animal’s life is too great a prize to squander by wounding them trying to imitate a master. glg


NorCal Cazadora said...

I suspect most people would rather get their animal than imitate the feat of someone whose chosen to strip his weaponry to its basic elements. I know I would.

Sure, I'd love to have that kind of skill someday. But part of the point of hunting is filling the freezer, and I'm not willing to go years without doing so.

P.S. Stop cleaning. If you don't clean for me, I won't clean for you whenever you get yourself out here.

Phillip said...

I generally agree, Galen, that most people have no business trying to hunt with barebows. It takes extreme dedication to practice enough to excel, and incredible restraint to pass up shots that would otherwise be chip shots to hunters armed with compounds, sights, and releases.

I speak as a reformed barebow hunter, myself. Despite what I thought of as a good level of competence, I wounded and lost two pigs and missed countless others (as well as deer and turkeys). I know exactly how hard it is to consistently make a clean kill with traditional gear.

Well, I'm mostly reformed. There will come a day when I'll be in a place where I can practice consistently with my recurves and regain some confidence and hone my skill... then I'll start hunting with it again.

In the meantime, it's hard to knock the consistency and accuracy I've found with the "tech" bow.

Folks need to keep in mind that a challenge is well and good, but hunting isn't like golf or snow skiing. When a hunter messes up, it often has dire consequences for a living, breathing, and FEELING creature. It makes no sense to raise the odds when those are the stakes.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Well-said, Phillip!

Galen Geer said...

Hah! Holly I did get most of the place cleaned for your visit. I didn't get to the yard (mow and edge) until after both you and Chas were gone but at least you didn't have to step over my piles of books and boots and whatever when you entered my office. (Is it really a "man cave"?) glg

Galen Geer said...

Phillip and Holly,
I agree with what what you wrote regarding the feat by Dennis Dunn. At first I was very, very skeptical about his accomplishment. Yes, there were a few animals that he hit and lost and he does talk about these in the book. But, he also mastered the bow, which is something I could never do. If people understand that this is a man who dedicated his entire hunting life to just one sort of tool--the bare bow, then not only does his accomplishment take on a new light but he elevates that sort of archery to the art it once was.