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Bowhunting is the Best Therapy
June 7, 2017

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I arrived in the early afternoon of October 21, 2016, as I joined my soon to be new friends at Pine Ridge Valley in Londonderry, Ohio. After donning my hunting uniform and assuring the accuracy of my Horton reverse draw crossbow, I was told that I would be escorted to my evening hunting position. The 45 degree hill did not necessarily bother me nor did riding shotgun in the nimble Honda Pioneer UTV. I think my uncertainty was brought on by the combination of the rockiness of the narrow dirt path and the thick tree canopy preventing the late fall sun from fully penetrating into the woods of Ohio. However, Todd Wolterstorff guided the Pioneer with precision and we emerged onto a relatively flat hill top that was dotted with mature maple, oak, and ash trees. As we continued our trek, he pointed out a ground blind. He explained to me that I would not hunt from this location because it was reserved for a Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America, Inc. (PCBA) member who was nearly blind. He remarked that the automated feeder was positioned close enough to that hunting blind to enable a visually impaired hunter to have a reasonable opportunity to connect an arrow with a deer.

We navigated the bend and the Pioneer stopped. Todd escorted me to a 12-foot tall, two person metal ladder stand positioned about 30 yards from an automated feeder. Before scampering into the stand, I poured some granulated Buck Bomb Deer Domination on the ground and said a prayer for luck. The inevitable setting sun acted as a silent dinner bell but the spinning feeder thrust the wildlife activity into high gear. Within moments, a group of three doe maneuvered to the feeder and did not leave until their bellies were full. About 30 minutes later, which is an eternity to an anxious hunter, a juvenile six-pointer grazed his way to the corn. The afternoon passed quickly and shortly after sunset, Todd retrieved me and we retreated to his home for fellowship and dinner.

After digging into the crock pots and having my fill of pork roast, mashed potatoes, and all the fixings, I was introduced to my fellow hunters. Scott was from Pennsylvania and struggled with a degenerative spinal issue while Steve was from Ohio and was legally blind. These men were from different backgrounds and geographic locations but were bound by the common threads of a passion for bow hunting and membership in the PCBA. Though Todd and his wife were generous enough to host the hunters, the hunt was truly a community event. Todd explained to me that he has lived on his 25 acre property since 2011, has three ladder stands, three automated feeders, and has hosted the annual PCBA Pine Ridge Valley hunt for four years. However, his neighbors Sonny Garrett, Rick Garrett, and Chad Ryan have come together to donate additional hunting land and a separate cabin to house additional hunters. This combination of community support for the PCBA not only significantly increased the hunting area but provided a family atmosphere throughout the weekend.

That evening, the conversation in the cabin extended well past my bed time. I had a restless sleep as visions of antlers pranced in my dreams. The much anticipated alarm jolted the cabin back to life and the coffee began to flow. Within an hour I was back in the same ladder stand. The sun began to break through the canopy and I was treated to the crunch of leaves on the other side of the hill. I positioned my crossbow on the rail of the stand and was ready to take a shot if warranted. I waited and a steady stream of does meandered toward the feeder. As the Ohio rut was on the minds of all concerned, prey and predator alike, I fully anticipated a trailing buck. I was not disappointed as the buck appeared. The does were not receptive to the presence of a buck and quickly darted into the thicket. The buck gave chase and then his stomach overcame all other desires and he returned to the feeder. I watched him through my scope for almost 10 minutes. He was a spritely young four-point buck and would definitely sport impressive antlers one day, but just not today. I knew that given the opportunity to mature this deer would make a fantastic trophy for a PCBA member next fall.

As I returned to the cabin, I told Todd the story of the young buck. He shared with me that Scott arrowed a five-point buck and Steve shot a plump doe that he thought was running from a buck. Since Steve was hunting adjacent to my stand I would like to think that "my" young buck pushed the doe to Steve. I suppose those facts will never be known. My time at the PCBA hunt was winding down. As I was preparing to leave, I shared with Todd that I was humbled to be part of the weekend. The hospitality was second to none but the most impressive lesson I learned was that of maintaining a positive attitude. Each hunter was physically challenged and could easily relegate themselves to the couch or the spiral of addiction to medication. However, that was not the case in Londonderry. These men were hunters first and their desire to be in the woods overcame any negativity or physical limitation.

"Bowhunting is the best therapy in the world!" is the PCBA motto and was truly on display. That weekend the proverbial glass was without a doubt always half-full and neither eyesight nor mobility challenges prevented hunters from meeting and participating in the timeless pursuit of time afield. The PCBA has been providing a support network for physically challenged bowhunters since 1993. I was blessed to have the opportunity to hunt with the PCBA and I learned many lessons from them that weekend. Though none of the lessons were hunting related, hunting was the common factor that bound all of us.

I encourage you to follow the PCBA through their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/groups/432479773554576/) and to consider supporting their all-volunteer mission. If you desire to meet some of the PCBA members and officers you are invited to the PCBA National Invitational. This 3D archery shoot and family fun day will be held on July 22, 2017 at the Fayette County Fish & Game Association, 1236 Robinson Rd SE, Washington Court House, Ohio. In addition to the competitive 3D archery shoot there will be an auction, food, and various activities for children. If you desire to attend or have general PCBA questions, please contact Todd Wolterstorff at 740-988-7577.

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