Falling In Love With Bowhunting
Katie had been interested in archery from the beginning of her relationship with Neil. Over a three-year period, her enthusiasm for the sport increased, and eventually she felt ready for a hunt. Putting camo tape on her pretty pink target bow was a rite of passage. Tight groups in the McKenzie deer target (with broadheads) showed she was ready for the challenge.
Neil often hunted with Katie during the early season, helping her judge distance and in general enjoying the outdoors.
Late in October, opportunity knocked. Hunting alongside Neil, Katie spotted a buck that seemed headed her way. Whispering quietly, Neil coached when to draw the bow and suggested the time to shoot. “When the deer stopped broadside at 20 yards, I though we had it,” said Neil with a smile. “Katie released and the arrow flew squarely over its back. Unfortunately, she moved her head to see the impact, causing the miss.”
Kindred Spirits is an equal-opportunity deer camp, and a lady’s gender didn’t spare her the good-natured harassment that accompanies any miss—especially with an eyewitness. “I was really proud of her,” says Neil with sincerity. “She took our kidding in good spirits and climbed right back in the stand the next day. As the season continued, she stuck out some pretty cold weather, often without seeing a deer. She fell in love with the sport, relishing in the experience of the hunt—seeing turkeys parade by, watching bucks chase a doe, and finding bear tracks. It was new for her and exciting for us.”
Woods & Bowhunting Build Character
Neil Dougherty accomplished two of his goals. His P&Y whitetail will be a trophy to remember forever. On a windy afternoon, he spotted a flock of turkeys feeding in a Biologic food plot. Craftily using a thin peninsula of pine trees, he sneaked up to the flock and arrowed a tasty hen. Although he didn’t see a bear, he frequently found tracks, trails, and scat, sign that the elusive animals were thriving in an environment inviting to all wildlife.
The man wanted to live in the woods, hunt every day, and witness the change of the season from late September to mid December. “On a personal level, you reach a different way of moving,” said Dougherty of his experience. “When I returned to the city people would comment that I was different. ‘What’s changed?’ they’d ask.
“On the mountain, I seemed to be able to move at will among the animals, rarely alerting them. After a week at home, I returned for the late muzzleloading season and spooked three deer in the first hour.”
Kindred Spirits began as a dream. Through time, hard work, and proper management, a small unproductive tract of land has transformed into a haven for wildlife and those who hunt it. Where once an occasional spike buck passed through, 33 antlered bucks were seen by hunters during the past season. With only one taken, they’ll be back, bigger than ever, next season. Neil Dougherty’s decision not to return to college was gutsy for him, and, no doubt, stressful for his father. But of all the classes he’ll ever take, none will impact his character or life-building philosophy like his fall in the woods.
Next: Go From Barren To Bruisers, Build Your Own Recordbook Buck