Wensel on Woody: Words from a Real Hunter

July_7_06 I spent way too many hours this week thinking and blogging about competitions, high fences, guys shooting deer with dart guns and bows, vets doing blood work on chemically immobilized deer while TV cameras roll…I even talked on the phone with one of the WHA competitors, a good guy who I had actually hunted with a few days nearly a decade ago (small world). I read in Newsweek that the WHA competitors will shoot bucks with “blowguns;” surely that is a misprint from an uniformed, citified writer, though that rag is read by millions around the world, so it sure adds a weird twist to the story.

Now it’s Friday afternoon and I wonder and worry: Just what is hunting as we know it coming to?

My Granddaddy who took me bird hunting must be spinning in his grave. My father is 70, has never owned a computer, vaguely knows what the Internet is, has never heard of a blog, and he still hunts and kills deer and turkeys like a wild man. When I told him about all this he looked stunned.

But I’m smiling again now. By chance I ran across an old article written by legendary longbow hunter Gene Wensel. While I have worked with Gene and his brother, Barry, some over the years at hunting seminars and outdoor shows, I don’t know the man all that well. But I have long admired his knowledge of the whitetail, his fine writing and most of all his genuine and deep-felt love of the outdoors and hunting.

This passage from is from the story of Woody, the giant Gene shot on December 30, 2004 (that’s Gene in the foreground of the photo and Barry in the back). The 222” non-typical is likely the highest-scoring whitetail ever killed with a traditional bow, arrow and broadhead. Gene wrote:

“Hunting is a basic human instinct no different from eating, breathing, sleeping or reproducing. Every human is born with an instinct to hunt. I heard someone say that if he harvested a giant non-typical (like Woody) he would give up hunting because he would have done it all. I know others who have in fact given up hunting for whatever reason. I can’t help but wonder if they ever really loved it in the first place. I’m fairly certain I’ve now taken the biggest buck of my life. At 60 years old, I’m down past a quarter of a tank. Many people have referred to Woody as the buck of a lifetime, whereas in reality he is probably the buck of 50 or 100 lifetimes. I’m not only grateful for the opportunity and outcome, but also thankful for close friends who share the passion, an understanding wife and family, and a twin brother who shares my love of the outdoors with me. I’m a lucky and blessed guy. “

Still I smile, my faith in the true hunter back, if just until next week.