Last year avid bowhunter Bob Delaney experienced the kind of success most of us can only dream about, and there are more than a few good lessons to be learned from it. But first things first: The epic details.
Delaney’s amazing year began last February when he bagged a 150-pound Florida feral hog, then continued in April with an Osceola turkey also taken in Florida, followed soon after by burly record-book black bears in both Manitoba (see above) and Saskatchewan.
Was Delaney done? Hardly. In August the hot-handed bowhunter managed to continue his amazing string of success by arrowing a Boone-and-Crockett grizzly bear on the 13th day of a challenging Alaskan hunt, then followed that up with a Roosevelt elk in California. From there he traveled to Saskatchewan where he took a Canadian moose arrowed during his first hour of hunting; Delaney ended his year with a 6×5 whitetail buck bagged in South Dakota.
Now for an even more eye-opening fact: Delaney accomplished his amazing 2015 bowhunting feats at the ripe age of…79. The spry bowhunter’s message?
“Stay fit, keep yourself fit; bowhunting is truly a sport for life, something you can do for a long time, if you stay fit,” Delaney says, adding further inspiration. “You need goals; If you don’t have goals set for yourself, you become a couch potato. I think the name of the game is mobility, and if you have it you can play this game as long as you want. And if you can also take a youngster along with you, and teach them about ethics and being responsible and disciplined in the outdoors, well, that’s about as good as it gets.”
Delaney, who recently sold his Greenwich, CT home and is moving to Florida, is a retired former CFO for the Chicago Tribune, and current Trust officer for the Pope and Young Club. In addition, he sits on the board of directors for the Boy Scouts and works for several more non-profit organizations; he’s also a certified Level 2 archery instructor. It’s no wonder he says he’s working harder now than he has in a long time, which may be another key to his amazing success and archery longevity.
To keep his 6-foot, 2-inch, 190-pound frame strong (Delaney shoots a Hoyt carbon-riser compound set at 62 pounds), he hits the gym most every other day; there he begins with a 10-minute treadmill warmup before some weight training. He makes it a point to include squats and lunges with weights, and also includes upper-body training to maintain bow-pulling strength.
Delaney also credits his amazing longevity in the sport to his attendance at a wellness seminar more than 20 years ago, which told him his diet was missing necessary amounts of fruits and vegetables. He continues to augment those with plenty of lean venison, wild salmon, and other fish as well as organic chicken.
“I also do a lot of walking; we have a local 3-D archery course spread out over 23 acres, and it’s hilly; I’m over there all the time, and walking and shooting that course is great exercise.”
Delaney was introduced to archery as a child in the Boy Scouts, and took his first deer with a Bear Super Kodiak recurve bow way back in 1971. Even more amazing, he wandered away from the sport soon after due to demands of his new career and raising his family, and didn’t begin serious bowhunting until he was 58 years old. Obviously, this guy has been breaking down long-perceived archery obstacles for decades.
“I meet guys when I go hunting, who tell me they’re too old for bowhunting, and they’re about the same age I was when I was just getting started,” Delaney says. “I ask them, what are you doing [to keep fit]? You have to work at it.”
Another career-prolonging tip from Delaney? Become an archery instructor. Delaney is heavily involved as an instructor in Scholastic 3-D Archery, which he says is a great next step for youngsters participating in the National Archery In The Schools Program (NASP). Delaney says the growing Scholastic 3-D Archery is exciting because it also includes instruction about hunting and the outdoors, and allows kids to use any bow they want. Becoming an instructor also offers more fringe benefits, he says.
“Right now, as a benefit of my being an instructor, I am probably the best shot of my entire life, at age 79,” Delaney says. “When you’re teaching kids, you’re focusing on form, and talking about the way they need to stand, the way they should hold the bow. I already knew that stuff, but the more I taught it, the more I practiced it.”
True to form, Delaney continues to plan, and dream and scheme, for future bowhunts.
“For my 80th birthday present, I’ve booked a hunt this year to Cold Bay, Alaska; I’ve got my sights set on a big brown bear,” he said. “And my long-range goal, I might go on another sheep hunt. And I might try again for caribou; I’ve been on five or six caribou hunts but can’t seem to hit it right, I’ve bagged only the Woodland species. My goal is to get to 21 North American big game species, and right now I have 19.”
Will Delaney achieve his bowhunting goals? Only a fool would bet against a guy who took up “serious” bowhunting at age 58, and may have just logged the best-ever year for a 79-year-old bowhunter. But Delaney isn’t one to toot his own horn; he admits he caught more than a few breaks in 2015, and he wishes more young bowhunters would focus more on the hunt than the results.
“[Last year] was all about luck,” Delaney said. “My moose hunt was a great example; we get out of the boat and start calling and we had a moose at 45 yards in minutes. I’ve been moose hunting for a week and never saw one; I went on five grizzly hunts before I got a grizzly. A lot of bowhunters out there, they’re so anxious to get a big trophy whitetail, and you’re talking about a deer that has been running around its territory for five or more years, 365 days a year. People think they should be able to go out there and hunt him for five days and bag one every time. It doesn’t happen like that.”