My daughter has always been interested in my hunting and fishing trips. Several years ago, I carried her out to the field to let her shoot the old Ithaca 20 gauge shotgun I grew up with to get her used to handling it so she could go on a dove hunt with my dad, my son, and I. The kick did not bother her, but she hated the BANG. She wanted no part of gun hunting.
Over the last few years, she has wanted to go bow hunting with me, and she has helped me when I was practicing several times. We purchased another bow for my son this Christmas, since he had outgrown the youth bow we had for him. Naturally, it became a hand down to Julianne. I had to adjust the draw length and draw weight for her, but at the time, she still could not pull the bow back. I told her to keep practicing pulling it back and by spring when the red horse sucker fish make their annual run, she could go bow fishing with me.
Bow fishing in itself is a very unique style. It is set up with a line attached to a heavy solid core arrow, tipped with a barbed point. When aiming, the saying goes “aim low”, because the refraction of the light through the water makes the fish appear at a higher angle. Think of looking at a straw in a glass of water. The straw is not really bent, but it looks that way through the glass. Also, unlike bow hunting, where you are trying to get a clean kill by hitting the vitals, bow fishing just requires you to hit the fish. Your object is to get the fish on the arrow and then bring it in.
Well, over the first few months of this year, Julianne pulled and pulled and pulled. Finally one night, she called me and my wife into the living room. “Watch! I can pull it back now!” Her excitement caused my son to roll his eyes!
Just as they do every year, the sucker fish made their spawn in late March, and as I had promised, the first night I saw they were running I carried Julianne out to the creek banks. For a period of a week, and easily over a hundred attempts, and through several bow fishing arrows (the rocky bottom of the creek is not that great on the fish points) Julianne and I attempted to get her first take with a bow. We went at night using a light, went during the day using polarized glasses, I honestly believe she probably went in her dreams while sleeping. Occasionally she would take a break, and my son and I would get a few fish, then she would be at it again.
My regular job allows me to work four days each week, and during the sucker run, my weekday off was on a Friday. I usually carry the kids to school on my day off, so I made my usual track. After dropping my son off at high school, we still had an hour before Julianne was due at middle school. I looked over at her and asked, “Wanna try one shot?”
She answered, but did not need to. We ran out to the creek. She strapped on her release while I was driving. “Julianne, do you know what the saying is for snipers?”
“No, daddy.”
“One shot, one kill. They cannot afford to shoot twice because the second shot will give away their cover. We’ve only got time for one shot this morning, and there is no guarantee the fish will be here this afternoon.”
We walked down to the bank and spotted several fish. They were a little too far, so I motioned for her to follow me upstream a few yards. There we spotted one about ten feet out. I had Julianne pull back her bow. “Now?” she asked. I whispered to her to take the shot when she was ready. And ‘twang’, ‘splash’. She backed up a few feet.
“You got one!” She had not even noticed. We both grabbed the line, and pulled it up on the shore.
Her persistence had paid off, and now there is another kid hooked to the outdoors.

Bill Howard’s columns can be read at www.billhowardoutdoors.com