What do you do when you break your wrist during archery season? Well, you learn to use your non-dominant hand and eye and draw the bow with your teeth. Simple, right? Not really.

“It was a hot day for November 3. It would normally be prime time for our local rutting convention here in the Sandhills of eastern North Dakota, but my expectations had been clouded by the temperatures. unusually mild 71 degrees. Most years there would have been good snow on the ground and temperatures in the 1920s, but this period of heat, while very comfortable, made me doubt the proper movement of the snow. deer.

“I got into my setup slowly and easily, and noticed that it was rare to sweat in November. I was walking towards an old wooden box awning that I had built 10 years ago and that I had hidden in a dead end. I had only sat there once, as I much prefer the full 360 degree view of a tree. The blind man sits at the edge of a small field and catches deer where they stop before entering the opening of the crops. I placed my male lure to the left of my blind and about eight to 10 meters away, hoping that any male coming from the right would pass my blind in an attempt to take my lure head-on, wood against wood. A gentle southwest breeze was perfect for my setup, blowing from the field to my hut and back into the woods. Everything went well, but my expectations were low due to the heatwave.

“About an hour before closing, a young 3×3 came out, followed by a buck button. A little later, a decent 4×4 crossed from right to left at 125 yards, but it didn’t let the hinds it was stalking. Sunset was still 45 minutes away and I had already seen more activity than I expected. Then it stopped until about 10 minutes after sunset. I was starting to make plans for the morning when I looked to the right and saw a good buck 45 yards away. When he looked up he saw my decoy and immediately hung his ears down, swollen with standing hair, and started to walk sideways towards the decoy. If everything continued to roll according to my scenario, it would go through my shooting window 10 to 12 meters wide. My heart was racing and my breathing was increasing as adrenaline flowed through my veins.

“I took my bow with my right hand and bit the tongue with my teeth …”

Paul Speral learned to draw his bow by squeezing a tab through his teeth and pushing his right hand forward while leaning back with his torso and neck.

The call came in the middle of the morning from one of my best friends, Paul Speral, a retired mason and now part-time taxidermist. “Hey RJ, you’re not going to believe what I just did,” Paul said.

Well, normally I would respond by saying he shot a monster, because Paul shoots a lot of money. But her voice sounded troubled, so I just said, “What?

“I was unloading my wife’s trunk and slipped on ice in the driveway,” he said. “I fell on my wrist. I’m pretty sure I broke it. This is my left side – my bow arm. I’m pretty sure my season has just ended. Let me know if you want to come and hunt that 5×5 I was looking for in the north.

The sound of loss and disappointment was palpable in my friend’s voice.

Paul and I are die-hard traditional archers. We have been shooting longbows and recurves for over 30 years. It’s our lifestyle and our fanatic passion. Paul, however, is one of the best shots I’ve ever seen. He’s precise and consistent like no one else I’ve met. He hunted all over the United States, including Alaska, taking numerous Sitka caribou and black tails with his longbow. Canada provided a magnificent muskox and several black bears. Many elk, antelopes, white tails, turkeys and pigs lost their lives thanks to his well-placed arrows. In Africa, he managed to flex a kudu, an impala, a blue wildebeest and a zebra.

A few days later I got a text message from Paul saying he had gone to Scheels Sporting Goods to buy a second hand left handed compound bow. He had an idea of ​​how to adapt the arc and hoped that if that process worked he could come back into the game and finish his season. Plus, with a much needed shoulder surgery scheduled for mid-December, time is running out.

Paul’s intuition was that he could take a small piece of nylon dog collar, punch a small hole in it, and thread it onto his rope in the pro shop in Scheels. He could then tighten the nylon strap with the molars on the left side of his jaw, push the bow forward with his right hand, and aim with his left eye. Annoying of course, but worth a try.

A few days later, Paul called to say he was coming back from his visit to the doctor. “I’m in a hard cast now, but my practice is going well,” he said. “The guy from Scheels used a bow press to thread the nylon dog collar onto my bowstring a few inches from my sight. I asked him to reduce the draw weight to about 42 pounds. I now close my right eye which is hard to get used to as I am the dominant right eye. But the good thing is that I become more fluid and shoot a fairly tight group at 15 meters. I defined this as my self-imposed limit.

I wished Paul the best of luck and told him I was proud of his ability to creatively solve problems. His story continues …

“With the tongue tight in my teeth, I pushed my right hand forward and leaned back with my chest and neck. I closed my right eye, and in the fading light it was difficult to properly align my sight, peephole, and the deer’s chest, especially when I’m used to keeping both eyes open and instinctively shooting. . When the magical moment of proper alignment felt right, I relaxed my jaw muscles and the arrow flew away.

Speral, a dedicated traditional bow hunter, didn’t hesitate to adjust to a broken wrist. The extra work and effort paid off.

“It all happened so fast. The shot was a good pass about a hand’s width behind the crease. What was weird and made me do a double take was that the buck didn’t even flinched – he just continued walking towards my decoy! I could see the shot looked good, but as he barely seemed baffled by the impact, I grabbed my binoculars. Blood flowed from the entrance wound. The male slowly walked 25 yards to the edge of the cornfield and came down. It all seemed a bit surreal.

“After waiting 40 minutes, I quietly got out of my blind on the ground and picked up my arrow 10 meters beyond where the male was standing. He was covered in good blood. I slowly walked to where I had seen the deer descend and began my internal celebration and prayers of thanks! “

Just nine days after Paul’s injury, he was kneeling over a handsome 10-point buck that he had pulled from a blind man on the ground by pulling with a left hand and using a homemade mouth release. At 63, he had not quit or given up due to his injury. He did not take pleasure in self-pity. He did not allow adverse circumstances to prevail or win. He chose to be creative and persevere despite difficult circumstances.

In addition to the gorgeous male, what really stands out in the photo is his hot pink plaster covering his left arm. He chose this color for his granddaughter, Lucy. Most of us would be incredibly proud to have taken a dollar of this caliber, but doing so under these circumstances made Paul’s success all the sweeter. Positive evidence that a confident mental attitude, optimism, willingness to fail, resourcefulness and perseverance can trump most adverse conditions. It is a beautiful truth for bow hunting and for life. Sometimes when life throws a curve ball at you, you just have to adapt and overcome.

The author is a lay pastor and bow hunter who lives in Moorehead, Minnesota.

Author’s Note: Paul’s setup included a Mission bow set at 42 pounds, 550 grains Gold tip arrows and a Journeyman hunting point with two contact cutting blades.

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