Back in 2010 I ordered a custom recurve from South Cox, of Stalker Stickbows. Because of my persnickety nature, we spent much time discussing the construction of my custom bow. “Could you modify this, add that, etc., etc.” Due to my constant nagging, he was either going to block my calls or be forced into a friendship. Luckily for me, we became good friends.
Ever since I started shooting a “stickbow”, I’ve always wanted to see what went into building a custom recurve or longbow and because of our established friendship, I decided to ask South if I could visit one day to experience the construction process of a custom bow. Well, this past October, our schedules meshed and a date was set for the visitation.
It all started with my departing flight from Honolulu, HI. A red eye flight got me to San Francisco early in the morning. Just as I arrived to the gate of my transfer flight, the dreaded announcement came over the PA, “flight 2636 bound for Eureka, CA is cancelled”. Immediately, I ran over to the nearest airlines agent. “What are my options?” I asked. He told me that all flights were booked and I wouldn’t be able to get on a flight till the next day. Even with that, he said it wasn’t a guarantee due to the weather.
Being overly excited about the visit, I couldn’t stand the idea of missing a day or two at Stalker Stickbows. With all the commotion, I overheard a family who was in the same situation discussing the option of renting a car. I quickly made my way to them and without hesitation asked if I could join them. Being from a rather isolated island, it wasn’t customary for me to do something like that, but to heck with that if I was going to miss out on a couple days of the bow building process. Fortunately for me, the family welcomed me on the road trip to Eureka. The company was great and six hours later they dropped me off to meet up with my buddy South.
Once at South’s shop, we instantly started discussing bows. He showed me a prototype limb that just came out of the “oven”. It was static limbs for his Wolverine. Due to the success of his first static limbs for the Coyote, South decided to develop a set for his original model, the Wolverine. After chatting a bit, we strung up the bow and he allowed me to take a few shots with the new limbs. I immediately fell in love and asked if I could be first on the order list. He told me that it wouldn’t be a problem.
The very next morning, we headed to his shop to start building bows. To my surprise, South asked, “what kind of woods do you want for your bow?” I was puzzled for a moment since I thought I was there to work on shop bows. “Uh, Ummm, what do you mean?” I asked. He said, “we should work on the Wolverine you just ordered since you’re here.” Sweet, I thought to myself. “So what woods would you like?” he asked again. “I just want a heavy riser with veneers that have a “break up” characteristic,” I told him.
Once the woods were selected, we were well on our way! I knew that there was a lot that went into building a custom bow, but I never envisioned the extent. The amount of cutting, gluing, filing, shaping, measuring, grinding, heating, spraying was unbelievable. South patiently took me step by step through every process. Every unanswered question that I had was answered through this process. I was even able to add my input to how I wanted the grip and shelf constructed. He kept manipulating the riser until it was crafted beyond my expectation. This was a true custom bow!
Another cool component to this build was that it was a prototype limb. I love the whole R&D process. I was able to provide feedback and insights right there on the spot. While at the shop, we simultaneously tested on the first Prototype. We ran it through the chronograph, shot it a bunch of times and checked for noise and vibration levels. South also slimmed down and changed the taper of the limbs a few times until they were performing to his level of expectation. Once we nailed down the specifics on the first prototype, South finished my set of limbs with the same specs.
Just like anything else, time flies by when you’re having fun. One week had passed and it was time for me to head home. Because South applies five coats of finish with sanding between spray times, I wasn’t able to fly home with the bow, but he ensured that it would be ready to hunt with in two weeks or less.
Posts: 3071 | From: Hawaii | Registered: Apr 2008
| IP: Logged |
As many of you bowhunters know, it's very exciting to be able to hunt with a brand new bow. To say I was excited would've been an understatement. Every free time that I had from when the bow arrived, I tried to squeeze in a hunt.
On my first few trips, I only returned with fruits, (lol) guava on one day and jabong on the next. The following trips were a little more promising as I started to find signs of fresh activity, a few tracks here and there and a bunch of rubbings. Finally, I ran into a few hogs. They weren't shooters, but I felt it was only going to be a matter of time...
A week passed and I headed out again. I was “still hunting” through some thick stuff and stopped to listen for rummaging. For some reason, I decided to keep still for a little longer than normal. Something caught my attention directly behind me. It was a nice sow, headed directly for me. Immediately, I nocked an arrow and dropped to my knees. Slowly she closed the distance between us. At about fifteen yards, she turned broadside behind a tree and started to rummage. I thought to myself "oh boy this is going to happen"! Her head slowly peeked from behind the tree and I was at full draw, but she decided to turn around. I let down and she began to move in the opposite direction. She stopped to root, and her vitals showed through a small tunnel through the brush. I drew back, hit my anchor, and the shot went off. Everything looked great. I sent a text to my wife to let her know that I was going to be home late.
After waiting a while, I started to pick up the trail. The signs looked good, but blood trailing in this area is slow because of the thick vegetation. At times, you're crawling on your hands and knees through grass and vine tunnels. While on the trail, the clouds started to roll in. Uh oh, I thought to myself and sure enough, it started to rain. It was already difficult trailing through a "jungle", but the rain was only going to make matters worse. The trail started to get bad. I tried to follow tracks, but that only made my trailing much slower. I continued to trail for the rest of the day. Finally, I had to call it a day. Depressed as heck, I headed home. That night I couldn't sleep as I replayed everything in my mind.
Although exhausted, I got up early to search again. Unfortunately, it was pouring once again. Soaking wet I searched high and low for that sow. I finally reached a point where I couldn't find any signs at all. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. From thinking that I've just got one to realizing that my search had ended.
The next few days were rough. Many things were replaying in my head and the worst part was that I started to second guess my decisions. A few days later I decided that I did everything that I could and it was time for me to get back out.
Posts: 3071 | From: Hawaii | Registered: Apr 2008
| IP: Logged |
On this trip, I encountered a few hogs right "out of the gate". It seemed as if I found a “honey hole”. I slowly stalked up to one of the hogs. At twenty yards, the shot presented itself and I took the shot. The arrow sailed clear over it's back! My nerves had gotten the best of me!!! I was adding too much pressure to my hunts because of the sentimental value of this bow. This was causing me to rush my shots instead of executing them. With the way things were going, I was now in the dumps.
Sometimes bowhunting can really get to me. Fortunately, I have a supportive wife to help me through it all. She's also a bowhunter and understands all the dynamics of the lifestyle. So after a great discussion with her, my confidence was restored and I headed for the hills the very next day.
The morning was slow. I didn't see or hear a single thing. At about 2:30, I started to contemplate. Do I stay where I've been seeing the hogs, or do I take a chance and head to another area? On previous hunts, I came across an "intersection" that looked really promising. My gut feeling was head to that "intersection", so I did. For myself, I'd say 9 out of 10 times, making a hasty decision to move just doesn't pan out.
So after a short hike, I reached my destination. Even though the decision was hasty, I felt good about the move. Half an hour went by and nothing. At that point, I was beginning to question my decision. "Maybe all the pigs are now at the previous spot" I thought to myself, but at that point in the hunt, I just needed to stick it out.
Just then, I heard some leaves rustling in the distance. The noise started to get louder and louder. I finally caught movement to the right of me. This hog was coming in cautious! Taking a few steps and stopping for a few seconds. "This is a smart one", I thought. I ever so slowly nocked my arrow while keeping my eyes fixed on the hog. It was crazy, my knees were shaking as if this was the first hog that I've ever shot at. The hog kept moving cautiously and it was just too thick to take a shot. There were times when I wanted to squeeze the shot through some small holes in the brush, but I needed to stay disciplined. The hog finally reached a point where he could turn. Right would take him down the hill never to be seen again or left, presenting me a broadside shot. Amazingly, he turned left and stopped in the open. Filled with adrenaline, I drew my bow back ever so slowly, focused intently on the spot and released the string. The arrow flew clean but hit the hog with a "crack" and the hog took off. "UH OH!", I thought to myself. This was either going to be a really good shot, or a really bad one. I was sure that I impacted the leg bone, I was just really hoping that it was the "offside" leg bone.
After calming down and waiting a while, I decided to inspect the area. I was just hoping that I wouldn't find an unscathed arrow with a damaged broadhead lying in the ground. Upon reaching the spot, I was relieved to find good signs. I started to take up the trail, this time with blue skies. I slowly made my way. The trail was decent, but he had gone on a mad dash through some thick grass. The good news was that the blood trail was getting better! Not wanting to lose this hog, I carefully took my time. Step by step I spotted blood, stopped and scanned around. I did this until....
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the back end of the hog lying motionless in the entangled vines. Immediately I was consumed by my adrenaline. At that point finding that boar meant the world to me. Smiling ear to ear, I sat down to take a few minutes to reflect. All the while, thinking about the entire experience, from building bows at Stalker Stickbows to finally laying my hands on that boar. It was a once in a lifetime bowhunting journey that I’ll never forget.
Loved the story, felt like I was right there in the hunt myself! You certainly made me want to go for the real thing. What kind of wood did you go with for the bow? How many pounds is it?
Posts: 37 | From: Idaho | Registered: Jul 2013
| IP: Logged |