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Today is October 4, 2022

Outdoors

The retirement of an old friend

The retirement of an old friend

The battered broadhead that the author had used for years. A Texas rock caused its demise as a hunting tool. Photo: Tony Kinton

    It has been said upon great authority that if a man comes to the end of his life and can claim even one individual as a true friend, that man is indeed blessed. There is merit in that statement. A true friend is far more than a simple acquaintance on some electronic gadget, is more revered than an occasional companion. That true friend is a cherished treasure that remains the same regardless of circumstances, one who can be counted on to see our faults and care just the same. Most difficult to find and nurture—true friendship.
    So in the light of such an august and reverential description of a true friend, it seems ill placed to attach the word to some inanimate object. But in full recognition that no object can approach the status of human friendship and with sincere apologies for this upcoming precarious proclamation, I wish to announce that I retired from use an old friend recently. This friend was a basic broadhead built in some factory for the express purpose of riding the tip of a hunting arrow. Still, it possessed traits we seek in a living, breathing friend and that friend, carefully chosen and well developed, possesses traits I found in that broadhead.
    The broadhead came in a package with five others some 30 years ago. Nondescript when I removed it from the cardboard container, it was very much the same as its counterparts. Only time would set it apart. I suppose I came to recognize it as a specific and separate entity when I took a deer with it. That day I recovered the arrow and tossed it in the back of my truck, that broadhead in perfect condition save its dulled edges.
    At some point later, maybe five years, I came across that arrow/broadhead combo, the arrow warped and of no use. I inspected the broadhead. Due to my lack of attention earlier, there was some rush. I oiled and polished the head and then took a file to its edges. Perfectly serviceable, not unlike a true human friend we may have neglected. I removed it from the damaged arrow and put it on another aluminum shaft. Those were my days of weakness, when I had opted to shoot a compound bow. The very next month that same tip took another deer for my freezer.
    I am happy to report that the madness of technology held me in its grip for only a season or two. I gladly, and with irrevocable resolve, went back to archery as I had known it and as it should be—recurves, longbows, primitive Osage staves, cedar arrow shafts. That rust-speckled head made the transition as well, and we were both back in our intended element. Any true friend will follow through those shadows of confusion and misdirection.
    During ensuing years that same head, this time cast by a custom-build recurve, took a huge Mississippi hog that produced more pork than I thought possible. It later sailed from a bamboo-backed Osage longbow and claimed a Delta deer. It then went with me to Tennessee and put more pork in the freezer, all these excursions separated by a scattering of years. The most recent successful use of it came on a Texas ranch this past January while I was toting a newly-built Osage take-down longbow that Mike Yancey and I had built in September before this hunt. Another
hog. I particularly enjoy wild pork!

    And just this past week, as this is written, the veteran broadhead joined me on that same Texas ranch for a much-anticipated turkey hunt. All seemed well. Turkeys gobbled; large flocks drifted by and talked incessantly with me as I mimicked the clucks and purrs and yelps they were executing. And then a single gobbler—puffed up and proud and curious. He came to a halt at 14 yards from my station. And while that may seem an incredibly short distance, it is more than far enough with a longbow and such a diminutive target deceitfully obscured by a proliferation of iridescent feathers. The draw was smooth, the release felt right and the arrow was on its way. It went low.
    After the proverbial dust settled, I left my hide and went to inspect the situation in an effort to determine if I heard and saw what I thought I heard and saw. I did. The arrow smacked solidly into a rock just beyond the gobbler and lay quietly there. No marks of a hit save to the rock. I thought all was well outside the miss, but upon closer inspection I learned that the head had suffered irreparable damage. The cedar shaft, pushing the tip with great force, had powdered its way into the ferrule and caused that ferrule to separate from the blade. The head’s use as a hunting tool had ended.
    Back here at home I removed the broadhead from the shaft and gently laid it on a shelf in my office. It has lost its usefulness to a degree, but I will save it. For you see, like that true friend who slows with age and perhaps can no longer explore high and wild places, simply seeing that individual—or that broadhead—refreshes memory of past experiences shared. That is likely the most important element of friendship in the first place!

    Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. “Uncertain Horizons,” book two in Kinton’s “Wagon Road Trilogy,” is now available. Order from your local bookstore, Amazon.com or Kinton’s website: www.tonykinton.com.

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