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Why Hunt Gophers
by A.R. Anklam


I often wonder what many city target bowmen think when they read the many interesting hunting stories in your magazine. We, in the city of Chicago, have no big game big gophers and large field mice, and we must travel into the country to see them. However, the gravel hills around our city are a great home for these rodents, and any old meadow will have plenty of game if you look at it that way.

I don't think that the bow and arrow is only to be thought of as a thrill in the manner of killing. Lord knows we are not yet practicing conservation with guns. I can't see much conservation shooting at bobwhites any way you look at it. About twenty years ago I went duck hunting. The party I stayed with shot two hundred ducks in about an hour and a half. It was the legal limit. I could have killed some by throwing a club into the flocks. Or perhaps made it more aboriginal, you say, by using a boomerang like any Australian bushman. Those were perserve hand-fed ducks, and according to law we are still permitted to sort of tame and slaughter birds if you can keep someone else off your property.

Hunting is all right, but it's time to think of hunting deer and some other game with a bow and arrow or not at all. On the other hand, if you must be at it there are plenty of good-for-nothing things to shoot, as: gophers, woodchucks, crows, porcupines, wolves, wildcats, and Chicago gangsters.

All last summer I hunted gophers at least twice a week. My children and wife were along. They made going a sort of picnic affair and with lunch they rested in the shade and read while I whistled up the gophers. I had heard they were too fast for a bow. Well, they are plenty fast enough, but not too fast. I readicated an old pasture of five in a few hours in my first attempt. I had practiced shooting at small match boxes out in the back yard at home to get the idea of how to aim, because drawing to the chin as in target shooting with a point of aim other than the eye on the gopher didn't feel right. If I used my old Indian style of stalk and draw it was too much guess-work, but I liked it better. Occasionally now I use a sight, same as some use in target practice, and by setting the sight to a uniform judged distance of approach I keep my eye on the gopher until he is mine, or I think he is going to be mine. The arrows may be blunts, ordinary target heads, or broadheads. They all do business quickly and right.

One of the best shots I ever saw made was by a Norwegian student friend of mine who after letting the gopher go down without a shot waited for the usual come-up-and-peek. He then pinned the gpher through the head in the opening of the burrow. I shot a woodchuch with a broadhead while he was doing the silly peek trick, but he was a bigger mark.

In all cases there is no going down the hole again when hit, as there may be with a gun. Gophers and woodchucks stay where they are when hit. In conclusion, may I humbly recommend gopher hunting with bow and arrow for those who still must hunt.




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