John's Journal... Entry 265, Day 4
Editor's Note: As an outdoorsman, I enjoy hunting and fishing. I like to participate in both sports all year. However, often the seasons conflict. However now, folks can hunt with a bow when deer season and turkey season end, although the game has neither fur nor feathers but rather scales. If you want to get a fight started in any fish camp along the Gulf Coast, just start talking about hunting redfish at night with a bow. Most folks won't jump your case if you talk about shooting sheepshead with a bow, because outdoorsmen generally don't consider sheepshead the sacred cow of the Upper Gulf Coast. But many sportsmen feel very strongly about bowhunting for redfish. I think I speak for outdoorsmen when I say that many of us, regardless of how we feel about how anglers take redfish, probably perceive anyone who takes redfish by a different method than us as using an immoral and unethical method. But I personally think that a redfish in the skillet is still a redfish in the skillet, whether you take it on hook and line or with a bow and arrow. Too, as long as bowhunters don't take over their legal limit of redfish, why do we have controversy? "Well, bow hunting for redfish just ain't sporting," a whiskered, leathery-faced fisherman told me recently. However, he also admitted he'd never hunted redfish at night with a bow, but the idea of that just didn't seem sporting to him. This past year, friends and I traveled to Louisiana and hunted redfish and sheepshead with bows and arrows with my friend Bo Hamilton.
Bow fishing from an airboat in the black night of a murky swamp will make your bow-fishing mission exciting. You'll run through marsh grass, jump over small mounds of dirt, drop into shallow bays and often see hundreds of different fish on your quest. Oftentimes when you reach a shallow bay where you want to bow-fish, you'll see huge numbers of a wide variety of fish.
However, then by the time you leave the seat where you've ridden, walk to the shooting platform, pick up your bow, get your arrow nocked and situate yourself on the shooting platform, all the fish you've originally seen may have disappeared. But as the airboat makes its way through the shallow bays, you'll still spot plenty of fish.
I can promise you that when you see so many redfish and sheepshead, you'll remind yourself of a quail hunter who flushes a covey out from under his feet and watches the birds go in every direction -- never picking out just one quail at which to shoot. The excitement of jumping a covey of quail or fish becomes part of why you will love this sport and have so much fun participating in it.
TOMORROW: ARE BOW FISHERMEN SLAUGHTERING FISH?