|To the Point: Massey uses arrows, rather than bullets, to bag his game|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
July 2, 2005 - When Tom Massey is sitting camouflaged in a tree with several deer huddling underneath him, he gets confirmation of why he bow hunts.
It's not for the venison or the art of the kill, but rather it's for the heart-pumping thrill and adrenalin blast that comes with being close enough to a deer to almost touch it. It's simply for the experience and camaraderie.
Hunting and fishing with bow and arrows is a unique challenge that has a lot of rewards, and first among them for the Pine Forest native is simply the hunting adventure itself.
"I started bow hunting about 1990, because I had some friends that were doing it, and I really don't pick a gun up any more - I enjoy it that much," he said. "I hunt just to hunt - I don't care if I come home without something. I just enjoy going out and hunting with my friends. Killing something is not the main objective."
Not that he hasn't brought in his share. He has bagged a half-dozen deer with his bow and arrow, including a 10-point in Hopkins County, and last year he and his friends landed a 100-pound, 66-inch alligator gar at Toledo Bend.
They usually take a trip to South Texas to hunt whitetails each year, and this fall he is planning on hunting elk in Colorado.
"It's a lot more challenging than hunting with a rifle," Massey said. "Just because you see a deer doesn't mean you can shoot it. With a rifle, you feel like if you can see it, you can pretty much shoot it. But, with a bow, you have to get within 20-35 yards to get a shot off."
Though he can shoot accurately up to about 50 yards with his 60-pound Bowtech Mighty Mite, Massey said he doesn't take a shot unless he feels he can bring the deer down. His hunting partners, Bobby Bain, Steven Maddox, Ray Mays and Brad Bradford, feel the same way.
"You can shoot 40-50 yards, but you try to be closer than that to make a shot that you feel good about it," he explained. "The worst thing you can do, in my opinion, is to just fling an arrow and wound a deer.
"We're very ethical. We don't take shots unless we have a shot we can kill a deer. We don't take a shot at a deer that's just running by."
Of course to get that close to a deer means the hunters have to be extra cautious in calculating their movements and not giving away their location.
"We hunt off the ground some, but most time you try to get in a tree or a stand," he explained. "Their senses are so keen that they can catch your movement or your smell 100 yards off.
"I like the action the most. When you're sitting in a tree - and I've had as many as seven bucks underneath me - and your heart is just pumping. You're sitting there sometimes five or 10 yards from them. Just being that close to them is exciting."
Massey had hunted with a rifle just one year before he took up bow hunting. Then, just a couple of years later, in 1992, he started bow fishing for carp, bowfin and alligator gar.
He's introduced his nephew, Colton Flora, to the sport as well.
When they go bow fishing, they use a boat that's equipped with a generator and six halogen, 500-watt lights around the front and sides. They troll through shallow water, 2-6 feet deep, and just drive across the big fish.
To hunt the fish, they use a bow with a reel attached to the front of it. Massey uses a Zebco 808 with 200-pound test lines. The fishing line is attached to the arrow, so that when it is shot, they can reel the arrow and the fish in.
It took about 10 minutes to land the 100-pound gar last summer.
When you're bow fishing, there is always something going on," Massey said. "You're always seeing gar, carp or something. You're out looking for them, and you're out there with your friends, and that makes it fun."
Not only does it take a different bow for fishing, it also takes a different tactic. When hunting deer, the shot needs to be precise, while a fishing shot is a quick, instinctive release.
"They're both fun to do," Massey said.