Has the Game Commission become too liberal in allowing crossbows during the just-concluded archery deer season?
I'd say "Yes."
But what I say might be sour grapes, the bitter whinings of a tormented unsuccessful hunter.
Tormented? By whom?
As a committed Christian, I subscribe to the concept of a triune, all-powerful deity.
But I think Christian Scriptures missed something that the Norse myth scribes captured: Loki.
Loki is a lesser god, but he is a jokester - or party pooper, according to Wikipedia, and we all know that if it is (a) on the Internet and (b) in Wikipedia, it is correct, right? He is a "shape shifter," sometimes salmon, sometime mare, seal, fly or even an elderly woman.
I think he was in the woods Oct. 24-26.
Whether it was Loki, or a Christian angel with a warped sense of humor, something changed the warm-weather mid-October weekend for senior and junior license holders to hunt with rifles into snow-on-the-ground cold.
The Game Commission's rules specify that those of us hunting with rifles are restricted to does. Archers can take either gender, depending on their licenses.
In three days of hunting, I saw five shootable deer. All were ... wait for it ... bucks.
During the regular rifle deer season, I had enjoyed consistent success a few years earlier, when that season allowed the taking of either bucks or does.
Since the change back to current rifle-season rules, the first Monday-Friday for bucks only, I have been skunked.
Yet last month, when doe were legal for me, I saw only antlered deer. One had three points on one antler (legal). Two were four-points (not legal for me). One was a huge, high-horned 10-point. The fifth was heavy-racked, but refused to stand still long enough for a precise point count.
No doe, unless one counts the several flashing white tails and leaping rumps that disappeared into still leaf-coated brush ahead of my walks.
I could shoot doe, but I saw only bucks.
In our rural neck of fields and woods, I saw no unknown hunters. One neighbor, Chris, was zealous in his pursuit of heavy-antlered bucks, passing up smaller-attired deer while sitting for hours on end in a tree stand. I am not suited to sitting. Instead, I amble, putting from place to place on a four-wheeler (rifle dutifully unloaded), then stalking through thickets, seeing the aforementioned tails while hopefully pushing other deer out to open spots.
Two others, who shall remain nameless (you know who you are, Rick and Bill), filled their tags, buck and doe apiece.
They used crossbows, equipped with small telescopic sights, crank-type cocking mechanisms, and modern technology that permits them to cleanly kill deer at up to 50 yards rather than the 25 yards or so limit for most other bow hunters.
So, I immediately decided on the basis of those two hunters that the Game Commission ought to restrict the use of crossbows to holders of senior licenses. Never mind the fact that both Hunter A (Rick) and Hunter B (Bill) are older than I am. They got deer. I didn't. It could not be that they are better hunters than I am, so it must have to do with the rules, and their weapons.
Near 5 p.m. that Saturday, as I putt-putted toward the barn and house (rifle dutifully unloaded), I looked skyward. Puffy clouds zipped along in autumnal winds. The spirits guiding them giggled at my inability to find even one antlerless deer in three days of hunting, despite the statistical averages of about 5 doe for every buck.
Loki? An angel with a warped sense of humor?
I dunno which.
I am banking on the culprit being a Christian-Scriptures spirit, because those Norse deities were nasty. Hammer of Thor, lightning of Odin, all that stuff. I wouldn't want to have to acknowledge their world view. I am comfortable with Christianity, except for sadistic spirits.
Now, back to crossbows.
Users of compound bows agree with me that the Game Commission went too far in allowing across-the-board use of crossbows during the pre-Thanksgiving archery season.
No, wait. "Users" might be too broad. I asked the question of exactly one user of a compound bow, a successful buck-getter who happens to be a family member.
He agrees with me. The fact that I paid for his dinner is irrelevant. He also said that other regular bow users agree with us. So there.
I accuse the Game Commission of being in collusion with the weather spirits, hyping the supposed joys of us senior citizens being afield in warm weather only to have an early December weekend in mid-October.
As to crossbows ... limit them. Limit them, I say.
My viewpoint has nothing to do with my having been tormented by mischievous spirits for three solid days last month.
Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.