LEARNING THE TRADE The joys of bow hunting, is as old as the first crude bow drawn by ancient man to feed himself. There was no-one to teach him, no spine charts to work out the perfect arrow and no bow-shop around the corner to order that special brand of broad head that would bring back the bacon. Ancient man had to rely on his wit, his aim, his hunger and the power of his poison. In his time, unlike today, there were no ethics involved. If he could feed his clan, he was worthy. If he could not, they banned him from the group. In modern day, ethics became part of the obstacles one has to overcome in order to do the job right, otherwise you get frowned upon. We as bow hunters have to face the onslaught of the anti-hunting fraternity and overcome it so that we can continue to do the thing we love. One can also say that if it were not for the anti-hunters, there would be no ethics in hunting. So how do we do the job right? Which laws do we follow that will make us worthy? Who decided upon those laws? There are certain rules that we have to adhere to in order not to be banned. Where did they come from and why were they made? In the mid 80,s bow hunting was still illegal in all of South Africa. That was because no-one thought it humane or ethical to hunt with such equipment. Ten years later, we have hunted every animal stipulated in the Nature Conservation Ordinance that was not totally protected against all hunting like the Black Rhino and the Cape Mountain Zebra. We even hunted all of the Big Six. Laws got passed to control the new type of hunting that took the USA by storm more than 40 years ago. No-one in Nature Conservation had any concrete data or first hand knowledge of how an arrow killed an animal. Some of us that were hooked on this ancient form of hunting took it upon ourselves to do tests and to learn from the mistakes that were made. We had to prove the rulebook wrong or right. There were thoughts and theories on what was needed to successfully and humanly kill a large animal like an Elephant or Rhino. For a short time, we could hunt them all. Then people started abusing the system and did or conducted hunts without the proper knowledge. Now, we can no longer hunt the complete Big Six in SA because of it. You have to apply for a permit and you better motivate it well before they will consider granting it. The equipment changes so fast that we can not keep up with the technology. Bows become stronger and faster. Arrows changed from wood to aluminum to carbon to aluminum-carbon-composite. Broad heads changed from carbon steel to stainless steel and from two-blade cut on impact to four-blade mechanical. How does the bow hunting laws keep up with all of this? Some of us had to change with it. The recommended poundage to shoot an elephant 10 years ago is no longer relevant because of the rapid improvement in equipment. So to, did the angles of the target areas of the relevant species that were hunted change. We must not get molded in one specific direction of thought. If we see something that is advertised as doing or performing in a certain way, we must not just accept it as Gospel. We owe it to our fellow hunters to test these claims. Some of us are privileged to hunt dangerous game on a regular basis. We have to keep testing these new products, so as to help pave the way for those that have a dream of hunting these heavy animals one day, so that they do not make a very expensive or dangerous mistake. During the course of this testing, we might make some mistakes ourselves. After all, we are all human. Do we keep these mistakes to ourselves and never share them or do we tell about them so that others can learn from our findings? If we use the Ostrich approach, by putting our heads in the sand and pretend that things always work, who benefit from it? If we read about a Warthog that was wounded, we do not complain so much as when we read about an Elephant or Rhino that is wounded. Why is that? What makes the one more or less of an animal than the other? In my opinion, all animals are to be respected and thought of in the same way. It does not mean that because the one is more endangered than the other, or more expensive, or more glamorous that he is to be respected differently when we hunt them. Everyone that hunts a lot will sooner or later wound an animal. Sometimes he/she might even lose it and never find it. That is hunting and we must accept it as part thereof, although we strive to make a clean kill every time. In the world that we live in today, we will never all agree on everything. That is because we have so many choices. Broad heads, bows, arrows, sights and so much more are covered by many types and brands and we each decide what we want. It is not to say that someone else,s choice is wrong. It is just that he/she has a different opinion, experience or expectation on what works best. In order to make the choices easier, we rely on proof. Proof is only proof if it has been tested many times over and it worked. In order to get the proof you have to make choices again and they might not always be the correct ones. Even in making the wrong choice or using the wrong equipment during a test you get proof of how it will not work. A magazine, dvd or internet-forum about bow hunting is used as an advertising tool, a story teller, a method of unity and to educate. Education is not all about how to do things, but also how not to do it. If we see it as that and stand together, even though our opinions might be different, we will have a voice to speak with. We should take hands as brothers in arms and learn from ourselves so as to be one. Fritz Rabe. Askari Adventures and Fritz Rabe Bow Hunting.