Editor’s Note: The little, barefoot, overall-clad boy Howard Hill made small clouds of dust as he raced from the cotton field down the road to the house holding the first rabbit he ever had killed with his bow and arrow. That first rabbit taken in Wilsonville, Alabama, marked a new page in the history of bowhunting and began Hill’s quest to fulfill his impossible dream that would span a lifetime, an ocean and two continents. Before Howard Hill – a world-renowned bowman who won more than 196 competitions and set a world record for the farthest recorded flight shot of 391 yards – died in 1975 at the age of 74, I was privileged to interview him. This giant of a man – still strong and powerful – grasped my hand in a hand twice the size of mine – and told me he still shot 100 arrows a day. He also said his heroes were the Native Americans, “Who were some of the best hunters who ever lived. They weren’t necessarily the best shots, but their abilities to stalk, get in close to their game and make clean kills set them apart.” He told me of his personal windmill, how he charged it, and how it fell.
When I was growing up, I had four older brothers. My dad was interested in us boys. He wanted us to be good, strong boys and to have an ambition to be strong. He thought if he could help us to become hunters, we would do just that. He started us off with a popgun shooting chinaberries, paper and rocks. Next we got a squirt gun for shooting water. After that was our sling shot, but not the kind David killed Goliath with in the Bible. No, our slingshots had forked stocks and inner-tube rubbers that you could bust your own thumbnail with if they hit you.
The last thing my dad made us was a bow and arrow when I was four. Well, the squirt gun and popgun were just to play with, and we finally got tired of the slingshot; but that bow and arrow stuck with me. I just couldn’t get away from it.
To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillip’s book, “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the Pros” in Kindle and print versions at – http://amzn.to/VBr1qW
Tomorrow: What Howard Hill’s Beginnings Were in Bowhunting