Long Bow Joe is what most folks know him by in his neck of the woods, but to me it’s always been dad. He taught me how to shoot a bow, cast a line, and to have respect for the natural world and its inhabitants. But if there’s one thing he’s most passionate about it’s the whitetail deer, and more than that it’s bow hunting big whitetail bucks. So join us for a one on one, father-son interview on chasing whitetails in our home state of New York…
Sax: Who or what got you into hunting?
LBJ: Just a natural desire to hunt, and living on the foster farm when I was young. Seeing all the rabbits, squirrels, and small game on the farm, and going on pheasant hunts with the adults. Then I shot my first goose when I was 14, but seeing a buck out the window of the farm house got me excited. My father bought me a bow and some arrows, and when I was old enough to hunt big game I went out to try and kill a deer with the bow and arrow. Then I got drafted…
Sax: So when did you shoot your first deer?
LBJ: When I got back from the draft I got back into bow hunting. That was 1972, and I hunted bucks only back then. In ’74 I shot my first deer, “Stubby,” a 9 pointer on Howland Island. I was hooked hard on bow hunting from then on.
Sax: What was hunting on Howland Island like back then?
LBJ: It was crazy. It was a one-day bow hunt. Guys from Michigan, Maine, Pennsylvania, Ohio, all over, came to hunt. One year there were 1,400 hunters. You could hear arrows whizzing by you. You had to wear orange and all you could see were spots of orange moving through the woods. I volunteered helping weigh the deer killed there for a DEC study and learned how to estimate deer weight accurately.
Sax: When did you shoot your first Pope and Young Buck?
LBJ: In ’77, an 8 pointer that scored 136 5/8″.
Sax: What was it like shooting your first Pope and Younger ?
LBJ: I wasn’t sure it was him at first. Then I saw the bend in his brow tine and realized I had to hurry up and shoot. I’d found his sheds the year before. I was strictly hunting him. He fell right in the scrape he’d made and when I got down from the tree and saw how big he was I started to get really excited. I became obsessed with trophy hunting after that.
Sax: How many Pope and Young bucks have you shot ?
LBJ: Three. The 14 pointer I shot with the longbow in 1981 grossed 161 and netted 139 3/8″, and that’s how I got the name Long Bow Joe. The other two I shot with a recurve.
Sax: What was it like shooting the 14 pointer?
LBJ: *Laughing* I gave out a huge scream after shooting him that quieted the whole swamp. I shot him standing on a limb on a huge maple tree in the middle of the swamp. I’d heard a branch snap and looked in the direction of the noise and saw this buck starting to materialize that looked like Bambi’s father and said to myself, “I’d sure like to get an arrow in this guy.” When I went to make the draw, my boot made a noise and he just kind of looked up. He was so rut crazed he just kept walking. I had to hurry up on the shot. He was heading for some brush. The shot was low but I followed through really well. I heard him crashing through the ice running away, and then one big crash and it was all over. I’d hit him in the heart. The broadhead was broken right off in it. I shot him at 10 am and by that time I got him back to the car it was dark. I’d even built a raft to get him over a dyke.
Sax: And your third NY Pope and Young?
LBJ: Was in 2012. A 10 pointer that scored 126 5/8″.
Sax: And that was after your tree stand accident?
LBJ: Yeah. In 2000 I fell getting out of my stand. I shattered both my wrists and cracked my coconut.I spent six weeks in the hospital recovering. I had to go back to a recurve after that. It was less shock on my wrist than the long bow, and I shot a doe with it the following year.
Sax: What’s the most rewarding part of hunting for you?
LBJ: Just the excitement of the hunt, the anticipation of the hunt, and seeing wildlife roaming around the woods naturally.
Sax: What impresses you most about the whitetail deer?
LBJ: *Laughing* It’s ability to avoid humans when it wants to.
Sax: Whats your dream hunt?
LBJ: Shooting a 200+” non typical with the bow and arrow.
Sax: Any advice to someone starting out bow hunting whitetails?
LBJ: Yeah. Do a lot of scouting, you’re better off that way then just haphazardly walking in the woods. And a lot of practice, being able to hit what your shooting at. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.