By Steve Flores
What do you do when you’ve been bowhunting for over 70 years and you’re suddenly faced with the thought that perhaps you can no longer participate in the sport you love? What happens when physical limitations threaten your ability to go afield and pursue whitetails; arguably the most popular big-game animal on the face of the earth? What happens when life seemingly tells you it is time to stop hunting? Do you give in? Do you surrender? For Arnold Whitcomb, the answer is a resounding NO! You see, for this Princeton, MN native these perceived “roadblocks” are nothing more than stepping stones to the next chapter of not only his bowhunting career….but his life.
An avid outdoorsman since early childhood, Arnold has spent countless hours in the timber doing what he loves most…..bowhunting. Unfortunately, last year, Arnold suffered a stroke which robbed him of use of his right arm and impaired his speech. In addition, Mr. Whitcomb underwent heart surgery as well as hip replacement surgery. It’s hard to imagine participating in any type of activity after enduring such procedures, let alone hunting afterwards. However, missing a hunting season just wasn’t an option for Arnold. He was determined to overcome his adversity in order to continue his hunting tradition. Adversity, and ultimately overcoming it, is something he has done many times over the course of his life.
Brought up during the depression, a time when many Americans endured hardships and loss, Arnold and his family used hunting as a means of putting food on the table for the family. Since those days he has never missed a hunting season. Oh, there was the one year he didn’t hunt in 1950….when the season was shut down because of low deer numbers. Otherwise, Mr. Whitcomb, who is 84 years old now, has participated in every hunting season since.
During his early school days, Arnold spent his time in 9th grade shop class making his first bow. It was something that he was very passionate about and that passion would eventually carry over into his adult life. Years later, he would have the honor of making custom wood grips for baseball great Ted Williams. In the decades since, Arnold has helped shape or influence a countless number of bowhunters throughout the state of Minnesota. Not only that, his love of archery and bowhunting would eventually be passed along to his son (Andy).
Through their archery pro-shop and their affiliate company Whitcomb’s Whitetails Uncommon Scents, together this father and son team have worked to pass along the joy of bowhunting to as many people as they can; especially the next generation of kids. When kids, or adults, come into the pro-shop the emphasis is to make sure each individual customer achieves his/her bowhunting goals.
Speaking of bowhunting goals, Arnold is working hard to achieve his this year. While many bowhunters focus on trophy bucks, he has set his sights on something different; to simply “be out there”. And in the grand scheme of things, when you consider the adversity that Andy has overcome during the last several months, it becomes apparent that his objective is a worthy one.
So, armed with a Mission® MXB®-320™ crossbow, Arnold headed afield this year with high hopes of first filling his freezer with meat before even thinking about chasing antlers. In classic form, he dispatched of the first large doe that came within shooting range of his new favorite arrow slinger. So, with meat in the freezer and one tag filled….what’s next? Well, if his previous track record is any indication, the next antlered buck that steps within range of Arnold and his Mission crossbow will become instantly famous. Stay tuned…..