Peninsula Clarion, M. Scott Moon) MAGS OUT; NO SALES, Associated Press
KENAI, Alaska — On the fifth day of Len Malmquist's bow hunting expedition in South Africa, he and his guide were driving back to camp with a fresh kill.
Along the orange road were bushes thick with thorns because everything in Africa, Malmquist said, has thorns on it. From one of these thorns, hung a small bird.
He was stuck in the neck.
"And he was just (barely) moving so we could tell he was still alive," Malmquist said. "Right alongside the road."
So they stopped and backed up. The guide grabbed the bird, and Malmquist, with his Leatherman, snipped it from the branch. But the bird was too weak to fly, and the guide said they couldn't leave it for the jackals.
"So he held it underneath his arm like a dog and drove the Toyota Land Cruiser back to camp," he said.
Back in camp, they placed the little bird in a small dog kennel and fed it for three days. On the fourth day, it flew.
"We had him saved," he said. "And it was a really pretty bird."
Back home in Kenai the 60-year-old Malmquist is retired. He's been that way for a decade now. Before retirement he was chief of Central Emergency Services, but now he has more time to shoot 200 arrows a week.
"Lots and lots of practice," he said, and he needs it to put five-shot groupings into apple-sized targets at 60 yards. He's also the president of the Kenai Peninsula Archers Club, where he teaches bow hunter education classes for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. And, he has a woodshop.
When Malmquist left in June for his two-week African expedition, he killed nine animals. But between hunts, he sometimes went long periods of time without firing his bow, and that was all right with him. It wasn't all about that. For him, the culture was an entirely different game, and one he didn't need his bow for.
Whenever you leave the United States, he said, "you leave our style of living all behind."
The winters, he said, are as temperate as our summers — about 45 in the morning and 75 in the afternoon, even 84 one day.
"They were all running around in quilted shirts and hats and wool caps and they were freezing to death," he said about a colder day, "and I was running around in a tee shirt — 'this was great.'"
He said they even humored him with a heater in his room. "Forty-one in the room," he said. "I don't know if I was worried about that."
But what really grabbed him was the quality of life shadowed from the cities.
"It looks like any city, but there are real destitute areas," he said. "There's definitely have and have-nots in the country there."
On day two, three days before rescuing the little bird, Malmquist went all day without seeing a single animal large enough to shoot (and he counted 249 animals). He "went nuts," though, with his camera.
"I got video," he said, "and I've got still pictures up the yin-yang."
When Malmquist wasn't firing his camera, when there was game to take with his bow, he shot with a discerning eye — an ethical detail he learned as a kid.
It started when his father bought him a BB gun. He was just a kid; he was curious. So he shot a robin. But his father was not pleased, and he explained that killing anything for sport is wrong. So, to reinforce the lesson, he made his son eat it.
Now he has 47 years of hunting experience, 18 exclusively with a bow, and ever since that robin, he's been much more critical of what and how he shoots. He said a bow allows him to do that.
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