By Kevin Tate/Outdoors Writer
For one young man, a commitment to bowhunting that began in his earliest days as an outdoorsman has led to two world-class bucks in back-to-back seasons.
In late 2010, Will Rives, of Natchez, became the first person to use a bow to harvest a Boone and Crockett-qualifying buck in the typical category in Mississippi and, pending a mandatory drying period and official measurement, he may well have another record book entry on his hands this year.
Last year’s buck, which measured 172 4⁄8 inches as a typical, was the result of a lifelong quest, one Rives says he chose for himself at an early age. This year’s deer, which has been rough scored in the 180-inch zone, shows that quest goes on.
Although archery requires more practice and more patience than hunting with a firearm, Rives says the main thing reaching his goal to take a record book buck with his bow required was the simple commitment to do it.
All archery, all the time
“My dad told me when I was 17, I’d never achieve my goal with a bow if I didn’t commit to taking it all the time, every time I hunted, and he was right,” Rives says. Guidance from his father, Bill, in fact, remains one of the chief influences in his life.
“I started bowhunting in 1962,” Bill Rives, also of Natchez, says. “When Will was born, I was as avid then as he is now. When he was 3, I started taking him hunting with me. I’d pack him into the woods on my back. We’d sit down beside a tree and Will would play in the dirt, or throw sticks, and he’d eventually go to sleep and I’d hunt a little while. Then I’d pack him back out of the woods.”
“My dad bought me a bow when I was 5 years old and I started shooting,” Will, now 37, says. “When I was 6 he let me start hunting with the bow while he was right beside me. He’d give me one arrow with a Bear Razorhead with the cover on it that slides on and off.
“I missed my first deer when I was 10.”
“He shot and the arrow stuck in the ground underneath the deer, and he turned around and looked at me,” Bill Rives says. “He was shaking and stuttering and said, ‘What’s wrong with me dad? I’m shivering and I’m not even cold!’ After that, he was totally addicted to archery.
“Some kids get distracted and go do stupid things. Archery kept him on the right track.”