By Jaine Treadwell
|In 1994, Mike Shiver of the Hamilton Crossroads Community in Pike County was ranked in the top 10 competitive bow hunters in the world. Today, he is content to shoot squirrels, snakes, quail and deer.
Mike Shiver speaks a language that only Robin Hood could understand.
Some might call him an archer but Shiver would rather be called a bow hunter.
That’s how he has spent 42 of 53 years so he has a lot of experience in his quill.
"I’ve spent most of my life in and out of bow hunting," he said. "Mostly in. I started bow hunting when I was 11 years old and I’ve been in love with it ever since."
Before he knew anything at all about bow hunting, Shiver was playing with a bow and arrows.
"As a kid, I made little stick bows and I learned from Alabama history that the Indians often made their arrows from dogwood shoots," he said. "The shoots were real straight so they made arrows that would shoot straight."
Shiver said he would practice stump shooting to improve his hand-eye coordination and the chance of hitting a moving target, hopefully a deer.
"I would shoot at leaves or anything that wouldn’t damage my arrows," he said.
Shiver’s idols were the pioneers of bow hunting and he watched Fred Bear and others on television programs.
"There was no outdoor television when I was growing up," he said. "And, it was a rarity for one to come on, but every now and then ABC Sports would feature Fred Bear and other pioneers of bow hunting and I would buckle down and watch."
||Mike Shiver taught his wife, Patty, to shoot the compound bow. She was a quick learner and had the technique “down pat” in three or four days. They now enjoy hunting together.
As Shiver improved with the bow and arrow, he got his first store-bought bow and then he got his first harvest.
"I was 11 years old when I got my first deer," Shiver said. "It was a doe — a little doe — but I had been practicing in the backyard so I knew where to hit it. It was a thrill."
Shiver was content to shoot with the longbow until his hero archer, Fred Bear introduced him to the recurve bow.
The longbow curves inward but the recurve curves inward and outward and is very accurate for anyone who can shoot a bow.
Shiver compares shooting a bow and arrow to throwing a rock or shooting basketball.
"It’s instinctive," he said. "You don’t have a sight to shoot a basketball. It’s that way with shooting a bow and arrow. It’s just instinct and I like that."
|At left, Mike Shiver has an eye on the target and appreciates the accuracy that comes with sighting a bow. However, he gets more of a thrill from instinctive shooting with a longbow.
The compound bow brought a new dimension to bow hunting.
"You sight it like a gun and pull the trigger," Shiver said. "But there’s still a kid in me. I don’t get a thrill out of shooting like that. I like to shoot instinctively. I like the way it feels when you hit a moving target just going by your instincts. That’s hunting to me."
Shiver shot competitively for 25 years. Every weekend he would be at a tournament in the Southern states. In 1994, he was ranked in the top 10 competitive archers in the world.
That was quite an accomplishment for boy from rural South Alabama.
He taught his children to shoot in much that same way he learned to shoot. Instead of shooting dogwood shoots, they had factory-made longbows but they learned to shoot just like dad.
But as the children got older, Shiver’s interest turned more toward their interests. To find a reason to spend great chunks of time in the outdoors, he took up golf.
"I’ve never tried anything any harder than that," he said. "It’s a whole lot harder to play golf than it is to bow hunt."
He found that putting a little white ball in a hole 50 yards away is a lot more difficult than shooting a deer on the run 50 yards away.
"The short game of golf is the hardest for me," he said. "I found it much easier to shoot a deer. No two situations in golf are ever the same. It’s a difficult game."
Shiver has recently taught his wife, Patty, to shoot the bow and arrow. She has become very proficient with the compound bow and has learned to enjoy bow hunting as much as her husband.
"It’s much easier to teach a woman than it is to teach a man," he said. "Women are more graceful and have a much easier disposition. Men are more aggressive and they just don’t take instructions as easily."
Shiver is now back "in" to bow hunting but he’s shying away from competitive shooting.
"I’ve shot a few snakes and squirrels and I’m looking forward to going after deer, turkeys and quail," he said. "That’s my interest now. Patty enjoys bow hunting now and it’s something that we can do together."
As for his top 10 ranking as an archer, Shiver will be content to rest on his laurels. However, only two of the trophies are left.
When a tornado ripped through his community of Hamilton Crossroad in November 2006, the storage unit where Shiver’s trophies were stored was blown away.
"But it’s not about trophies," he said. "It’s about hitting a target on instinct alone. That’s real bow hunting.
Shiver still speaks like a real-live Robin Hood.
Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.