January 2016
Outdoor Life

From Left to Right

Buddy Bice prepares to draw his bow.  

Buddy Bice overcame significant challenges to become
one of Birmingham’s most respected bow specialists.

Buddy Bice bought his first bow from a pawn shop. His friends would get a jump-start on the hunting season over the rifle hunters.

"Who wouldn’t want to get some extra hunting days in?" he thought.

So, Bice practiced with his pawn-shop bow until he felt confident enough to take it to the woods. He wasn’t fortunate enough to shoot a deer his first season, but he didn’t get discouraged. The next season, he got his first kill, a doe. His love of bowhunting began. Bice realized, in shooting a bow instead of a gun, he could hunt more wooded areas, kill a deer in a 45-50 yard range and hunt for a longer season.

Bice began shooting Dot tournaments and became a bow-shooting enthusiast.

  Buddy Bice’s left-handed writing may be a little messy. But how many men really care about their handwriting?

While shooting in tournaments, Bice began to notice a slight tremor he had in his right hand was becoming worse. These tremors had started in high school, but what teenage boy cares about his handwriting? The shaking was bad enough that he wasn’t confident in shooting his bow. Now that the tremors were affecting something he did care about, Bice decided to see a doctor.

The neurosurgeon scheduled MRIs and CAT scans. They couldn’t find anything. It was while Bice was having an x-ray that the technician found a small brain tumor at the base of Bice’s brain at his spinal column. The doctor determined that it was a slow-growing tumor and the location could be causing the tremors in his hand. There was also concern that as the tumor grew it could attach itself to the spinal column.

Bice was referred to a group of doctors who were more skilled in removing tumors in such a delicate location. He was told there were no guarantees. The outcome could be worse-case scenario or a successful removal that would also stop the tremors he was experiencing. Either way, he opted for the surgery and hoped for the best.

When Bice woke up from the surgery, his left foot and left hand had no feeling. He was 28 years old and found he couldn’t walk nor had any use of his left hand. He spent three months in the University of Alabama in Birmingham Spain Rehabilitation Center working harder than he ever had in his life. With the Center’s caring help and Bice’s determination, he was able to walk again and regain feeling in his hand.

Bice had always been active in sports. He was right-handed, but a bit ambidextrous, too. In baseball, he would bat right-handed, but he threw left-handed. He still played a little softball after school, but he knew he would have to give that up now. Sometimes, his left leg would buckle and his right hand still had the tremors. He also figured his bow hunting days would be over along with his tournament shooting.

However, you would just have to know Bice.

"Well, God gave me two arms," he thought.

So, guess where Bice went ... back to where he started the first time – the pawn shop. Instead of buying a left-handed bow, this time he got himself a right-handed bow. He got a cheap one with low poundage and started practicing.

He recalled that it was actually comical at first. His instinct was the opposite of what he was trying to get his hands to do. It was confusing his brain. But, as he persistently kept shooting, it started to become more natural. He went two seasons of just practicing. It took two years for him to become confident enough to shoot his bow to make a humane kill.

Bice is now a well-respected bow specialist in the Birmingham area. He became so inquisitive over the function and mechanisms on his bow that he would take it apart and then take it to a bow specialist to have it put back together. When he did this, he would ask questions and learn more about the workings of a bow. The more he learned, the better he got at making adjustments and repairs himself. It seems his determination and good-natured personality have helped him accomplish and master many things in his life.

So for you bow hunters, bow enthusiasts and bow beginners, Bice has a little advice for you. When asked the No. 1 reason someone brings in a bow for repair ... you guessed it, dry firing the bow (loosing of the string without ammunition). Whether the dirty deed was done by the owner or a friend, dry firing is dangerous and damaging. All the energy is stored in the limbs and in the string. Dry firing can bust the limbs and warp the cam. It can also break the strings and cables along with damaging any accessories that have been added.

Bice also recommends checking your bow before each hunt. Make sure everything is tight. Also, check your arrows. Look for hairline fractures and splits in the nock area. If the nock isn’t tight or if there is a fracture, the arrow can break when shot and come back into your hand. He said this happens more often than you think. Carbon fibers can shoot back into your hand causing severe damage and injury. If you hunt while it is damp outside or misty, make sure to wax the strings before storing your bow.

Speaking of bow storage, have a good case to transport and store your bow. When storing your bow in the off-season, do not put your bow in the attic or the trunk of your car. The tension of the bow will stretch with heat causing it to lose poundage and the bow can become out of time. Heat can de-laminate the limbs and cause internal fractures that can’t be seen. Do keep your bow in the case.

There are some pets that just love to chew on bow strings when a bow is kept under a bed or on the floor with no case.

He also recommends a lock for your bow. Locks are an inexpensive safety precaution, some costing around $2.50.

When waxing the bow’s strings, don’t use a heavy glob. Use a piece of leather and rub fast so the wax heats up and goes into the string. If your strings start fuzzing, this is common and not an immediate repair. A bow string is usually made of 24 strands. Twelve are twisted together in one direction and 12 are twisted in the opposite direction. Then the two are twisted together. If a single strand breaks, it can cause an unbalanced weak spot.

Bice also recommends lots of practice for a new bow owner. Get to know your bow well and make sure, when you head to the woods, that you are capable of making a humane kill. For an adolescent, make sure the bow fits the child. There are so many great youth bows available. Brands and types of bows are the preference of the shooter.

Remember too, in the State of Alabama, the minimum requirement is 35 pounds. If you are hunting out of state, always check the requirements. Also, some of the wildlife management areas only allow bow hunting or limited times for rifle shooting.

There is a lot more to Bice’s story. Yes, he was also a master jeweler. He learned how to write left-handed, too! It’s still a little messy, but what man cares about his handwriting, right?

Cindy Boyd is a freelance writer from Montevallo.