Untamed – a Traditional Bow hunting Film by Clay Hayes
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Untamed – a Traditional Bow hunting Film by Clay Hayes

August 19, 2019

There is something within us all; a common thread. It’s sometimes latent, forgotten. Other times, it’s undeniable. But we’re all born hunters. Some of us are drawn to it like salmon returning to their origins, overcoming great difficulty to arrive at a place and time, the culmination of our experience, our determination, and no small measure of luck. As timeless as humanity itself, the hunters problem is infinitely interesting. And solving it with wit and woodsmanship is one of the most difficult challenges that we can undertake. It’s also one of the most fulfilling. I think there are a lot of hunters out there like that, that are so passionate about what they do, that it’s more than just something they do. It really defines who they are. For those hunters, it’s not just a hobby. It truly is, a way of life. We are problem solvers. That’s what we do better than anything else. And for as long as we’ve been human, we have been trying to solve that fundamental problem that has faced hunters forever. And that problem is… uncertainty. It’s uncertainty in whether or not we’ll find the animal. It’s uncertainty in whether or not we’ll get a shot. And if we do, will we be able to make it when we’re under pressure. With all the advances in the last couple of decades, and the amount of technology that’s available and marketed to hunters today, I really think we’re well on our way to solving that problem. And, if we’re not careful, we may just do it. Since I can remember, I’ve had that instinctual drive to chase, to capture… Anything. It didn’t matter if it was a frog, or a snake, or a rabbit out in the field. I was trying to catch it. And that has been a lifelong journey looking for a balance between a love of hunting and a fascination with nature. I’ve been making bows now for about fifteen years Back when I first started bowhunting, I hunted with a compound, just like everyone else. Mainly because that’s all I knew. I didn’t know anyone who shot traditional, and I certainly didn’t know anyone that made bows. But, once I found some good instructions, I started making selfbows and never really looked back. These self-imposed limits have helped me to find that balance. It gives a hunter the opportunity to learn from wildlife and to practice those skills that we probably never would have developed otherwise. There is something about a longbow that is absolutely magnetic. Maybe it’s the simplicity in form; the beauty in a perfect curve. But I think it probably runs much deeper than that. Not unlike the gravity that a campfire seems to exert over anyone that’s nearby. Drawing us in closer Some people choose to limit themselves to very hard to find animals. That monster buck, or huge bull that very few hunters will ever see, let alone get a shot at. I choose to limit the technology; to rely on woodsmanship to get super close to an animal. Even if you don’t want to shoot a particular animal, It’s still fun to sneak up on them and see how close you can get. Honestly I do kind of regret letting this guy go. That’s a pretty nice bear. On some of my most memorable hunts I didn’t kill anything, or even get a shot. But I was so close. To be happy hunting with these weapons, you’ve got to be willing to let that bull walk away at 40 yards and just be happy to have been so close. But every now and then it works out. Every now and then, things come together. And when that happens, it’s a pretty awesome feeling. What’s an animal taken by these means worth? Is it worth the price paid in numb and calloused fingers? In foregone opportunities and the years lean on blood trails? If we think in terms no broader than a dead animal, then the obvious answer is no. But what of the lessons learned along the way? What of the time spent watching and learning from animals that are just out of range? What of the memories of that bull that was so close that you could nearly feel his breath… you could see the reflection in his eye. These are the things we can carry with us. These are the things we can pass on, and I would argue that These are the things that are most important. We hunters, as a group, are constantly looking for something to make it easier. And the whole time, we’re robbing ourselves of the satisfaction, of the joy of accomplishing something difficult. I think he’s down. Even when you know you’ve made a perfect shot, that sight of a good blood trail is so reassuring. That’s something that only a hunter could ever truly appreciate. Well, he may not make the record book, but, when you can kill a deer with a bow and arrow that you’ve made… it’s a heck of a feeling. I started this project with the thought that I’d somehow get to the bottom of what hunting is. That I’d somehow explain what it meant to someone who is so consumed with it. I wanted to show what hunting means to me. But the deeper I dug, the more I realized that it’s impossible to ever fully capture; to hem up and summarize in a nice little package. And maybe that’s it. Maybe that is the greatest thing about hunting. The mystery. The uncapturable nature of the very thing I was trying to define. And so I guess the best that we can hope for is that people will judge us on how we hunt. On the effort that we put into it. And our commitment to keep it that way Wild Full of mystery and untamed.

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  1. I'm from Slovakia and that your video is terribly inspiring. Kcel I would at least be a bit like ty. I'm 15 years and six months ago I made my first bow and hopefully we will know the message such as the bow. Beautiful video.

  2. Absolut stunning. By far one of the best bow hunting videos on the web. Your words speak right to my soul.

  3. The narrative at the beginning of this video is perfect. You successfully found a way to verbalize the passion I have for hunting and traditional archery. Keep up the great work. I love these videos. I've shared them and subscribed. Thank you.

  4. Excellent video. 18 years ago, when I was getting into bow hunting and archery, I bought a compound from a pawn shop. About that same time I found the Bowyer's Bibles in my local library. Before I finished sighting in my compound I had finished a simple board bow. I have never finished sighting in my compound. I now hunt with a tri lam hybrid long bow that I made myself. Your message in this video is perfect. My most memorable hunt was being face to face with a large whitetail buck at 15 yards and not being able to draw. He ended up walking away I ended up with a huge grin plastered to my face for the rest of the day.

  5. I love the vid! I am a self taught (with some found help a long the way). Great video all the way around! Target market reached, I promise. Why did you not go for the bear, you said you regretted not going for it afterwords?

  6. beautifully done, very much enjoyed, as one who makes and uses his own bows for fun and hunting
    i can relate to that satisfaction you receive from start to finish when making your bow, to walking through the
    woods with it in hand is just hard to explain

  7. Even if im just 13 i do traditional archery i would love to go small game hunting but its nearly impossible here in italy.

  8. You regret letting go pretty nice bear you said,wouldnt be nice to see him again every time you go to woods in all his glory and beautines,instead having some of his parts hanged on the wall?

  9. Great to see that much passion and discipline. Also good to see absolutely no meet wasted. Nice job on that bow. It is beautiful.

  10. I just came across your channel I just got bit by the traditional bug and I'm trying to learn as much as possible awesome video

  11. Very well done!
    To take an animal with a bow you built yourself is an amazing accomplishment today. You do it with the right attitude. Thank you for sharing!


  13. Nice video, too many without skills they practice wounding and maiming animals for no reason. If you won't eat it or make a clean kill stay the fuck home!.

  14. I wish I had a counter on how many times me and my 3 year old have watched this. Its has been a go to video to watch. We thoroughly enjoy every minute of it. Keep up the great videos they have inspired many.

  15. Hi Clay. David here in the lake country of W. Central Minnesota. I have been enjoying your work & just wanted to say thanks for your permission to share this video on my social media network we have just launched. Our goal is to capture the heart of the bow hunter & the outdoor experience. You nailed it in this film… Thanks again! Keep up the great work & God's peace, WP.

  16. I wish this video was an hour or more. This video hit home in an incredible multitude of ways. You're living the dream, and that alone is something worth being proud of.

  17. Great filming and narrative, but above all you capture something of the call of the wild or as you point out the draw of a campfire, that is simply irresistible to some of us.

  18. your videos are so good I can live through them. Too old to do quite what you do but I still hunt trad. Want to make a self bow its on my bucket list. Don't know why its just there.Love all your stuff

  19. My thoughts exactly.
    I know I could make the shot to kill the animal. That's not the challenge.
    Stalking, following a trail, the HUNT! Being able to follow and locate an animal, that is the challenge.
    In fact, most of the time I don't even want to kill it. At that point, it would be too easy.
    I want to move to my next target.
    The messy chore of quartering an animal and lugging all that meat back to the car is depressing.
    I rather go back and get a hot home-cooked meal or stop off at my favorite restaurant.
    The biggest downer is that deer and just about all animals are pretty stupid. They rely entirely on their senses and instinct.
    They have no strategy, no tactic. At least some animals will charge, bears and boars.

  20. Clay, I'm absolutely humbled by this video. I've been shooting recurve for awhile and just now interested in osage bowmaking. I'd love to hunt with my own bow. Matter of fact, I'd love to hunt. At 40, I've decided that store bought meat is disgusting and I want to get back to the earth and fill my freezers. I know I have a long way to go and the learning curve is long and arduous but i'm commited.
    Thank you for this and all your other videos. I do hope to get back to nature and eschew this factory farm lifestyle.

    If you are ever offering courses or guided stalks, I'd love to join you. Thanks for this video and be well.

  21. Totally loved this man! Ive a series of videos and a website of my own. In fact, i reached a level of frustration today which made me out down work for the remainder of the day but now im heading out to the shop, thanks my friend.

  22. clay I have to admit that this video is one of the most profound on youtube. I’ve been dealing with traditional archery for some time now and your videos helped me a lot, but this one makes me think about dealing with that kind of hunting, which let me tell you I never though of it before. Thank you

  23. As real as it gets. Awesome video, only concerned with ethics and skill not antler score and being a social media hero. You need to make more of these.

  24. That was a first class watch clay thank you. An old saying comes to mind it's not the kill it's the thrill of the chase. Hi from the uk

  25. Make sure that you can shoot well enough to get a clean kill when you go out; that should be the goal, I think. Take care.

  26. Hunting for me has never been about showing reverence to the animal, God is the only one deserving of reference. It has always been and will always be about meat on a plate and a smile on my family's face.

  27. You are one of the best speakers on what hunting is about. I think non-hunters and anti-hunters would learn alot from you. I'm putting the rifle down and bow hunting for the first time this year with an old Bear Recurve I found in my dad's attic, your videos have me pumped.

  28. What an amazing celebration of your hunting journey and it is refreshing to see the respect you hold for the animal and the exchange of power and teaching between hunter and prey.

  29. You earned a sub my friend and ill soon be getting in touch with you about purchasing myself one of your bows. Well done man keep up the good work!

  30. Mountain man skills are underappreciated for sure. How to trap,hunt,fish make fire/shelter purify water and garden/farm. All men should know these things. Could you imagine how many people would freak out if the power went out and stayed out. 300 years ago people had to know this stuff. We owe it to our forefathers to maintain and pass on those skills

  31. I scored a 1960s Shakespeare wonder bow for 20 bucks I love it. Of course trying to string it without a stringer and a 6 pack of beer I put the first scratches on it

  32. Fantastic videos, you truly capture the wonder and passion for nature, though I'm not a hunter I appreciate it's place in that passion, very professionally done, love it when parts of your humor/personality take over

  33. Great Video. Beautiful footage. I'm shooting more now with my Bear Grizzly 58". I like shooting it more than a newer compound. I like all your videos. Great for the tradition of hunting. I believe we owe it to our children to pass on the knowledge of our ancestors.

  34. Very nice film. What's the draw weight on your self bow? I made one myself, but doesn't seem to have the energy transfer yours appears to.
    Really liking the looks of your quiver as well.

  35. Excellent video production sir, it made me reflect on why I love hunting so much. I think it has a lot to do with my dad taking me hunting when I was just a little boy.

  36. Man just an amazing video, love this!! I've been into firearms for a long while and just got into archery this year and have fallen in love with it. Again, just an amazing movie you made here!!

  37. what confidence to be able to make that shot thru those branches.t hat was impressive.nice how the music directly coincided with that shot to .yaaaea!!!!

  38. then wasting disease comes :/ any hunters please go get tested if you hunted, eaten, skinned deer. Its essentially mad cow disease that can spread to all animals including humans and even plants. It also makes animals including humans become very agro against all creatures including other humans hence why its called zombie wasting disease. If the creature bites you or infected human bites with it then you will get it too. So please get tested.

  39. Amazing! Thank you, Clay! My 12-year-old twins and I are feeling inspired.. They are determined to hunt with traditional gear and you are now their #1 role model…

  40. Very well made video…. Better that any hollyweird trash….you have a great sense of true art and beauty as well as life and death

  41. Great video! I have been making self bows out of osage for a while now myself and often wish I had never shot a compound bow. Self bows is where it's at. I have the same instinctual desires to be roaming the ridges and enjoying the sweet gifts God has given us that most disregard daily. There is no better place for the soul than the woods and fields. I spend my days longing for the chance to be back in the woods on another hunt. I long for the days that are spent camping with the family and friends in remote areas that are cut off from society and technology. I dont always kill an animal when I set out. Sometimes I let them walk on by and enjoy the beauty of gods nature. Building my own bow and taking an animal with it is an indescribable feeling that could never be replaced by modern things of this world. My only regret in life will be that I havent had enough time to do the things I am truly passionate about such as things described in your video! Keep up the hard work of putting material out there for all of us to view. I know I am not alone in saying, I appreciate it!

  42. You nailed it with this video. Hunting is time in the woods. If you see an animal – that is a bonus. If you harvest an animal – that is a bonus. Enjoy the time in the woods.


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