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Arrows to the West

Jacob keeps an eye on the weather — their itinerary is at the mercy of the clouds forming over the ridgeline.
The town of Gilman, active as a mining settlement between 1886 and 1984, sits abandoned at the clifftop. “You can still get into some trouble in the old shafts, though.” - JM
Jacob's first impression: “You pick up the bow and right away you feel that it’s sturdy, clearly made by a master craftsman. And if I can say, it’s quite good looking!” - JM
The stalking grounds: lines of spruce and aspen, a familiar sight in the Colorado mountains.
Jacob has been hunting and hiking in these lands going on five years. “It’s real easy to get out deep, lots of good trails to get you out into the backcountry.” - JM
Storms kept rolling in from the north, kicking up gale-force winds and forcing the guys to hunker down and wait it out. “Lucky for us, the waxed canvas layer of our blanket kept the gear safe.” - FW
Sunshine again on the Fryingpan River, a tributary of the Roaring Fork. Jacob pursues brown trout with black ant flies.
We sure didn’t find it like this: true to its roots, the Makiri is efficient in field dressing a brown trout.
The guys set up camp in free-range cattle territory, greeted by some suspicious neighbors.
Jacob grew up making bows — from the first primitive stickbow as a kid, to the traditional yew longbow while living in England, to a carved osage recurve bow, he's earned an eye for fine workmanship.
In the name of science: they’re about to test the aerodynamics of the Best Made flask.
“I typically hunt with an 80# plains-style recurve bow. I can’t say enough how smooth this bow is in comparison, and I’d still feel confident hunting elk with the range it has. And I can hold it at full draw for longer. Sometimes you need that to get the right shot.” - JM
“I’ve always used a finger tab for shooting. My dad encouraged me to make everything I shot with: bow, arrows, strings. A finger tab is a lot easier to make from a scrap of leather than a full glove.” - JM
“Usually it takes a good bit of time to get familiar with a new bow, really dial it in. This longbow took no time at all to get accurate.” - JM
In the valley of the Maroon Bells, Colorado’s most distinguished twin peaks, Jacob whips up a damn fine cup of coffee.
“We went local this time, filled our flasks with Tincup whiskey, made in Denver.” -FW
At last, a calm night with a clear view of the Colorado skyline.
“Cocktails in the evening, coffee in the morning; with those 20 oz. mugs, you never run out.” - FW
After a tall mug of dry gin, a sturdy seat becomes a valuable commodity.
"The hour before sunrise, and the half-hour after dusk, that’s when the best hunting is. That’s when the elk are moving, looking for somewhere to bed down for the night.” - JM
The storms have kept the elk at bay; the guys would have to return in the following weeks for a proper hunt.
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Fall 2015: Maroon Bells, Colorado

As hunting law commonly stipulates, Colorado begins the big game season early for archers, offering a month to hunt in quietude. Jacob, a metalsmith and journeyman bowyer, and our friend, Forest, head out for the mountain backcountry, where the days are already crisp and clear — not expecting to bag an elk, but at least to become acquainted with the Best Made American Longbow, and some of our new fall gear. Jacob and Forest shot bows together as kids, and have since become accomplished bowmen in their own right, making for a ready excuse to spend a week off-trail, fishing, climbing, and “hunting stumps”, before temperatures call for heavier gear.

Special thanks to: Jacob and Kelsey Midgett, Stefan Hunt, Sara, Sarah, and Carl Wolfeagle

Photography by Forest Woodward