He’s got our vote!
Q: So, how does the son of a wealthy New York real estate developer find his way to the woods carrying a bow and arrows?
A: Well, my love for the outdoors came from my grandfather, Milos Zelnicek, a blue-collar electrician who lived in the Communist Czech Republic. He saw the lifestyle we lived here and understood both the good of that life, and the pitfalls, and he wanted to make sure we saw the other side of life. As youngsters, my brother Eric and I spent six to eight weeks every summer with him. He would say, “There’s the woods; go have fun,” and my brother and I immersed ourselves in the outdoors. He taught us how to shoot homemade stickbows, and we were amazed how much amusement we could get out of those crude bows and arrows. I just had a knack for it. Since then, most of my bowhunting has been self-taught, so the learning curve was slow because I made every mistake possible. The good thing about that is those lessons are well-learned. By the time I went to college in Philadelphia, I was driving back and forth on the weekends to go bowhunting, and I’ve been into bowhunting ever since.
Q: I know you hunt with firearms, but what would your bowhunting resume look like? Do you have a favorite species to hunt?
A: Well, favorite is subjective, and what I love about hunting is it is seasonal. So about the time I’ve had enough of sitting in a whitetail stand, I get a bit of a lull and then I go right into turkey season. Then summer comes, and I’ve been fortunate to have done quite a bit of bowhunting in Africa, and I’ve taken 15 or 16 species there. Then fall comes and I’m out west, where I’ve taken elk and numerous mule deer. I’ve also hunted sheep and caribou, but mostly with a rifle. Of course, whitetails are big for me because they’re the most accessible. I can roll out of bed at my cabin and choose from five treestands within 500 yards of the front door.
Q: What kind of archery tackle and gear do you hunt with?
A: Well, I shoot both traditional and compound bows — mostly traditional around home, and then a compound when I hunt out west. Right now I’m shooting Mathews compounds, and I have a number of recurves, including DAS bows from 3Rivers Archery and a couple of Black Widows. I’m a do-it-yourself kind of guy. I cut and fletch my own arrows, especially the traditional shafts. I think tuning is just as critical on traditional gear, because you have to tune the arrow more than the bow. A 25-grain change in point weight, especially with broadheads, can make a huge difference, and I’m always tweaking my arrows to get the best flight. With a compound, I’m tuning the bow more than the arrow. I have a bow press, so I do all that stuff myself.
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