- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 24, 2002

There are days when Linda Heine gladly exchanges the comfort of a couch or an office chair for a tiny, padded perch fastened to a tree 25 feet off the ground. There she sits for hours on end whiling away the hours, composing poems in her head, sometimes admiring the death-defying leaps of gray squirrels, occasionally ducking woodland birds who have no idea that the camouflage-dressed woman wasn't a regular part of the forest.
A powerful compound hunting bow that hangs on a hook next to her shoulder tells a different story.
Should a deer come to within 40 yards or less of her tree stand, the petite government management analyst nocks an arrow, draws the string fully out, aims and releases the sleek aluminum missile.
"Three years ago during the rut, in these same woods, I saw a deer come through this bottom rather quickly," Heine said. "It was a 9-point buck. I drew back and let the arrow go. The buck took off, but he went down no more than 60 yards from my stand."
Just like that.
Last year she hunted with a shotgun that fires rifled slugs and, yes, she put some more venison into the family freezer.
Her husband, retired advertising executive Joseph "Butch" Heine, a past president of the Prince George's Fish & Game Club who has hunted for 40 years, didn't have to talk his wife into joining the clan of the hunters.
"For years, I used to sit at home and listen to Butch's bow-hunting stories," Mrs. Heine said. "I began to think of how much he apparently enjoyed it, so seven years ago I made up my mind to give it a try. I practiced all summer long on an archery range and became pretty good with a bow."
As she spoke, her husband, who has bagged a lot of deer over many hunting seasons, stood behind his wife and mouthed the words, "She's very good."
On a sunny autumn day, not far from the Piscataway Indian tribe's ancestral hunting lands, Heine agreed to pose for a couple of photos on her regular tree stand in a beautiful section of Southern Maryland hardwoods.
She quietly walked through the woods, arrived at "her tree" whose trunk was studded with finger-thick climbing steps that were attached with nylon straps, rather than being screwed into the wood. A fair distance up the trunk was the aforementioned padded seat and a fair-sized metal footrest, along with a strong safety belt that awaited the huntress. From the forest floor, the seat looked like a postage stamp.
Heine didn't climb that tree no, she practically ran up those small metal steps with the skill of a trained circus acrobat. I was astonished. Her compound bow had been attached to a thin rope and the moment she swung her small frame into the seat and tightened the safety belt around her, she pulled up the rope and soon had her beloved XI Silver Hawk bow and her 100 grain, three-bladed Easton arrows in her hands.
She now was ready to repeat an ancient practice: to supply food for the family. In this case, however, the equipment was more modern and far more effective. In fact, I couldn't help but wonder how much an 18th or 19th century American Indian would have given for Heine's hunting bow and arrows.
"We eat everything we shoot," she said descending her tree to say goodbye. "I only wish more women would hunt. They don't know what they're missing. Believe me, the actual shooting of game is a small part of it. To understand what I mean by that, you have to experience the sights and sounds of the woods and spend many hours on a deer stand in all kinds of weather."
Millions of us hunters know precisely what it is you're talking about, Mrs. Heine. Our problem is that most of us aren't poets.
The photo shoot and conversation over, we agreed to depart so she, her husband, and their son, 29-year-old Joe, could prepare for an afternoon archery deer hunt.
Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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