'Crimson Arrows' is more than a 'bowhunting odyssey'

Wildside column: Eyad Yehyawi's book is about nature, animals and challenges

Eyad Yehyawi, a Cedar Rapids optometrist and bowhunter, poses with the whitetail buck he shot Nov. 19 near Mount Pleasant. Yehyawi’s new book, “Crimson Arrows: A Bowhunter’s Odyssey,” includes 27 stories recounting the highs and lows of his nearly 30 years as an archer. Submitted photo
Eyad Yehyawi, a Cedar Rapids optometrist and bowhunter, poses with the whitetail buck he shot Nov. 19 near Mount Pleasant. Yehyawi’s new book, “Crimson Arrows: A Bowhunter’s Odyssey,” includes 27 stories recounting the highs and lows of his nearly 30 years as an archer. Submitted photo

Cedar Rapids archer Eyad Yehyawi could have written an instruction manual for mastering the art of bowhunting.

He could have written thrilling adventure tales of a world-class and world-traveling bowhunter. He could have written paeans to the many species of wildlife that have challenged his hard-earned skills.

He could have expounded on the fair-chase principles that underlie his philosophy of hunting and shaped his decision to teach himself the art of archery.

Yehyawi, 42, has seamlessly done all that and more in “Crimson Arrows: A Bowhunting Odyssey,” published in September by Dog Ear Publishing of Indianapolis.

The book’s 27 self-contained chapters build upon each other to chronicle his evolution from a neophyte growing up in Keokuk to an accomplished hunter of Iowa turkeys and whitetails to a stalker of elusive species — musk ox and mountain goats, for example — found only in remote and inhospitable environments.

Born with a passion for the outdoors that no one else in his family shared, Yehyawi taught himself to hunt in the fields and woods around his native Keokuk.

After mastering Iowa turkeys and deer, he progressed to black bears, pronghorns, mule deer, elk, bison and cougar.

Yehyawi said “getting archery close” to an Alaskan mountain goat was probably his greatest challenge, and eventually killing and recovering it, despite treacherous weather and terrain, was his most memorable triumph.

Though gun hunting was a part of his early education, Yehyawi said he got his first bow in 1991 at age 14 and soon became hooked on the additional challenge of getting close enough for a humane kill.

“I practice to 100 yards but have never shot a whitetail beyond 40 yards,” he said.

Bowhunters, he said, have a heightened duty to think in advance about recovering their quarry. “If in doubt, don’t release the arrow,” he said.

Yehyawi today considers himself blessed to be able to do most of his hunting around Mount Pleasant.

“I don’t think there’s a better state for whitetails and turkeys,” he said.

Yehyawi said he spends an average of two days per week scouting his favorite hunting areas. For every day he spends in a blind or tree stand, Yehyawi estimates he spends at least four days observing the deer and turkeys’ habits and movements.

Dog Ear editor Leslie Wilhelm Hatch said the book’s appeal extends well beyond bowhunters. Yehyawi, she said, engages readers’ senses in a way that enables them to feel his emotions and the discomforts of a frigid tundra or windswept peak.

“It’s not just a story about bowhunting, but about nature, animal behavior and psychological challenges,” she said.

The book can be ordered from amazon.com or directly from Yehyawi’s website.

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