Local team wins Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open Bowfishing ChampionshipFree Access

Members of a local bow fishing team, Descalin, won the Bass Pro Shop U.S. Open Bow Fishing Championship. They are Travis Spiceland, Sawyer York, Tyler Devine and Ryan Devine. – Photo submitted.

Special to The Lake News/ By Ryan Devine

Bowfishing is more than a sport to our team; it is a passion that burns inside each of us, and it is highly-difficult to explain.  We have been bowfishing for many years, and in each offseason, we count down the days until we can get together and spend warm summer nights on the water.

We strive to be a humble group of young men.  Braggadocious is not a word in our vocabulary.  When I was asked to write an article about our recent tournament win, I was a little hesitant; however, the more I thought about it, I realized this would be a perfect opportunity to give appreciation to all those who help make this passion possible to each of us.

God is who makes all of this possible.  If it were not for Him, we would not and could not do what we do.  We are able to experience the natural world, when the rest of the world is asleep; the sounds of nature are unique, and the wind and water feel and smell different than it does when the sun is above the horizon.  We give thanks to Him for our ability to compete, and we continually ask Him to watch over and provide safety for the fishermen and our families at home.

Family is extremely important to all of us.  Each member of our team is married and we have growing families.  It is not easy leaving them for a night of scouting, or a weekend tournament.  To be honest, it is sometimes a strain, especially when we leave early for an out of town tournament.  They say it takes a village, and I could not agree more.  Aside from our wives; our parents, aunts, uncles, and friends provide an enormous amount of help along the way.  We give appreciation to them for helping with the home life, while we are away.

This past weekend, our team, Descalin’, (pronounced de-scale-in) traveled to Ridgedale, Missouri, just outside of Branson, to fish in the world’s largest bowfishing tournament.  Our team is comprised of Travis Spiceland, Sawyer York, Tyler Devine and Ryan Devine.  The tournament was hosted by Bass Pro Shops, and it ran as smooth as I have ever seen.  When you have people travel in from all over the world, pull boats from California and New York, see campers from the pacific northwest, and meet people who have been the area scouting for nearly two weeks, you know that this is going to be a big tournament.  There were more than 220 teams registered to compete to bring home the largest prize in bowfishing, along with new shiny belt buckles for each teammate of the winning team!

Prior to take-off, country artists filled the breezy Missouri air with music, and two professional parachute divers jumped out of an airplane, flying an American flag, while a beautiful rendition of the national anthem echoed throughout the Ozark Mountains.

The weigh-in came quickly, as they usually do, when you are on the water fishing a tournament.  We had 20 fish, and we were cautiously-optimistic with how our night concluded, but when the best teams in the nation are fishing against you, and you give them weeks to prepare, you never know how your stringer of fish will compare to theirs.

We weighed in second to last, and when our truck pulled our boat away from the main stage, we had just taken the lead with 423 pounds, and the MC said we were first team to top 400 pounds, with our 20 fish.  The last boat to weigh in had some really good fish, and we knew that it could go either way.  Who is going to take the coveted title home?  All we could do was sit and watch.  Would we hold the lead for only 5 minutes?  They had 3 buckets of fish to roll across the stage and weigh.  The first bucket was a healthy weight, the second was even better.  Would the third take them to the top?

The MC for the event asked for a pause, before the last bucket was to be weighed.  He asked what would be needed, in the final bucket, to take home the national championship.  The final bucket needed to weigh 127 pounds; their bucket before was 186 pounds.  As the last bucket slowly made its way to the scales, I believe I could have heard a pin drop.  The bucket was gently placed on the scales, after what seemed like 10 seconds for the scale to level out, and provide an accurate number, we heard the MC say 93 pounds.

What?  Did this just happen?  Someone pinch me?  Am I dreaming?  We embraced each other, smiled, yelled, and fist pumped!  We also gave thanks.  We gave thanks to God, our family, the teams we fished against, many of whom are good friends of ours, the tournament host, Bass Pro Shops, and our sponsor, AMS Bowfishing.  A night to remember is an understatement.  We are extremely humbled and grateful that we could experience this.  Thank you to my teammates and to everyone who help make this possible.  Belt buckles aren’t just for rodeos anymore.

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