The “most helpful” review of the Horton Scout HD 125 on amazon.com states that this crossbow is “excellent for both hunting and taking down Walkers without attracting too much attention.” The writer gave the weapon five stars. Below that, a four-star review states that the buyer desired one “because it was the one used on The Walking Dead and is a great tool for hunting.” Some kickbacks should be in order—for Norman Reedus, that is. Because, for three seasons, the man who plays Daryl Dixon—the moderately feral, insanely popular star of The Walking Dead—has used a Scout 125 to dispatch deer, squirrels, and especially Walkers, and thus is the person most responsible for inspiring actual product reviews that conflate real life with a show about the zombie apocalypse.
An actual Scout is heavier than you’d think it should be, if you don’t often handle crossbows. And there’s no way that Reedus, or any normal human, for that matter, could actually load an arrow the way Daryl does. What makes a crossbow so powerful and deadly is the tension in the string—you use a mechanical device to cock it. And one soupy afternoon near Senoia, GA, Norman Reedus swats away a mosquito and demonstrates.
“We take it back like Daryl’s got some superstrength,” Reedus says, and when it’s suggested that he’s deceiving America, he laughs. “I think people who use crossbows know that.” In most cases, he says, the bow he’s holding isn’t even strung—or, if it is, it’s strung loosely, because Reedus doesn’t fire real arrows. “The actual arrow you see on TV is digital,” he says.
Reedus, 44, pushes a strand of sweaty hair out of his face, revealing its jagged framework; it’s the kind of face that already tells you what he’ll look like when he’s old. He’s just arrived by motorcycle on this independent studio lot outside Senoia for a day of rehearsals; and though his actual voice sounds nothing like Daryl’s—there’s no drawl—he looks very much like his character, with a faded black tee standing in for the sleeveless shirts that have become Daryl’s signature. Earlier, when he’d gone to retrieve the crossbow from the prop room, Reedus had spied—among the piles of weapons and rounds—a monster of a knife with brass knuckles on the handle and a blade as long as his forearm. It looked like a knife that could slice a tree in half. “Who gets this?” he asked the prop master, then slashed the air. “This seems appropriate for Daryl.”
During his three years of shooting The Walking Dead, Reedus has become proficient with a number of weapons. He pulls back the right sleeve of his T-shirt to reveal a shoulder bruise from the recoil of an automatic shotgun known as the “street sweeper,” which he’d recently fired at a range. “Holy shit, that thing kicks,” he says. A .50-caliber machine gun also made an impression.