Preparing for a hunting trip, especially one in a place you’ve never visited and for an animal you’ve never hunted, is always exciting and a little nerve racking. Now imagine making your preparations without knowing what bow you’ll be toting when that hoped-for bull moose punches through the tuckamore, antlers swaying in aggression, and slides to a violent, snot-blowing stop mere yards from your crouched position!
At that moment, is your sweating palm filled with a Wing, is it a Damon Howatt, or maybe a Bear? Yes, I’ll bet it’s a Bear…or maybe not, perhaps it’s the Browning. Is it 50 pounds or 62? Will I be able to shoot it with confidence or will I struggle? Will the bow even shoot the old Easton 2018 arrows that I’ve been laying aside for this trip?
These are just a few of the nagging questions swimming in my head since I hatched the idea for the RMS Gear BowVote several months ago. Don’t’ get me wrong. I’m not complaining. The anticipation has me more excited about this hunt than any I’ve taken in a long while. I suspect that some of you are excited too, as the winning bow will be given away to one of you lucky BowVoters in October.
A good blues harmonica riff hooks you and keeps your head bobbing by building a groove of tension that eventually gets resolved with a mellow note, putting you back at ease. So, let’s bring the BowVote riff home.
Without further procrastination, the winner of The Classic Year, RMS Gear BowVote is the 55#, 1972 Bear Super Kodiak! This is a great bow and one that I will be very comfortable in carrying to Newfoundland to hunt moose and bear. My primary bow for the past couple years has been a 55# 1966 Kodiak, so the transition to the Super Kodiak should be pretty smooth.
I would like to thank Tom and Tommy Clum at RMS Gear for their generosity in donating the winning bow.
The 1972 Super Kodiak and the Bear takedown were neck and neck for the entire 22 days of voting. For much of this period, the takedown was wining by just a vote or two, but in the last 5 days the Super Kodiak pulled ahead and stayed there.
In all, there were 397 votes. I’m very grateful to all who took a moment to vote. Your enthusiasm illustrates the current high level of interest in traditional archery and classic bows.
There were a few surprises for me. I think the bow that I most wanted to hunt with was the Browning Nomad, yet it received only 12 (3%) of the votes. I was also surprised to see that the Wing Chaparral, a bow made by a relatively small company, and the Damon Howatt Hunter were nearly tied at 44 (11%) and 46 (12%) votes, respectively.
The clear standouts were the two Bear Super Kodiaks and the Takedown, which collectively received 248 (62%) votes.
Interview with Jorge Coppen
The popularity of Bear bows is, in part, what drove Jorge Coppen to write his new book “Bear Archery Traditional Bows: A Chronological History 1949-2015.” I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jorge about Bear Archery and specifically our winning 1972 Bear Kodiak. Below is our discussion. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed talking with Jorge.
RR: How did you get into archery/hunting and collecting Bear bows?
JC: Like many young boys and girls in the late-60s and early 70s, my first interest in archery was sparked by watching a 1930s movie starring Errol Flynn titled "Robin Hood." I begged my mother to bring me a bow and she got me this Bear Archery "Red Bear" youth archery set with a fiberglass bow. I shot the daylights out of it. I was 10.
Fred Bear became an idol and his hunting photos had inspired me to try bowhunting. By the time I was 15 (in 1975) I had my first Bear Archery hunting bow, a Kodiak Magnum that I bought at the pro shop right at the Fred Bear Museum in Grayling, Michigan.
By the 1990s I was already building a collection of Bear hunting recurves and it grew over time.
RR: Of all the bows in the BowVote, were you surprised to see the 1972 Super Kodiak emerge as the winner?
JC: No, I was not at all surprised to see the '72 Super Kodiak emerge as winner. The Super Kodiak is now and was then the top of the line one-piece hunting recurve bow offered by Bear. It was among the most popular bows back in those days when they were pumping out some 350,000 bows a year (just before the advent of the compound bow). Only the Fred Bear Take-down might be considered of more advanced design in the line of hunting recurve bows.
But to tell you the truth, the high-end tournament bows like the Tamerlane, HC-30 and HC-300 designed by Owen Jeffrey were superior, but these were designed for light weight target archery.
RR: What was the atmosphere like at Bear Archery in the early 1970s, especially with the recent introduction of the compound bow and its rapid gain in popularity?
JC: Well the size of the factory and the staff had been growing regularly since 1947 when mass production began, so as to stay on top of growing demand for archery products. By the early 1970s it was a "mature beast." Fred didn't like the new trend toward compound bows but he saw the writing on the wall as other manufacturers were already making ground in the new compound bow market. He knew he had to accept the changes to remain relevant in the archery industry. So, he did. It was "Adapt or Die!"
By 1975 the Bear Archery catalog featured new compound models like the new Victor Tamerlane II and the new Victor Bear Alaskan. From that point forward you saw more compounds offered and fewer recurves being offered. By the time they moved to Gainesville, the catalog was dominated by compound bows and by the mid-1980s you might have only seen 4 recurve models offered.
RR: What are your thoughts on the Super Kodiak, especially compared to its Kodiak predecessor and the Kodiak Hunter?
JC: The Super Kodiak can be viewed as the culmination of design for the "Kodiak" line that started in 1950. I will note than some older guys have affection for certain years: like 1957, 1962, and 1964 and they'll make claim that those are the "best" or "fastest" shooting Kodiaks ever made. I won't dispute them and that may be true of the 1962 model. But, the "horned" Super Kodiak was designed by bowyers to be the best in terms of balance in the hand, smoothness to draw, arrow cast, and overall performance.
The Kodiak Hunter was designed as an affordable alternative to the Super Kodiak in 1967 1/2. It was intended to fill another sector of the bow market for those that wanted a good bow for a bit less. I have shot many Super Kodiaks and Kodiak Hunters and to this day, I still can attest to the idea that the Kodiak Hunter is an even match to the Super Kodiak in performance and it remains my favorite one-piece bow model.
RR: Is there anything that sets the 1972 Super Kodiak apart, either in a good or bad way, from other versions of the Super Kodiak?
JC: No. By 1967 1/2, with the slimmer risers of the new phenolic "black beauty" Bear Archery had pretty much perfected the lines and shapes that go into every Super Kodiak to this day. Put them side by side and you'll see that. Sure, materials and cosmetic look have varied and the certainly use of Dymondwood (laminated plywood) gave it a new look, but the lines and design are the same.
RR: How do you think the move to “Futurewood” affected early 1970s Bear bows? It’s likely more stable and strong, but I think there is something to be said for an all-natural wood versus one that is impregnated. As a collector, what are your thoughts on this?
JC: Futurewood came to be used in the 1970s. It entailed a process of chemically impregnating the wood with a polymer using a pressurized vacuum that fills all the natural pores in the wood, increasing its strength and weight. After baking it into the handle, it is much stronger hence "Futurewood." It is much harder to warp, check, or crack. Yet, all the grain and original beauty of the natural wood are intact. It meant a tougher, longer lasting bow. Based on customer demand, it was reintroduced into their bow-making process in 2013 so it made a comeback because it was so popular. I think the vintage 1970s Futurewood bows were among the prettiest bows Bear ever made and they remain my favorite to collect.
RR: Was the Super Kodiak really Fred’s choice in a hunting bow?
JC: Well, you might say that the "Kodiak" line of bows was Fred's personal choice in hunting bows all along the way as he field tested each new model on hunts over the years in the 1950s and 60s. As he improved the design, he kept upgrading to the recent model knowing it was built to his exacting specifications. He was fond of the Super Kodiak and hunted with them exclusively...but by 1969 he had perfected his take-down latch system and from then forward the Fred Bear Take-Down became his "personal hunting bow of choice".
RR: The four Bear bows in the RMS Gear BowVote garnered 71% of the vote. It seems to me that interest in vintage Bear bows has really grown in the past 10 years. Have you seen the same trend?
JC: The increase really began back in the early 1990s and people seem to be getting more fanatical with each year. Also, Bear is a huge part of archery history and in some ways defines what it is to be a traditional archer so people are naturally drawn to that.
RR: What is the most money you have seen a Bear bow sold for and what was it?
JC: Only about 10% of bows made by Bear were left-handed, so those tend to bring higher prices. About 3 years ago, I saw a left-handed Type 1 B riser with white limb tips sell for $3,850 on eBay. I personally paid $3,500 for a left-handed Signature Takedown and once sold a 1959 Kodiak for around $800.
RR: What’s your favorite Bear bow for everyday shooting and which is your favorite for hunting?
JC: Being a collector and enthusiast, I enjoy shooting a variety of bows. However, usually you'll see me shooting a Super Kodiak, A Fred Bear Custom Kodiak Take-down or a Kodiak Hunter. Having a 30-inch draw, I like a bow of at least 60" AMO length. My all-time favorite hunting bow is a 60" bear Kodiak Hunter.
RR: Can you describe your new book for us.
JC: My book entitled "Bear Archery Traditional Bows: A Chronological History" is both a history book and a reference manual all in one. There is much heritage and history about the Bear Archery factory preserved in those pages, which cover 66 years of factory production.
But, I intended it to be primarily useful as a reference manual to help people who want to know about when their bow was made. These questions are incessant. I developed each of the 41 bow chapters for each specific bow model in chronological order categorized under four categories: Hunting Recurve bows, Hunting Longbows, Target and Youth Bows, and All-purpose bows. Each chapter was intended to be a short, easily read reference describing the bow model for each year. Then at the end of the chapter is a table you can go to narrow down when it was made using 7 diagnostic features.
RR: As a fellow author I know how difficult it is to write a book. What motivated you to take on the task of writing a highly technical reference guide?
JC: Over the years I saw how common it was for people wanting to know what year their bow was made. Much of this was evident of the online archery forums. Often, the responses were close but not quite, a poor recollection, or just way off the mark. After all what was produced in Grayling, well that was decades ago.
I had asked Al Reader, a well know collector and Bear bow authority to write the book including one final time in 2008. He scoffed at the idea at the time. He was taken from us the following year in 2009. So I was left asking...well, who is going to preserve this information for the coming generations? We're not getting any younger! I waited 6 years for somebody to write it but it never came. Then one day in March of 2015 I was walking through the woods with my Labs and I made the decision that I was going to take the bull by the horns.
Let me tell you, it was very challenging to attempt to write a book about all the bow models for 66 years of mass production! I had some expertise with bows I collected, mainly hunting recurves from 1965 forward. But I didn't know everything about all the bows and I still don't!
But, My objective in writing the book was to "preserve the history and heritage of Bear Archery bow production in print forever." So, I started in 1949 and ended in the year of publication: 2015.
RR: Where can folks buy your book?
My book is available online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. But, you can also order it through archery retailers like: The Footed Shaft, Lancaster Archery, and even Wal-Mart. They are also sold on eBay! I also sell personally autographed copies for a very competitive price too.
RR: Final question. If you could bring Fred Bear back from the dead, what question would you ask him?
JC: Where are your serial number ledgers, sir!?
First, thanks to everyone who has cast their BowVote. The official tally as of today is an amazing 375 votes! Voting will continue until noon eastern time on June 30, so there’s still time if you haven’t voted. To pass the time between now and our unveiling of the winning bow, I thought I’d set you up with a short natural history lesson.
To be legitimate players in nature’s cycle of life and death, requires us to know something about natural history and ecology. A coyote doesn’t know that the Latin name of the eastern cottontail is Sylvilagus floridanus, but it damn sure knows that rabbits emerge from their brushy hiding places at dusk because it has learned its prey’s ecology. To interpret the natural world through the hunter’s lens, we first must be able to identify its many participants. Further, as hunter-conservationists, we can’t advocate for protection of wild places if we can’t identify, understand, and appreciate their occupants. The late Jay Massey once described hunting as a journey of discovery that …deals not just with the process of hunting, but with what we discover as a result of having hunted. It would be hard to overstate the importance of Jay’s sentiment.
In a recent appearance on The Push Podcast, I was asked how I was preparing for my upcoming moose hunt in Newfoundland. The question was specific to shooting practice and hunting gear, and I answered in that vein. What I failed to mention, however, is how I prepare to discover a new place, especially its natural history. I suspect that many of you are also using the summer months to prepare for fall hunts in faraway places or in your own home state, so I thought I’d devote this post to building a foundation for becoming a “hunting naturalist.” Knowing trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and other plants is imperative for understanding habitat and predicting game movement patterns. It's also handy if you are looking for bow or arrow wood, or wild edibles. Much of what you’ll find below is excerpted from my book, A Traditional Bowhunter’s Path: Lessons and Adventures at Full Draw.
When talking with other hunters I usually sense a similar, deep appreciation and wonderment for the natural world. When I point out something like the melodic “old-Sam-Peabody-Peabody-Peabody” of a singing white-throated sparrow, they often say: “Hey that’s cool. I’ve heard that for years but didn’t know what it was.” I believe most hunters want to increase their knowledge of natural history, but they don’t know where to begin. To lay the foundation for understanding relationships within and among groups of species, let’s start with a little refresher on taxonomy.
King Phillip’s Dinner
When using field guides we often find that an organism’s scientific name follows its common name, such as White-tailed Deer (Odocoileous virgininanus). I suspect these difficult to pronounce words are often ignored, but it’s sometimes important to pay attention to this extra mouthful of syllables. As you probably remember from school, the planet’s organisms are arranged into a hierarchy. The science of this organizational system is called taxonomy. “King Phillip Came Over For Good Spaghetti” is a saying to help remember Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. For our purposes the details of taxonomy are unimportant, but it’s beneficial to have a basic understanding of this nested-system. The coyote, for example, is in the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia, Order Carnivora, Family Canidae, Genus Canis, and Species latrans. When written, the scientific name for coyote is shortened to just the genus and species (Canis latrans). Knowing how scientific names are derived and used is important in understanding the relationships among species.
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), for example, are in the same Family (Canidae) but entirely different Genera, indicating that their taxonomic relationship to each other is more distant than their similar appearance might suggest. This becomes evident when examining the skulls of these two animals. The daintier, cat-like gray fox has low “U” shaped temporal ridges that don’t support robust muscle attachment, whereas the red fox has a strong “V” shaped temporal ridge for supporting more powerful muscles (Figure 1.).
Taxonomy is also important in overcoming confusing regional differences in common names. For example, if you read about whiskey jacks, camp robbers, moose-birds, Canada jays, and gray jays, you might think they were five different species. But, by including the scientific name (Perisoreus canadensis), along with these regionally accepted common names, the species being referred to becomes unambiguous. There is only one Perisoreus canadensis. Taxonomy also can help to identify common traits within a taxonomic group. For example, all plants in the mint family (Lamiaceae) have four-sided stalks, making it easy to narrow an unknown herbaceous plant down to the Family level simply by rolling the stem between your thumb and forefinger.
It would be impossible for me to cover even a small percentage of North America’s plants and animals on an individual basis. A huge part of successful identification is narrowing down the possible choices. In this post I’ll focus on techniques that will help you sort out woody plants into manageable numbers of choices.
MAD-CAP-HORSE stands for Maple, Ash, Dogwood, Caprifoliaceae, and Horse- chestnut. These are the groups of woody plants with opposite branching patterns. The two primary branching patterns of deciduous woody plants are opposite and alternate. Opposite branching simply means that leaves, stems, and sometimes branches arise from their base immediately across from each other. The same way your arms originate from your torso. Alternate branching means that pairs of stems are offset from each other. To envision this, imagine that one arm sprouted from your shoulder and the other from your waist. Knowing this, you can immediately lump an unknown tree or shrub into one of two categories—alternate or opposite. MAD-CAP-HORSE works during “leaf-on” or “leaf-off.” If leaves aren’t present simply look for the scars where they were once attached to the stem. If the pattern is opposite, it belongs to one of the MAD-CAP-HORSE groups, greatly narrowing the list of possibilities.
There are many familiar species of maple (Acer), ash (Fraxinus), dogwood (Cornus), and horse-chestnut (Aesculus) occurring throughout North America. The name that is likely foreign to you is Caprifoliaceae. Caprifoliaceae is a large Family of plants, including dozens of species with a mostly shrubby growth form. Some common Caprifoliaceae plants include Viburnums, such as arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum), known for its straight stems that were used by eastern Native American tribes to make arrow shafts; honeysuckles (Lonicera), elderberries (Sambucus), and privets (Ligustrum).
If your unknown tree/shrub has an alternate branching pattern, then you have to look outside of the MAD-CAP-HORSE group. Some common trees with alternate branching patterns are oaks (Quercus), hickories (Carya), walnuts (Juglans), beeches (Fagus), cherries (Prunus), elms (Ulmus), and aspens (Populus). MAD-CAP-HORSE will often get you half the way there with very little effort, but what is the next step in making a full identification?
Bark and Form
After branching pattern, bark and growth form are the next best diagnostic characteristic because they are ever-present, unlike leaves, and are easy to see from ground level. In eastern deciduous forest, I can identify nearly every tree species from a long distance simply by looking at the bark and growth form. How is this possible? It’s no different than your ability to recognize specific neighbors from many blocks away. In your mind you don’t go through a checklist of your neighbor John’s features—brown hair, 5’10,” beer belly. Instead, your mind automatically calculates these things from many past encounters with John and returns an identity. World War II British aircraft spotters coined the phrase G.I.S.S.—General Impression of Size and Shape. They used G.I.S.S. to instantly identify friendly versus enemy aircraft from miles away. Waiting to see what was painted on the plane’s side meant certain death. Once you’ve learned the bark and growth form of individual tree species, G.I.S.S works spectacularly well. For closely related species, closer inspection is often necessary. For instance, northern red oak (Quercus rubra) and black oak (Quercus velutina) have very similar bark, but black oak has horizontal fissures making it look a bit like alligator hide. Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) and black oak have similar growth forms, but scarlet tends to carry its dead branches while black drops them.
Buds and Leaves
Leaves can be very helpful, but it’s best not to rely on them because they’re only present during the growing season. Nonetheless it’s important to learn basic leaf shapes and growth patterns, such as simple, compound, and whorled. Leaf veins can be important too. Almost all dogwoods have veins that form the line of an arc from the stem to the tip and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) leaves have five veins while Norway maple (Acer platanoides) has seven. Buds are especially important when identifying young trees that haven’t developed their adult bark and growth forms. Take red maple (Acer rubrum) and sugar maple, for instance. Winter saplings of these species can look remarkably similar, but a closer look reveals very different buds. Sugar maple has brownish colored buds with alternating light and dark bands, while red maple buds are small and red in color. Some buds are so distinct that they are diagnostic by themselves. Yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) buds are shaped like a duck’s bill, shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) buds look like a candle flame, bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) buds are covered in bright yellow fuzz, and black walnut (Juglans nigra) buds look like a thumb and three fingers brought together in an Italian display of culinary perfection!
Field Guides and Websites
The information I’ve presented is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to identifying woody plants. The same would be true if I had chosen birds, mammals, or fungi. There are tricks and short cuts to identifying any taxonomic group, but in the end it takes some honest effort to get proficient. A collection of good field guides (see below for some of my favorites) and plenty of time in the field are usually what is needed. There are two types of field guides: schematic and photographic. Schematic guides, with their drawings, are able to capture the individual variation that all organisms display, on the other hand, photographic guides seem to be more intuitive. For most taxonomic groups, especially plants and birds, I suggest buying and using schematic and photographic guides in concert with each other. Also, don’t forget web-based resources and identification apps for smartphones. There are many good websites for learning about everything from butterflies to bats. I find these sites most useful once I’ve already made an identification or have narrowed things down to handful of possibilities. I can’t recommend any one web site over the other. I simply do a “Google” search on the species of interest and go from there. “Wikipedia” is often the first site returned by “Google” and is a good place to start.
Keep the Traditional Spirit Alive!
This post will be short, but hopefully sweet!
As many of you know, I’ll be traveling to Newfoundland in September to hunt moose and black bear with vintage archery gear--sounds straightforward, right? Not so fast. There’s a really cool twist.
I’m asking you, that means anyone who is reading this post, to pick the bow that I will take to Newfoundland. In return for your participation in the BowVote, you will be entered to win my moose bow and other traditional archery gear that is being donated by sponsors of The Classic Year.
Here’s how it works. Tom Clum, Sr and the other good folks at Rocky Mountain Specialty Gear (RMS Gear) have agreed to donate a bow for my Newfoundland moose hunt from their sizable inventory of new and used equipment. Obviously, it can’t be any bow. It must conform to The Classic Year golden rule by being at least 25 years old and it must meet my specs for moose hunting. So, we have thinned the herd to eight, quality vintage bows that are capable of close-range moose work. Simply go to the RMS Gear BowVote page on the TSO website, fill in your information, and vote for one of the eight bows. The bow with the most votes by June 30th wins and will be the one I use to hunt moose in Newfoundland.
Your vote automatically enters you in the drawing to win the bow, which will be signed by me and Tom Clum, and other fantastic prizes from our sponsors, such as 3Rivers Archery and Sporting Classics magazine. The drawing will take place in October, just after I return from Newfoundland.
RMS Gear has a HUGE selection of bows, but when you restrict the list to bows that are at least 25 years old, right-handed, and capable of taking moose; the number of choices gets narrow. I could have filled all eight slots with Bear bows, but I wanted some variety. I tried to select bows that were at least 55 pounds, but did make a few exceptions. Checkout the list and see what you think?
Thanks for hanging out with me and don’t forget to BowVote.
Pick a winner for me. My son Rex and I are counting on you!
Keep the Traditional Spirit Alive!
I sat, staring down at the functional piece of wood in my hands. It was rosewood and forest-brown glass, expertly shaped from slabs and strips into something flowing, but purposeful. It represented art and at the same time engineering genius. It left the Grayling, MI factory in 1966, the same year I was born. I’m loathe to call Bear Archery a factory, as that implies sameness and a lack of craft. Anyone who has ever handled a vintage Bear bow knows that they harbor plenty of soul. There is something personal and warm in these bows. Yet, a factory it was, churning out as many as 300,000 bows annually, which was far more than its competitors.
I was enamored with the classic bow resting across my knees on this cool November afternoon during the peak of the whitetail rut. Perhaps my bewitchment arose from a recent birthday in which the bow and I both turned 50. But, no, it was more than that. Admiring the bow’s lines and red-hued grain, reminded me of what it’s like to hear a song that transports you so completely to another time that you can see, hear, and even smell the circumstances of that bygone day. Just a few bars of The Eagles’ Take It Easy conjures the rocking motion of a pontoon boat on the Chesapeake Bay, the sound of blue crabs scratching in a bushel basket, the stink of chicken parts in the sun, and the feel of my dad’s hand on mine as we cast the rod together for bluefish.
Bear bows, among others such as Ben Pearson, Browning, Damon Howatt, Shakespeare, and many more, certainly have their following, but in the big scheme of things, I knew I was one of a rare breed who cared about these old bows and what they represented. Or, was I?
Just three weeks after my November tryst with the 1966 Bear Kodiak, I found myself on a plane heading for Seattle to record a Meateater Podcast with Steve Rinella and Janis Putelis. On the day of the recording, I grabbed an Uber ride from my hotel near the Space Needle to Steve’s house just outside the city. When the old Honda Civic, which was clearly suffering from an exhaust issue, came to a stop in a neighborhood of homes with mixed architectural styles and ages, I slide the Uber driver “a five” and hopped out. The decrepit car continued up the hill with a sound that reminded me of being on a trail ride behind a flatulent horse. As the amusing sound tapered to a flutter, I suddenly got the feeling that something was wrong about the situation. It was a sinking sentiment, similar to how you might react when realizing your bush pilot has just flown off with your arrows.
The closeness of the houses and proximity to the city struck me as incongruent for Rinella, a man who clearly relishes wild places. Maybe I gave the driver the wrong address? I got a little panicky and started looking around for street names and house numbers. Then I saw them—a pair of sun-bleached elk sheds leaning by the door of the house directly opposite of where the gassy mare had dropped me. Life was right again and before I knew it, we were sitting around a table in Steve’s garage with headsets hugging our ears and Janis telling us to start in “3, 2, 1.”
The podcast focused on my book, A Traditional Bowhunter’s Path, and was broadcast on December 22, 2016. The reaction was immediate. My talk with Steve, Janis, and local restaurant owner Jimmy Doran had struck multiple nerves among bowhunters and non-bowhunters alike. The e-mail messages I received were overwhelmingly positive—the passion was contagious, everyone wanted to know how to get started in traditional archery. I suppose that could have been predicted, but here’s what I didn’t expect. During the podcast, I casually mentioned shooting and hunting with vintage bows, which was something that I considered somewhat esoteric. But, not so. Listeners were intrigued, not only with the idea of hunting with something that was 50 years old, but also with what that 50-year-old thing represented in culture and hunting history. Thus, The Classic Year was born to uncover how vintage bows might help us to discover and explore the hunting experience.
So, here’s the deal. During the next year or so, I’ll be hunting exclusively with classic gear and writing about my thoughts and experiences, including some semi-live hunts. I’m passionate about hunter-based conservation and will infuse a lot of my writing with that subject. Of course, we’ll also cover other favorites like American history, natural history, travel, food, culture, and archery. I’ll relay much of this through writing, but I’ll be posting videos too.
A highlight of The Classic Year will be a semi-live, September 2017 moose and black bear hunt in Newfoundland. I want to be clear about something. This isn’t some sort of stunt where I’ll be dressing like Fred Bear and re-enacting a moose hunt. Nor am I doing this to prove something about old bows. Many of the vintage bows perform on par with modern customs and I have no reservations about hunting with them.
So, why am I doing this? I simply love vintage bows and believe they can help me to tell rich stories about adventure and our collective human experience. Fred Bear said that, “The history of the bow and arrow is the history of mankind.” I suspect he was right, but we’ll certainly test that notion. I know that there will be other bowhunters following The Classic Year who regularly hunt with vintage gear. I hope that you too will provide your thoughts by submitting comments.
From this point forward, I’ll be rolling out new essays and videos every few weeks until we bring The Classic Year to a close sometime in 2018.
Please sign up for the TSO eNewsletter (see blog homepage) to keep up with The Classic Year happenings and get alerts when there are new posts or videos. As with all projects of Traditional Spirit Outdoors, 10% of all proceeds generated from The Classic Year will be donated to promote conservation and archery.
I have something very cool and participatory planned for an upcoming post—hint—it involves the chance to win a bow and other traditional archery gear! Sign up now so you don’t miss your opportunity.
Oh, and checkout this photo in case you were wondering what happened on that November afternoon with the 1966 Kodiak across my lap. We’ll get to the skinny of that story in a subsequent post.
Thanks for reading. It means a great deal to be able to share my thoughts and stories with you. I’m excited to get this underway.
Keep the Traditional Spirit Alive!
I’m Ron Rohrbaugh, a professional conservation biologist, author, and long-time traditional bowhunter. For the next year, I’ll be hunting exclusively with vintage archery gear in what I’m calling The Classic Year. We’ll explore natural history and travel, geography and culture, and of course archery and hunting. The adventures and stories will be steeped in conservation, both past and present.
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