The Glory Years

by Cliff Huntington

Those of us who have been around a half century or so remember. It was a period when equipment was simple and fiberglass laminated recurves and longbows were considered "high tech." Not a whole lot of bickering, wasn't much to argue over. I'm referring to that period we call the "Sixties." A time when the Big Three sporting magazines carried exploits by Hill, Bear and Swinehart. You might even have found your favorite hunting archer gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated or Saturday Evening Post or appearing on Television Variety Shows. Archers who hunted with the bow were highly regarded. ?Tis sad how quickly times change.

We had them all back then; Howard Hill, Ben Pearson, Fred Bear, Bob Swinehart and William Negley, but the fellow who really put a fire in my belly was Vic Boyer. Most of us could only dream about hunting places frequented by the high profile archers but Vic Boyer was a fellow you could relate to, a small game specialist. Vic took many of the big game species in North American but his expertise was hunting small game and predators. He probably has taken more small game with a six feathered flu flu blunt than any modern archer. To Vic, every hunt was an adventure and if it swam, flew or scurried around on four feet, it was fair game. During spring and summer predator hunts, information gleaned would be filed away for use in the fall "Big Game" seasons. To prepare for doves he would practice shooting arrows at starlings, sparrows and pigeons around an old feed mill. An uncanny hunting sense and superb command of the bow in hunting situations produced some mighty impressive totals. How about 31 crows in a single day, seven teal during a morning hunt, three coyotes within 20 minutes and 50 coyotes in a year?

When Vic felt adventurous, he and two companions would head into the Gila Wilderness Area north of Silver City, New Mexico for an extended hunt, literally dropping out of the sky using disposable paper parachutes, the same parachutes employed by the renowned "Smoke Jumpers." Soon after touching down, the tough, light weight and water/fire proof material of these parachutes would be transformed into shelter material, ground cloths, game bags and other useful items. A ten day hunt required a large amount of gear and a group of three was ideal as they still only needed one skillet, coffee pot and hatchet and thus the weight could be reduced and comfortably spread. With weight crucial, even fishing tackle was reduced to minimum, each member of the group carrying 16 feet of six pound monofilament line, two feet of two pound test for a leader, one a small spoon, spinner, a jig and weighted nymph and the others #12 salmon egg hooks and small BB shots for fishing live bait. Limber willow poles of seven or eight feet in length were cut when needed and used to fish a line of about the same length. With the primitive outfits and smallness of streams, one bellied up to the stream edge to make an offering. When a total of three trout had been captured, the appointed cook for that day would quickly set about to prepare the meal. Fishing continued until either the cook hollered or sufficient trout were caught to satisfy all and the meal was taken on the spot.

Archery gear was Spartan, consisting of bow, extra strings and only the number of arrows that bow quivers would hold, normally four with broadheads and one flu-flu with a large rubber blunt for small game and stump shooting. Vic carried two flu-flu's. The first eight or nine days of the hunt would be directed at small game. As the group hiked and hunted their way back to civilization they would forage for edibles such as mushrooms, pinon nuts and greens storing them in small mesh bags carried at their belt. As soon as two squirrels or rabbits were taken the appointed cook would immediately start a fire and these critters along with whatever else they had gathered would be prepared and consumed. Deer were only attempted as the group approached within a day's walking distance from a road as the packing out of big game was an undertaking not taken lightly. When they were fortunate to secure a deer, the lucky archer would have the privilege to hitch hike into town, rent a car and return to pick up the rest of the group and the deer.

Thanks Vic, thanks for planting the seed.

history menu
Hunting with the Bow - Will Thompson
The Clout Shoot
Horace Ford - Britains Greatest Archer
The Glory Years
Bill Sweetland
Thoughts on...
The Three Merry Bowmen
Ben Pearson
Sasha Siemel - "Tiger Man"
The Trinity
The history of Roving
Maurice Thompson, The Early Years
Maurice Thompson - The War Years
Maurice Thompson - The Sylvan Years
Maurice Thompson, - The Final Years
Howard Hill
Dr. Saxton Pope
Art Young
Will Compton

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