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.