Fred Bear is the father of modern bow hunting. Born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, Bear didn’t even hunt until late into his 20’s. But his passion for the outdoors, conservation, and hunting grew quickly.
In 1933 Bear found himself unemployed during the Depression. He and a friend saved a small amount of money (huge for that time) and created Bear Archery that year.
Bear struggled for many years. But as more states allowed bowhunting and its popularity grew, Bear was at the forefront of the race. Bear spent his entire life dedicated to improving the hunting experience. Archery hunting today is still marked with Bear’s wisdom. Here is a small part of his legacy and why he is still relevant to bowhunting today.
“You can learn more about hunting deer with a bow and arrow in a week than a gun hunter will learn in his entire life.”
Bear hunted everything with a bow, from small game to Kodiak brown bears. He knew those animals well. One could argue that there are skilled rifle hunters that have animal smarts. But it’s a hard sell to say that a rifle brings you as close to learning all the quirks, body language, and sign of any animal the way bowhunting does. Archery, in its nature, forces a hunter to study the habits of animals and improve the skills needed to get closer to them.
A rifleman may know of a scrape or deer trails along travel routes. But a bowhunter needs to know precisely what will occur in those spots. He needs to be concerned with the smallest details of his entry and exit access. There is less room for error with wind and thermal currents. The close shooting range needed to make an ethical shot is only a fraction of what most gun hunters need.
When a bowhunter finds a place to hunt, he has to imagine the deer standing right where he is. He has to know why a deer wants to be in that spot. A hunt that fails to be a student of the woods is hunting almost purely on luck.
“If you consider an unsuccessful hunt to be a waste of time, then the true meaning of the chase eludes you.”
Remember when you were a brand new hunter? Your whole pre-hunt was spent hoping to come home with something you shot. But think back to the first time you saw a deer in the woods. Most of us weren’t even close to that animal.
My dad and uncle always said, “Well, we didn’t get anything, but we sure had fun!” After I saw my first deer when hunting, I finally understood that statement. My knees and hands shook so hard that there would have been no way I would have been able to draw my bow even if that deer had been close enough.
Bringing meat home to the table is an awesome bonus. But the fun is built into the hunt itself! Start thinking this way, and every one of your hunts will be a good one.
“Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.”
Today, managing stress and self-care is a popular topic. Therapists, medicine, classes, special exercises, the list goes on. There are more and more medical diagnoses emerging. Suicide rates increase every day. Face it; the real truth is that people are hurting.
I’m not claiming that being outdoors and hunting is the way to fix it all. In fact, many of those options I listed are needed methods of help. But plenty of research proves that unplugging from the world and being outside in nature significantly decreases stress. With a targeted goal in mind and the surroundings of a hunter, hunting is one of the best stress relievers, and it can’t be bought.
“The flight of the arrow is as true as the skill and the nerve of the man with the bow.”
Nothing in the world will test your nerves more than a giant whitetail buck. They can make the biggest baddest dude shake like a leaf when up close and personal.
Having a goal of shooting a big buck seems simple. But it’s far more complex than you’d imagine. It’s a good idea to aim for the clouds before you aim for the stars. If you haven’t killed any deer with your bow, start with whatever you get. If that’s a doe or any legal buck, so be it. Your skill will improve, and you’ll be better because of it. As a result, more success will be at the end of the blood trails you follow.
Of all the things hunters do, the one thing they don’t often do is think about why they love to hunt. I’m sure most could rattle off a superficial list of good reasons, but they’d likely miss the big picture.
There isn’t anything quite like bowhunting, and Fred Bear said it best.
” When a hunter is in a tree stand with high moral values and with the proper hunting ethics and richer to the experience, that hunter is 20 feet closer to God.”
Author: Aaron Hepler