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Old time Deer Hunting


The season for hunting deer is just about over, and it’s too late to do anything for this year’s hunters, but not for next year. When I began hunting deer, there was an archery only season, and it was in the early 1960’s. As I recall, the first season was a three-day event at Bernheim Forrest, archery only. The only commercially available bows, were long bows, recurves, and a newly invented compound bow by Jennings. The chief manufacturers, were Fred Bear, Ben Pearson, and Jennings. I had a Locksley fiberglass long bow. Most of the long bows were solid fiberglass or of solid wood, of yew or red cedar. The recurves were laminated wood and fiberglass.

I was a senior at Manual Highschool, and worked after school at Abel Packaging Company as a draftsman/designer of set-up boxes to ship and display products in store windows. My pay was minimum, about $1.15 an hour, for three hours a shift, and three night shifts a week. It took quite a while to save enough to buy my first recurve of #46 lb. draw weight. It cost about $56.00, or $250.00 in today’s money. My Locksley was too light for the minimum draw weight of #35 lb. It was only #27 lb. At that time arrows were almost entirely made of wood, and were footed, or made of light pine, spliced with a hard wood fitted for the arrowhead to connect. There was a synthetic fiberglass arrow known as Micoflite. Very expensive and not easily found.

There were only two arrowheads, one called bodkins and another called broadheads. Bodkins were three bladed while the broadheads were double edged with two blades. Bear later modified them and renamed them Bear Razor Heads. There were field points and target points for practice. The target arrow’s heads were spherically shaped, like a bullet while the field points are shaped like the target arrows of today with a slender nail like tip. The field tips were less likely to get lost under grass when practicing. The target tips flew straighter and were used for upright targets on stands.

Quivers were worn on belts, the back, or bow. There was a new bow quiver known as a Quikee-Quiver. It was in two pieces and each piece slid over the top or bottom limb of the bow. There were cut outs the arrows snapped into that held them straight. It had no guard over the arrow points, and you had to be careful or you got stuck. A Kentucky Deer tag cost $7.50 cents. I did some odd jobs here and there and got the money, but I had no quiver and nothing with which to buy one. I practiced holding two or three arrows in my bow hand while drawing and sighting, instinctively. In those days there were no bow sights. You were taught to aim high and to the right of the bullseye. When you consistently hit the target, you adjusted your aim based on how far or near your target was from you. Shooting that way while holding extra arrows hurt my accuracy.

Dad was on Strike at International Harvester, and he was working in Franklin, Indiana welding steel girders until the strike was settled. He came home on weekends bought groceries and helped mom, a nurse at St Mary’s, pay the bills. Money was always tight during a strike. A week before deer season opened, Dad came home and gave me a leather quiver. He bought the leather, and made it in the motel room at night, he said it kept him busy. I kept that quiver until it finally fell apart three or four years ago. In those days, I wore the quiver on my back like an Indian or Robin Hood. But when you walked through the woods the arrows would clatter, alerting the deer. Hunters put about four inches of Quaker Oats in their quiver and pushed the arrows into them. This kept the arrows from clattering, and the blades from dulling as they bumped into each other, but it was mess when raining.

Back then you sharpened your arrowheads, whether two or three blade you had to sharpen them. This took hours. I remember using fine files and various grit whetstones to get them where they would shave hair from your arm. Now the arrows are fitted with razor blades. I actually feel sorry for the hunters who simply screw on a tip and miss the anticipation of getting your gear in order.

(Read Part 2 next week, and learn about my first bow hunt at Rosco Hinton’s, Meade County farm)