A Traditional Archery Journey – Part 1: Background

What is it about a stick and a string that is so appealing? With all the advancements in technology, why would I ever be enticed to use something so simple?

There’s more fun in hunting with the handicap of the bow than there is in hunting with the sureness of the gun.

– Fred Bear

The catalyst was a simple enough: a Facebook post by Ken, “Every year people say they wanna try [turkey hunting] with me and every year I’m alone. Let’s do it, I would love to guide. PM if interested.” I jumped at the chance.  In the following weeks I learned all I could about turkeys, and on one of the scouting trips, we came across some feathers. When I picked one up, synapses fired and I was taken down a rapid-fire train of thought:

  • Wouldn’t it be cool to use the turkey feathers from the turkey I was bound to shoot to fletch an arrow?
  • Aside from some decorative ones, I don’t have arrows.
  • If I’m going to fletch the arrows, I would like to build the entire arrow. I should learn how to make arrowheads.
  • What good is having an arrow if I can’t shoot it? I would really like a bow.
  • If I get a bow for a homemade arrow, I think it only fitting for it to be a “traditional” bow. Nothing against compounds whatsoever, but it they just didn’t fit into this line of thinking. Learning to make a bow is too much for this year, so I’d like to look into options for custom recurves and longbows.
  • What good is having a custom bow if I can’t hunt with it? This year, I have the time and ability to hunt deer. No excuses.

A Displaced Californian

Growing up, I was used to backcountry hunting…without the hunting.

I grew up in the outdoors. Camping, hiking, fishing, backpacking – that’s my wheelhouse. It is difficult to recall the number of nights I’ve slept under the stars in the backcountry of the Ventana Wilderness or the fish breakfasts I’ve had in the Sierra Nevadas or the sidewinders I’ve encountered in the Mojave Desert.

I grew up in one of the most spectacular places on earth. My family was among the first settlers in Big Sur. As the song says, “The South Coast is a wild coast and lonely.” My Ohlone ancestors and their Esselen neighbors hunted deer, grizzly bears, and other game on the land for hundreds of years.  That tradition continued even as my great-great-great-grandfather homesteaded and ranched the land. I distinctly remember what I believe was the last hunt on the family property – it was the night I first ate deer heart. My father killed a deer on what is now the Post Ranch Inn. With the construction of that world-class resort, the horses we kept there and the hunting privileges were removed.

Yours truly as a boy well before the Inn’s construction. I can’t defend the clothing…it was the 80’s!

View from approximately the same spot today at the Post Ranch Inn. At the eco-friendly resort, wildlife has no human hunting pressure.


With a father who hunted, an uncle who was a gunsmith, and Pastor and Youth Pastor that hunted, handling firearms was almost instinctive. It should logically follow that I would take up hunting as well. I passed the Hunter Safety Course taught by my uncle. My father gifted a rifle to me for my 12th birthday. And so, I went on my first hunting expedition with my father. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well. I was 12 and I was made to sit still on a rock for hours in cold coastal fog. I honestly don’t remember much of it. In my mind, it wasn’t very noteworthy. However, my father decided that hunting wasn’t for me and never took me with him again. We’d go the gun range from time to time, but never hunting.

Years passed. I went to college where I met my wife. Hers was a family of hunters from Michigan. Every year, they asked me to go with them to their deer camp in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. Every year, I had the desire to go, but I never had the time or finances to do so.

Then, a year ago, I had the time. I had the means. So, when that Facebook message from Ken came across my feed, I took advantage of the opportunity.

To Be Continued…