“Be a two season hunter!” the colorful ad exclaimed, showing a deer hunter dressed half in camo and half in orange, a bow in one hand, a rifle in the other. Everywhere in the pages of sporting publications and even in Playboy magazine in the 1960s, these brilliant words of marketing genius impacted traditional rifle hunters across America and created an instant flurry of interest in returning to the age old mystical flight of the arrow as a means to backstraps, our pure predator instincts, thrilling opportunities for family hours of outdoor recreation, and just as importantly, the revved up battlecry for this relatively new concept in wildlife management for the masses.
With the end of unrestricted market hunting in North America, it was clearly obvious to anyone educated to the most basic science of sustain yield that renewable wildlife resources would be only as secure as their perceived and actual hands-on utilitarian value to the people who were willing to pay for said management. Conservation would prove to be a “pay as you go” reality, and today we continue to celebrate this proven system with the healthiest, thriving game populations anywhere in the world. I really, really like that.
Fred Bear knew that the average American deer hunter would be intrigued by the increased challenge of closerange bowhunting, and his advertisement campaign throttled an entire industry. My dad and brothers and I were already hooked on bowhunting, but it was an exciting time to watch more and more sporters become bowhunters. It still is.
With earlier and extended bowhunting seasons due to the reduced impact on the resource, a gun hunter could more than quadruple the length of his annual deer adventures and thereby the thrill of the overall hunting experience and all that goes with it.
Though many new archers start their hunting life as a bowhunter, it remains the transition from gun to bow that produces the most new bowhunters each year. We certainly welcome all.
My sniper 12 gauge Browning A-bolt hung from a nail next to me, and my Martin bow lay across my lap. I was taking in the mesmerizing dynamo of another cold, damp November morning on the periphery of my sacred Michigan marsh, when rattled cornstalks got my attention.
A fat forkhorn was harassing a big doe above the ridge, and as they got closer I felt a bowhunting moment unfolding. From a lifetime of trial and error and a whole lot of luck, I pulled off what will always be a miracle to me, got to fulldraw at the right moment and made a beautiful 35 yard shot right where we are supposed to hit them.
I was thrilled beyond words, celebrated quietly on Spirit of the Wild video, nocked another arrow, and settled back down, literally glowing with bursting happiness.
About an hour later, movement off through the timber put me on Code Red, and my binocular revealed a very handsome but wounded buck gimping my way at about 100 yards. Though I held only one buck tag left, I knew I would have to finish this deer if I could, to put him out of his misery.
I slowly and carefully swapped bow for gun, settled in after a long, uncertain wait, and drilled the old warrior with a heavy slug into the pumpstation.
The mature half racked buck ran a short ways before piling up just a few yards from my bow killed doe, making for a most memorable morning of deer hunting using two of my favorite weapons.
There are a few hold-out states that still won’t allow archery tackle to be used during their firearm’s seasons, but they will come around eventually if the hunters demand it. Certainly it has been proven conclusively that such a choice is a good idea and provides for a very exciting way to hunt.
I’ve enjoyed bringing both my bow and gun along for many, many years, and recommend it to anyone who wants that option at hand when on the deer stand.
There was another clever ad campaign by Bear Archery for many years with a photo of gentleman Fred showing a young boy how to shoot a bow, titled; “Fred Bear showed me how.”
Having the incredible good fortune of meeting Fred when I was a tyke, that ad has always struck a powerful spiritual chord with me. Because Fred Bear did show me how!
So I will always be a two season hunter and I will continue to dedicate my life to the best of my ability to carry on Fred’s vision and legacy. Be a two season hunter. Let me show you how.
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