Straight Talk - Betty Walker By Frank Addington, Jr.
Feb 25, 2009 - 9:47:40 AM
Betty Walker - Six Decades of Continued Involvement with
our Sport and one of our Nation's Top Lady Bowhunters
FA: Which came first, archery or Doug Walker?
BW: Doug & I met when we were in High School.I was one of six cheerleaders at Visalia
Union High during World War II.Even
though Doug was under age, he felt he had to get into the Service.After he came home from the Service, we
married and moved to
California. While at the Stockton
Rod and Gun Club, Doug noticed a poster about the Stockton Bowman Hunters,
their meeting dates, etc.It was then
that we joined the club and our archery life and history began.That was in 1949.
Betty Walker with first turkey.
FA: What aspects of archery do you enjoy?
BW: Having been involved in every phase of archery, each
phase was interesting, educational, challenging and we each enjoyed it
all.It seems we got involved with
whatever it was at that time, archery tournaments, hunting, etc.We went to club and state meetings and we
became friends with many in the sport.
FA: What was your first bowhunt?
BW: That was in 1949 when we would go with some other
archers to a place called "
CrowTown" which was located in the foothills outside
California.We would hunt squirrels and other small game.
Early day cover of the Archery Magazine by Roy Hoff. This was an early day NFAA Tournament and you can see Betty (fourth from the left) getting ready to shoot. On Sunday, while scores were being added up, they would have a ham shoot, they would hang up a leg of ham wrapped in cheese cloth - $1.00 for 3 arrows and closest arrow won it. Betty won her class and the ham too.
your proudest accomplishment as a bowhunter?As an archer?
game as a bowhunter.During a 1957 deer
hunt with Doug, I bagged my first deer and became the first woman to take a
California with a bow and arrow and
was the first lady bowhunter in
to receive the NFAA Art Young Big Game Award and the CBH & SAA's Buck
Award.Later I became the first lady
bowhunter to be accepted as a regular member of the California Big Game Club.
As an archer, shooting tournaments, and when I won and became CBH/SAA first
State Broadhead Champion.
Another fun time was when Champion Bowling teams would
challenge us to come to the bowling alleys to compete against them, a target
with the same scoring system as bowling, was put in place of the bowling
pins.We would shoot right down the
bowling lane from the foul line to the targets.It was a great spectator sport and always filled the bowling alleys and
the event was covered by many of the TV stations.
The NFAA tournaments were the big thing in those days and
Doug and I went to all of them.Our
favorite shoots were of the broadhead kind and I particularly enjoyed the
Small game hunting was year-round 1950 B.C. - Before Compounds.
First lady bowhunter to take a deer in California 1957 B.C.
FA: What is your role in the publication of Doug's
National Bowhunter Magazine?
Bowhunter is a division of Western Bowhunter Incorporated.Doug is the CEO [Publisher/Editor] of the
Magazine and I am the Executive Secretary/Treasurer.
FA: Describe a typical day at your home in
BW: There are no typical days.Every day is different and a bit
exciting.Especially when raising our
children, Scott, Mike and Patti Ann.We
have had our ranch now since 1965 and enjoy our annual barbecues and fishing
our own fish ponds.We also run our day
to day business from the ranch.
FA:You and Doug
have entertained some great people at your ranch in
Valley.Who's been your
most memorable guest?
BW: Our ranch is not far from the Fresno Field Archers
range, where the Safari tournament is held each April.And through the years we always held a
barbecue at the ranch and all of our friends have joined us for a fun time.Fred Bear always made sure Bear Archery was
well represented at the tournament with people like Hap Fling, Bob Kelly along
with many of the shooters that represented Bear.They would fly in for the tournament and rent
several motor homes and drive to the ranch and park the motor homes during the
tournament. They would park all around the lake to get in a little fishing
before and after shooting the tournament.There have been many others, Roy and Frieda Hoff, Tom and Hazel
Jennings, even Art Young's grand-daughter, Helen Young, was our guest one year,
and the list goes on.In one way or
another they have all been memorable.
Lots of fun times around the gazebo and ponds.
Overview of the front of the Walker Ranch.
FA: What was your opinion of Fred Bear?Howard Hill?
BW: These two men were instrumental in making archery
what it is today.With their
manufacturing of equipment, making hunting films and writing books.All these things are still being used,
watched and read today.In my opinion
they are two legends who lived and enjoyed the sport to its fullest.
Betty enjoying a special get together with Mary Easton (left) and Babe Bitzenberger, all three over the years were inducted into the California Archery Hall of Fame.
have won some awards of your own, tell us about those.
recognized as the first lady bowhunter to take a deer in 1957 and later for
being active in CBH/SAA [
State Organization]. I was the Editor of the CBH/SAA newsletter.
In 1963 I won the State Broadhead Championship.
My most memorable award over the years was in 1988 when I
was recognized for all my involvement in archery and was inducted into the
CBH/SAA Archery Hall of Fame.
Lifetime Achievement Award
May of 2004 I was presented with the State's highest
honor; their Lifetime Achievement Award.At that time it was noted that my archery and bowhunting accomplishments
spanned nearly 60 years of involvement, which includes being the first lady
bowhunter to qualify and be accepted as a Regular Member of the California
Bowmen Hunters Big Game Club.
archery, are there any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?
designing and making 'thank you cards' with feathers that I had collected
around the ranch.Henrietta Bear was one
of my fans and once we talked about collaborating on doing some pages in one of
her children's books.I don't believe
many people know that Henrietta Bear authored children's books.
Henrietta and Fred both sent Doug and I many handwritten
letters and cards and many included her poems.Fred sent me his wrist watch with the Bear logo on the face of the watch
and wrote, "I hope that it keeps running."Fred also thanked us for many of Doug's
stories that Doug wrote using Fred's and Bob Munger's field notes.All are a real keepsake and are filed away.
I enjoy being with our granddaughters, shopping and going
out to our lake and doing a little fishing, it seems Doug always has something
fun to do.
Newspaper caption: FIRST WOMAN ELIGIBLE - Betty Walker recently completed her quest for her fourth big game animal that will qualify her for membership in the CBH&SAA Big Game Club. An experience huntress with many big game kills to her credit, Betty has two animals currently in the CBH Record Book, a goat and a boar. She was the first woman to take a buck in CA with a bow. The big male bobcat was called into close range by her husband Doug not far from their Squaw Valley home.
Betty with the immortal, Fred 'Papa' Bear. Photo by Doug Walker.
Fred's watch he mailed to Betty.
Betty's favorite handwritten note from Fred was what he
wrote under her picture that was on the cover of the Pacific Coast Bowhunter.
That same cover with Fred's handwritten note was later re-printed in the
Western Bowhunter and was part of a special story about
Fred. Yes, Fred's humor shines through.
Fred and Henrietta Bear always had fun doing things
together.They would often send out
Thank You cards and letters (we have them all filed away) and Betty and I both
enjoyed answering them.
Betty had a special way of making up cards using bird
feathers and Henrietta really enjoyed them. I do not think many people knew
that Henrietta Bear "Hank" as Fred called her wrote some children's
books and Henrietta and Betty talked
about using some of Betty's feathered artwork in future books. Before Fred's
dad passed away, he would keep Fred supplied with black walnuts already
shelled, so when Betty found a source of shelled black walnuts she would send
them to Fred. Within one of Fred's Thank You notes he enclosed his wrist watch
with the Bear logo on it and wrote, "I'll never get even but will try.
Hope the watch keeps running. Fred"
Another time Fred thanked us by letter for all of the
exposure we gave him in our magazine and for my writings published in other
magazines, within that envelope he enclosed what he called, "Stamp
Money," and this was his famous stamp by AAC with Fred shouldering a
bobcat. See stamp on previous page.
FA: Can you tell us a bit about the
BW:All of the
Walker family enjoys the
sport of archery, hunting and fishing.As adults the
children and their children enjoy getting together here on the ranch, we also
enjoy traveling to other states to visit, hunt and just have fun.Scott served in the Air Force in
is retired and helps Doug take care of the ranch.
The camp was setup after a seven day pack trip near Kings Canyon. At night you create your own family fun telling stories, singing and then there was Mike whittling away some shavings for the morning fire. Circa 1969.
proudest moment personally, and as a wife/mother.
BW:As a wife and
mother there have been so many things in and out of the sport of archery, it is
difficult to name just one of my most proudest times.But I have mentioned some above.I am so very proud of all the
Walker family and feel
FA:You must have
hundreds but tell us a funny anecdote about Doug.
been so many.However, one was when Doug
was called in by the IRS for an audit on his expense account while working for
Fred Bear as his factory rep.Fred would
always tell Doug, "Just put it on your expense account."A good example would be while on a trip with
Fred "Hunting Alaska" he told Doug to put everything on his expense
account.That included five other
hunters who won a hunt with Fred and it totaled into thousands of dollars.Doug brought in all his records and receipts
to the IRS office and when they finished adding up everything and checking out
everything, they came out with a funny look on their faces and said, "We
owe you .64 cents."
Betty and her Catalina Grand Slam.
FA:Tell us about
your favorite hunt.
Doug is always a fun time whether it is small game or big game with the
children or just the two of us.Some of
the most remembered was our family hunts, hunting
Arizona, Catalina Island and on a friend's
ranch on the coast of
California.These hunts were fun for all of us and we
often talk about them.
A Bowhunting Family - left to right: Scott, Mom and Dad, Mike and Pat Walker on their annual bowhunt on the coast of California for blacktail deer and other big game.
might surprise us about Betty Walker?
interested in space.It was really great
meeting and talking with Joe Engle the space shuttle commander.Another time during the annual Safari
tournament we hosted some Astronauts from NASA.Before the Astronauts left I was given a pin that was made from a melted
piece of metal taken from the seat that was on the space shuttle that went to
the moon.This bit of memorabilia is one
of my favorites.
Betty's pin that was given to her by the Astronauts.
Betty with famous astronaut and space shuttle commander Joe Engle at the Safari Club International Banquet.
FA:This may cause
a rift, but what is the single most aggravating thing about Doug you have to
BW:He works too
hard on the magazine, the National Bowhunter.Doug always takes the time to answer all of his mail and phone calls and
always takes time to help new writers with their stories and answering their
many questions that they have about his many hunting experiences.
ahead in the future for Doug and you?Any plans of ever retiring from the magazine business?
BW:When you enjoy
what you are doing you do not retire from anything.As for the future only time and circumstance
determines the future.For now every day
is something I look forward to, and I learn something new every day.Doug mentions at times, "Maybe we should
retire," but then follows that up with, "but what would we do?"
FA:As a wife and
mother, what can you give to young women in the same situation?
BW:I would tell
anyone, male or female, enjoy every day and live every day to its fullest and
as I have told my children, "Do unto other as you would have them do unto
you." Which I think if everyone did this it would be a lot better world.
BW:Doug has just
finished his third book, "Autobiography of a Bowhunter," its 300 plus
pages of his experiences covers over six decades and includes some of his
favorite hunts and lots of full color pictures. Doug has two chapters on
"The Walkers, a Bowhunting Family."Over the past 60 years he seems to have a story or anecdote about all of
the great Legends in the sport of bowhunting.It has taken a long time for Doug to get so many pictures together and
to put it all down on paper, however it is a good documentation of his life not
only as a bowhunter, husband and father, but includes stories about so many of
our bowhunting Legends and how they became a part of his life and ours.