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Visit Frank Addington Jr. on the web. On Bowhunting.net: Frank's Monthly Column and Frank's Straight Talk Interviews. And at FrankAddingtonJr.com.


Straight Talk - Betty Walker
By Frank Addington, Jr.
Feb 25, 2009 - 9:47:40 AM

Betty Walker

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 Stockton, 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 " Crow Town" which was located in the foothills outside of Los Baņos, 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.

 

FA:  What's been your proudest accomplishment as a bowhunter?  As an archer?

BW:  Harvesting game as a bowhunter.  During a 1957 deer hunt with Doug, I bagged my first deer and became the first woman to take a buck in California with a bow and arrow and was the first lady bowhunter in California 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 Mammoth Lake tournaments.

 

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?

BW:  The National 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 California.

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 Squaw 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.
      

FA:  You have won some awards of your own, tell us about those.

BW:  I was recognized as the first lady bowhunter to take a deer in 1957 and later for being active in CBH/SAA [ California's 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.

 

FA:  Outside of archery, are there any other hobbies or activities you enjoy?

BW:  I started 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 Walker family?

BW:  All of the Walker family enjoys the sport of archery, hunting and fishing.  As adults the Walker 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 Germany, Mike 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.

FA:  Describe your 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 really blessed.

 

FA:  You must have hundreds but tell us a funny anecdote about Doug.

BW:  There have 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.

BW:  Hunting with 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 Kaibab, 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.

 

AFA:  Anything that might surprise us about Betty Walker?

BW:  I am 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 live with?

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.

 

FA:  What lies 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.

 

FA:  Any last words?

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.

 

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