The Bowhunter Featured Articles
What Is It?
and How Can It Help Your Bowhunting?
WBH Small Game
It’s an unseasonably cool morning in late September. The leaves are crunchy as a hard frost temporarily chills down the forest floor. You are settled comfortably into your tree when the sound of footsteps alerts you to something’s approach. You glance over your shoulder and get a glimpse of large antlers attached to a large buck, casually walking toward you. His path take him to within 15 yards of you, the shot is good and you see him fall about 50 yards from your tree. Your heart races as you walk up to the downed deer, taking your first good look at him. Then it hits you. Your bow season is over. You are going to have to spend the rest of the fall doing yard work and going antiquing with your wife.
The small game awards card lists qualifying
small game animals in five categories. Each
category lists the points earned per animal taken, plus the total allowable points in that category. You must take animals from at least
three categories to complete each level. Take as long as you need to complete each card.
by Dave Peterson
Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. But, it happens. Sometimes you hunt all season without seeing the buck you are after.Sometimes good fortune smiles on you the first time out. When it does, you don’t have to hang up your bow for the fall. Why notkeep on hunting for small game!?Not only can you increase your days afield, WBH offers a great small game awards program to recognize your ccomplishments.
The small game awards program is easy to participate in. Simply:
Contact the WBH office to request your small game awards card.
There are cards for levels 1, 2, and 3, plus an Honor Roll card, and each card costs $1.00.
You reach levels 1, 2, and 3 when you earn 125 points, 275 points, and 450 points respectively.
Your points carry over from one level to the next.
You will be added to the WBH Honor Roll for each additional 125 points earned.
Upon completing level 1 you will receive a recognition plaque.
Upon completion of levels 2 and 3 you will receive an engraved name plate to be affixed to the plaque.
Once your plaque is complete for all three levels you will be added to the WBH Honor Role for each additional card completed.
So, why not consider extending your bowhunting time afield by adding small game, and participating in a great recognition program at the same time!
by Bill McCrary, District 9 Director, De Forest
After assuming the role of WBH representative to the DNR’s DMAP Advisory Committee I quickly came to realize that most bowhunters knew very little about DMAP and that some might benefit from learning about the program. So, what does the acronym DMAP stand for? It stands for Deer Management Assistance Program. To learn more I went online and quickly found a document titled Wisconsin Deer Management Assistance Program Overview put out by the DNR. There were other pieces of information on the website relating to DMAP, but I found this particular one the most helpful. Much of the information, which appears below, came directly, in some cases almost verbatim, from that document. This article is a brief introduction to DMAP but if you are interested in the program I urge you to go online to . wi.gov, key word DMAP. There, you’ll find just about everything you need to know about DMAP, including how to enroll.
DMAP is sponsored and administered by the Department of Natural Resources and is relatively new to Wisconsin landowners and deer hunters. It first began in our state in 2014, so it’s fairly young, but it is a program, which has made great progress in a short amount of time.
I just mentioned “landowners”. Does this mean you have to own land to take advantage of what DMAP offers? The answer is “No.” Let me explain. To enroll in DMAP, you must either own land or be the authorized representative of a landowner. As a representative, you must have received permission from the landowner to act and make decisions on their behalf concerning DMAP, including being able to grant access to the landowner’s property for DNR staff for DMAP purposes. What this means for the non-landowner is that if you regularly hunt a certain area, you may be able to take advantage of DMAP through your association with the land’s owner. Perhaps you are in a situation where the whole family hunts grandpa’s farm just outside of town. If so, perhaps a younger member of the clan can step up and initiate an association with DMAP. If grandpa says, “go for it”, you can get his property into DMAP. Or, perhaps you’re a member of a group leasing hunting land. With the landowner’s permission DMAP enrollment may be possible. It just takes a landowner authorized individual to initiate the process and follow through with the application process and the program initiatives. At present, the DNR DMAP coordinator is Bob Nack. The current structure for DMAP was created by an action team consisting of private citizens and conservation leaders. Nack provides leadership for the program and guides development of program details with advice and support from a number of conservation partners. Over two dozen representatives from almost as many organizations and agencies compose the DMAP advisory committee. These partners have and will continue to play a vital role in the success of the program through DMAP promotion and participation. DMAP provides habitat and deer herd management assistance to Wisconsin landowners or their representatives interested in managing their property for wildlife. At present nearly 600 individual Wisconsin landowners have over 220,000 acres enrolled in the program. The program is identified and defined under Wis. Stat. 29.020 and Wis. Admin. Code NR 10.70.
DMAP enrollees can participate at one of three levels depending on the amount of acreage enrolled. Level I has no minimum acreage requirement while the Level II minimum is set at 160 acres and Level III is set at 640 acres minimum.
by Bill McCrary, District 9 Director, De Forest
There is no fee for a Level I enrollee but Level II requires a $75 fee and Level III is set at $150. The term of the enrollment period for each level is three years. After three years, members may reenroll for a continuation of the relationship, service, and benefits from the DNR. The services and benefits coming to the enrollees vary with the membership level. Briefly, they are:
DMAP educational resources. Technical assistance from department employees including wildlife biologists and foresters. Annual program reports. An opportunity to attend annual workshops organized by the department or its partners.
All the benefits of Level I. On-site consultation visit by a wildlife biologist and/or a forester. A management plan with habitat and harvest recommendations developed individually for the enrolled property. Reduced price antlerless tags (if applicable to
management goals). Property specific harvest reports.
All the benefits of Levels I & II. Assistance with deer population monitoring. Habitat evaluations. Assistance with enrollment in other conservation programs. Technical assistance and design for habitat and property management activities. Additional site visits when needed and detailed management recommendations.
In addition, there are workshops and training opportunities for DMAP participants at all levels. The DNR along with its conservation partners hosts these workshops. The workshops provide information on habitat management techniques, program opportunities and first-hand landowner experience. Invited speakers cover a suite of topics of interest to landowners and hunters alike. The workshops are a great opportunity for DMAP participants to interact and network. Workshops include a site
visit of a DMAP property and DMAP updates. Participantsare informed of “citizen science” opportunities in their area and additional training opportunities with partner agencies and organizations. There are two additional features of the program that also need to be mentioned.
First, program enrollees may combine their acreage with a nearby neighbor, or neighbors, enrolled in the program to allow qualification at a higher level. Note, this association of individual property owners or their representatives are not organized as a business entity but are organized for the purpose of managing deer and other wildlife resources and have agreed to participate in DMAP. No transfer or co-mingling of land ownership occurs and each property enrolled in the group cooperative must be within one-half mile of another property in the cooperative.
Then secondly, DMAP is not intended to be a private land only
program. The DNR may cooperate with the managers of national, state, county or municipally owned lands for which public access is available through DMAP.
The DMAP coordinator, biologist and forester can work together with public land managers, tribes, and the public to enroll public properties.
So, what does all this mean to the Wisconsin bowhunter? It means that you may be able to get your hunting land, whether you own it or not, enrolled in a program which will offer sound habitat and game management suggestions from DNR professional biologists and foresters. If those suggestions are followed the result, over time, will benefit both the landowner and the deer hunter through habitat improvement. And habitat improvement translates into a healthier deer herd. That, as we know, means better bowhunting with increased opportunities. In the long run, isn’t that what we’d all like? ####
Wisconsin Crossbow Data Analysis
by Mike Brust
In 2014 Wisconsin offered its first crossbow hunting season for deer. Prior to that, only crossbow hunters that were handicapped or assumed to be incapable of archery hunting by virtue of their age of 65 or older, could hunt an extended deer season, and in those cases they didn’t have a license of their own, but hunted on the Wisconsin deer archery license.
Crossbow proponents argued that it wasn’t fair that crossbow shooters didn’t have an equal opportunity to hunt with their weapon of choice. They also argued that the only general opportunity they had was during the gun season in November when the weather wasn’t as enjoyable for them to hunt as it would be earlier in the Fall.
Crossbow promoters also argued that despite several obvious advantages over hand-drawn, hand-held archery equipment, crossbows are no more effective than archery equipment for deer hunting.
Legislators worked with the hunting groups to then establish a crossbow license and hunting season that would be regulated separately from other seasons like the firearms or archery seasons.
Because it was felt that allowing a third buck per hunter would be generally unacceptable, the crossbow license allowed either sex harvest, but if the crossbow hunter also chose to buy an archery license, the hunter could take no more than one buck between the two licenses, and vice-versa.
And finally, because there has been no hard data amassed to measure crossbow effectiveness compared to archery equipment (until now), with the agreement of the other hunting groups, legislators established the crossbow season to run concurrent with the existing archery season – for two years, until the data could be collected and evaluated – and then the Dept. of Natural Resources could adjust subsequent crossbow seasons to insure an equitable allocation of the resource.
The data from the 2014 and 2015 deer seasons is now available, and not surprisingly, given crossbows many advantages over all types of archery equipment, crossbows are clearly shown to be much more effective. Crossbow hunting success on bucks in a long season is not only substantially higher than the same measurement of archery hunting, it’s also much higher than for firearm hunters in harvesting bucks in the shorter gun season.
Historically, Wisconsin has always maintained a good balance between the success percentages on bucks in the longer archery season compared to the success percentage on bucks in the shorter firearms season. Year after year, the chances of shooting a buck during the gun season compared to shooting a buck during the archery season have remained almost identical. Not so with crossbows.
In 2014, the chances of getting a buck with
a crossbow were over 40% better than getting one with a bow or a gun. In 2015 crossbow hunters enjoyed over a 31% higher success rate than either gun hunters or bowhunters. The actual DNR numbers and graphs are attached.
There are some that will claim these numbers are not accurate and the success percentages weren’t that different. However, to claim this they must add all patron license holders to the crossbow ranks to increase the theoretical number of crossbow hunters in relation to the crossbow harvest. Although it’s unlikely that a large number of patrons hunted with crossbows, the fact is, nobody, even within the DNR, knows how many did or didn’t. Also, because success percentage is determined by comparing the number of hunters of a given weapon type to the harvest with that weapon type, adding all the patrons to each weapon type further skews the success percentage comparisons. Assuming every patron hunted with both a crossbow, a bow and a
gun approximately doubles the number of crossbow hunter numbers, while because there are many more bowhunters and gun hunters, adding all the patrons has far less effect on the archery and gun success percentages.
What we do know is how many hunters bought crossbow licenses, archery licenses and gun licenses, as well as those that bought an archery or crossbow “upgraded” license to hunt with the other weapon. It’s safe to assume that because hunters paid for these specific licenses, they generally intended to hunt with them. The only way to get an accurate picture of the differential success percentages would be to eliminate what we don’t know – the number of patrons that hunted with each weapon – and the corresponding harvest by patrons, that we do know. A reasonable assumption would be that patrons harvested in roughly the same percentages with similar success as the rest of all deer hunters.
By removing the patron numbers from both sides of the success percentage equation,
for all weapon types, we have the most accurate measure of the effectiveness of each weapon type.
Another thing the data shows is that the addition of a crossbow season didn’t bring the increase in hunter numbers that crossbow proponents had promised. The numbers shows that most crossbow hunters just switched from archery hunting or gun hunting, undoubtedly because of their much better chance of bagging a buck, while others just quit. The bottom line is that after years of modest increases in total deer hunter numbers, primarily due to the continued popularity of archery hunting, once the crossbow season was established in 2014, total deer hunter numbers dropped sharply. Please note the attached data and graph. Gun hunters in particular noticed the rush to this new weapon and crossbow’s exceptional effectiveness on bucks during the rut – before they are able to hunt.
Crossbow proponents lobbied long and hard for a season that would give them a fair and equal chance at the resource. And they insisted that the season should be earlier in the Fall when the weather was nicer. They either knowingly or unknowingly exaggerated the ineffectiveness of their weapon to legislators, as well as exaggerating the boost to hunter numbers when we have seen the same drop in overall deer hunter numbers in other states when crossbows were added. Fortunately, legislators provided for much of this and gave the authority to the DNR to correct the inequities after these two years of data collection. The ball is now in the DNR’s court. Fortunately, because the gun and archery seasons were left alone and their harvests remain in balance, the adjustment only needs to be made to the crossbow season to provide an equitable balance for all weapon types. At this point, the most common recommendation, considering the impact of crossbows on bucks during the rut, would be to end the crossbow season before the rut and perhaps resume it for the December late season. As for the handicapped, the DNR has the authority to again allow them the advantage of a longer season, which they effectively lost when all crossbow shooters were given the same advantage.
Hopefully, with adjustments that provide equity for all, disgruntled deer hunters will return to the sport.
Click on images to enlarge.
Hunter success percentage on antlered bucks by weapon type.
Total deer hunters 2010-2015 and weapon type.
Antlered buck harvest success by license type and % success by license type.
WBHF 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees: Bob & Anne Fancher
by Bill McCrary, District 9 Director, De Forest
Bob and Anne Fancher, along with sons Jerry and Mickey, were heavily involved with competitive archery and attended many tournaments, both indoors and out. They often, after a weekend's shooting, brought home medals, trophies, or winner's cups which attested to their shooting skills. As a matter of fact, son Mickey was quite competitive and eventually went on to be a professional archer and a representative for Martin Archery Company.
In addition, they were avid bowhunters. At one time or another family members hunted small game, whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, and black bear. Their hunting trips took them across Wisconsin, into Ontario, and onto the western states.
All this, the competitive archery and the bowhunting came about because Bob and Anne Fancher raised their children in a world of solid family values and the clean air of the outdoor pursuits!
Of the Fancher family members, Anne was the most enthusiastic about archery and bowhunting. She led the charge so to speak and was often the one to prompt the rest of the family to go on a hunt, shoot a tournament, or get involved in something relating to archery. Her son Jerry said, "Mom was the most passionate about archery. She loved it more." This enthusiasm paid off for her in the field a number of times. Anne was something of a diminutive woman yet she was quite a bowhunter. The cover of the April 1955 issue of The Bowhunter magazine shows Anne with a beautiful trophy white tail she took with a longbow and wooden arrow! A 1984 issue of The Bowhunter featured one of her stories titled This Bear's A Keeper! along with a photo of her 450 pound black bear taken at Bear Paw Landing in Ontario.
In addition to competitive shooting and bowhunting both Bob and Anne were involved in working for and promoting a hobby and sport they had come to love. Bob served from 1958 to 1985 in the varied positions of WBH Secretary/ Treasurer, Treasurer, and Director. Anne served from 1958 to 1984 in the varied positions of Corresponding Secretary, Executive Secretary, and Secretary.
The Fanchers moved to Crivitz in the 1960s and they ran WBH from their home. Although there were others in official WBH positions, the Fanchers certainly volunteered a substantial amount of their time and carried a great share of the workload. As a matter of fact, former WBH Director and Vice-President Gordon Bentley said, "Time was, the Fanchers were the WBH! They just did so much. And for so long."
The Fanchers maintained and controlled the WBH records for many years from their home. And they did this without the aid and convenience of modern day computers and electronic files. This was at a time when the WBH membership was growing by leaps and bounds; it was an awesome task back then and one few would choose to assume. The records were kept in handwritten ledgers and official correspondence was done on a typewriter. Copies were made using carbon paper or a mimeograph machine. Office recordkeeping was done differently back then, but it was done well by the Fanchers.
Besides supporting WBH administratively both Bob and Anne contributed by representing WBH at various sportsman's shows around the state. They would often "work" the WBH booth at the shows and promote the association, sell memberships, and talk bowhunting to all who would listen. They were avid promoters of the sport and WBH. The late Wisconsin Bowhunting Hall of Fame member Norb Mullaney, credited Anne for selling him his first WBH membership in 1961 at the Sentinel Sports show in Milwaukee. Later Mullaney would describe Anne as "the heart and soul of the organization." He went on to say, "Anne Fancher was a great lady, an ardent bowhunter, and totally dedicated to our state bowhunting organization."
The Fanchers also spent a great deal of time in Madison lobbying on behalf of bowhunting. At this time in Wisconsin bowhunting was still a somewhat new field sport and was in the process of being fully accepted by sportsmen, the Department of Natural Resources, and the state legislature. In actuality, it was defining itself and determining exactly what it would become. The Fanchers, through their personal contacts with the right people in Madison, political savvy, and leadership skills helped create and guide legislation that would prove favorable to bowhunters. This wasn't an easy task and the challenges were many. Yet Bob and Anne Fancher overcame those challenges and positioned Wisconsin bowhunting for a bright future.
Gordon Bentley once wrote something very true about the Fanchers. He said, "We believe that every bowhunter owes a great deal to the legacy left to us all by the Fanchers."
With this thought in mind the Wisconsin Bowhunting Heritage Foundation welcomes Bob and Anne Fancher as the 2017 inductees into the Wisconsin Bowhunting Hall of Fame. ####
Bob & Anne Fancher, May 1957.
Anne Fancher with her 1954 Wisconsin bowhunting trophy.
WBH 2017 Member of the Year:
by Bill McCrary, District 9 Director, De Forest
Among the Wisconsin outdoorsmen who have made valued and lasting contributions to the hobby, sport, and business of archery and bowhunting in Wisconsin, Glenn Helgeland stands out as a notable entrepreneur, businessman, and supporter of the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association.
Growing up on a farm in Barron County in the 1950s he learned to appreciate the out-of-doors and the challenge of deer hunting. From there he traveled to Madison where he graduated from the UW in 1965 with a double major in Ag Journalism and the “biological aspects of conservation.” Helgeland spent his early working years in various positions in the journalism field in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. By age 27 he was the editor of Archery World magazine and in 1976 the editor of Archery Business magazine.
In 1980, with his lovely wife Judy, he founded Target Communications and became a publisher and seller of outdoors related books. In addition, at the same time he authored numerous articles for national bowhunting and sporting periodicals. In 1985 he produced the first WI Deer Expo at the Dane County Alliant Energy Center. Just after Y2K his expos were attracting over 600 vendors and nearly 30,000 visitors! The expos were sold in 2011 and Helgeland then returned his attention to publishing sporting books and reaping the rewards of a lifetime of achievement. Helgeland has received
awards from the U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance, Cabela’s, the Alliant Energy Center of Dane County, National Archery Association, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Helgeland is a Lifetime WBH member and served as a Director from 1975–1981. He is still occasionally asked to assist WBH in a variety of manners and his input is always beneficial. Due to his concern and generosity WBH has been able to have a booth at the Madison Deer Expo for many years at a reduced cost. He assisted the Wisconsin Bowhunting Heritage Foundation with a complimentary display booth at the Madison Deer Expo in 2014 and has made notable donations of equipment for the bowhunting museum. As a bowhunter he has successfully hunted his native Wisconsin, Canada, and Africa.
Glenn Helgeland is certainly a man well-qualified to be the WBH 2017 Member of The Year and we thank him for a lifetime of contributions. Well done Glenn! ####
Member of the Year Glenn Helgeland with
(left) WBH President Mike Brust and (right) WBH Vice-President Dave Peterson.
Bowhunters Bedtime Story
Told by Logwalker Winter 2018
Once upon a time... this bowhunter was returning from one of those “high dollar” once-in-a-lifetime hunts in the far northern part of the earth. Nothing was harvested but he got a lot of memories, pictures, and the adventure he paid for so the hunt was a success. Aboard the plane with him was a scientist who was returning from a weather station after installing sensitive electrical equipment to monitor global warming. Also on board was the pilot and a village elder. Halfway through the flight a loud noise was heard, the plane shook violently and started to loose altitude. The pilot burst out of the cockpit and said, “Bad news fellas. We hit a flock of birds. One engine is gone and the other is failing. The really bad news is, we have only three parachutes. I have to take one. I have a sick parent living with me, two kids in diapers and another on the way. Sorry guys.”
With that he grabbed a parachute and bailed out the door. The scientist said smugly, “I have two degrees in science and an IQ higher than both of you two put together. I’m not going down with this rattle-trap of a plane. Don’t even try to stop me.”
He grabbed a chute and jumped out after the pilot.
The bowhunter got up from his seat, grabbed a parachute and held the straps out to help the elder put it on.
“No, no,” said the elder. “I’ve lived a long time, had a full life, and I believe in the afterlife. Besides the reason I’m here is I’m being sent to a hospital for some serious tests.”
The bowhunter just kept installing the parachute, secured the buckles, and gently pushed the old guy toward the door.
“But wait, what are you going to do?” asked the elder as he got to the open hatch. The bowhunter just reached up to the overhead compartment and said, “Aw heck, I’m going to wear this parachute. You see when that really smart guy jumped he grabbed my backpack filled with dirty underwear.”
WBHF 2018 Hall of Fame Inductees: Gordon & Mimi Bentley
by Bill McCrary, District 9 Director, De Forest
Preparing these biographical articles for the Wisconsin Bowhunting Hall of Fame inductees has come to be an honor and a privilege. Not only am I able to study the lives of prominent Wisconsin bowhunters first hand, but oftentimes I gain valuable insight into the character that led to the Hall of Fame nomination. This is certainly the case with the 2018 nomination of husband and wife team Gordon and Mimi Bentley.
This year I do have to admit I have an advantage, I first met them in 1964 and over the years came to know them well. We worked together, bowhunted together, shared experiences on bowhunting committees, and became friends.
This is one reason why I was especially moved when I heard in 2014 that Mimi had passed away. I, along with many other friends, family, and Gordon felt the loss and came to realize a great void.
When Gordon and I met to discuss material for this article he mentioned a number of times that his success came only because he and Mimi had worked so closely together and shared common goals. They both knew what they wanted to do and worked together to get there. Gordon said, "If ever there was a partnership, we had it. It was 50/50 all the way. We used to joke, I was management and she was labor, but in the end I knew I could not have done it without her. My success was her success."
All this began years ago when they were students at Franklin Elementary School in Madison. Over time their romance blossomed and they married while Gordon was on active duty with the USMC in 1951. By 1954 Gordon was a student studying Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. That same spring a couple friends of his, Ron and Ralph Imhoff, introduced him to archery. "I blame it all on them," he said jokingly. Then he added, "It wasn't long before I joined Blackhawk Bowhunters of Madison and started target shooting".
By this time the Bentley family was growing. First there was Russ, and then in later years Gail, Alan, and Lynn came along. With a young family to support, Gordon was soon working for the Wisconsin Electric Power Company in Milwaukee and was a member of the West Allis Bowmen. That's when his interest in archery really took off! "I used to shoot a lot of outdoor field and indoor target tournaments," he recalls. "I was WFAA State Champion, about 1957 I think. My name's on the traveling trophy, but that's probably been retired by now."
His archery skills were noticed and it wasn't long before he was being sponsored as a shooter by the Whiffen Archery Company in Milwaukee and was representing them at local, state, and national tournaments. Gordon was a member of the 1958 and 1959 National Champion teams which won the Ben Pearson Open Tournament. Back then there was no larger or more prestigious tournament!
By 1964 Gordon was doing well. He had a loving wife, a growing family, a great and steady job, and he was one of the top ranked target archery shooters in the Midwest! What was there not to like about a life such as this?
Then in the summer of 1964 Gordon heard about the Ivanhoe Archery Lanes in Madison, a failing archery pro shop and shooting range. The business was about to go under and its future was dismal.
Gordon was asked to partner with three other investors and to manage the business. To do this he would have to give up his job, move his family, invest his life savings, and risk his future on a chancy venture. It was a gamble with little guarantee of success and, on the surface, a foolhardy opportunity.
Gordon jumped at the chance!
Nowadays he does admit some of his family and, of course, his in-laws all thought he was crazy. No one could believe he would do this! He says, "There were plenty of family conversations about this opportunity, but in the end Mimi and I decided to do it. We followed our hearts." By the end of the summer the name of the business had been changed to The Archery Center of Madison and a new proprietor was on board. Mimi also was on board, she shared Gordon's ambition and work ethic. Together they began to grow the business into one of the premier archery pro shops and shooting lanes in the Midwest. They started indoor archery leagues both for the hunter and target archer, brought in new and quality inventory to stock the shelves, and sent a pre-season advertising flyer to every bow-hunter in a five county area. To do this, Mimi visited the clerk's office in each county and hand copied the names and addresses of every hunter who purchased a bowhunting license the previous year. She did this for quite a number of years, but it told her where to send the advertising material. It paid off, there were pre-season evenings back in the 1970s when the pro shop was packed with eager customers!
They didn't just confine their involvements to the retail side of the archery tackle business. Gordon was on the road as a salesman for Wing Archery Company and also for his line of Bentley Custom Arrows. Some years he sold upwards of 20,000 arrows to archery shops and sporting goods stores around the Midwest. With Gordon away Mimi managed the Archery Center and tended to family responsibilities.
When he heard an old and unused fishing camp in Ontario, Canada might be for sale, Gordon took another risky business chance. He purchased the camp and renamed it Bear Paw Landing. His idea was to turn it into a black bear hunting camp catering to bowhunters.
In 1968, there weren’t too many hunters that had taken a bear with a bow, so the idea was still somewhat new. Not only did he have to rebuild the physical facilities of the camp, but he had to convince bowhunters they could successfully bowhunt for bear. He sold the idea on the adventure and trophy possibilities and built Bear Paw Landing into a leading bear hunting camp for bowhunters. There were years when over 100 paid guests were in camp. This business of setting bear stands, baiting, and maintaining the camp filled Gordon's time during the spring of the year when the archery business was slow.
Gordon recalls that one of the highlights of his time at Bear Paw Landing occurred in June of 1974 when Fred Bear and other Bear Archery Company executives came to camp and hunted for a week.
Bear Paw Landing accommodated and appealed to both the well-known and the common bowhunter. Invariably, all the customers found favor with the cabins, the bear stands, and both the quantity and quality of the bears coming to the baits. But what most raved about was the food prepared and served by Mimi. Hunters could get up to three home cooked meals a day and no one ever left the table hungry! The way she ran the main lodge and the meals she served became legendary and were oftentimes spoken of as highly as the hunting.
Gordon and Mimi successfully operated the Archery Center and Bear Paw Landing until the late 1980s. Bowhunting had become a way of life for them and they promoted the lifestyle at every opportunity. Be it through running their businesses, conducting seminars, working on behalf of the WBH, or assisting in the retail management aspect of the sport, they worked to promote bowhunting.
By 1990 Gordon had turned over running the Archery Center to one of his sons and then it was eventually sold. Bear Paw Landing was also sold and Gordon and Mimi moved to their "Arrowood" retirement home in rural Montello. It was time to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor in a beautiful home surrounded by acres of pristine hunting land. There were plenty of moments to reminisce about days gone by and their accomplishments in the archery and bowhunting world.
Of course there was the Archery Center of Madison and Bear Paw Landing, two businesses he resurrected and turned into successes. There was his state and national success as a target archer and his and Mimi's Wisconsin Bowhunter Necedah Shoot Championships in 1961 and 1963 respectively. He served as a Director of the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association for many years and also as Vice-President. He was one of the early Legislative Liaison appointees for WBH and in that role was almost singlehandedly responsible for persuading the Wisconsin DNR to create more "bowhunter friendly" hunting hours. He conducted seminars for bowhunters at the Necedah Shoot, and he and fellow Wisconsin Hall of Fame member Norb Mullaney once traveled to a meeting of DNR Wardens where they presented a seminar on bowhunting skills and the WBH. Gordon also was one of the founding Directors of the Wisconsin Bowhunting Heritage Foundation.
Gordon served as the President of the Archery Lanes and Operator's Association (ALOA) from 1973 to 1978 and was the driving force for bringing the organization to the Midwest. He founded the Archery Range and Retailers Organization (ARRO) in 1981 and over the years served as Executive Secretary, Senior Executive Director, and President. He was also involved with the American Archery Council and the Archery Manufacturer's Organization where he offered valuable counsel with regard to technical specifications for tackle. In 1979 he received the "Leadership In Action" award from the Hunting Hall of Fame. He was honored to have Fred Bear make the presentation before the elite of the archery and bowhunting community in Washington, D.C.
As a bowhunter, both he and Mimi were quite successful. Over the years Gordon took whitetail, blacktail, and mule deer, along with caribou, elk, antelope, black bear and mountain lion. Of these, quite a few were Pope & Young class animals. One of his favorites is a whitetail he took in Jackson County in 1960, it was his first big game bow harvest.
As we were going through the interview process for this article Gordon mentioned Mimi frequently and stressed how she was such a large part of his success. As a matter of fact he said, "There were times when I was at the podium and she was in the audience, or my name was on an award, but she was always there with me, offering support and encouragement. In a way it was like that song of a few years ago, she truly was The Wind Beneath My Wings." ####
Gordon & Mimi Bentley
Welcome to Spring!
It’s that time of year again. Close to 1,700 youth in fourth grade through High School were in Wisconsin Dells on March 23 and 24 for the Wisconsin NASP state tournament. Each year we add about 250-300 new youth to the event and this year was no exception. Along with the youth shooting the Bulls-eye targets, we have close to 500 registered to shoot the NASP/IBO 3-D round. The connection these youth are making to bowhunting while shooting the 3-D targets with their NASP equipment is a great first step to becoming license buyers. It’s great to see the range of expressions and emotions on the faces of the archers, parents, coaches, and volunteers during the event.
This year we’ve also added the Centershot Program archers to our Wisconsin state tournament. This is not a new program, just a new addition to the tournament, allowing youth to qualify to shoot the Centershot national tournament in Louisville. These youth shoot the same format and equipment as NASP.
About four years ago NASP introduced the “Academic Archer Award” for students maintaining certain academic standards and participating in the NASP program. Not just at the competitive level, but all NASP schools and archers are eligible to receive the award. All the registered academic archers are then entered into a drawing for awards, above and beyond the recognition of holding outstanding academic acheivments while attending school and shooting NASP. As of this writing close to 20,000 youth have received the award across the country. It’s great to see NASP recognizing the importance of school and grades along with learning to shoot archery. As we get closer to the end of the school year I fully expect that number to jump way up.
The Wisconsin NASP program has seen some tremendous growth the past few months with the addition of many new schools, and those adding other grade levels. We’ve held almost as many trainings so far this year as all of 2017. Much of this is due to some great partners, providing grant dollars to schools so they can purchase the starter set of equipment. Obviously, the Wisconsin
Bowhunters Association, the Safari Club International, Wisconsin Chapter, Whitetails Unlimited, NWTF, RMEF, and so many others. The growth and success of the Wisconsin NASP program is nothing without their support! Please get to the banquets and help support them the way they support these programs.
As always, we are in need of coaches and help in growing the after-school and club portion for the NASP program in the state. If we want this next generation to become bowhunters and license buyers it’s up to all of us to pass along what we know to those new to the sport and maybe touching a bow for the first time in PE class, at school. We know, through numerous surveys that the NASP youth want to shoot more and learn more about the sport. Relying on our educators, who are already overworked and may not hunt or shoot themselves, is not going to work. We have to put our efforts together and connect these kids and families with the outdoors and the sport of archery.
Good luck if you’re getting to the woods to hunt and remember to get out and support your local archery clubs and shops.
I hope to see many of you out and about this spring and summer!
Archery Education Program Administrator / Marketing Specialist
NASP WI State Coordinator
A Women's View
by Mimi Bentley Spring 2018
Everyone has found a cranny in his life that brings magic into an otherwise plain existence. A place where all the everyday, busy doings are left behind and a gentle peace of mind replaces the space in the brain that keeps you hurrying and scurrying to do all those things that have to be done.
My magic is bowhunting!
For me, it’s a reason to be in the woods. It’s a reason to go, all by myself out in a big forest or meadow and sit for a very long time – sometimes three hours and more without moving. I’ve sat on a stump, in a tree, on a dirt mound; I’ve stood for hours, sheltered by trees and shrubs; I’ve sneaked, ever-so-slowly, around the edges of a field, or through thick brush and swamps; I’ve made fresh tracks in a new snowfall and followed leafy trails through all kinds of country.
I think the world is at its best during the time of our bowhunting season. In September and October the leaves are an ever-changing kaleidoscope of color and the magic of it simply takes my breath away. As the seasons change, and the colors fade, and the rains come, the wind sweeps around me and whirls the leaves into special protective homes for all the creatures who live there. The rain smells so sweet and washes the land and nourishes everything. And later, when the trees are bare, and the air is crisp and clean, and everything is covered with a gorgeous blanket of white, the woods are such a comforting place to be.
When I sit or walk in these woods I get my whole life into perspective – I see how everything serves a purpose and I think about many things that can only come to mind when one is alone and surrounded by the vastness of the land.
I’ve seen the creatures: the deer, the bear, the squirrels, the skunks, the owls, the crows, the mosquitoes, the flies, the field mice, the snakes, the chipmunks, the fox, the raccoon, the beetles, the worms, the grouse, the ducks, the geese, the bees, the hornets, the bats. And I’ve watched them all scurry around in their own way to live their life and get on with what they need – and I know that we all, plants, animals, people – are here on God’s earth as just a small spec and all are needed for all.
I see the new saplings and the great tall timbers – the tiny birds and great large ones – the small fawns and the sturdy adult deer.
I see the leaves turn and fall, the trees decay, the creatures living off of the other creatures and the plants, the people sowing seeds and harvesting the crops, the lands ever changing from the elements, and I know that hunting is just another part of that whole massive process.
I’m proud to be among the people who find bowhunting a truly exhilarating sport. I’m proud to be among those who try to outwit the wild animals in their own habitat: try to out-guess a deer’s movements, try to blend into the landscape, and try to sneak up on them for the best shot.
Being a woman doesn’t seem to me to be either an advantage or a disadvantage. When I hunt I am a hunter – one of the hunters – I follow the same trails, I stalk the same ridges, I climb the same trees, I follow the same rules as all the men. I know my bow, and practice a lot, and I know my arrows are sharp and that I can get a good, killing shot if the pieces all come together – there’s a whole lot of luck involved as well as skill! That’s magic.
I’ve taken some shots that should have been good – one on opening day this fall! I don’t see many bucks – and I’ve been waiting a long time for a buck, and I saw a nice big buck, coming slowly down the hill on a trail that would pass about two feet to the right of me. I waited. He came. I peeked out from behind the tree. He turned off about 15 yards out and walked, slowly, and I drew and waited for the perfect shot – angling away –15 yards – I shot – I heard it hit – the buck ran around the ridge and I stood there, my heart pounding in my toes, and took careful note of the path he took, marked the direction I last saw him and waited – grinning from ear to ear. I waited over 30 minutes before I walked the few paces to mark the beginning of the blood trail. What? No blood? No Hair? Maybe I misjudged! Maybe he was closer! I stepped back a few feet and looked for some sign in the leaves – and there! There was my arrow, dead-center in a little one inch sapling – perfect height – perfect windage – just one of those little twigs that seem to disappear when you are looking at that deer. Oh well – I’d been outwitted again!
I have a deer and a bear to my credit and I look forward to the next one. Our family loves venison, my kids would rather have venison than beef, and we really enjoyed the roast and brats we had made from the bear. I truly enjoy making a gourmet meal from the game we have harvested. And when we hunt, we are harvesting.
I have sat long periods just watching deer so close I can touch them and take great satisfaction in knowing that I blended into the background – I wasn’t an intruder. I’ve had tiny squirrels walk up my leg before they knew I wasn’t just another log. I’ve had birds land on my bow and my hat. Such magic!
There are added benefits to being a hunter for me- the exercise, the fresh air, the challenge, but most of all it’s a spiritual; experience that makes me a better human being. It teaches me patience, perseverance, and respect. It gives me satisfaction. I feel close to God when I’m there in His forests and I have peace of mind. It’s a spiritual uplift that is, to my way of thinking, truly magic. ###
Emmielyn Bentley and Wisconsin Bowhunting Hall of Fame Member Gordon Bentley.