The Inspiration: Part II

MARQUEEBHN1Sponsored by: The Pope & Young Club


By: T.J. Conrad
By: T.J. Conrad

The bowhunting icons behind the decision by Glenn St. Charles and the founders of the Pope and Young Club.Art Young and Dr. Saxton Pope, trailblazers with the bow and arrow.
Sponsored by: The Pope & Young Club

Arthur H. Young was born In Kelseyville, California, on August 17, 1883. His father, William Gaylord Young, was a Union Army veteran who had moved west in 1881 with his family. They settled in Kelseyville, in California’s Lake County, and lived near Mt. Konocti, known as a home for Indian gods. William Young taught school in Kelseyville and owned the local general merchandise store as well.

Art had an older sister, Orrie, and three brothers: Willard, Charlie, and Roy. The kids all attended the local grade school in Kelseyville, and continued their high school education in San Francisco. After his father passed away, Art left San Francisco and returned to Kelseyville to run his father’s business.

Art Young showing good shooting form.
Art Young showing good shooting form.

The country around Kelseyville held vast numbers of fish and game, and Art and his brothers spent considerable time hunting, fishing, and shooting, mastering the use of rifles and pistols. Art would later compete in both pistol and rifle matches for the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

During these young, formative years, Art was lessoned in the violin, of which he became expertly proficient at playing. This talent stayed with him, and when he and Saxton Pope would go hunting in the years to come Art would take his shortened violin, while Saxton packed his miniature guitar, and the two men would play and sing by the campfires in the evenings.

Art was an excellent athlete. His finely honed and handsome body allowed him to excel at any sport he undertook, and he became a tremendous swimmer. He played water polo and was a champion in the 220, 440 and 880 swimming events. It is reported he never lost an event during his swimming career.

Eventually, Art moved back to San Francisco after the family’s business in Kelseyville had been stabilized. He was hired into the circulation department of the San Francisco Call newspaper where he worked 14 years.

While living in San Francisco, Art visited the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915. While viewing an exhibit of Japanese archery, he met a man who would later become his mentor, William “Chief” Compton. The two men became close friends and Compton taught Art how to shoot the bow and arrow. Chief Compton introduced Art to Ishi and Saxton Pope and the four men spent much time together building bows and hunting together for several years. The Chief taught Pope and Young how to make the English style longbow from Pacific yew, the style of bow they used to take grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

Art Young with William "Chief" Compton.
Art Young with William “Chief” Compton.

In the early 1920s, Art started making bows out of Osage orange, a bow wood he had picked up from E.F. Pope who lived in Woodville, Texas. Art liked Osage since it was much more durable than the yew he had been using for some years, a trait that proved handy since his hunting methods involved situations where his equipment received much abuse.

Between 1924 and 1925 Art and his friend, Jack Robertson, were financed to travel to Alaska to record on film that land’s four seasons, especially the beauty of its summers, as well as birds, fish, small game, caribou, sheep, moose, and bear. More importantly, Art had planned to hunt several species of game while Jack was to be the cameraman for the journey. They spent almost two years traveling, filming, and bowhunting all across Alaska.

More than anything, Art wanted to prove to skeptics that the bow was a formidable weapon to be used on the great Kodiak bear. He and Jack eventually located the bear on Kodiak Island, where they were gorging themselves on salmon in the streams. Finding the situation unsportsmanlike, they resorted to simply filming the animals. One morning, Art spotted four bear making their way down to the river to feed. Finding the situation more to his liking of fair chase, he decided to attempt a shot in the open grass. Neither man carried a rifle or sidearm for protection while in Alaska; they relied on Art’s longbow to keep trouble at bay.

Jack positioned himself on a tuft of high ground while Art made his way up a dry wash to cut off the bear. When he ran out of cover, he decided to attack the bruins head-on. Much later he related the event to Saxton Pope, “ … I walked boldly out into the open to meet the bears. I practically invited them to charge since they were reputed to be so easily insulted. At first they paid little attention to me, then the two in advance sat up on their haunches in astonishment and curiosity. I approached to a distance of fifty yards, then the largest brownie began champing his jaws and growling; then he ‘pinned back his ears’ preparing to come at me. Just as he was about to lunge forward I shot him in the chest. The arrow went deep and stuck out a foot beyond his shoulder. He dropped on all fours and before he could make up his mind what hit him, I shot him again in the flank. This turned him and feeling himself badly wounded he wheeled about and ran. While this was going on an old female also stood in a menacing attitude, but as the wounded bear galloped past her, she came to the ground and ran diagonally from us. All of them followed suit, and as they swept out of the field of vision the wounded bear weakened and fell less than a hundred yards from the camera.”

Many of these events were captured on film and made into a movie short called Alaskan Adventures. Besides the beautiful scenery of Alaska, this film shows Art shooting a Dall ram, Alaskan moose, and Kodiak bear, as well as several salmon with his bow.

Art Young with his Alaskan Moose.
Art Young with his Alaskan Moose.

For years, Art listened to skeptics who said the bow and arrow could not kill game. At first it was rabbits and squirrels, and then deer. As each of the animals fell to his and Saxton’s bows, a new big game animal was named that surely could not be brought down with a bow. Soon moose, and then the great Kodiak bear, were added to the list. Eventually the topic of taking an African lion was brought up, so Art Young and Saxton Pope set their sights on the Dark Continent where Art Young became the first white man to kill an African lion with one arrow.

After returning from Africa, Art took an expedition to Greenland in 1926 with George P. Putnum on the ship Morrisey, piloted by Captain Bob Bartlett. On this expedition, Art harvested both a polar bear and a walrus, proving once again that the bow was a viable, efficient weapon for taking big and dangerous game. This trip was well documented in Putnum’s book David Goes to Greenland.

In taking the walrus from a small skiff, Art had just placed the fourth arrow in the huge animal when it “ … changed tactics and decided to become a boatwrecker. I caught a quick glimpse of some blackish motion below me at the bow of our launch, and then the pop-eyed monster shot up out of the depths and snorted right in my face. Those white tusks looked mighty big.

“Savagely the walrus clinched the bow of our boat between his front flippers and with a decided snap of his head plunged those tusks through the side of our boat not very far from my shins. He quickly jerked his weapons out of the ragged holes and like a flash swung his head and tusks in a most dexterous manner to the right and crashed the two long ivories through the other side of our launch. I grabbed the lance and made a jab at the raging beast, but, as luck would have it, the cutting blade was on the other end of the handle! Not wishing to risk turning the lance around after having seen how fast the wrecker could work, I used all my strength to keep the weakening, fighting monster away from our craft.”

It has been said that Art Young was one of the finest gentlemen known. During his life he never smoked or drank, nor ever used a foul word. His ethics and morals were beyond reproach, his demeanor fit for a saint. He was an athlete and an archer of unsurpassed ability, and gave us a heritage to be proud of. He spent many years on the lecture circuit before being admitted to a hospital with a ruptured appendix. Arthur H. Young passed away from complications with peritonitis on February 26, 1935, at the young age of 51.

Art Young shooting from one knee.
Art Young shooting from one knee.


Saxton Pope was not only a pioneer in archery and bowhunting, he was also an excellent writer who left two exceptional volumes of his escapades with the bow and arrow, as well as several essays and a complete history of Ishi, the last truly wild American Indian. But without Art Young, Pope may have never tackled such feats at bowhunting grizzly bear and, eventually, African lions. Together, these two men set out to prove exactly what could be done with the bow and arrow, and how it could effectively and humanely take every big game animal in North America, as well as many species of African game.

In choosing Saxton Pope and Art Young as the namesakes for the Pope and Young Club, Glenn St. Charles launched a vision that has transcended the early opinions of bowhunters, and has stood the test of time. Today, the names of Pope and Young are synonymous with ethical, moral, and effective taking of big game with the bow and arrow. Pope’s written accounts of bowhunting, and about the ethics of this endeavor we hold dear, can be summed up the following passage: “Here is no common hunter, no insensate slayer of animals. Here we have the poet afoot, — the archaic adventurer in modern game fields; the champion of fair play and clean sport; all that is strong and manly. I take off my hat to Arthur Young.”
Dr. Saxton Pope

This story is an excerpt from  Bowhunting Big Game Records of North America, 7th Edition.


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