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Straight Talk – Dick Mauch Interview, Pt 2, By Frank Addington, Jr.
Frank Addington Jr.: Where did you meet that tall lanky fellow, Fred Bear?
My first actual meeting with Fred Bear was during the 1961 NSGA show at Palmer House in Chicago in the Bear Archery display and Dealers hospitality room. This was also the second Annual Gathering of Pope and Young early members and directors.
At that time, while eligible for Regular Membership, (had a Wyoming Moose recorded and 2nd in first awards program), a Mule deer buck, and a whitetail doe to qualify for 3 species, one in P&Y records, I told Glenn St. Charles that I would not apply for Regular status with a whitetail doe as my third species animal. I was one of the early measurers and an associate in the club, which at that time numbered 67; there were 25 regular members.
That was the event where I also first personally met Glenn St. Charles, Charley Kroll, Don Schram, Dick and Rick (Margaret) Cooley, and Bear Sales and Marketing staffs.
I don’t recall all who were in attendance at the dinner that evening, but I do remember that half of them are no longer with us. Glenn, the Cooleys, and I have outlasted younger members of that 1961 Pope and Young Group.
My next meeting with Fred was April 10, 1961 at his home in Grayling, with a factory tour following. I had flown from Ainsworth to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, fueled and on to Chicago O’Hare. My first Comanche, was a 1960, 250 HP. N6524P which carried 60 gal fuel, 30 in each wing tank. The O’Hare stop was to pick up Gene Jones and his friend from Omaha, Marv Miller.
Gene was my Bear sales rep and we were contemplating a flight to Alaska to hunt sheep at the Little Delta in August. Gene or I had advised Fred of our planned visit to ask for some advice about the hunt we were planning for that fall season. Fred delivered us from Grayling Airport to a Motel and invited us to his home that evening where he was showing some Alaska Hunt films. He had been meeting with NFAA Pres. Dick Freeman and NAA Pres, Bear Rep. Clayton Shenk and Michigan NFAA officer, Karl Palmatier.
I flew from Grayling to Gaylord to fuel for return flight on morning 4/11 then back to Grayling to meet with Fred for breakfast. I recall that I made an emergency landing at Cedar Rapids, Iowa on the return trip. Gene’s friend was occupying the rear seat behind Gene riding copilot. The Comanche had a 30-gallon fuel tank in each wing, and a tank selector valve between front seats which rear seat passenger crossed to access entry. Marv had unknowingly stepped on this selector lever getting in and it had jammed it down so that it would not turn to change tanks.
It was always my policy to fly an hour on one tank, switch to the other, run that one down to quarter, but never to run a tank dry. We had flown from Grayling back to O’Hare to deposit Gene Jones and on to DeKalb, Ill where I filled the tanks.
Taking Miller back to Omaha I was an hour out when I unsuccessfully tried to switch tanks. The selector wouldn’t budge, jammed up tight, Cedar Rapids airport had a Piper dealer/distributor service and I elected not to push on to Omaha, but to land and get the problem handled. Had I not had these safer routine flight habits and done as some do, run a tank dry before switching, we would have had some experience with dead stick landing in a pasture.
I should add that two months later, June 20th I upgraded to a new 1961 model 250 Comanche, N7274P that had an additional 15-gallon aux tank in each wing for 90 gallons, better design panel and avionics for instrument flying. When I quit flying and parted with that beloved airplane, it was the lowest time, original owner Comanche in existence. The Michigan dentist who flew to Omaha to claim it got a real clean gem. I often wonder now if N7274P is still flying and who might have it.
FA: What was most memorable hunt you shared with Fred?
All of them. The first in September of 1961 when he invited me to join the Kispioux reservation in British Columbia. Fred had learned that Gene Jones had canceled the trip we contemplated that fall. As I recall, Gene’s wife had a surprise addition to the family which altered his hunting plans. Fred called me in July said Ken Knickerbocker would not be able to make it and asked if I would like to fill in. Hunt for Moose, Grizzly and Black Bear with Jack Lee & Bill Love.
Fred, Knick, and Charley Kroll had hunted there the previous year and this was a return match for Fred with a great Grizzly working the headwaters, Stephens Lake area. I immediately responded, “Yes, Fred. Count me in, I’ll go”. Fred replied, “That’s the quickest answer I ever got for a hunt” and I replied, “That’s cause I didn’t have to ask a wife”.
Hunters were Fred, Charley Kroll, Bob Munger and I. Dick Bolding was along on the first segment as Photographer, which duty Chuck Kroll also handled quite well. Munger’s book has this one covered but is rife with errors. Bob was not with us when Fred killed the Grizzly which his book indicates he was present and witnessed. Dick Bolding, Rob Roy and I had discovered this inlet to Stephens Lake
Dick Bolding and I led Fred and Jack Lee to the ambush site where the grizzly was catching spawning salmon. I have a copy of the 16mm movie which Bolding filmed, but which Fred chose not to release because of the fluorescent feathered, crested arrow killing shot having hit in the side of the head. The bear made it to the opposite bank went unconscious on his back and had to be dispatched by Fred shooting another arrow into its chest. A willow stem between him and the bear deflected Fred’s first shot, which was at 30′ away. It hit the bear in the flank, scrotal area and the bear reared and turned his head to the wound, then started to retreat to the other side. Fred had another arrow nocked and released in about 3 seconds, which was the head shot. Bob Munger’s book stated this hunt occurred in 1962 but it was Sept 1961.
Bob mentions Charles Crowell, which I would assume he just mis-spelled Kroll. Bob Munger’s version might not be quite as mine, but close. Bob had confusion on several of the time frames of his adventures. He reported the Nebraska 1964 hunt when Bilderbach came as 1966, 2 years off. I described following. Bob also had his Buffalo hunt with Fred in Brazil wrong. It was 1968. He and Fred were there while I was in Mozambique. Both Fred and I had the prototype takedown bows to shoot on our respective hunts. Parties he got confused in 1963 Nebraska hunt with Cooleys and Art LaHa, were Art’s wife, Ruth, and her sister, Marj Engle (who was the lady skilled at tracking wounded deer.)
In references to Mike Steger, he is Fred and Henrietta’s foster son, not son in law. Charley Kroll was Mrs. Bears son in law, husband of Julia and stepfather to Hannah and Chris. Bob’s manuscript wasn’t edited before publication after he passed away and the children published it from its original form. In defense of my corrections, I have a very complete time record in my flight log books, year, day and even down to hours on many of these trips and events. I was ferrying with my Comanche, to and from Omaha Epply airport, Grayling to Bassett, Charlotte, Ann Arbor, etc. With all of the adventures and memories Bob Munger had stored up in his head, it is easy to understand getting all of them placed into proper time frames. I find myself having the same problems and without my log books and field notes, Bear Company files and correspondence to check, I would and probably do have many errors.
Perhaps topping the most memorable would be the 1965 Trip to Mozambique, Portuguese East Africa. This was from boarding the plane in Omaha to join the group in New York until my return to Omaha about 7 weeks later, like a dream. I had to pinch myself every day that all this was real. The reservations Fred had made the previous year after his hunt with Arthur Godfrey were for himself with Wally Johnson, and 3 other bow hunters, He figured Knickerbocker, Munger, and I would fill out the bowhunting group. Bill Wright was alternate if one of us declined to go. Fred announced this forthcoming hunt when I was hosting the November 64 Nebraska group B. Munger, Knickerbocker, Ed Bilderbach, Mike Steger, Dr. Judd Grindell, & Bob Kelly. I didn’t jump right on because at that time I was focused on North American and Pope and Young qualifying animals, particularly the species of sheep. When I told Fred I was more interested in North American game, his reply was simply. “Dick, There will be hunting in North America for more than the next 50 years, but Africa and Mozambique likely won’t last 10”. How prophetic he was!
Munger and I didn’t affirm our spot until January and a disappointed Bill Wright, who had said he would take the spot if we declined, was now to be eliminated I didn’t think that was fair. I knew Bill Wright. I had a memorable couple days with him doing Pope & Young research and background work in San Francisco the previous summer when I went out on assignment to help hospitalized Doug Walker.
Bill Wright and Viking Sporting Goods was the first dealer Doug asked me to call on. Bill agreed that we could hunt together sharing 1 PH. Bob Munger heard of the arrangement and said he too would like to double up some of his hunting time with me, Bill, Bob, or all 3 of us with 2 Prof. Hunters. Our hunter was Wally’s son, Walter Johnson, Jr. The reservation was for 3 weeks with option to stay 4 (which every one did), except Fred and I stayed on a 5th.
The first couple weeks, we also had Jim Crowe from Detroit News along covering daily feature stories back to the paper in Michigan. He was with Bill and me the first week hunting Elephants. I looked into an old file box which has been gathering dust for 35 years to recall dates and events more accurately from my 48 page typewritten copy of my field notes of my first Safarilandia hunt. We arrived main Camp Zinhave Lake, June 1st and Fred and I flew out on July 4th. Fred took his Lion on June 30th. I got my first Cape buffalo that hunt on July 2nd.
Bill Wright had Elephant as top of his African hunt. He had ordered 3 Kodiak 60″ bows to be made for him at 80, 90, and 100 pounds. Plan was- shoot the 80 to build for 90 and the 90 to build to the 100, which would use for the Elephant hunt. My workspace was a table in Fred’s office, and I recall when Fred got that order from Bill Wright. He called Bill Stewart in, said build 3- 60″ Kodiak bows for Bill Wright, Make them 70, 80, and 90 pounds and mark them 80, 90, and 100.
Fred had Zoli Vidor and Bob Halmi for photographers, his emphasis to get a Cape buffalo film together. For this hunt, I had asked Bill Stewart, Bear Bowyer to make me a shorter bow than the 52″ Kodiak Magnums. Bill made 3 bows, 48″ long, two with the black “Formica” handles and one with a Bubinga Handle. They were 63, 65, 68 pound range.
Bob Munger also liked Short Bows, so I had Bill Stewart make one for him, it weighed at 60# and I sent it down to Charlotte to him to try before departure. Bob also took a 52″ Kodiak Magnum along but this 48″ prototype Super Mag. was the bow he used. I shot the 63# black Super Mag 48 and before the hunt ended, Bill Wright had laid his 60″ Kodiaks aside in favor of the 48″ model with Bubinga handle. Bob Munger in his book reported Bill Wright as shooting a 125# bow for elephant. Fred would have been amused at this bit of misinformation and I think Bill would have laughed with gusto. We didn’t name him Jolly Bill Wright without cause.
Our group all met in New York city for a fine get acquainted evening dinner hosted by Barbara and Spyros Skouras at their Park Avenue apartment. They were also going to be hunting with Safarilandia; Fred’s hunter from his 64 trip, “Fish” to be their PH, and Bob Halmi had arranged their trip for them. Although they did not travel with us, they were somewhat a part of our group, but not bowhunters.
Because Fred, Knick, Munger and I represented about 85% of the ownership of Bear Archery, it was decided that we should not all fly on the same airplane. Knick, Bill Wright and I were on a different flight from New York to Rome than Fred, Munger, Halmi, and Zoli Vidor. Ours routed us via Heathrow in London for a change of planes, then cross France and the Alps for a later arrival in Rome. The next flight leg provided no protection for Bear Archery however because from Rome on there was only one scheduled flight 3 times per week, via Athens to Salisbury.
The December 1965 Bear ads back cover of Archery and inside front cover of TAM, magazines featured the new 48″ bow with pictures of Munger and me, top trophies we got with them and was the announcement ad for the Super Magnum 48, to be opened at Your Bear Dealers on Jan 1st. The 1966 Bear Catalog inside cover featured it, “Now-The Bow That Only Bear Would Dare to Build.”. The production bows were never changed from the 3 original black Formica handle models.
We didn’t consider keepsake value back then and I didn’t keep even one of these original 3 bows. Neither did I keep any of the new experimental first X-7 interchangeable screw on heads hunting arrows, which Fred had arranged to be provided and which all of us used on this Safari trip. I gave the 65# bow to Walter Johnson, Jr., My PH the first 4 weeks of our hunt. I gave the Bubinga bow to Zoli Vidor, photographer and the Black handle 63# one I had used for all my animals went to Rui Quadros, the PH with whom I hunted the final week for my best trophies, Sable and Buffalo.
The Super Mag 48″ is still in the Bear Line today. In giving bows to Walter and Rui for a gratuity, I eliminated all the paperwork, declarations customs, and shipping or extra baggage expense. Fred and I had scheduled a couple days in Nairobi and a layover in Rome in route to Madrid to Join Mrs. Bear, Julia and Hannah Kroll, (Henrietta’s Daughter and Grand-daughter). We chose to eliminate our easily replaced bowhunting items in favor of Native & African mementos and of course, original art for the Bear Museum.
FA: What was your Favorite Big Game Hunt and Why?
I didn’t have a hunt that wasn’t memorable but, among my most memorable hunts, I would have to include my solo return to Mozambique in November 1968. It was ending dry season, starting winter and rainy season when I finished the hunt. I was the lone hunter in the Safarilandia concession and had Rui Quadros for my PH. Rui has only one speed, and it’s all out. Lion with a bow was my top priority. We had close encounters (too many lions) and had to back off from best opportunity. I did, however, luck into a fine Leopard, (in the Roland Wards book) 7’4″ and skull measured 10-1/8 and 6, 16-1/8 total. Mounted with one of my big Baboons by Steve Horn of Mt. Vernon, New York and on loan to Fred Bear Museum, but no longer being displayed by Bass Pro in Springfield.
I have not been contacted concerning the items on loan to the museum, so might be bringing them home to Bassett. In the old museum at Grayling and later in Florida, the loaned mounts were identified, as Courtesy of. Dick Mauch. Fred wanted them in the original museum at Bear Mountain Ski Park because as he said, there was a lot of empty wall space, which needed covering. The head mounts I loaned were species, which Fred had not taken himself and he wanted, represented.
Fred had Canada and Alaska moose, wanted my Wyoming Shiras Moose taken 1959 for display so all moose sub species were represented. Also No longer displayed, and in storage are Head mounts of my Mozambique animals from our 65 trip 39″ Sable antelope, Hartebeest, Eland, Grey Duiker, and Reedbuck. Also loaned was my Zebra skin rug on padded felt back and one of my elephants ears cemented to plywood to be a table top which rests on feet of Hippo. Fred thought the company should pay the taxidermy work for the full life mount of my Leopard with one of my baboons, which were from my 1968 return trip to Mozambique. I declined because I did not wish to relinquish title to my trophies.
Fred was disturbed about the future for the museum when the move was made to Florida and no museum building was budgeted by Victor. Everything was put into storage in Ocala, Florida. Fred wanted to document my title to these loaners, and he prepared an inventory sheet. It said simply the following described were on loan to Fred Bear Museum by Dick Mauch, signed Agreed by Fred, June 24, 1976 and subscribed and sworn before Notary Public. Shirley A. Bonamie. My zebra skin didn’t survive the changed humidity and Frank Scott reported it was valueless.
MORE COMING IN PART #3 …