Interview: Dick Mauch, Bowhunting & Archery Pioneer

Frank-Addington-StraightTal.jpg
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 – Dick Mauch Pt 1, By Frank Addington, Jr.

Archery and Bowhunting pioneer and icon Dick Mauch played an important part in the growth of the small archery and bowhunting community of the 50's to today's 3-million bowhunters.
Archery and Bowhunting pioneer and icon Dick Mauch played an important part in the growth of the small archery and bowhunting community of the 50’s to today’s 3-million bowhunters.

Frank Addington:  Dick Mauch, when and where were you born?  

I was born at home in Bassett, Nebraska, Oct 22, 1926. in the house first built by my father when he married.   My sister preceded me to arrive there 11 months earlier than I, (Nov 19, 1925).   We were so close together that people often wondered if we were twins, and our adventures and misdeeds were usually joint affairs, so we shared mutual punishments during our pre-teen years.

FA:  Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Bassett and attended Grade School, District #74, in the old School Building, a 2-1/2 Story affair with a Basement Gymnasium in the east side half. The building had originally housed both grade and high schools and my father graduated from the county high school there.    The basketball games we played would not allow a very high arching shot without hitting the ceiling.    This was the same gym, unchanged from the time, where my Father played high school basketball.   They won the State championship in their Division.    Without Basketball, my Dad would likely have quit school because he was already a young struggling business owner, having purchased the lumberyard from his Father while still in High School.

We played on the grounds in summer all the boys had a pocketknife, at least 3 blades and never very sharp from dulling in the dirt at Mumbly Peg game.   In spring, it was marbles, played for keeps and we coveted our good bull’s eye agate shooters with which we knocked the marbles out of the dirt ring to claim them.

In winter, we sledded or tobogganed on the slopes adjacent the schools.    A good highway was gravel covered clay base, no pavements in our part of the country until later 1930’s era.   We had no swimming pools, so we made do with a meadow pothole west of town and used the Millpond behind the power-generating dam at Long Pine to better our swimming ability.

First Cape Buffalo, Mozambique July 1965 (taken day after Fred Bear killed his Lion) similar picture used in Super mag bow ad in the 1966 Bear Archery catalog.

To answer such a general question about life in my growing up days would require me to write a large book.    I’ll just say it was the worst of times but the best of times.    Family was all-important.    Dad’s worked (if they could find a job) and mom’s cooked and cared for the household.     Money was scarce, as were jobs.    It was not only the great depression but great drought and dust bowl days which had driven many into extreme poverty when crops were planted and got no rain to make them grow.   Being in cattle, hay, and grass country, folks here fared better than areas, which totally had dirt, farm economy.     The best and most accurate account of what growing up in the 1930’s and during this great depression is detailed in a fine book, “We had everything but money”.

I have a copy, (or had one which appears to have been loaned and like most books I loan, never get returned).

My father worked long hours to make his business successful.    His hay brokerage and shipping business, tied to international harvester dealership and lumber, coal, hardware and ranch supply provided me with a lath for making swords, stick horses, toy miniature slide hay stackers, and a chance to earn some money when a rail carload of lumber, posts, bricks, or coal was on track and to be hauled and stacked in the lumber sheds.

I had an obsession with flying very early in my life.    I spent my allowance and most of my earnings for balsa wood kit rubber band flying model airplanes.     In those times, they generally cost from 10 to 25 cents at the five and dime store.

We listened to radio programs for entertainment and Bassett also had a movie theater.   The best feature of the week ran Sunday Matinee and evening and same movie program on Monday night.  In addition to the feature, movies usually had a  cartoon, Movie Tone news, and a short program.   Every Saturday night, a favorite radio program sponsored by LUCKY STRIKE cigarettes was THE HIT PARADE., the top 10 song records of the week.   A really popular record would stay #1 for several weeks.  Movies often ran a short, which featured popular big bands.   Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Bennie Goodman, Guy Lombardo, Artie Shaw, Vaughn Monroe, Jimmy Dorsey, Cab Callaway, Phil Harris, were a few I remember watching, and hearing on Radio.  I remember seeing Howard Hill demonstrating archery on one of these movie short reels.

There were no movies on Tuesday or Thursday, but Friday night, Saturday matinee and evening were always double feature horse opera or cowboys- indians, western and the serial shorts to keep you coming back each week.   The movies are long gone now, even the old Pineview drive in of the 1950’s and 1960’s stands ghostly and mostly a victim of Daylight savings time.    Admission price for kids under high school was 10 cents. Popcorn was 5 cents.

FA:   What made you decide to get into the Archery business?    Where was your business located?

Following the successful first deer hunt, I wanted to get involved in the Nebraska State organized Archery Club, Nebraska Prairie Bowmen.    History of this early organization is also covered in the John Fararr article Nebraskaland, Nov. 2006 issue.  With other new bowhunting and archery enthusiasts in the area, Seth and Evelyn Fritzler, Dean Deweese family, Dick Turpin, Boyd Larson and I formed the Long Pine Archery club and constructed a 14 target animal NFAA field round out west of Long Pine.    Winters, we shot in the long inside drive way (unheated but enclosed fully) in my Lumber Yard.   With a club started, interest naturally grew and others wanted to take up bowhunting and recreational archery.    What was needed was a local Archery Dealership and members urged me to start carrying some accessories so I called Bear Archery about being a dealer.   Gene Jones was the area Rep at that time, and came over to check us out.   He evidently liked what he saw and wrote a pretty good order for several model Bear bows, a representative line of arrows, accessories, bowstrings, quivers, armguards, tabs, gloves, and replacement Razorheads and other points.   We were in the Archery business at Farmers Lumber and Supply Company (displayed in our Hardware dept)

It wasn’t very long before we had expanded our inventory considerably.   Bear closeouts were used to promote sales for second bows and when I began attending State meets, indoor and outdoor shoots, Field and Target events, Word got around that Farmers Lumber & Supply at Bassett had a nice selection of equipment.    I advertised in the State Prairie Bowmen news publication, “If it’s for Archery, we either have it or have tried it and it isn’t worth having?”   This ad carried a picture of Archery dept on our floor with never less than 3 dozen bows on the racks.

The down side was that whenever there was a state shoot or a club shoot, I was called ahead of date by archers planning to attend with interest in wanting to try a new bow, so I always had a trunk full of equipment and lots of trading was done before the shoot, during warm up ranges practices, or after awards.    I didn’t often get to complete a full field round, so I was never a champion field or target archer.    I just went to enjoy the fun, the socializing, and flinging some arrows and making new friends.   Was not long before I was active on the board, was elected Vice President of Hunting of the State assoc., and set up the first “Prairie Antlers” State Archery Records program, under B &C and Pope and Young scoring system.

In those days, Nebraska also had a small band of Fallow deer, located along the Cedar River south of Elgin.    Fallow were legal only for bowhunting, but we didn’t have a scoring system.   I made one up, similar to North American Caribou system.   I didn’t know about Rolland Wards Hunting records system in those days.    Nebraska Fallow herd was eventually a problem for Neb. Game dept, so they just opened full season on them for firearms  and shot them out.   The herd had originally been a park herd that overpopulated and inbreeding probably had much to do with their demise.

When our local Long Pine Club had our shoot, I was usually Tournament Chairman and had a multitude of tasks to look after.    I also started the first Nebraska Bowhunters Jamboree, which we held at Lexington field range.    I introduced the then new Hank Maraviov targets on which we narrowed the score areas.  (There were no 3D, only paper targets in those times) and we also had a couple aerial shots with flu flu arrows.

Our Long Pine club grew considerably when the Bureau of Reclamation set up headquarters at Ainsworth and began design and construction of the Ainsworth Irrigation Project, Dam on the Snake River for Merritt Reservoir construction, plus lined canals.   Several of the engineers and project dept. chiefs stationed and lived in Long Pine, took up the bows and set up an indoor range in the old bowling alley in Ainsworth.   We had an unheated indoor range in the old Chevy garage building on Main Street in Bassett.  This added to my growing business with considerable new market, both for target and hunting bows and arrows.

Our club bid for and won the site and sponsorship of the first five State Midwestern NFAA field Championships.   We build 3 new 28-target field courses at Long Pine Hidden Paradise, 1 each hunter, field, and big game animal rounds.    Also, we had our regular Club courses located on my farm between Long Pine and Bassett.    There we had 28 field, 14 hunter, 14 animal target rounds, plus target ranges, American, York, flight, Archery golf on the local golf course just a mile away, park round and instinctive rounds set up.   The park round and Instinctive rounds were used for the indoor shoot of the First Colt/Sahara Archery tourney in Las Vegas at the Sahara hotel, NFAA sponsored events.   Yes, I attended, flew my Comanche out.    I met Howard Hill and Dale Marcy at that event, also met and shot along side, Bill Neve and Lon Stanton.   Lon was a Missouri national champion.

FA::  What brands were popular bows when you first started?

There were a number of solid fiber glass bows around when I first started.   Ply Flex and Pearson had solid fiberglass take down 2 piece models.   Look at the Archery magazine ads in the mid 1950’s and note that not a lot has changed in traditional bow designs from then to the present, except that the take down technology had not progressed back then.

Ben Pearson bows were the most prevalent, mostly because hardware and sporting goods jobbers sold them.   There was also a franchised Ben Pearson line of bows, the top of the target model known as the Palomino, so named because of the blond lamination of handle and light color limbs.   Bear had the Kodiak Special, and Hoyt the Pro Medalist, which was the first to add stabilizers out front. Owen Jeffrey was Earl Hoyt’s bowyer at that time.   Bill Jackson’s Robin Hood Archery Co, in Montclair, New Jersey was the largest Dealer/Distributor of Hoyt bows. And the little lady who was the force driving sales at Robin Hood, International Target Champion, Ann Weber later became Mrs. Earl Hoyt.   I sold a couple Hoyt Medalists, the owners of which both won some State Championships with those bows.   I bought a lot of accessory archery from Robin Hood Archery, really the main distributor of everything not available from Bear or other companies.   Saunders also was up and coming at that time.

Our No. 1 line was Bear.   Bear’s problems with glass, bows replaced under warranty and later discounted and sold as no warranted close outs were a huge plus to my archery business.  Beginners could get better quality bow for less.   Bowhunters with only a hunting bow became customers for a special lighter weight target, field or indoor bow, and archers whose only bow was a longer target model in heavier weights were prime for a close out hunting bow and usually a lighter target model as well.   I always made my own guarantee on these Bear closeouts, would replace if any failed except cases of abuse and improper stringing use.   I never had to replace any and sold several hundred of them.

When our club was hosting the NFAA first Midwestern tournament, Bob Rhode was one of the top archers in the country, check his book on Archery Champions.   Bob lived in Minneapolis and was the area Sales rep for Ben Pearson franchised line.   I called him to urge him to come to the Midwestern field championship tourney.   He replied to me that it would be difficult to justify on his expense account because he had no dealerships in north central or western Nebraska.   So I replied,” OK, Bob, how many bows do I hafta buy to get you here” and that was how I also got a Ben Pearson Franchise to add to the Bear line.

Clarence, Irma, and Don Love made Fleetwood Bows in Denver. Fleetwood Archery Co also made fiber glass arrows.   As I recall, a fellow who had been with Shakespeare Archery, Whitey Gillespie (I think it was) bought out Fleetwood in the mid 60’s.   I still have a Fleetwood Archery Golf set; probably will offer it to National Museum if they want it there.  Stemmler Archery was a major supplier of archery kits to wholesale hardware companies.  York bows were made in a suburb of Kansas City and quite popular in the Midwest.  York was a Cornhusker bowstring customer so I tried shooting a wood riser York compound with a sight installed on an ’84 caribou hunt.

My only attempt ever at shooting with a sight, and I underestimated the range on a pair of bedded bulls I had crawled on for an hour and the larger of which could have challenged Carol’s world record taken just a couple hours before.   Arrow went just over his back.   I removed the sight within the hour.    Norm Taylor of Stemmler Archery was on the AMO board when I was elected president in 1985 and he just closed down the company when he decided to retire.    Browning bows came on the scene around 1962.    I gave my brother’s son, Mark, his first bow, a Browning Apache 48″ model, 10# draw weight.   He still has it.  The 48″ Little Bear bow came into being after Mark was urged to show his bow to Fred when we were dining at my brothers home one evening during Fred’s first Nebraska hunt.   At age 6, Mark was embarrassed that his bow was not a Bear Bow.

Dick-Mauch-Archery-Salesman-600

Polaroid color shot taken in 1967 by Don Love, Denver Archery Center titled “How a good Bear Rep called on his dealer”. Not a posed picture, Don captured it as I was entering the front door.

For a less expensive line we sold a few United States Archery Co recurve bows.  Their Rep distributor was Paul Wills at DesMoines, Iowa.   They were good looking bows, around 25% lower priced, but really stacked in comparison to the top known brands.

Larry Layer had American Archery Co in Clarindon Hills, Ill and he made very nice bows, quite a few showed up in our state as well.  Jack Joseph had an American Top line target bow.    Damon Howatt, Wilson Brothers Black Widow, and, Bob Lee’s Wing bow line were also front run competition for Bear.     Ernie Root came on about that era, too and was; I think the first to produce a metal riser bow, removable limb model.    As I recall, Bob Bitner shot a Root bow in Las Vegas, first or second to score a perfect 300 round and won the first big cash prize.   My memory could be fuzzy on some of these details and I didn’t take time to research my files and look this up for accuracy.   Old Archery magazine issues 1958 – 66 carry the ads of the production bows of the era I was retailing archery equipment.

MORE COMING IN PART #2…