Interview: Dick Mauch, Bowhunting & Archery Pioneer, Pt #3

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Straight Talk – Dick Mauch Interview, Pt 3, By Frank Addington, Jr.

Frank Addington Jr.:  Who shared hunting camps with you and Fred Bear in the Early Days?

Dick Mauch: Africa and B.C. hunts have been covered.   In that November 1964 Hunt that I hosted here in Bassett, hunting guests were Mike Steger, Bob Munger, Bob Kelly, Ed Bilderbach, Dr. Judd Grindell, and Fred.   Local bowhunting friends, ranch folks, helped to guide and hunted with us.    Joe Leonard, Dick Sangar, Dennis Arrowsmith, and Ed Hall filled in to help me.

Frank Addington Jr. and Dick Mauch.
Frank Addington Jr. and Dick Mauch.

Winston and Murray Burnham from Marble Falls, Texas came to hunt with Fred and Me.   Gene Hornbeck working a Nebraskaland article was also following us around.   Mrs. Bear came with Fred for the last week of the 1963 archery deer season.  The Bears stayed with me and Henrietta taught me how to make candied orange peels, which were a favorite of Fred’s when made from big naval oranges.   The Bears had been in California for the opening of West Coast Engineering Indoor lanes prior to visiting me.  They traveled on the Union Pacific Challenger and brought the oranges with them.   I met the train at North Platte.   Mrs. Bear did not like to fly; hence the travel was by train.
Fred endured some miserable cold on that hunt and did not get an opportunity for a decent shot on the big whitetail we had targeted.

We welcomed in the new year and on Jan 2, 1964, I loaded Mrs. Henrietta Bear into the left rear seat of my Comanche, behind me so Fred could have more leg room in the front Right  and I gave the apprehensive Mrs. Bear her first ride in a small single engine airplane, non stop to Denver.   We had one of those great mornings, clear air, visibility unlimited and no bumps along the way.  My log book says time en route from Ainsworth Airport to Stapleton 2 hrs. 12 minutes.

In Denver, we visited the new West Coast Engineering 24 lane indoor Archery complex in Alameda Shopping center.    There was also an indoor small clay target trap range, which was shot with 22-rifle bird shot cartridges.    Gene Jones, My former Bear Rep was co managing the facility with Hal Carmichael who had an archery shop off West Colfax in Denver.     I left Fred and “Hank”:with their foster son, Mike Steger and his family at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs where Mike was teaching.   We traveled that leg by Hertz rental and I flew back to Nebr on Jan 4th1964.

My logbooks shows that I picked up Bob Munger and Jerry Anderson in Omaha on Jan 16th for a go at Nebraska Pheasants.   Jerry Anderson had a cottage next door to Mungers on Duffeys Point on Gunn Lake, near Hastings, Michigan.   Munger tried to beat a wounded coyote into submission with his shotgun, hence he gained the new nickname of “Bent Barrel”   Story details in his book, I could embellish them more.

Others who hunted here with Fred, were Knickerbockers son in law, Gordon Ford; Dr. David Strider, a Charlottesville, Va., orthopedic Surgeon who Knick and I got started into bowhunting.  Bob Kelly, Dick Lattimer, Bob Munger, and Judd Grindell.   All were more than one time guests.   All these except Dick Lattimer are deceased.   I have not heard from the Burnham Brothers in over 30 years, so I do not know if they are still living.   I keep e-mail contact with Mike & Barbara Steger and look forward to a reunion with them again at 2009 Pope & Young Gathering at Denver.

Dick Turpin was a local bowhunter who shared hunts, (now most famous with his Turpin Tips, a mentoring Neb. Game & Parks original program of many things I taught him for which he never gives me any credit.   Other Nebraska & Local friends who shared a Turkey hunt with Fred were Kay Davis, Dr. Gene Snyder , Dennis Arrowsmith, & Ed Hall.    Kay Davis passed away last year from Cancer.   Dr. Gene Snyder has ranching interests and Dental Practice at Rushville, Nebr.; Dennis Arrowsmith lives near Fremont, Nebr. It is now believed that he suffered a bite from a Brown Recluse Spider.  This caused serious mobility problems and he hasn’t bowhunted of recent years.    These 5 friends all shared toasting & congratulations on the “Surprise 80th Birthday” Carol sprung on me 2 Octobers past.

Frank Addington Jr.:  What method did you use to shoot?

Dick Mauch: I have always shot right hand bows, off the shelf.    I modify the grip so that my arrows are almost touching my knuckle.     I often kant the bow when I shoot because this was my first shooting style with my early attempts using an off the knuckle long bow.   I have never used a release device and prefer 3-finger glove to a tab.  I do not use sights and I just try to concentrate on my target.    Early on, we used Bear Carpet rests with leather side plates. But when compounds came along, I had difficulty using metal riser handles.  My first compound bow was a Bear Polar.   Then Glenn sent me St. Charles Buckskin, a wood riser bow, with advice from Glenn to whittle the handle, as I needed and to shoot off a sheepskin rest with sheepskin forming the side plate really solved it for me.   I prefer 4 feathers fletching, but can still shoot plastic vanes off this arrangement if necessary.

Bill Stewart came up with the first wood riser very short overall length 34″ cam compound and turned the prototype over to me at Las Vegas AMO meeting/ Tropicana tournament (back when? 1986?)    It has Wood Laminated Limbs and my wife Carol shoots an identical model in left hand.

We also both have wood riser Brown Bear Compounds and St. Charles Buckskin Compounds in earlier model 35% and 50% let-off bows.   I have adapted the 8 arrow Bear Bow quivers to the short Stewart bows to enable us to shoot sitting on the ground and our 29″ draw hunting arrows do not extend beyond the cams of our bows.

In 1984 prior to 2nd Quebec Caribou hunt, I set up a York wood handle compound bow with a sight.   Big mistake for me.   After the best crawling stalk I ever made on 2 humongous caribou bulls, with the smaller (only around a 350 PY size) standing broadside between me and the bull with the monster rack, I misjudged the distance and put my arrow just over the back of the bigun.    All hunting is full of ‘shouldadone’ regrets.   What I ‘shouldadone’ was plugged the big bull which was standing between me and P&Y top 2%er first, then shot the big one.    I got a second shot at Mr big when they moved out to about 45 or 50 yards.   Ignored the damned sight, both bulls broadside, the smaller just a bit downhill and rearward of the giant.  On the release, the lower bull jumped the string, and the lesser caribou intercepted the arrow at the base of his antlers as it was flying perfectly toward the rib cage of the big bull.   It appeared he had an extra shovel spike as they disappeared over the tundra.   I removed and pitched the sight within the next immediate hour.

It is interesting to me to observe the recent popularity of the new short compound hunting bows.    Bill Stewart (and I) were well ahead of this game.

Frank Addington Jr.:  Do you Still Shoot?

Dick Mauch: I have had accidents, which required shoulder surgeries on both shoulders.   The first on the right shoulder was needed after being swiped off a limb when preparing a tree stand.   I will relate the details in hope than another bow hunter might read this and not make the same stupid blunder that I once did.   I was standing on a limb about 6 feet above ground and using a chain saw to cut away a large limb at my eye level.    When I cut it, I did not make a cut on the underside first, but sawed top down.   The out end of the green pine limb went down to touch the ground with the limb still attached to the trunk of the tree.   I stupidly cut the holding strip and the limb, free of the tree, out end resting on the ground, came right back into my face.   I knew I was going off, managed to shut off the saw and heaved it forward and I landed on my right side, had braced my fall with my arm and elbow, and jammed the shoulder rotary cuff.   The fall had been in October, but with bowhunting friends, Jay, Glenn, and Margaret St. Charles coming from Seattle and Christian and Gabrielle Forquet coming from Paris, France, I postponed surgery until after a scheduled January pheasant/quail hunt with Mike Hayden in Kansas.

By the following November, I had just started to shoot my bow again when. I was run over & stepped on by a couple bulls I had improperly loaded into my 16′ cattle trailer.  My guardian Angel must have directed the bull to land on my shoulder and not my neck or spine, else? However that little rodeo got my left shoulder rotor and more serious patching surgery.  Recovery was slow with 3 months left arm tied immobile and then 6 weeks of visits to therapy for ‘grit yer teeth stretching’.    I can pull the bowstring ok with my left hand, thus, my bowhunting now is best done shooting left hand with minimum legal weight bows at turkey and small game only.    I can still shoot my old 41# recurve, but might not always reach full draw.

Frank Addington Jr.:   I understand your cabin has a famous shower curtain.  Can you explain that?

Dick Mauch: Yes, and it’s not a shower curtain, but several privacy curtains, each made from blue denim and hems and eyelets for hanging sewed by Carol.     I designed the cabin around 1979 or 80 around a plan to build the walls from spruce logs sawed square on 3 sides to 8″x8″x8″. to be obtained from Hall’s House Log company at Walden, Colorado.   The Walden area had been infected with the spruce beetle blight, which killed the trees and left them standing, but salvageable for construction logs or lumber.  I had seen some of these logs incorporated into the walls for a new home built by Tom Dearmont at their ranch.  (Of interest for Fred Bear family history, it was with Dearmont ranch that I had arranged a summer job for Chris Kroll in the summer of 1964, but that’s not part of this story.)

Nebraska Bowhunters, Craig L. Schoneberg (membership chairman Neb Bhntrs Assn), Joel Klammer, Bowhunter education Chairman, and Kyle Klammer, my assistant forrester, fencer, summer help. The Spirit of Fred Bear at Plum Creek remains alive.

I drew my plans up on my drafting table, ?” scale to foot, floor plan, side elevations, and details and included some timbers and dimension materials, rough boards and moldings and made up a material list.    I had talked with Mr. Hall during the planning and delivered him a copy of my blueprints and material list order, passing through Walden en route to the annual September AMO meeting at Lake Mancos ranch. I liked the lumber because it was naturally dried standing and rough sawed in appearance.

My cabin has sleeping quarters, 2 bunk beds each side of the John and shower along the north wall, with a 3rd bedroom area optional use.   I have harnessed a spring up-canyon of the cabin so we have a constant supply of fresh running water.   A flush toilet with a backup camo painted outhouse for the necessaries. The large denim “Privacy curtains” idea was borrowed from the old Railroad Pullman sleeping car days and are hung on a horizontal rod with regular shower curtain hooks.   The cabin wiring was supervised by Dr. Gene Snyder and requires a gasoline generator if electric appliances or lights are needed.   Propane fueled Humphrey Gas Lights. Propane refrigerator and stove are run by 24 gal bottles, which we refill, and haul.

When we hunted Mozambique, clients to record their having hunted in the concession, had inscribed the walls of the main lodge area of Safarilandia.   Read Fred Bear’s field notes or Bob Mungers accounts on some of these sketches made, etc.   I borrowed on the idea to use my curtains since I didn’t have suitable walls to write on.

I gathered an assortment of permanent ink marking pens, made them available to guests who had overnighted in these bunk ‘suites’ and directed they sign in and decorate the curtains to create a guest hunters diary.   Time goes by so swiftly and already for so many recorded there, “Death, the collector,” has made the inevitable call.

The first guests to sign in were Dick Lattimer, Glenn St. Charles, and Fred Bear on a May 1982 spring Turkey hunt.   Glenn had occupied the East Side Lower with Lattimer in the bunk above and Fred had the center bunk room, so acquired the names of the Glenn St. Charles and Fred Bear Suites. There is an early color picture of the cabin  at that time in the St. Charles book, Bows on the Little Delta.    The Jon Farrar Nebraskaland feature article “Fred Bear Hunts Nebraska”, Dec 2006, page 20 has a picture of the portion of a curtain, which Fred signed and recorded his May and Oct 1982 hunts with us.

CONTINUED In Part #4 …

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