October 28, 2021
By Curt Wells
I kept hearing the same word. “Did you see the new compounds? My buddy just bought a compound. Do you have one yet?” It was the buzzword of the day.
Then one late fall day in 1980, my brother-in-law, Gary Fischer, killed a buck with a compound. I was happy for him — but wildly jealous. I was a gun hunter, but this compound thing was calling my name. I went to the local newsstand to begin some research, and there she was: The glossy, full-color cover of a magazine called Bowhunter, staring at me — flirting like a gorgeous woman making deliberate, lingering eye contact. It was love at first sight.
I read every word, even the ads, and subscribed immediately. This was a strange, new world, and there was much to learn. And the hunting stories! These bowhunters were getting up close and personal to all kinds of critters. And instead of hunting for a week, they could hunt for months! And that word kept popping up — compound!
I told my wife, Patti, “I’m buying a compound.”
“A what?” she asked.
“A compound bow,” I replied, as if she should somehow know what I was talking about. “I’m going to be a bowhunter.” Neither of us had a clue what seed was about to be sown.
I went to my local sports shop and ordered a Jennings T-Star compound bow. While I waited for it to arrive, I teamed up with the shop manager and we hung posters around town, announcing an organizational meeting to form an archery club, and I didn’t even own a bow yet! That’s how confident I was that I was going to become a bowhunter.
As time passed, I learned and expanded my bowhunting horizons to new places and species of big game. This all happened largely because of Bowhunter Magazine, which was being run by some guy named M.R. James — to me, the ultimate “influencer” of the day. I absorbed the writings of M.R., Dwight Schuh, Larry D. Jones, Chuck Adams, Gene and Barry Wensel, and many others. I learned from them all, but one man was most inspirational to me. I wanted to be like Dwight.
Dwight Schuh is largely responsible for me becoming an outdoor writer. I followed his adventures and immersed myself in the words he wrote, especially when it came to elk hunting. Once I found some success, I embarked on my writing career, and because of a series of life’s unforeseen twists and turns, I had the good fortune to first meet Dwight, then work with him, bowhunt with him, and call him my friend. That’s something I will always be thankful for. I miss him, and I wish he could be here to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. I’m certain Dwight, who passed away on February 5, 2019, is sitting atop a mountain somewhere, looking down on us with that wry smile of his, and whispering, “Good job, guys.”
Those “guys” would include the entire Bowhunter staff. The herd bull is Publisher Jeff Waring, who has been with Bowhunter for 32 years. This all happens because of Jeff. Advertising Sales Manager Jeff Millar has spent 31 years working with our corporate partners and keeping the revenue flowing. Art Director Mark Olszewski has been responsible for the design and “look” of every page of Bowhunter for 23 years. Assistant Editor Brian Fortenbaugh has spent 20 years keeping two Editors, Dwight Schuh and myself, in line and covering our backs when necessary. And Sally Burkey, our Editorial Assistant, is the glue that has held it all together for 14 years. Of course, there are others, like Brittany Kennedy, Drew Pellman, and Jason Henning, and I can’t thank these folks enough for their long-term contributions.
I must also acknowledge two more. At the corporate level is Mike Carney, COO, Publishing & Branded Media, who oversees many publications and television shows for Outdoor Sportsman Group, our parent company. Mike is a Bowhunter guy and has always had our back. And finally, a special thanks to Dr. Dave Samuel. Dave wrote his first Conservation column in Bowhunter’s inaugural issue, October 1971, and is still writing for us today, 50 years later! Incredible!
Undoubtedly, the “influence” of Bowhunter Magazine has reached far and wide over the past 50 years, and the goal is to continue our mission to inspire and promote hunting with a bow and arrow. To be sure, we cannot keep that mission alive without you, the reader. The same goes for our industry partners, who are also a part of the foundation of our success. Without you, we don’t exist. A heartfelt thank you to one and all…and on to the next 50!