For the little amount of literature that exists in the realm of traditional bowhunting, we are fortunate enough to have quite a few gems. Bows on the Little Delta by Glenn St. Charles is certainly one of them. My friend Steve from Simply Traditional used to rave about it and gifted me a signed copy when I expressed interest in purchasing it. I enjoyed it immensely and it is now one of the few bowhunting bucks I treasure. Glenn had done it all and knew exactly how to tell you about it, which is an admirable quality in an author. Today’s literary landscape, in regards to hunting, is loaded with the obligatory “I went t0 _____ and shot this _____ with_____” and usually misses the heart of the matter. Glenn never misses that mark.
My favorite aspect of his writing was his honest recollections and obvious fondness for his friends. You learn about Fred Bear and their jovial, competitive relationship. You learn about Ed Bilderback and how much Glenn admired him. He doesn’t have to get mushy and tell you about it, you just know. These were his people or “cronies” as he liked to call them. Every hunter has them, Glenn’s just happened to be the trailblazers of traditional archery as we know it.
Glenn’s writing is a literary time machine, taking us back through 80 years of archery history to a bygone era where simplicity and adventure reigned and money and time didn’t seem to be an obstacle. Even now, in 2014, everything chronicled in this book seems new and exciting. There were parts where I could actually see the future of bowhunting developing through Glenn’s eyes.
My favorite part of the book is the bonus material in the back, which is a collection of color photography from Glenn’s personal scrapbook. One of them is a somewhat blurry photo of (a much younger) Glenn in the mountains clad head-t0-boots in plaid-patterned wool and drawing a yew longbow. The caption on the photo reads:
“When men looked and smelled like men.”
The image and caption made quite the impression on me. It made me question the current state of the bowhunting industry; how far we’ve come and how overboard we’ve gone in particular. I won’t pretend to claim Glenn was anti-advancement. He shot a modified compound for a period of time and had several friends who moved to the new weapon. He also mentions Fred’s camouflage clothing once or twice and they were always field testing new bows, arrows, and broadheads, but there was one instance in the book that jumped out at me regarding the leap. Something Glenn mentions about Fred and the invention of the compound bow. He recalls Fred’s thoughts about the new contraption and mentions that, while he could shoot a modified version he felt he was too old to make that kind of change. He’d been doing it his way for too long and it simply wasn’t for him.
I think Glenn’s point in working this into the book was to subtly demonstrate an archer’s “line in the sand” as it pertains to archery and bowhunting. Challenge is and has always been the core of this sport. Every bowhunter will inevitably determine how they want to hunt and how they don’t at some point in their journey. This is inevitable for any sport where meaning and ideology is so easily applied.
Glenn’s photo and his interaction with Fred about the compound illustrates his stance perfectly. We are men. The point of hunting is not to disguise this fact, but to celebrate it by digging down and outwitting the animal with logic, instinct, and time-tested tactics like keeping still, being patient, moving with stealth, and playing the wind. This is what bowhunting was to Glenn and he illustrates it beautifully in Bows on the Little Delta. It truly is a treasure to be enjoyed by every traditional bowhunter. A must own!