At Long Last

The cover of Nick's book "Life and Longbows".

My love of literature began at infancy.

My mother would dispute anyone who dared challenge the statement. According to her, all three of us Viau boys latched on to specific objects around the house without any prompting or explanation. My brother Matt loved hammers and hitting things with them. My brother Isaac loved whatever he could find on the floor and fit into his mouth. And I loved books.

“My Nick always loved his books.” She’d say. “You shook whenever you’d see one and pretended to read them to me the moment you learned to babble.”

That love for reading grew with me. I looked forward to Book Order time and always had a pile on my desk the day they’d arrive. Mom never said “no” to books. She put a premium on them and it stuck with me.

The third grade was my first literary epiphany. I enjoyed everything I read, including youth classics like Charlotte’s Web and Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac MacGee, which is still my favorite youth novel of all time. It was during this time, I discovered outdoor authors Gary Paulson and Jean Craighead George. Their novels Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain, spoke to me in ways no other books had. I grew up in the woods and spent hours exploring, making forts, crafting weapons, and knocking over decaying birch tree stumps. The idea of kids surviving on their own in the wild was everything I’d ever wanted in a story. I was so infatuated with Hatchet, in factthat I saved up the $50 and bought a leather-wrapped Estwing. It hardly left my side for several years.

The seed had been planted and was cultivated in middle/high school through Richard Adam’s Watership Down and Brian Jacques’ Redwall series. While not “outdoorsy” per se, the animals were the main characters, and the storytelling was top notch. I had little issue relating to the characters or the world, in which they lived.

While my appetite was always there, my tastes changed in college. Giants such as Crane, London, Twain, and Hemingway changed the way I looked at literature. Reading it was no longer enough. I needed to participate and believed I could. The next few years were spent on songs and poetry with the occasional short story sprinkled over the top. But I was lacking a consistent topic and an outlet to share my work.

I found the topic when I discovered archery in 2009. The outlet arrived in 2010, when I discovered blogging and created Life and Longbows. Still, the education was far from over. The journey had just begun. My archery immersion led to my re-acquaintance with the outdoors, which led to further writing discoveries. Authors such as MacQuarrie, Ruark, Voelker, and Colonel Tom Kelly changed the way I saw the page. Gordon MacQuarrie, in particular, had a profound effect on me. He showed me the power of relationships, humor, and dialogue and how they could make a good hunting/fishing story a great one.

This changed the game completely. I no longer felt that my outdoor experiences were inadequate in comparison to other hunters. In fact, I realized comparing was silly to begin with. The value of an experience is subjective to the hunter. Some search for solitude chasing moose in Alaska. Others long for the romance of the Dark Continent. And some find satisfaction hunting whitetails in their backyard with a buddy or two. This is where the idea for Life and Longbows manifested.

I wanted to introduce you to a younger me, walk you through my experiences (good and bad) and show you how I got to this point — with as much transparency as possible. I am no expert. I wouldn’t even call myself a “good” bowhunter. But I do love bowhunting and the people I’ve hunted with.

All that being said, I hope you will consider purchasing Life and Longbows and will recommend it to your friends when you are finished. I hope you will enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

You can purchase a signed copy of Life and Longbows here



“When Men Looked and Smelled Like Men”


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.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 10.47.40 AMMy 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!