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home : sports : sports May 2, 2016

7/8/2014 12:22:00 PM
Traditional gather for Hoodoo shoot
77-year-old Jerry Stout of Vale draws on a target at a traditional archery safari at Hoodoo on Saturday. photo by Charlie Kanzig
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77-year-old Jerry Stout of Vale draws on a target at a traditional archery safari at Hoodoo on Saturday. photo by Charlie Kanzig

Beyond the pickups, camp trailers and tents spread across the vast parking lot at Hoodoo Mountain Resort, men and women in groups of four or five, all carrying traditional longbows, walked along from station to station, stopping to take one shot each at lions, leopards and hippos hidden among the pines, rocks and underbrush of the Nordic ski trail.

The animals were stock still, made of heavy-duty styrofoam, but an atmosphere of a safari prevailed nonetheless.

Saturday, July 5, was day one of the two-day North American Longbow Safari, and found nearly 300 archers from across the western U.S. and Canada testing their skills shooting wooden arrows tipped with broadheads, using handcrafted longbows, which are works of art as well as weapons, in the 32nd annual edition of this event.

Archers went through the "red" course that included African mammals on one day and did the "blue" course of North American animals the other.

Not even 77-year-old Jerry Stout of Vale, considered one of the patriarchs of the gathering, was immune from some of the good-natured barbs tossed around among the members of his five-person group as they hiked from station to station.

"There's a liar in every group," said Kenny, from Yreka, California, giving a nod toward Stout.

Stout, a maker of longbows himself, took the ribbing good-naturedly, exhibiting the spirit of the event, which is more about camaraderie than competition.

In reality, Stout is well- known for his archery skills in taking down mule deer bucks with his bow, as well as for his record in archery competitions over the years. He finally got riled up enough mid-way through Saturday's shoot to show that he still has a good eye and a steady hand. After one of his group members shot a leopard squarely in the kill zone, Jerry said, "Watch this," and proceeded to put his own arrow so close to the previous shot of his companion that it clipped some feathers from the fletching.

Nancy Doran, one of the organizers of the event from the Traditional Archers of Central Oregon (TACO), emphasized that the weekend is designed to bring people together with a common passion for longbows.

"People come from all over the western United States and Canada to join together for this weekend," she said. "We have 297 registered archers and many brought other family members, so we probably have over 500 people staying up here at Hoodoo."

The safari sessions give participants ample time to get to know one another, according to Doran.

"People are placed into groups of about five, mostly at random, along with a guide, so as they walk through the stations they get to know one another during the two or three hours they spend together," she said.

Doran expressed gratitude to the management of Hoodoo, who she described as being "very accommodating" in making the site work for all the different activities and vendors.

In addition to the safari, archers got to test their skills in three competitions, the "running deer" and the "bow birds" contests, as well as a long-range shot (over 100 yards) at a bull moose placed on the hillside below one of Hoodoo's chairlifts. 

The running deer event featured a full-sized doe target attached to a cable that zipped across a forty-foot- wide area while archers attempted to earn points by putting arrows into the moving target.

Jim Akenson of Enterprise and president of the Professional Bowhunters Association felt good about hitting the doe three times in five attempts and said he enjoyed the get-together thoroughly.

"It's always good to see people gathered to honor the romance of the longbow," he said. "There is a simplicity and beauty of this sport that can be shared among different generations."

The bow birds event resembles skeet-shooting, as circular targets are tossed into the air for archers to shoot. One of the youngest contestants, a mere teenager, ended up five-forfive to win the event.

Archers of all ages attended the event, and some had attended every year since its inception in the early '80s. Doran's husband, Dave, who operates a traditional bow business in Bend, missed just the inaugural Safari, tallying 31 consecutive years.

Next year's Safari is scheduled to take place somewhere in Canada, but final details have not yet been determined.

Saturday evening featured a catered barbeque along with music provided by Pitchfork Revolution, a Central Oregon bluegrass band. One young attendee described the music as "bodacious," which may also describe how people felt about the entire weekend.

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