Skip to main content

40 Years

It's been 40 years since I went to Africa; I was 31 and working for Ben Pearson...

It's been 40 years since I went to Africa; I was 31 and working for Ben Pearson Archery in charge of advertising and sales promotion. Back then, many of you, if not most, were still chowing down on pabulum and strained spinach.

Forty years ago, there were really only two compound bow manufacturers, Hollis Allen and Tom Jennings. Hollis was the inventor/originator, and Jennings was the guy who really recognized the potential and took off with it. Many others followed in a relatively short period of time, but by then Jennings had his foot firmly in the door. For years, his company was king.


Back then, hardly anyone was shooting a compound; recurves were still the bow of choice. I packed a Pearson Marauder, a takedown that pulled 65 pounds and shot Easton 2020 shafts. For the really big stuff I might encounter on the Dark Continent, I made a bow of 80 pounds with some extra-heavy shafts Jim Easton made for me that shot pretty much like lobbing a brick from a slingshot. But they hit like a cannonball! Back then, suitable arrow weights for hunting were roughly calculated at 100 gains for every 10 pounds of draw weight. Hence, there was little if any talk of kinetic energy, and bow speeds were considerably less than 200 fps. My Marauder, considered pretty quick at the time, whipped them out at a whopping 179 fps.


Forty years ago, I thought I was a pretty salty bowhunter. After all, I had about a dozen species under my belt, no honest recollection of how many deer, and now I was heading for Africa to make some bowhunting movies. I knew next to nothing about the land, its people and or most of the animals I was likely to meet. I knew a bunch of them were deer sized or smaller, some nearly elk sized to larger and of course some that resembled a Volkswagen in both size and consistency. I went to the zoo many times to study the critters I wanted. I talked to several acquaintances who had been there to gun hunt. Most of them told me I was nuts! That did nothing but make me mad, and I read up on the country and its beasts. The best information I got was from Fred Bear, who had been there and hunted with the same outfitters I had booked with. And Rui Quadros, my PH, filled me in as best he could, but Rui was in Africa and I was in Los Angeles.

Rui had been to my home a few times and provided a great deal of information. But there are always new questions that arise, especially when planning a trip to the other side of the world. I guess I've always been a worrywart when it comes to my hunting trips.


I was confident in my equipment, but the broadheads were my biggest concern. I was really interested in razor insert heads. Along those lines, we had been working on some designs and finally came up with one that seemed feasible. So, R&D made up a couple dozen for me to take along. These were nothing like the heads we have today, but considering the era and manufacturing costs, they were more than sufficient.


Anyhow, off we went -- Los Angeles, New York City, Lisbon, Angola, then Mozambique. It seemed like it took a week, but finally we met Rui and all was well.

The bowhunting was wonderful -- all spot and stalk. We couldn't hunt waterholes, but that was OK. I had plenty of action, missed some, hit some and even shot a few of those super-heavy shafts into a buffalo that did resemble a Volkswagen!

Yep, that was 40 years ago, and a lot has changed in Africa (and the whole world, for that matter), not much of it for the better. In Africa, you can now hunt waterholes, and there are permanent ground blinds big enough to hold a family reunion, some even adjacent to food plots. The world now is full of better broadheads, bows that shoot faster than 300 fps, laser rangefinders, release aids, ad infinitum.

When folks ask me today when I'm going back to Africa, my answer is a very firm NEVER! I think everyone who dreams about going should go. But I loved Africa as it was 40 years ago, and I'm content with my memories. Besides, I'm not fast enough to get out of the way of charging buffalo anymore!

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Center Shots: How to Improve Your Bow Tuning

Center Shots: How to Improve Your Bow Tuning

Field editor Bill Winke goes over steps you can take to improve the tuning on your bow.

Ravin Broadheads – 3 New Mechanicals

Ravin Broadheads – 3 New Mechanicals

Designed exclusively for their crossbows, Ravin has announced three new mechanical broadheads to maximize penetration and overall performance.

First Look: Mathews Vertix Bow

First Look: Mathews Vertix Bow

"Petersen's Bowhunting" editor Christian Berg and Mathews design engineer Mark Hayes talk the smooth, quiet and fast shooting qualities of the new flagship Vertix bow from the Wisconsin bowmaker.

Ravin R29X Crossbow – New for 2020

Ravin R29X Crossbow – New for 2020

The new Ravin R29X Crossbow includes everything you need for blistering speed (450 FPS!) and deadly downrange accuracy (3-inch group at 100 yards).

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Follow this step-by-step process to quickly field dress your deer for the best possible venison.How to Field Dress & Quarter a Deer How-To

How to Field Dress & Quarter a Deer

Mike Stroff

Follow this step-by-step process to quickly field dress your deer for the best possible...

ATA 2020: The new flagship bows are here, and it's an impressive crop! New Bows for 2020 ATA Show

New Bows for 2020

Tony J. Peterson - January 09, 2020

ATA 2020: The new flagship bows are here, and it's an impressive crop!

These boots are Field Tested: Danner Vital Snake Boots Apparel

Field Tested: Danner Vital Snake Boots

Taylor Pardue - July 13, 2020

These boots are "better safe than sorry" at its best.

These are the archery shots you should and shouldn't take on whitetails. Where to Shoot a Deer: Bowhunting Shot Placement How-To

Where to Shoot a Deer: Bowhunting Shot Placement

Christian Berg

These are the archery shots you should and shouldn't take on whitetails.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Following a look into the changing face of bowhunting, we hosted a live roundtable event with someTop Women Bowhunters Tackle Tough Topics Stories

Top Women Bowhunters Tackle Tough Topics

Emily Kantner - July 11, 2017

Following a look into the changing face of bowhunting, we hosted a live roundtable event with...

With the news of Mel Johnson's passing at the age of 84, there's little doubt that the legacy ofDespite His Passing, Mel Johnson Casts Large Shadow Over Bowhunting World Stories

Despite His Passing, Mel Johnson Casts Large Shadow Over Bowhunting World

Lynn Burkhead - May 31, 2018

With the news of Mel Johnson's passing at the age of 84, there's little doubt that the legacy...

Each season brings a new crop of high-performance bows, crossbows, new accessories and new — andThe Pros Explain How to Master the Mental Game Stories

The Pros Explain How to Master the Mental Game

Mark Taylor - September 08, 2016

Each season brings a new crop of high-performance bows, crossbows, new accessories and new ...

There's always that one special bowhunter we all looked up to as a kid, whether it was a familyBows in the Movies: Our Favorite Archery Characters Stories

Bows in the Movies: Our Favorite Archery Characters

Bowhunting Online Staff - August 09, 2013

There's always that one special bowhunter we all looked up to as a kid, whether it was a family

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Bowhunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Bowhunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now