Elginís Doug Winkelman reflects on evolution of archery in Oregon

April 20, 2012 09:15 am

FRED BEAR BOWS: Dr. Doug Winkelman holds his Bear Cub and Bear Kodiac Special bow. On the table is a bow he made, a spine tester and two arrows with hand-crafted broad heads.
FRED BEAR BOWS: Dr. Doug Winkelman holds his Bear Cub and Bear Kodiac Special bow. On the table is a bow he made, a spine tester and two arrows with hand-crafted broad heads.

One outdoors man, Dr. Doug Winkelman of Elgin, was introduced to the “sport of kings” in 1949, and he still marvels at how far archery has developed in Oregon over the past sixty years.

“I was one of the first people in Oregon to be a part of this (archery) movement,” said Winkelman. “I grew up at Klamath Falls, and as a boy, I truly enjoyed the outdoor life. At 73 years of age, I still do.”

In the 1940s, archery equipment was not easily acquired. 

“You could not just go down to the local sporting goods store and get your arrows or other equipment. You had to make them yourself,” Winkelman said.

Becoming proficient at making arrows took the right techniques and tools.

“To make our own arrows,” said Winkelman, “we would have to get turkey feathers. My friend and I boiled them clean, split them by hand and dyed them for color. We took toy train transformers and nichrome wire and made feather burners to shape our feathers on the arrows. We also made special equipment to paint the crests on our arrows.”

Winkelman built his own spine tester to test the stiffness of an arrow shaft. The shafts were made of cedar that he acquired at a lumber yard. Then he glued the feathers on the shafts by hand with Duco glue.

“There weren’t any machines in those early years to do this job,” he said. “We used the thread-string method. You hold the front of the feather with the finger nail on your thumb and wrap a thread around the front end of the feather. You next wind the thread around the shaft through the feather. We aligned the feather with a slight angle on the shaft with our fingers. All the feathers had to be exactly equal distance apart on the shaft and the angle on all three had to be exactly the same.”

In the early 1950s, Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge was opened for archery hunting. Winkelman, his father and his friend hunted there in its second year through 1957 and again in the late 1960s. Hunters were required to have their bows tested for weight and arrows weighed before they were allowed to go to the camp site.

“When we first went to Hart Mountain, we had to make our own arrow hunting broad heads,” he said. “My father was a tool and die maker. He made the first arrow heads we used out of old hand saw blades. He cut them to shape. After making the first broad heads by hand, my dad made a dye to stamp out the broad head for us.”

Using the Howard Hill design, one inch wide and three inches long, these blades were then sharpened and glued into a flat notch in the end of the arrow shaft, Winkelman said.

“These heads were very effective,” he said. “One of the largest elk taken by bow and arrow in the State of Oregon was taken by Don Rajnus of Malin, Ore., in the 1950s, using an arrow head made by my father.”

Another design for heads was introduced to Winkelman by a friend at Hart Mountain. He was from the Oregon Coast and had made his out of plate glass.

“He taught me how to make these using tools much like the Indians used to make their arrow heads, flaking off chips of glass to create the sharp edges,” said Winkelman. “Unfortunately, you could usually only shoot an arrow with one of these heads just once, as they would break. Learning how to make arrow heads like the Indians did gave me a real appreciation of what the Indians did to provide their families with food.”

Winkelman’s first bow was a lemon wood bow, then he bought a maple wood fiberglass laminated bow built by the Fred Bear Archery Company called a “Bear Cub.” He next purchased Fred Bear’s second “Kodiac Special” to hit the West Coast. It was a 52- pound, recurve bow that he bought for $72 in 1956.

“In the course of twenty-five years, I shot seven deer with that bow before it was accidentally broken by one of my sons,” he said. “I just couldn’t throw it away. I’ve kept it as a reminder of those wonderful years. It’s like an old friend.”

As a young man, Winkelman and his friend practiced shooting from just about every conceivable position.

“We stood with one foot on top of a fence post and shot several arrows as fast as we could at a target,” he said. “We rolled tires down a hill and shot at a target in the center of the tire. We hung from trees by our knees and shot upside down at targets up to 80 yards away. Sometimes we shot while laying on our back or stomach.”

Winkelman enjoyed the challenge of shooting at moving targets, so he helped build one of the first roving archery ranges in the State of Oregon, located at the Moore Park in Klamath Falls.

“These ranges later became very popular,” he said. “I personally built three 14 target roving ranges and assisted in (building) four others. I also built moving targets using bicycle wheels and frames. We all had a great deal of enjoyment shooting at these moving targets.”

Throughout his archery hunting years, Winkelman has learned to respect nature and thinks of himself as an advocate for the people’s right to enjoy the sport of hunting.

“In the early years, we could not have imagined how far archery and archery hunting would come in such a short time,” said Winkelman. “It is wonderful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the beginning of the use of modern archery as a sport in Oregon.”