Jun 22, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
It’s turned into a tradition. One week each summer my family rendezvouses in northern Wisconsin somewhere for eating, fishing and family-togetherness. It’s a small group – no more than six if everyone makes it – but there are diverse interests. Not all are diehard anglers. So we compromise. Some days we fish and on others we do activities the non-fishermen select.
All of that is in explanation of how I ended up at a big flea market at the Shawano County Fairgrounds last weekend. It’s probably been a decade or more since I’d last been to this kind of sale.
Going to a flea market “Up North” isn’t without appeal to someone of an outdoors bent. There’s certainly a lot to look at like tons of old, and not so old tackle. By the nature of flea markets you can’t count on what you’ll find on any given weekend, but from what I saw you could do pretty well supplying your tackle box with baits of all kinds that are the most up to date models – maybe just in last years colors.
For hunters/collectors, there was lots of taxidermy, too. As you might expect in northern Wisconsin, there were many whitetail antlers and mounts, but I also saw a full-mount javelina, a raccoon, a fisher, some muskrats and a selection of jack-e-lopes.
What surprised me, but probably shouldn’t have, was the number of old compound bows at the flea market. These, too, covered quite a range of age, brand and style. Some look almost industrial in design. The wheels are tiny by todays standards, and they sure used enough of them! I saw bows with two, four and even six pullies. There was an amazing array of colors, too, including metal flake orange and copper finishes. They put me in mind of my first bow – a PSE, the exact model long forgotten. I bought it 30-plus years ago off of a guy at school who needed cash. I kept it for a good 10 years then sold it when I needed cash.
What I remember most were the arrows and how different they were from today’s standard set up. They were Easton Autumn XX75s. Burnt orange in color they looked like logs compared to the skinny carbon arrows we shoot today.
Seeing the range of old bows at the flea market, it made me wonder, “Where do old bows go?” And what are they used for today?
Unlike firearms, bow technology has changed so drastically during the last 25 years, the compound bows of the 70s and 80s seem unusable today. Certainly you couldn’t get parts for one anywhere but … a flea market! Traditional archery (recurves and long bows) has its following, but I sure don’t hear anyone talking about a passion for hunting with old compounds like the Bear or Jennings or PSEs or Martins.
So besides the Shawano, Wisconsin flea market, where do old compound bows go? What’s in your closet or garage attic? Or have I missed out on a new fad in hunting with old compounds? We’d love to hear, so please leave a comment… or two!
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