Just a few years ago, with the help of Johnathan Karch from 3Rivers Archery I have had an opportunity and the pleasure of interviewing Fred Eichler for Charc magazine.
He and his wife, Michele, are both personalities with a wide ranging bowhunting culture. Moreover, they are very fine people.
– If you had to present you, what say you ?
Fred Eichler : That I have been an avid bowhunter for 30 years. Bowhunting is not a passion it is my life.
– You have been bowhunting for many years – what keeps you passionate about the sport of archery ?
Fred Eichler : There just really is something magical about watching the flight of an arrow. Whether it is arching toward a target or an animal.
– As you come to the bowhunting ? are you self taught or did you have a mentor ?
Fred Eichler : I have had many mentors in bowhunting, probably some of the most influential would be archery shop owner Jim Widmier and Custom Bowyer Mike Palmer
– You remember you from your the first animal you shot with the bow.
Fred Eichler : Of course ! The first animal I shot with a bow was a bird. The second was a squirrel. The first big game I shot with a bow was a small whitetail buck and I can still remember all of them.
– How did you become a professional bowhunter ?
Fred Eichler : Bowhunting has really been the focus of my life since I first picked up a bow. I started out working in the Archery Shop at Bear Archery as a young man then went on to manage an archery shop. I also worked for Dart International the company that made the computerized target system for bowhunters and I have have been guiding bowhunters for the last 20 years. I would say it was a slow progression to becoming a professional bowhunter.
– You have hunted and taken a lot of animals. What would you consider to be your favorite game animal to bowhunt and why ?
Fred Eichler : They are really all my favorite. So I would say whatever I am hunting is my favorite at that time. If I had to pick out a species I guess I would say sheep because I enjoy hunts that push me both physically and mentally.
– What animal was the hardest to kill and why ?
Fred Eichler : I would have to say all the sheep species in North America. The Desert Sheep, Stone Sheep, Bighorn Sheep and Dall Sheep because of the open terrain and rough country they live in.
– If you were to pick one hunt trip as your most memorable, which one would that be ?
Fred Eichler : Probably the Alaska hunt where I was charged by a Brown Bear, or maybe the leopard hunt in Africa where I was charged by a leopard. Another is the moose hunt in Alaska where our pilot crashed his plane and we were stranded in Alaska. It’s hard to pick just one!
– With all your hunting, have you ever been in a situation where you were in danger or your life was threatened ?
Fred Eichler : Yes Multiple times
– You have a great job – is it as enviable as people may think ?
Fred Eichler : Yes it may not be for everyone as it does entail a lot of time traveling as well as hunting but I love hunting for a living.
– How has bowhunting changed since those years ?
Fred Eichler : Bowhunting Gear and equipment constantly changes. Some are big changes and others are more subtle. But bowhunting itself and the challenge and thrill of getting close to a wild animal never changes.
– When we watching your videos, we realize that you’ve traveled a lot.
Do you think the trip is something needed to form its own opinions ?
Do you have a travel story or a place that have you specifically enriched as a human being ?
Fred Eichler : I like the uniqueness of the species, the people and the terrain I get to experience on all my hunts.
– Do you hunt both modern and traditional archery equipment, why both ?
Fred Eichler : I prefer Traditional Archery (my recurve) but I do enjoy and respect all legal means of hunting. I hunt with a compound to show our viewers two different styles of hunting.
– Sometimes, people say that ego drives the career of professionals bowhunters, not passion for bowhunting. How do you respond to that criticism ?
Fred Eichler : I guess I have never felt a need to explain myself to anyone. I have always been passionate about bowhunting and feel lucky to be able to do it for a living.
– Do you ever wish you can just leave the camera behind and just hunt for yourself ?
Fred Eichler : Sometimes, but I do enjoy the added challenge of videoing a hunt. It makes everything twice as hard.
– You’ve gone on some really expensive hunts. The bowhunting can be a really profitable sport?
Fred Eichler : I have done the majority of my hunts on public land where anybody can hunt. I also trade a lot of hunts out. For example I will take a guy on an elk hunt in Colorado and they will take me on a moose hunt.
– Explain your current equipment setup, Type of bow, etc… ?
Fred Eichler : I mostly shoot a Hoyt Buffalo recurve. It is 54 pounds at my draw.
– Explain your practice regimen. How you prepare for your hunts, physical training etc.
Fred Eichler : I try and shoot everyday. Sometimes that doesn’t work out but that is my goal. I also work out and since I guide a lot in the mountains I am constantly getting a workout.
– Do you ever get buck fever or target panic?
Fred Eichler : Yup, I sometimes get Buck Fever so bad I have had to pass up a shot.
– What are your thoughts on the increased and the rising cost of hunting ?
Fred Eichler : Here in the states there are still a lot of great public land opportunities where people can hunt with no expense or very little. It really depends on the individual and how much they choose to spend.
– A question what i like to ask those people who spend a significant portion of their lives in natural environments : Are you personally committed to environmentally ?
Fred Eichler : Yes, I am an environmentalists. I have found most hunters truly love, respect and want to protect our wildlife and the wild places.
– What do you consider to be the greatest threat to bowhunting ?
Fred Eichler : Loss of habitat and people who don’t understand that bowhunting is an important management tool for wildlife populations.
– What have you learned on you thanks to bowhunting ?
Fred Eichler : A lot about different species of animals as well as geography and different people and cultures as well.
– Who of the other big-name bowhunters do you admire ?
Fred Eichler : Chuck Adams, Dwight Schuh, Ralph and Vicki Cianciarullo, Cameron Hanes to name some of my favorites.
– How would you like to be remembered you ?
Fred Eichler : As a good husband and father and someone who introduced new people to the sport of Archery.
– What hunts do you have planned for this year ?
Fred Eichler : Grizzly, moose, elk, Black Bear, Antelope, whitetail deer, mule deer and turkey.
– Where do you see bowhunting in 2020 ?
Fred Eichler : Hopefully as a growing sport that is used to help manage wildlife populations.
– Thanks you, want you to say a word to the end ?
Fred Eichler : It is not about the size of the animal or it’s antlers or horns, it is about the size of the experience you have while you are outdoors.