Tradgang member profile: Curtis Kellar Nickname ďLittle FeatherĒ Charter member#982 Age 37 Today Height/weight: 5'6" 145#
(TG) Tell us a bit about yourself Curtiss.
(CK) I really liked the interview idea till it got to me. LOL!
Im a little nervous. As you know, I live in south Texas. I was born and raised in the Victoria area. I've pretty much lived here all my life except for a few years when I wondered around out West. A few years after I moved back to Texas I met my wife Debbie. We've been together for 10 years and she's always been beside me no matter what. I have a Stepdaughter and two Grandchildren by her as well. Debbie and I had big dreams when we met. She and I have always wanted a house and land in the country and we were dead set on making it happen. Well it took some years and some serious hard work but we finally bought land with a house, barns, basement, no neighbors, and the works. It's been a real dream come true!!!! Its also nice to have a place to take friends bowhunting. Its not all been a joy ride. I do have a daily thang called a J.O.B (just over broke). Actually I have two jobs. I have a job with a local Municipality and also run my own business on the side. My business is Turf-n-Tree Soloutions. I sometime find some good bow wood with the new business. LOL! Seems like I cant look at a tree without seeing bows in there.
(TG) What got you started bowhuntin?
(CK) Hummm? Bowhunting or do you mean archery? I think I was actually a bowhunter before I started shooting a bow. Its kind of ironic, but I never thought of bows as being for anything else when I was a kid. I thought you hunted with them and that mindset just seemed to follow till the present. Hunting ran deep in my family and it was what I was raised doing. The first real bow I ever saw was in a Best Buy store in Corpus Christi. I think I was maybe 6-7 years old. Oh man, I absolutely begged my Dad for the little kids Bear bow and arrow set. After some persuasion from Mom, I got the bow. The same night we got home with the bow, I shot a frog crossing the back yard. First kill! Man I was hooked and I was gonna shoot the Big 5 for all to see. Well, being the age I was at the time the compound craze started rattling cages, I fell right in. I think I was about 12 when I got my first compound. It was a Sears special in a 35# model. I managed to get shooting pretty good without any sights and later took my first buck. It was a six point, shot at an Olympic distance, by an arrow obviously guided by God. I moved out West in 1986. I took up residence outside of Sedona Arizona. Things were different out west. You had to draw tags and submit for areas to hunt. This was all new to me. I quickly found that an archer had a better chance in some instances than the gun guys so I stuck with the wheel bow a couple of more years out there. When I moved back to Texas the compound thing had just really soured me. You could now replace learned hunting skills with purchased gadgets. Made me sick to see "hunting gear" getting to a Star Wars level. That was when I found my way back to the roots of where my heart is "Traditional Archery". I'm here to stay. The simplicity of it is what makes it all work for me.
(TG) So no heroes?? No role models??
(CK) Yes, I definitely have heroes and role models. Let me expand on a few things before I go into Heroes and such. It may seem funny to most folks but when I decided to go solely Trad, I had no mentors, no heroes, no footsteps to follow. The only guy Id ever heard about was Fred Bear. I remember doing a book report on him when I was about 10 years old. Other than knowing a very little about Mr Bear, I was on my own. Yes, some of the guys at the Archery Pro shop shot Trad on the side but never hunted with the gear. Actually, now looking back, I think the most confused individuals Iíve ever met were those guys who dabbled in trad but only on the shooting range. They always seemed to try and use the same knowledge about arrow chunking machines with trad archery. Never seemed to work for those guys and it really made things harder for me, while I desperately was seeking proper instruction. Iím thinking now that the transformation to Trad was made so much more difficult by listening to guys sitting around the pro-shop, talking tech. Iíve come to realize that most of the talk around the Archery shop is just that, its talk. About 80% of the guys there seemed more interested in talking about technical stuff that equates to nothing more than sing smart. All this went from insult to injury when the Pro-shop owner told me one day that the reason he didnít carry any Trad gear or equipment was because ďyou guys are just too damn pickyĒ. That was the very last time I spent a dime in there. Kinda funny, a few years later and the guy has called me several times wanting to go hunting with me. I really should say yes to promote the sport but his statement really hurt me when I really needed his very limited guidance. Iíve often thought about calling him and explaining how he stunted my progression by his words but then I just realize that it was the very thing that propelled me forward and away from all those confused individuals. Enough on that subject.
At this time in my life I was fumbling around, shooting arrows that didnít fly good and the such. I had no idea that there was anyone left on the planet that shot stickbows or even made them anymore. I was in my mind the Last Moheican. It wasnít a romance thing, it was a difficult time. I had no computer skills whatsoever and had no idea where to gain the knowledge I was seeking. Well, one day I got behind the computer and to my amazemnt I found Jimmy Hoffa so to speak. I have found the lost tribe I was somehow kin to. I found a whole damn world full of a secret archery society. My life lit up as I poured over information, books, videos. Oh my gosh, so much info and all at once. I guess the rest is chapter two of my archery lifestyle. I now try so hard to get guys who are making the transformation to Trad to leave the tech stuff alone. Forget anything youíve ever learned about compounds because it doesnít cross into this perameter. This is a new world full of simplicity, self achievment, and a fufillment never experienced. You just got to let go and let the rest happen. What fun! Its like entering Disney Land after youíve been standing outside the gate for so long.
Heroes? Boy do I ever have Heroes. The really cool thing about my heroes is that they are all still in the skin. My Dad is probably my biggest Hero. He always had time to take me hunting and fishing. Dad was taking me hunting while I was still in diapers. He must have been quite patient. I know he is now proud beyond words ay my achievements. He has expressed how amazing it is that I am able to successfully take game an distances less than 15 yards. That for him is amazing.
Let me say that you guys ( Rob, Terry, the Moderators, and the Gang) are all my heros. You guys have gone out of the way to give guys like me a free place to learn, share, and experience the emotions of being a Traditional Archer, a Family! Im proud to have heros and friends Like Charlie Lamb. He's a guy whos spent a lifetime behind a bow and never even entertained the idea of hunting any other way. I have Heros like Ferrett, John Scifres, and so, so many others who could have hoarded their skills and learned techniques but instead have spent undying dedication and time to teach and promote archery through their websites for guys like me.
Rusty Crain. There is another guy who Iíd like to have as a neighbor when I am having a difficult time bow building. The guy has an enormous amount of knowledge about building wood bows.
Wes Martin. He was there for me every day on the phone while I was destroying my first few attempts at Bowyery. He was always ther to lend support and his knowledge. To him I will be forever grateful. I would not have become a Bowyer without his encouragment. Thanks Wes!
There are several other guys and gals who I really look up to but more so for what they do for the people involved in this sport and not just for the sport itself. Just look around Tradgang. Youíll see them.
(TG) Talk to us a bit about your gear Curtiss. I mean Iíve saw you with game killed with selfbows built by others, selfbows youíve made yourself, as well as custom made Longbows like the T stick.
(CK) Like I just said, simplicity is the key to everything I do archery related. My bows are no different. I like them simple, meat and potatoes, and with nothing to worry about getting scratched. The glass bows I like best are the mild reflex/deflex longbows between 62-64". They seem to fit my shooting style best. Any longer than 64" and I dont seem to shoot to well. I dont care for the little radical hybrid bows either. I feel like if I want to shoot a longbow I'll shoot a longbow and the same for a recurve. The only real exception I have is for a little Thunderstick2 I acquired awhile back in a trade. Its noiser than my longbows but I shoot it real well.
Selfbows are on another level for me all together. Selfbows hold romance/history/ and heritage for me. I dont always reach for a selfbow when I leave on a hunt but when I do, I feel like the hunt is going to be so much more special. When I shoot somthing with a bow I built, it is on a different level.. Selfbowyers here know exactly what Im talking about. I never forget a single detail about a selfbow kill. My friends that have built me bows are always with me as well when I hunt with one of their bows. Selfbows are just special. Oh, all of my hunting bows are between 45-51#. I've had some shoulder problems and have been a little restricted although I've had no problems taking down large game.
(TG) Do you have a preferred arrow material, bow weight? Or broadhead combo?
(CK) Oh, Im a romantic about archery. I love wood! I dont always shoot wood but I think for the most part it is my favorite material. One thing I've noticed in the different arrow materials is the penetration. Im hands down convinced that my Arrow Dynamic carbons are better penetrators than are my beautiful Ash arrows of the same weight. I choose the arrow material for the job at hand. If I know Im hunting a 300# Boar Hog I go with Carbon. If hunting deer I use the wood. Pretty simple. My broadhead of choice for any game animal is a 190 gr Grizzly painted white on the top. I shoot lots of low light conditions and the white somehow helps with my shooting. It also serves as an indicator for which way the arrow should lay. Kind of like an indicator nock does. Arrow weight varies depending on what Im hunting but it generally balances on the edge of diminishing return. I like HEAVY arrows. I shoot 600-650 grains for hunting. The weight not only aids in penetration but quiets the bow and takes any shock out of the shot. Thats important for me shooting with shoulder pain. No shock!
(TG) Whats your favorite animal to hunt Curtiss?
(CK) That really seems like it would be a simple question but it is not. I like to hunt the small critters best I suppose. I think Id drop about anything I was doing if I got a call to go shoot rabbits or javalina. I think javalina are a little more fun just because of the raised danger level. They are also a really fun animal to spot and stalk in the brush. You know, they are the kind of animal you can hunt and giggle at the same time. Fun! The other animal that I have really developed a fondness of hunting is the wild hog. There just isn't anything out there more suited to being bowhunted. They are prolific breeders, we will never run out of pigs, you can hunt them many different ways, no closed season, most any rancher will let you hunt them free, and they are great on the bb-q pit. Deer are always on the list too but in the last few years I have strayed more toward the chase of swine. Its an illness! I am a piggy addict with no 12 step program in sight. Ask my wife. Debbie has been shaken from her bed many nights to help me get pigs out of the woods. I sometime shoot pigs too big for me to handle and having a wife that doesn't whine too much when its time for the dirty work sure is nice. If you saw the last pig I shot you should know that Debbie played a big part in geting that Hogzilla home. She is also my photographer so if Im hunting nights, sheís on call. I really should get pics of her instead of the dead animals sometime. Pajamas in the Barnyard in 30% weather at midnight. LOL! It is quite the sight as I try and pose the animal just right.
(TG) Do you have or prefer a certain method of hunting?
(CK) Yes. I like to hunt at night on the ground. There is a heightened awarness at night that you dont feel any other time. You hear every tree frog, cricket, coyote, etc. It really seals the deal if you are looking to put a little excitment in a hunt. The other cool thing about hunting in the moonlight is that time stands still and your ears do the hunting while your eyes take a siesta. No hunting rush can be compared to being jared back to reality by a hog grunt through the darkness. Get ready, hes coming! Yes, I am a RUSH JUNKY!
I guess I should clarify that I bowhunt hogs, coons, and varmits at night. Other game has regulations about hunting hours.
If you are asking about stands, still hunting, etc, Id have to say I enjoy still hunting the best. Actually, I employ about every legal method available to hunt game as long as its archery related. I feel that the only way to be consistantly successful is to be flexible. You gotta go with what works best at the time. You know, if all you do is stand hunt, the wind is gonna screw you up, or pressere will change animal movment, etc.. Just keep it simple and hunt. Just hunt and keep it simple. Thats it. No need to overthink it. Just go do it.
(TG) Is there one moment that stands out above the others in your hunting afield?? Tell us about it!!
(CK) You mean like the time I had to retrieve a bow shot javalina from a small cave. I found out when I started in that there were two more javalina in there with him.
Maybe the time a wounded Boar hog ran over me and could have killed me?
No, no one thing that stands out. It all stands out! Every little passing thought about hunts, kills, misses, lost animals, friends, fallen comrads, and life. The whole Traditional lifestyle has been the one thing that stands out. The greatest things I see every day is the guys and gals of this site doing things for each other. That stands out! When someone needs a christmas gift and the Gang comes together, that stands out. When our Soldiers need us and they get help. That stands out.When guys start a free site so that like minded people can share their lives in Traditional Archery and they dont charge a dime. That stands out. It just seems like its all about the whole. Kinda cool, hu?
Other than that, I think a lot about the annual hunt me and Charlie started. The Texas Sweat! Boy, you have no idea how many memories a guy like me can take in on a long weekend. I donít see any other archers during the year so its incredibly special to share camp with the story tellers.
(TG) Do you have a favorite haunt, or favorite area to hunt?? Or is there any place you would really just love to hunt?
(CK) I have several places that I hold special. I really like the place I call Sherwood Forrest. Im always a merry man over there. I like it too because it holds some cool memories of hunts shared and kills shared. I think about that when I still hunt Sherwood. I like Texas down south of me for bow hunting too. I've never been anywhere that held so much game. There is just a wide variety of game to shoot and I guess that makes it special.
Arizona was lots of fun to hunt too. The diverse terrain holds lots of challenge. Elk in the White Mountains to javalina in the dessert. Lots of fun.
As far as hunts Id like to do. Id like to kill a bear. Id like to shoot a Moose too. If I could just figure out how to do it where the weather is warm I'll be set. I hate the cold! You have no idea how much I hate the cold!
(TG) If thereís one piece of advice you could give a rookie hunter Curtis.. what would it be??
(CK) Well, the one thing I'd like to give is something I cannot do. If it were possible, I would give every rookie is the ability to believe in his or hers abilities. You gotta believe in yourself. Never give up!!!This is not an easy sport and it has some serious emotional effects. You gotta start off knowing you have the ability to succeed. If you believe in yourself you will succeed! Donít rush it either. The kills will come. Give the whole experience time. If it takes you 5 years to make a kill then the kill is that more special. Count your blessings if you are in the woods. You have been given the gift to be in Gods Creation so relish the time you spend there. Donít rush it.
I also think people should know that there is more to being "good" to take game. It's all about spending hours upon hours of time where game lives. I hunted over 100 days this last year for the measley few critters I killed. When you look at the numbers Iím definitely not a super hunter or anything like thatÖ. Iím just aguy who likes to play the numbers. If you only are able to spend five days a year in the woods then I would suspect that your success rate will be lower than the guy who spends ten days a rear in the woods. Of course, hunting skills, stealth, accuracy and the ability to stay cool when the time comes will help with your success too.
During the 30 plus years Curtis has experienced from frogs in the yard to charging hogs in the dark, Heís also learned to give back what heís learned. Curtis is very involved in boy scouts and under privileged children. He spends a great deal of time introducing and teaching them the skills of archery. In CK's own words, ďIt amazes me to see how archery plays such a role in their young lives.Ē
Fortunately for us CK doesnít keep records of all the critters heís killed. I know heís documented kills on over 140 hogs in a single year before. And in the short period of time Curtis and Tradgang have been on line the boy has had to have posted atleast 50 picutres of successful hunting trips.
The thing that jumps out at me most, is his love and memories of time spent a field with his father, and his romance for the traditional way. Curtis has told me stories of his dad taking him hunting when he was a toddler and while they sat in the stand his dad would make little matchbox cars for him.
Those memories raging through him is what builds his fire so strong for the traditional bow and its ways. Its memories of old school, hard knocks, dedication and the way it just should be. Itís beautiful thoughts and memories of days gone by, that you may not be able to ever reliveÖ but you can recapture them in your heartÖ
CK is as honery as the day is long.. and is also as big hearted and caring as they come. A more dedicated and skilled hunter you will be hard pressed to find. A better man you will likely never find.