October 07, 2020
By Lynn Burkhead
If there were ever a vote held to create some sort of Mount Rushmore like monument to the great bowhunters of North America, there’s little argument that the late, great Fred Bear would certainly be on the mountain when the ballots were tallied.
And probably the long ago trio of Saxton Pope, Dr. Art Young, and Ishi too, the three men who helped bring the ancient sport of bowhunting forth to those of us venturing afield in the modern wilds of North America. After all, the Pope and Young Club and its top-level Ishi Award all bear their names.
But if those men are certain to find themselves at the top of any such mythical discussion, there’s also little doubt that the name of Chuck Adams would be included in the mix since the Wyoming archer is undoubtedly the most recognizable name and face in the modern bowhunting game.
And someday, he might even supplant the storied legends of bowhunting’s past thanks to more than 50 years of bowhunting to his own credit, time afield that continues to build Adams’ own resume and ultimate legacy.
A longtime contributor to outdoor publications like Outdoor Sportsman Group’s Bowhunter and Petersen’s Hunting magazines, the 69-year-old Adams isn’t resting on his laurels in the fall of 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has made life more challenging in recent months. When the opening bell came to the 2020 fall hunting campaigns, Adams had a pocket full of big game tags and quickly went to work trying to fill his freezer up yet again.
Now less than two months into the fall hunting seasons currently taking place in the U.S. (Canada’s border remains closed to American outdoors enthusiasts at the time of this writing), Adams is making headlines again, notching tags on a big American elk, a superb mule deer, and a tremendous pronghorn antelope.
Pending the official 60-day drying period and subsequent scoring process, the three western big game critters stand poised to make even more history for Adams, coronavirus or not.
Why is that? Because upon final acceptance by the P&Y Club, Adams’ 2020 mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and American elk should become the 198th, 199th, and 200th record class big game animals that the Wyoming archer has taken since he began bowhunting at the age of 15.
While critics have at times complained that sponsor ad copy and the list of Adams’ official record book entries haven’t always matched up, the fact remains that Adams has indeed accumulated more Pope and Young entries than anyone else has in bowhunting history.
In fact, he was described in a Dec. 21, 2018 Pope and Young Club podcast as having had 188 official P&Y entries at that point in his storied career. And obviously, he hasn’t slowed down much since.
A longtime shooter with Reflex and Hoyt bows, Adams has also faithfully stayed with Easton arrows down through the years, using the Utah company’s Full Metal Jacket arrows regularly since they were brought to market a few years ago. All three recent record book animals were reportedly taken with Adams’ preferred FMJ arrow shaft.
“I harvested my first deer 53 years ago at age 16 with an Easton 24SRTX bare shaft that I custom coated with green, non-glare primer since anodizing was not available back then,” said Adams in a news release. “In fact, I have shot every animal in my archery life with Easton shafts from the SRTX aluminum, to Super Slam, and now Full Metal Jacket.”
Adams bigger than life story is known to many in the archery world: he was the first to take the “Super Slam” of all 27 North American big game species recognized by P&Y; he has held five P&Y world records (for American elk, American bison, mountain caribou, Coues whitetail, and Sitka blacktail); and he was given the prestigious Ishi Award back in the spring of 2001, only months after his fall 2000 harvest of a then-world record typical elk, a Montana bull with a final score of 409 2/8-inches.
But as well-known as Adams is for taking record-sized big game critters across North America, he’s equally well known for passing along his bowhunting skills and wisdom to others through one of the world’s most prolific outdoor writing careers. An associate editor in the mid-1970s with Petersen’s Hunting, as well as being a longtime columnist and feature writer for Bowhunter magazine, Adams byline has continually dotted the pages of Outdoor Sportsman Group publications.
In fact, he might actually hold the unofficial record for articles authored during the course of a longtime writing career in the hunting genre.
Why is that? Because at last count, Adams has reportedly authored more than 6,000 magazine stories, 11 books, spoken at countless seminars, and made numerous TV show appearances as well. What’s more, he shows no signs of slowing down as the pages of OSG hunting publications show each month!
Ernest Hemingway eat your heart out.
All those bowhunting accomplishments and writing achievements have brought Adams a plethora of awards and high honors too. Those include induction into the Safari Club International’s Bowhunting Hall of Honor, the National Bowhunter’s Hall of Fame, and the Archery Hall of Fame. In addition, Adams is reported to be a senior member of the Pope and Young Club, a member of the P&Y Club’s Fred Bear Society, a professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club, a life member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and a member of Safari Club International.
But none of that is the driving force for Adams as a bowhunter these days. In fact, despite all of the accolades and records on his longstanding resume in the sport, promoting bowhunting and helping others find success is what he says ultimately motivates him the most.
“I would like to be remembered for those things - not the personal accomplishments that I have had the good fortune to accomplish over the years,” Adams said on the page dedicated to his 2008 induction into the Archery Hall of Fame. “I am sure those accomplishments (hopefully) will be remembered too because they will be in my books and articles and people will still be reading some of that stuff.
“But I guess those were just examples in my mind of what anybody can do who wants to dedicate themselves to this wonderful sport and take the time to do it right. It’s an example of what anybody can do. And if anybody else manages to enjoy bowhunting as much as I enjoy bowhunting - and if I have helped in that process – then I am a happy guy."
No matter when—or if—he ever finds his famous mustachioed grin chiseled onto the side of a monument somewhere, a mountain dedicated to the world’s greatest bowhunters.
In the meantime, the 2020 hunting seasons are still young, and Adams hasn’t run out of unfilled bowhunting tags just yet.
Stay tuned, the world’s most recognized bowhunter in the last half-century is out and about in the wilds of North America. And from the looks of it, he still has history to make.