Great State: Wooden Tools for Hunting

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CUSHING, OKLAHOMA -- There was a time, earlier in life, when Elmer Ledgerwood's hunting bows were green sticks bent with string and chicken feathers from his mom's laying hens.

"I'd catch an old chicken and I'd get me some feathers," he recalls.

He was the guy who always wanted to play the Indian in cowboys and Indians.

Elmer grew up learning from Native American neighbors the finer points of making better arrows.

He also learned what it took to make a good hunting bow.

He explained part of his process. "I find the center of my bamboo here," he says. "This stiffener goes underneath the bamboo."

"Do you learn a little something making each bow and arrow," asks a visitor? "Every one of them is a little bit different but yet each is the same," replies Elmer.

"You can pick out ten different trees and only one will make a bow."

Ledgerwood retired from his job at the US Postal Service not long ago.

His only business now is the shingle he put in the front yard reading, Ledgerwood Primative Archery.

His workshop is busy with students who come in to learn and with the making of fine, wooden bows.

They might hang like a piece of art but each is meant to hunt too. "I love it," he beams.

"It's my heart throb. I probably like to make them better than I like to hunt, and I like to hunt."

He uses wild turkey feathers to flatch his arrows now. The straighter the arrow the better.

Everything he makes gets a good test in a small range next door the his shop.

"There's a thrill of it," he says of hunting with wooden bows and arrows made from Oklahoma river cane.

"I hardly ever shoot over ten or fifteen steps."

If bow and arrow are made right there's dinner on the table, and satisfaction that a beautiful tool can work beautifully as well.

Elmer's shop is located behind his house in north Cushing.

His business number is (918) 225- 0229.

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