The traditional archery and bowhunting communities recently lost a legend with the passing of G. Fred Asbell on January 7, 2023. Younger bowhunters may not be familiar with the name. Asbell was not a product of outdoor TV or social media trends. He chose to live a simple life, with a focus on the pure pursuit of hunting with the stick and string.
Asbell was born August 14, 1940 in Harrisburg, Illinois. Around the age of 5, his family moved to Petersburg, Indiana where his dad worked for the railroad. Cowboys and Indians was the game children played back in those days, and Asbell favored the role of Indian, which mean’t his weapon of choice was the bow and arrow. But it wasn’t until many years later when his love for archery truly began, while shooting a bow he found in the equipment room at work. No one seemed to know who the bow belonged to, so Asbell began shooting it on a daily basis during his breaks. Asbell was drawn to the challenge and mystery of such a unique weapon. The passion for sending arrows to the target with a simple bow and arrow burned within Asbell until his dying day.
Asbell was intrigued by the idea of bowhunting from early on, but opportunities for deer in Indiana at that time were slim. In fact, Asbell had never even seen a deer when he first started bowhunting. He resorted to shooting groundhogs which were plentiful in the area and began to hone his bowhunting skills. It wasn’t until his third year that Asbell finally shot a deer in Indiana. It was one of only 7 deer taken in Indiana that year.
In the years to come, Asbell would find great success bowhunting big game all across the country, as well as connecting with some of archery and bowhunting’s biggest names in the early days. Asbell says his heroes were guys like, Fred Bear, Glenn St. Charles, Art Young, Saxton Pope, Will Compton, and Howard Hill.
Other legendary hunters that have become friends of Asbell over the years are guys like M.R. James, Dr. Dave Samuel, Jim Dougherty, and Roy Hoff.
In 1977, Asbell began making recurve and longbows in his basement under the name, Bighorn Bow Company, simply because such few people were making them anymore. He wanted to keep the tradition alive. He ran his small bow business until it sold in 1991.
It was his desire to share the rich tradition of archery and bowhunting that led him to begin writing books on the subject as well as teaching classes. He would ultimately become a best-selling author with works like Instinctive Shooting, published in 1988 and sold 75,000 copies.
Other books by Asbell include: Instinctive Shooting II, and Stalking and Still Hunting. He’s written hundreds of magazine articles, served as Hunting Editor for Bowhunter Magazine and even began to create his fair share of internet columns and content as modern day technology took over.
Asbell went on to become the founding president of the Indiana Bowhunters Association, serve as president of the Pope & Young Club for nearly two decades and was inducted into the Archery Hall of Fame.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Asbell family as they celebrate the life of G. Fred Asbell in the days, weeks, and years to come.
Be sure to check out the Asbell family’s line of wool garments and other products at www.asbellwool.com.