By Dan Simmons – “Sportsman’s Quest”
The most enjoyable aspect of the hunting conventions — which include the SHOT Show, Safari Club International, Ovis, Wild Sheep Foundation and the Weatherby Foundation Dinner — is the opportunity to sit with friends over dinner, and a beverage, while telling stories. Of course, seeing all the latest products and learning of new adventure opportunities is pretty good too, but the best is making new friends and sharing lives and adventures with old friends.
Many of this year’s stories were centered on my old hunting friend, mentor and hero, Andy Oldfield. You’ve read a lot about Andy and our friends Chris Klineburger, Bob Markworth, Diane Malek, General Buck Bedard and his sons in previous columns, particularly those about our annual dove hunt.
Well, Andy Oldfield is our Senior Statesman and at the age of 82 he has seen it all and lived more hunts than most of us younger folks can imagine.
Andy was one of the founders of Safari Club International with CJ McElroy; he was also instrumental in promoting the Weatherby Foundation award, with his long-time hunting companion Thornton Snider, which continues to be the Academy Award of hunting. He served as its president for eight years and was then followed by his friend, the premier outdoor writer and editor, Craig Boddington.
Andy continues to be a life member of the Shikar Club, an elite organization limited to 200 members of the world’s most notable sportsmen and conservationists.
With all these achievements, his most notable characteristic, however, is his humility. You wouldn’t hear of these achievements from him, unless you asked; and then a full story would only be told by his long-time friends. He’s just “one of the boys” and a fine fellow.
It all started in Southern California where his father owned gas stations. Andy attended Santa Monica High School and went on to study Business at U.S.C. He was student body president at both, where he demonstrated his organizational and diplomatic skills. His “can do “and “let’s get it done” attitude would serve him well in his future endeavors.
At the age of 21, Andy joined the Marine Corp Reserve, and his unit was called to serve in the Korean War two years later. He and his unit landed at Inchon and went on to Seoul and then North Korea where he continued to see action at the historic battle of the Chosun Reservoir. Returning to Pendleton, he was offered an OCS candidacy but decided to return to civilian life.
Longing for a quieter life, but still having the “can do” entrepreneurial spirit, he purchased in 1956 the small but historic June Lake Resort in the Eastern Sierras, near Bishop, California.
Over the years this has expanded to become one of the premier fishing and resort destinations for the rich and famous as well as for the tide of suburbanites with their new-found desire to make long weekend road trips and vacations. With America’s great fascination with the automobile, who could refuse with a ’57’ Chevy and 65uFFFC? It was the open road.
America was traveling, and so was Andy; his passion for hunting turned to Africa.
His first African Safari was a 28-day hunt in Tanzania. He returned with two Cape buffalo, still in the record book, the Big Five and many of the plains animals such as kudu, gemsbok, impala and red kob.
His first Cape Buffalo was hit hard, in the shoulder, with his pre 64 Winchester model 70 and 300 H&H Magnum cartridges; it continued charging, as these tough fellows are known to do; it fell at his feet. The adrenaline flowed and Andy was hooked on big game hunting. This was followed by a lion, black rhino, elephant, and leopard.
When asked about his most exciting experience, Andy tells of the female elephant that false charged him three times, at 15 feet, while he was hunting in Kenya. Elephants were not legal to hunt at that time, but as Andy says, “just a few more feet and I would have broken the law.”
Remember, this was in the earlier days of African hunting. He followed in the footsteps of legendary sportsmen like Roosevelt, Seleus, Hemmingway, and Ruark, hunting as they did. It was the hunt of a bygone era, but Andy tells the stories as if it were yesterday. He lived in tents and hunted for fresh meat each day to feed the camp. It was hunting, not shooting, and there were no fences in that wild land.
Today we can only dream of such adventure, but it lives through friends and stories. One day it will only be in books on our library shelves and museums, but today it’s still alive with our elder statesmen like Andy Oldfield.
I look forward to sharing more of Andy’s stories as we march further down the trail.
For more information Google the names of those in this story or go to: www.sportsmansquest.com.
Sportsman’s Quest is conducting a survey and would appreciate your commenting on the types of stories you most enjoy, and if you have a recommendation of a destination or event that you think our readers would appreciate, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at, www.sportsmansquest.org
An excellent source chronicling the history of modern hunting can be found in Chris Klineburger’s Gamemasters of the World. It’s an adventure book which includes stories of many of the individuals in this week’s column. I consider it the finest book of this genre, and recommend it for every sportsman’s library. For more information go to www.chrislineburger.com.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Mt. Charleston Chapter will be holding its Big Game Banquet at Treasures RV Resort March 10, starting at 4:30pm. For tickets, or more information, call Karen at 751-2330. The last five years have sold out, so make your reservations early.
• Wildlife Habitat Improvement of Nevada (WHIN) will be holding its 20th Annual Fundraiser Banquet April 14 at the Gold Coast Casino in Las Vegas. For more information and ticket sales go to www.whinlv.org.
• Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn’s Annual Banquet will be Saturday May 19, 2012 at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, doors open at 5 p.m. Good friends, good food and great raffle prizes.
For more information call James Bradshaw at 1-702-219-9109 or go to: www.desertbighorn.com.