Name: Albert Quackenbush
City and State: Long Beach, California
How long have you been a member of NAHC?
I have been a member of the NAHC for 11 years and a Life Member just shy of that.
Who introduced you to hunting?
My dad introduced me to hunting at a very young age. We didn’t have TV shows and videos to watch back then. It was all about getting my brother and me into the woods and learning about nature. He started bringing us squirrel hunting with him and then he gave us some bows and arrows to shoot in the backyard. The hay bales took a beating!
Before long, we all had shotguns and archery tackle and you couldn’t keep us out of the woods. I am extremely grateful for all of the hunting knowledge my dad passed on to us.
How old were you when you started hunting?
I started hunting squirrels when I was 9 years old and also began bow hunting around that time. I shot my first whitetail deer with a bow at age 14 and I was hooked.
What’s your favorite animal to hunt?
This is a tough question because hunting elk for the first time last year gave me a taste of some of the best hunting imaginable. The terrain, the smell of the air, and the beauty of the landscape all factored into the 4 days I was in Colorado that produced one of the best hunts ever. That being said, I still love hunting whitetail deer. It’s a challenge trying to match wits with a whitetail. I love hunting whitetails in New York because I get to hunt with my dad and brother. It’s something I look forward to each deer hunting season, even if I can’t be there in body, I am with them in spirit. I truly live vicariously through them from September through November each year.
What’s your fondest hunting memory?
(Here’s the shortened version. If you want the full story, you can read it in my blog). I was 14 years old and I was out hunting by myself. My dad had taken me out multiple times hunting with him and had shown me how to hunt whitetails on the farm.
A deer appeared down at the far end of the drainage ditch I was hunting. As it continued toward me, I felt my heart thumping in my chest as each hoof hit the ground. The deer was a large buck and that made my heart beat even faster. Steam shot out of his nostrils as the buck breathed and then smelled the air. He had no idea I was there, but I was extremely concerned. I was not in a treestand, nor was I in a ground blind. I was standing in an open field, right in his walkway as he walked closer and closer.
After what seemed like a lifetime, the deer closed the distance to 50 yards … 40 … 30… 20. I drew my bow and he abruptly stopped at 10 yards, facing me head on. Our stare down lasted only a few seconds as I anchored, found the crease in his front leg and sent the arrow on its way. It buried itself in the exact spot where I had aimed and then the buck bolted up the hill. I watched the deer run away from me and suddenly drop 60 yards from where I shot him. One kick in the goldenrod and he was done.
Of all of my hunting memories, this one is one of my favorites. There is nothing like being alone in nature and bow hunting whitetail deer with the scent of corn and apples filling the air … feeling the cool mist as it is lifting off the ground and seeing a mature whitetail appear. The anticipation as he walks towards you, the moment of truth when you make every second of the time you spent practicing count for something, and the feeling of sheer happiness when you see the look on your dad’s face when you tell him your hunt was a success.
If you could pick only one tool (rifle, compound bow, crossbow, shotgun, etc.) to hunt with the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
It’s a no-brainer, I would opt to use a compound bow. The challenge behind hunting with a bow energizes me. I have hunted with a recurve, a compound, shotgun and rifle, but nothing gives me more satisfaction and thrill than hunting with a compound. The look, the feel and the mechanics of it all intrigue me.
What are the top three animals on your hunting bucket list?
The top three would have to be California bighorn sheep, Utah mule deer and moose. We have mule deer in Southern California, but I am looking more so at Utah or Colorado to fill that tag. I love the idea of hunting larger animals in the forest. The bighorn sheep will be a tougher draw, but it is still one I would love to shoot. Oh, and I want to do it all with archery tackle.
How many days on average do you devote to hunting each year? (Include all time in the field scouting, managing food plots, clearing shooting lanes, etc.)
I would say I spend roughly 20-30 days hunting each year. Mostly scouting and then putting boots to the trail. My hunting days have been drastically reduced due to location and family obligations, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It makes me appreciate the time I do get in the field even more.
Beyond that, I also spend plenty of time researching from my computer and making phone calls to solidify my hunting spots. I have had quite a few good spots either be burned up and closed from wildfires or land being sold to new people who don’t allow hunting. I am definitely working on gaining access to new lands, making new friends, and hunting more throughout the year.
What have you done to pass along your hunting traditions?
My 4-year-old daughter is my sidekick when it comes to just about everything outdoors. I first started getting her involved in the field tests I do on gear. It’s interesting to hear the opinions of a child on gear reviews. Then I bought her a small suction cup bow so she could start to shoot. She enjoys shooting at my homemade targets, and soon enough I’ll have her try a youth bow. We watch hunting shows together and I don’t hide the fact that I kill animals for food. Plus, I share my own hunting videos and photos with her to give her an idea of what animals do in the wild.
I am also introducing her to many things outdoors, like camping and fishing. I want her to have the choice to do any or all of these things as she gets older. Starting her young will allow her to make educated decisions and who knows, before long she may want to tag along in the field. A dad can only hope!
Other than hunting, what takes up your time?
My family is my No. 1 priority and I give them most of my time. I absolutely love my family and I strive to be a good husband and father. It’s hard work, but the payoff is incredible. I have a very understanding wife who knows that while I have a deep passion for the outdoors, she is and always will be my first passion.
Albert Quackenbush has been bow hunting for more than 29 years. In order to encourage others bow hunters and help them learn, he began sharing his adventures in his blog, SoCalBowhunter.com.