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Friday, July 15, 2005

Life at Full Draw: The Chuck Adams Story by Gregg Gutschow

Reviewed by Steve Sorensen
Published by iHunt Communications, Clanhassen, Minnesota, 2002; 303 pages, 15 chapters. Hardcover.
"Could anyone be this good?" This book, an authorized biography, seeks to answer that question.
Chuck Adams. Any archer who doesn't know the name of the most prominent bowhunter today -- the one with the trademark smile and knit cap, the one often mentioned in the same breath as Howard Hill, Fred Bear and other archery luminaries -- isn't paying attention.

Adams has definitely earned his place in bowhunting history, and anyone who is intrigued by what it takes to have his amazing success wonders "Could anyone be this good?" This book, an authorized biography, seeks to answer that question.

How did Adams get into his line of "work"? As a 4.0 student in both high school and college. Adams could have and followed in the footsteps of his father (probably his closest friend) and had a comfortable life as an English professor. But from the time he was old enough to read, the articles in Outdoor Life convinced him he wanted to be an outdoor writer. An excellent education and knowledge based on field experience earned him his first job at Peterson's Hunting in 1974. Later he married, and could have settled down to a life with children, but could not have accomplished the goals he had with the responsibility of a family. And the incredible success of Chuck Adams has not come without sacrifice -- or controversy.

He knowingly sacrificed some joys for others, and the joy of children is one sacrifice he remains wistful about. A failed marriage was another sacrifice, although the book doesn't clearly address what role hunting played in that sad outcome. But the author of this biography shows no fear in addressing the controversial issues that have dogged Adams' career. As the first bowhunter to accomplish the "Super Slam," harvesting all 27 of North America's big game animals, Adams has had to overcome plenty of jealousy and criticism.

The bowhunting "Super Slam," countless articles in outdoor magazines, 111 Pope & Young entries, 5 bowhunting world records, and endorsements for archery manufacturers -- these have created strong opinions that range from admiration and idolizing to fraud and despising. Whatever your view, this book seeks to provide an accurate account of how Adams achieved his place in the world of bowhunting and attempts to answer many questions. What is Adams really like? Does he deal with doubt? Where did he get his work ethic? What is his attitude toward equipment? What do guides and outfitters say about him? What's that that toothy smile all about? And, perhaps the biggest question for many: Who finances Chuck's hunts?

One thing this book lacks is an index. Readers are always well-served by a good index so that people, places and events that the author found important enough to include can be easily referenced. A timeline would also be helpful in biographies. Those minor deficiencies aside, if you're wondering how this Superman with a stick and string has done it, this book will tell you. To get Life at Full Draw at a 34% discount, go to