The Maryland Bowhunting Hall of Fame is proud to present Walt Allensworth as it's 2015 inductee.
Hey Walt, tell us about your upbringing…
“I was born in 1959 on the Camp LeJeune Marine Base in North Carolina. My father was a Navy officer who moved the family to many locations. I’ve lived a lot of places… NC, TX, CA, WA, CT, VA, MD, and overseas in Scotland, UK from 1972-76. My father hunted a little bit, mostly when we lived in Texas in the 1960’s. He took me on a couple of hunts for dove and deer. The first animal I ever shot was a turkey buzzard sitting on the top of a 40-foot tree when I was six years old. I rested my father’s .222 on his shoulder and picked the buzzard off that tree from about 50 yards out. I don’t think my father thought I could hit it! I’d never shot a gun before. This is my earliest childhood memory.
Of course now these birds are protected, but 50 years ago nobody cared about them. Later my father became a Scoutmaster and got me into scouting, which of course emphasizes the outdoors and woodmanship skills. My parents gave me a lot of freedom, probably too much, and encouraged us kids to explore the outdoors. With all that freedom I got into some trouble, and the best thing I can say about that is that I was never arrested!
My love of the outdoors comes from sailing, hunting, hiking and climbing as a youth and young man. I spent a lot of time roaming the high hills of Scotland. All of my vacations have been centered around adventure sports. Eventually I became too old and injured for climbing, it’s incredibly physically demanding, and have switched completely to hunting, I’d say, hmmm… for the last 20 years.”
What do you do when your not in the woods?
“I am a Pysicist and a partner/owner of a 90-employee high-tech company called Adaptive Methods that does sonar research for the US Navy. It’s the only job I’ve ever had other than waiting tables and flipping burgers as a student. I started this job as a junior engineer in 1981 writing sonar signal-processing software and building electronics. I am now the Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.”
On the home front, I am married to my lovely spouse Barbara who came “equipped” with two wonderful kids from a previous marriage. That seemed to be enough, and I have no children of my own that I know of. My stepdaughter Christie lived with us as she was growing up, and stepson Brian lived with his father. They are now grown & married, live in the area, and I have 4 beautiful grandchildren. Yes, yes, I do feel old. The mileage is catching up with me. I have not treated this body very well over the last 55 years. Mostly the climbing beat me up. But also, I was a competitive fencer in college, competed in the National Championship in 1980, and was ranked 179th in the nation that year. That is a sport that also really beats you up. Most fencers have to have their hips replaced later in life, and mine are now pretty sketchy. I’m putting it off as long as possible.”
How did you get into archery?
“My first introduction to archery, came by my father who gave me a 35lb. recurve made by Border Bows. This was when I was a teenager living with his family on a “top secret” military base at Edzell, Scotland. This cold-war base was used to snoop on the Russians and there is a couple of pages about it in the book “The Puzzle Palace”. There in the Scottish woods I taught myself how to shoot a bow. Mostly stump shooting in the woods behind the house was the normal fodder. While enrolled in the boy scouts, I learned about archery and was awarded the Archery Merit Badge.”
Having taken many species of game, Walt cut his teeth on taking his first animal with a Border Bows recurve in the Scottish woods. As time went on, his hunts would become vast. I‘ll let Walt spin a few tales here.
“As teenage boys, we would play in the woods in the summertime to as late as 11pm because that’s when it got dark. Scotland is way north in latitude and in the summer we only had about 4 hours of darkness a day. Rabbits were everywhere and considered pests. We would try to run them down on foot with a rock or stick in our hand to trip them up, and occasionally we’d even catch one. It was for sport and we’d just let them go. As a teenager I was small, fit, lean, and very quick. I could run three miles in about 18 minutes and could do endless chin-ups. Not anymore!
The love of rock climbing put a 20-year hole in my hunting career. After teenage years I didn’t start bow hunting seriously until I was in my mid-late 30’s. I have hunted with gun and still do, but prefer archery hunting. When I settled in Maryland in 1980 I began working for a physicist that was a climber and bow hunter. We never even considered using a gun to hunt. It didn’t seem like much sport. He mentored me in both, but he was not a very skilled hunter. I tried a lot of crazy ways to kill a deer that didn’t work. In a guillie suite I laid down in a pile of rocks that was about 1 yard off the deer trail. Wouldn’t you know it, a deer walked right by me! After it passed by I sat up and had a slam-dunk 5 yard shot. Missed right over its back! Arghhhhh! It was 5 years before I killed my first deer with a Bear Whitetail II compound bow from a Baker tree stand.
You probably remember the Baker stands. There was only a bottom part of the stand... a piece of plywood bolted to a steel frame. You hugged the tree and pulled it up with your feet and locked it on, then repeat. Nobody wore harnesses. Being rock climbers we were incredibly strong and light in those days and it seemed so easy, we never thought about wearing a harness. Plus, we did far more crazy stuff climbing. No way could I do that now! Anyway… my first deer was a small doe taken with that Bear bow, but oh what a trophy! I remember the hunt like it was yesterday.
It was in Boyds Maryland on private land. I’d set up about 20 yards off a trail for an afternoon hunt. She came feeding along. I was shaking so badly it was amazing that I even hit the deer, but I did and she didn’t go far. Since then I’ve killed over a hundred deer with a bow, probably about 150 with a crossbow, a few dozen with muzzle loading rifles, and three with muzzle loading pistols. I have never shot a deer with a shotgun or high powered rifle! I gravitate towards the “weirder” weapons. Montgomery County Maryland bag limits are generous and the seasons are long. In addition to deer I’ve taken a few rabbits, squirrels, a groundhog, a handful of foxes (they are hard) and a coyote with a bow.
One of my most memorable hunts, was a mature buck I took was on a hunt near Boyds, MD on private land in the late 1990’s. Fox hunters had permission to trespass on that property and at about 5pm a group of fox hunters on horseback came through with maybe 30 large foxhounds. I figured my hunt was over. Fifteen minutes after they came through a mature 8 point buck snuck through the woods down the trail they had left on. He must have circled behind them. I spined him at a range of 25 yards and he dropped on the spot.
The largest buck I ever harvested with a bow, the Bowtech Old Glory, was on suburban private land outside of Rockville, MD. That deer walked by me just after first light. It’s the only deer I’ve ever grunted in. I made a poor shot and backed out until about 4pm in the afternoon. We found that buck about 300 yards away and it took two more arrows to anchor him. He’s an 11 pointer and grossed over 140 P&Y inches. He’s on the wall in my office at work.
Then there’s the time several of us went on an MBS auction hunt to Illinois. Nobody in our group got a deer, but everyone was taking wild long-bomb shots at the coyotes. They almost never stop moving and are difficult targets. I pegged one at 35 yards with the Bowtech Old Glory, which earned me minor celebrity status at the deer camp as the “yote killer.” Man, I was shooting really good that year. I had the "yote" shoulder mounted, and he also resides in my office. See the picture above.
One more… A couple of years ago I was maybe 6-weeks out of foot surgery and hobbled to a fixed stand in the middle of a field in Potomac, MD. I had not been in a tree since the previous year, and was very happy just to be in a tree stand again with the wind in my face. You know the feeling. I actually didn’t care if I shot a deer or not. I had four arrows. A deer came in about 2 hours before dark and I shot it. No sooner had it run off than another deer came in and I shot it too. Thirty minutes later another deer came in, and I was hesitant. I texted my friend Mark who was hunting about 15 minutes away and asked him if I shot this third deer if he’d come retrieve them all for me since I could barely walk. He said yes, so I shot the 3rd one. One arrow left. Thirty more minutes go by and I have a fourth deer in front of me. I text Mark again, and he says to go for it, so I used my last arrow… bulls eye. By that time I was a basket case. Nerves totally frazzled. Mark showed up around dark and started dragging deer to me, and I started field dressing them. It was long after midnight by the time we had all four of them hung up in the walk-in cooler. NEVER again will I shoot 4 deer in one sitting. That was an insane amount of work.”
With all those fabulous adventures of his youth and afield, Walt really shines on the community front with endless hours of engagement and deep involvement in helping others namely youth, our military, our state bowhunting organization, and needy families.
Walt, please share your hand in these special and honorable commitments.
“I love teaching archery to kids and doing community service. Kids are our future, the future of archery is in their hands. Now that my stepkids are grown I have time to spend teaching archery to others… and to the grandkids!
It all started out teaching archery at a scout camp on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, just south of Charleston. This was in the late 1970’s. I’m an Eagle Scout and had an archery merit badge. This qualified me to become an assistant archery instructor as a summer job as a Freshman in college. It didn’t pay much, but it was a great experience and I found it very gratifying to pass along some of the archery knowledge I had developed. The next summer I went back as the main archery instructor.
I settled in Maryland in the early 1980’s after college and looked for a job. I moved to Poolesville in 1990 and soon after started shooting in Pat Morningstar’s winter archery league during the time he ran the hunting store in town.
Later, I joined the Bethesda/Chevy-Chase Izaak Walton located outside of Poolesville. There I naturally eased into promoting archery again and soon became a range officer. About ten years ago several of us, myself included, took the National Archery in the Schools Basic Archery Instructor class so we had a basic level of accreditation to teach archery to kids.
Now we sponsor an annual event for the Wounded Warriors from Walter Reid. The wounded and their families spend the entire day with us. They love shooting the bows. We also run an archery merit badge in the spring for the Boy Scouts. Twice a month in the summertime we sponsor a group of 4H kids so they have a place to shoot bows. They use the equipment we have at the BCC-IWLA archery range.
In the spring and summer you can find me staffing the archery shoots at BCC-IWLA. Everyone is welcome to come and shoot the 3D range and bag targets. Next year I’ll take over running the range to relieve the present director..
I eventually learned of and joined the Maryland Bowhunters Society in the early 2000’s. What a great organization! There I made a lot of friends and again, more community service opportunities began to appear. Being involved in the Central Chapter of the MBS with a great bunch of guys, we stay pretty active as most could be. We do roadside cleanups a couple of times a year.
In 4 of the last 5 years we’ve done a two-day youth shoot at The Southern Maryland Outdoor Expo. Hundreds of kids attend that shoot. It is incredibly gratifying to introduce archery to that many kids in one weekend and see their faces light up with joy when they pop a balloon and win a prize.
About 4-5 years ago I heard Hall of Fame inductee Lou Compton (presently the MBS President), give a very heartfelt speech at an MBS meeting about the state of the National Archery in School’s Program (NASP). Maryland was losing their paid NASP coordinator and it looked like the school archery program in Maryland might fold. Lou said that he had decided he would retire two years early and stepped up do this job on a volunteer basis. Now THAT is commitment! It was inspiring! He needed funding for archery kits in schools. How could I say no?
So every year since then, my company has donated $2,000 to support Lou’s NASP work. This year, in fact just a few weeks ago, Lou had the opportunity to get 1:1 matching from NASP Main for Maryland NASP scholarships. This is much needed money to teach our young adults a trade or other education so they can enter the workforce. Again, how could I say no? So my company donated $2,000 to this program which instantly became $4,000 with the matching funds. I’m very proud to be able to support these programs and my only regret is that I wish I could do more. Maybe when I retire!
Here in the last few years, I’ve also gotten into running the Dart Booth at the MBS Banquet and doing the Banquet slide show. Both of these are fun activities and really help me get to know the MBS members as well as furthering my involvement.
Then there’s ACDMT, which stands for the “Animal Connection Deer Management Team”. ACDMT does deer management with archery tackle in Suburban Maryland neighborhoods, and it consumes a huge amount of my time. ACDMT was started ten years ago by a very dynamic guy named Peter Marino who was an Army Ranger. His vision was an organization that not only brought hunters together with hunting opportunities, but also generated excess venison to supported local community food donation programs.
ACDMT donates quite a bit of meat to Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH), to local food banks, and also directly to people who can use the meat. We have also been periodically supporting dinners for volunteer firefighters and EMTs at local fire houses in Rockville and Kensington, MD. When asked to join I completely resonated with the ACDMT mission, and was soon harvesting 20+ deer a year with my compound bow and giving most of them away to feed those in need. Pete Marino eventually left the area for a job opportunity, and I eventually found myself the Director of ACDMT.
Having served in that capacity for 3 years now, I can say it is a great deal of work. Job pressures and other archery demands put me in a difficult position last season and I asked Mark Eakin if he would again take over the Directorship of ACDMT, which he did. It has taken some of the pressure off of me, but I am still very active, and still an officer of the group. Eight of us removed 75 deer from suburban Maryland neighborhoods last season, and 99 in the previous season. Since the group was formed ACDMT has removed over 700 suburban deer and has provided thousands of pounds of meat to feed those in need.”
Walt has come to a crosswords in his hunting career and has very simple plans for the future. He is planning to stay very active in MBS, Izaak Walton, and ACDMT. There are a couple of recurve bows in his basement that are calling for his attention.
"I stand in awe of those who can harvest big game with traditional archery tackle. It’s quite an accomplishment. If I can retire within the next 5 years I’d like to take an even greater role in giving back to the community. We’ll just have to see how that goes. Thank you all for this opportunity and honor”.