Pine Bluff, AR native Ben Pearson, was a pioneer and innovator when it came to promoting the sport of archery way back when. Pearson started the first company in the U.S. to mass-produce archery sets and equipment which ultimately led him to be induced into the Archery Hall of Fame. The company Pearson started would eventually be sold to a large corporation and by 1988 had 360 employees with an annual payroll of $100 million…..big time stuff.
There was another archery aficionado who became not only a fan of Pearson but a trusted friend. His name was Sterling Harrell and he lived in Ruston. When Harrell passed away in 1995 at the age of 71, he had engaged the assistance of Pearson in a number of projects in Louisiana, the most notable of which was to try and convince the LA Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to start a new program for hunters in Louisiana. When bow hunters climb into their stands in a few short weeks, they have Harrell to thank for his part in our state having an archery season for deer.
An internet search of Harrell’s name reveals some fascinating and interesting information. For one, the search revealed a tribute to Harrell by associates of Pearson in Pine Bluff. Watching the tribute, I learned that Harrell would often take bus loads of kids to visit Pearson in Arkansas and later was instrumental in implementing a successful archery program at LA Tech in 1960. Harrell was affectionately referred to in the tribute as “Mister Longbow”.
In order to gather more information on this area’s pioneer in archery, I visited with Harrell’s 75 year old son, Van, who shared memories of growing up with a father consumed with the love for shooting a long bow.
“Before moving to Ruston, we lived in Shreveport in a heavily populated neighborhood but there was a golf course just down the street and dad would take us down there shoot our bows,” said Harrell. “After moving to Ruston in the 1950s, dad organized a group of youngsters and taught them how to shoot bows. They’d go out once a week and he’d let them pop balloons and other targets. Ben Pearson came down and helped him develop an archery range out on the east side of Ruston out past Woodland Park,” he said.
During my internet search, I found a fascinating clip of Sterling Harrell doing something he became known for around the area, “trick” shooting with his bow. He would roll discs out in front of him and would put and arrow through them as they rolled and incredibly, he would often shoot the rolling discs while holding he bow behind his back. Remarkable skills the man had.
owever, Sterling Harrell was not perfect. I once stopped by his home for an interview and he invited me to shoot a long bow, something I had never done. He strapped the guard on my arm to protect me from injury when releasing the bow. However, he strapped it on the wrong arm – I didn’t know the difference – and when I shot, all the hide was peeled off my arm from elbow to wrist. A red faced Sterling apologized.
When I visited Ruston’s new 3-D archery range at Lincoln Parish Park recently, my thoughts were on my friend Sterling Harrell and the impact he had on scores of kids, many of whom are now grandfathers who are likely to visit the new archery range. Had such a range been available when he was still alive, there is no doubt that Harrell would be one of the first to give the new range a try. Thanks to Sterling Harrell for instilling the love for shooting bows and arrows to so many who are active archers today.
CANEY LAKE – Bass to around 8 pounds have been reported with best catches coming on the deeper points on jigging spoons, tail spinners and crank baits. Some are still schooling and hitting shad imitation lures. Crappie continue to be fair with best catches made around the deeper tops on shiners or jigs. Bream have moved a bit deeper and are fair on worms and crickets. No report on catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498
or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – The water level is at a stand-still again this week. Bass have been best in the mouth of cuts on shad imitations and in river lakes around stumps on jigs and soft plastics. Crappie are around the deep tops in the river fishing jigs 15-20 feet deep in 25 foot water. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Bass have been fair fishing around the boat docks early and late on a variety of lures including jigs, soft plastics and spinners. Crappie fishing has been best fishing the deep holes out on the flats fishing shiners or jigs 15 feet deep in 18-24 foot deep water. Bream fishing has slowed while catfish are still biting cold worms fished off the banks.. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Bream fishing continues to be fair to good on crickets with most caught around the piers and boat docks. Stripers are schooling and are hitting shad imitations with white bucktails taking some beneath the surface. Bass fishing has been best at night fishing around the lights with plastic worms and Shakey heads. Also some are being caught on topwater lures as well as jigging spoons. Crappie fishing is best fishing 10 feet deep in 14-17 foot water on shiners or jigs. No report on catfish this week. For latest information, call Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331- 2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Bass are fair around the grass and trees on Wobble heads, crank baits and Rat-L-Traps. Crappie are scattered and fair; bream fishing is fair to good on worms and crickets. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Bream fishing has been fair to good on crickets and worms. Bass are fair on soft plastics. Crappie are slow. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing has been fair with mostly smaller fish being caught. Crappie are slow to fair. No report on bream or bass. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – The lake is being lowered and fishing is slow. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
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