HOYT: How long have you been on Hoyt's Pro Staff? How has the relationship helped your bowhunting career?
FRED: I've been on Hoyt's Pro Staff for the last four years. I've been fortunate to have been involved with Hoyt from the inception of the Gamemaster recurve. One reason I've really enjoyed working with Hoyt is that all the employees I've met are diehard bowhunters that take their jobs as seriously as their bowhunting. That equates to bowhunters building and designing bows. To me that means a lot.
HOYT: What do you like most about hosting Easton Bowhunting TV? How does bowhunting on camera add to the challenge of filling your tags?
FRED: I really enjoy every aspect of it. It's a special privilege to be able to share a sport I am passionate about. I take that privilege seriously and try to show what I love about bowhunting every time we film a show. It's hard to quantify how much more difficulty it adds. I can honestly say it adds a ton. In some situations - like stalking - it adds a lot more difficulty than when sitting in a blind. In other cases - like in a treestand - we have twice as much scent, movement and noise as one hunter by himself. I enjoy the added challenge and it adds to the excitement when it all comes together.
HOYT: What's your main goal for the show, and how do you strive to entertain and inform your audience?
FRED: Wow, good question. My main goal is to enjoy myself and try to show the real experience - both good and bad. I also try to show all the great things to enjoy while hunting, like sunrises and sunsets and just spending quality time outdoors.
HOYT: You're known for shooting traditional archery tackle. How long have you shot recurve, and what is it about a recurve that makes it your bow of choice on many of your hunts?
FRED: I've shot a recurve for the last 20 years. I feel that in most hunting situations a recurve is a more efficient hunting weapon. The advantage to a recurve in a hunting situation is that you can shoot faster and from more positions than you can with a compound. Having said that, I feel the need to add that a compound is also an efficient weapon and certainly has its advantages as well. It really boils down to which bow a person enjoys most and feels the most efficient with.
HOYT: You've had great success with the Hoyt Gamemaster II and Dorado recurves. What are some of your most memorable hunts with these bows?
FRED: With the Gamemaster my favorite would have to be a black bear in Canada. I was on the ground with the bear and had a snap shot as the bear turned away from me. My arrow entered near the bear’s last rib and drove through the heart. That bear went less than fifteen yards before rolling over. With my Dorado I would either say my Osceola turkey taken in Florida or the antelope I took in Colorado last year.
HOYT: You're also known for your enthusiasm and passion for bowhunting - and for not always holding out for the biggest set of antlers you can find. For you, it seems to be much more about the adventure, the hunt and the overall experience. Is that the case?
FRED: I truly love the outdoors and feel more at home outside than inside. I'm an adrenaline junky and I get charged up when I'm out hunting. I feel thankful for everything I get to experience while bowhunting. It literally touches every sense I have. As far as trophies are concerned, I get just as excited over a doe as a huge buck. I kind of follow the philosophy that any animal taken with a bow is a trophy, and that they all deserve the same respect.
HOYT: You're one of only a few people ever to complete the Super Slam with a recurve. When you did you complete it? Did you set out early on with that as your goal? What was your strategy for filling all those tags? What animal was the toughest to take?
FRED: Two of us completed that goal in 2007. At first my goal was just to experience bowhunting as many different species as I could. Then when Chuck Adams completed the Super Slam I wondered if I had the skill and the physical and mental capabilities to successfully take all 28 species with a recurve bow. My strategy was to hunt as hard as I could and keep myself both physically and mentally prepared. Just shooting your equipment efficiently is only part of the struggle. I learned that to harvest all 28 tests your physical and mental resolve. Every animal had its own unique challenges but the sheep were all tough!
HOYT: You've definitely covered some ground and had some awesome adventures. Tell us about a few of your most memorable hunts.
FRED: One of my most memorable was as a young man in my early teens. I was bowhunting and my father was scouting for the upcoming muzzleloader season. He really didn't think I had a chance of shooting a deer with a bow. We were on public land and about an hour after light I lucked into a young buck who was as naive as I was. I managed to shoot that buck through both lungs and as soon as my arrow hit him I took off chasing him - ignoring everything I had ever read about waiting 30 minutes. That buck died right in front of me, probably from fright as much as anything else. I was beaming when I met my dad at our pre-arranged meeting spot and will never forget the look on his face as I walked him up to my deer ... he has been a bowhunter ever since.
HOYT: How long have you been an outfitter? What hunts do you offer? On average, how many clients do you book each year?
FRED: I've been an outfitter and guide for the last 15 years. I guide for elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, black bear, mountain lion, turkey and antelope in southern Colorado. We take an average of 150 clients a year.
HOYT: What do you like most about outfitting? What unique challenges do you face when you're doing the guiding … as opposed to being the one with the bow in your hand?
FRED: The extra time I get to spend in the woods is my favorite part of guiding. As a guide you face a lot of challenges. One is the pressure of trying to get a client in range of an animal. Sometimes you have someone that may be inexperienced or out of shape and that increases the difficulty level. Other challenges include dealing with different personalities. I'm an eternal optimist, so I have a hard time with pessimistic hunters or people who don't want to stop to enjoy a sunrise or look at a neat cobweb. The rewards make it all worth it, like when you get to help someone fulfill a goal or lifelong dream, or the smile on a person's face when they have experienced something new. Sometimes it's just getting to listen to all the stories at night around the dinner table.
HOYT: You're a TV host, an outfitter, a writer, an avid photographer, a husband and a dad. You definitely stay busy. How do you find time to balance it all?
FRED: Aahhhh, that’s the most difficult of tasks. I try to be a good husband and father first, and when I can combine that with my other loves, it's a perfect balance.
HOYT: Hunting is no doubt a family affair for the Eichlers. Tell us how the whole family gets involved with your hunts, the outfitting business, etc.
FRED: Everyone is involved in everything. For example, the boys feed our chickens, lion hounds and horses. They also help with building blinds and scouting. My wife Michele helps with everything, including paperwork and cooking. I guide, scout, set up treestands and blinds, and do a little paperwork when I have to.
HOYT: Michele - who's also a Hoyt Pro Staffer - is an accomplished bowhunter in her own right. How do the two of you help each other with scouting/hunting? Is there ever any competition or rivalry between you two?
FRED: Michele is a very accomplished bowhunter. We help each other by constantly sharing info. on where we've seen different animals. We also have some friendly rivalry. For example, she brags that she shot a bigger mule deer than I did last year, and I brag that she shot it out of my treestand. It was a huge buck and she bleated it in from about 200 yards, but it was still from my treestand!
HOYT: When did you and Michele introduce your boys to bowhunting? Do they share your passion for it?
FRED: The boys were all raised around hunting. I feel they all share our passion for the outdoors and archery and I hope they will continue to bowhunt and hopefully one day pass our way of life on to their children.
HOYT: What hunts are most looking forward to this fall?
FRED: Every one of them! Sorry for the corny answer but it's true!
HOYT: Anything else you'd like Hoyt.com readers to know about you?
FRED: Yes, they can order my new book, Bowhunting Western Big Game, at Amazon.com. Please buy one for a friend. I need the money to go on more hunts!
Fred Eichler is the owner of Fulldraw Outfitters in Colorado, where he guides nine months of the year for antelope, elk, mule deer, bear, mountain lion and turkey. He is also the host of Easton Bowhunting TV show, which airs on the Outdoor Channel. When he's not bowhunting or guiding hunters, he splits his time between wildlife photography, freelance writing and trapping. Fred has worked in the archery industry for the last 20+ years. His work history includes working for Bear Archery in Gainesville, FL, managing an archery shop in northern Colorado and working for Dart International interactive video archery system. On August 6th, 2007 Fred harvested a stone sheep to complete the North American Super Slam, having taken all 28 big game species recognized by Pope and Young with a bow and arrow. One of the foremost outdoor writers today, Fred’s articles and photos regularly appear in Bowhunter, Bowhunting World, North American Hunter and Traditional Bowhunter magazines. Fred resides in Trinidad, Colorado with his wife and three sons.