The late John Schoenike recently became the fifth person to be inducted into the Wisconsin Bowhunters Heritage Hall of Fame in the organization’s 75-year history.
The award was presented to his family on March 1.
“John was the last surviving charter member of the Wisconsin Bowhunters. He was instrumental in promoting the sport of archery in Wisconsin and he was the driving force in setting up various local bow hunting clubs in Wisconsin communities,” said his grandson Jim, who spoke at the 2014 Wisconsin Bowhunter Convention. “He established the Clintonville Bowhunters and helped out with clubs in Big Falls, New London, Shawano, Tigerton, and Manawa.
“Grandpa was a known tinkerer and a skilled sign painter by trade,” continued Jim. “He became one of our nation’s foremost gold leafers, and his work was primarily demonstrated as gold leaf lettering and striping on fire trucks.
“John was also a bit of a musician,” added Jim. “He was self-taught in the acoustic and steel guitars. One of his granddaughters became a public school music teacher and another is a current member of the Williamsburg, VA Symphony and former member of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
“You may not have known that grandpa was the first to receive a patent for the archery quiver, and his invention was the first to be produced commercially,” continued Jim. “Grandpa also patented the portable ice fishing shanty. All of the current models on the market today have some common features and characteristics to his original invention.
“Grandpa was also instrumental in the design of the Wisconsin Bowhunter logo and emblem,” he stated. “He was a skilled artist and designer with significant creative talent. He also started the Stalker Archery Company in Clintonville.
“Finally, he was the first to harvest a bear in Wisconsin with modern archery equipment. This was in 1952, and two bear were taken that season,” said Jim.
Jack and Jerald Schoenike, John’s sons, are glad that their father has been inducted into the Wisconsin Bowhunters Heritage Hall of Fame.
“It’s good that he is being honored,” said Jack. “Especially since he was one of the founding members of the club.”
“Over the years, the club has grown significantly,” added Jerald. “There are currently 5,184 members from Wisconsin and the surrounding states. We even have one member in France.”
Jack and Jerald said they enjoy reminiscing on their formative years, which were filled with outdoor activities guided by their father.
“Bowhunting became a family affair from the very beginning,” said Jack. “We were taught well how to hunt. Dad was also a darn good fly fisherman.”
“Sharing outdoor activities was so special to me,” added Jerald. “He knew so much about the forest and everything in it. He was very conservation-oriented, and hunting was just a part of that.”
As founder of the Clintonville Bowhunters and one of the charter members of the Wisconsin Bowhunters, much of John’s work continues to be displayed at the Wisconsin Bowhunters Museum, located at 17 E. Third Street in Clintonville.
“Frankly, dad was a very future-oriented person,” said Jerald. “The fruits of his labors back in 1950 are still being felt today.”
Jack and Jerald said their father’s vision for the future would be to see bowhunting prosper.
“He never gave up on bowhunting, from day one,” said Jack. “He was a firm believer in the sport. He did all he could to promote it wherever he was. If he were here today, he would be very humbled to receive this honor, and he’d be working hard to convince everyone to bowhunt.”
John Schoenike will be featured in the April 15 issue of the Wisconsin Bowhunter Magazine. With his induction into the Wisconsin Bowhunters Heritage Hall of Fame, he joins hall of famers Roy I. Case (inducted in 2012); Larry C. Whiffen, Sr. (inducted in 2012); Norbert F. “Norb” Mullaney (inducted in 2012); and Carl M. Hulbert (inducted in 2013).