EVANSTON — Inventor, author, researcher and local senior citizen Duane Erickson was born on May 6, 1935, in Miami.
Erickson and his family moved to Utah when he was 6. Later in life he went to school at BYU and eventually moved to Wyoming.
There are two sides to his family, he said, one that came across the plains pulling handcarts, the other traveling in covered wagons. Erickson said that’s what later brought him to Wyoming.
Erickson has lived in Evanston for more than 20 years now. His father introduced him to Mirror Lake back before the lodges and cabins burned down.
“He rented a rowboat to take me out on the lake,” said Erickson. “It’s part of what has drawn me here.”
Erickson is the father of eight kids, even though he said he is scared to death of children.
“To an extent, I still am. I feel they’re sort of fragile, you know,” said Erickson.
He is also a grandfather and a great-grandfather.
Introduced to archery before the age of 6, Erickson said he didn’t even know he was a bowhunter at such a young age until his father told him a story of when Duane was little and they went to the Seminole Indian Reservation in the Everglades.
“My dad said when we went there, the car stopped, the door flew open and I was gone. They spent the rest of the time trying to find me but I had gone into one of the dwellings and came back out with a bow and some arrows,” said Erickson.
Erickson said his father believes that bow and arrows were possibly given to young Duane by some Native Americans, who made them.
“I’ve been hunting with a bow and arrow all of my life, since I was a little kid. I got to where I could shoot pheasants and silver dollars out of the air with my bow,” said Erickson.
Archery has been a passion for Erickson his entire life, he said. He has “out targeted” many people.
“I became second place archery champion of the United States, and I soon became first place,” Erickson said.
With such success under his belt, Erickson taught archery at the University of Utah. He said the university won everything in nationwide and collegiate competitions.
When he was drafted into the military, Erickson said they gave him a sheet to fill out that included hobbies and he listed archery as one of them.
The company commander called Erickson in and had him do demonstrations and run the archery program for the military.
Not only does he have a great shot with a bow and arrow, but he has also created his own model of one, among many other things. Erickson has built indoor archery ranges — even automatic archery ranges.
“Archery has been a big thing for me,” Erickson said. “[It’s] one of the things that kept me going … when I got into the Book of Mormon, because I couldn’t read that well. Once I got into Nephi, I learned he was an archer, so that was interesting. It was all fun, but I finally convinced myself that I should be doing something bigger and better.”
After that thought, he convinced himself that if Nephi hadn’t been an archer, his group would’ve starved to death.
“Nephi built a bow and was able to shoot game to keep them alive,” said Erickson, “and I thought that was a pretty big deal.”
Currently on the market are some of Erickson’s inventions, other than archery products. The lifetime inventor has made many products, some internationally.
One invention for sale is called a Snofling, which is a toy for making and throwing snowballs. There is also the Natural Food Dryer and Sprouter, along with Living Cell Food, which is food sprouted from the living enzymes of organic red wheat and millet, all created by Erickson.
Though he has been successful at his passion for archery and has invented many items, Erickson said his greatest love is figuring out why he is on this planet. By following his “promptings,” Erickson continues to find what he says he believes to be the truth of the world.
“They have been part of my life all the way through. I do things because of promptings,” said Erickson.
Because of dyslexia, The Book of Mormon was the first book Erickson ever finished completely, and that was because he listened to it on tape.
“I didn’t even know I had dyslexia until I was 75 years old,” he said. “I don’t think it was a bad thing, I believe it was a good thing because it drove me different directions to get where I am today.”
It was for this reason that he started researching the question a lot of people ask: “How did we get here?”
Erickson said his number one goal is to be able to answer his children’s questions and give them the truth of the world.
“I went down to Central America on a number of trips,” he said, “down to Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and those areas because the prophet was saying that’s where the Book of Mormon land was, and I wanted to know.”
Erickson said things didn’t seem to fit. He said he had a prompting when he was flying out of Central America, with his binoculars glued to the window, that maybe not everything historical left on earth is of God, such as the Pyramids in Egypt or the Colosseum in Rome.
So, Erickson decided he was at the wrong place.
Even though he follows the Book of Mormon, Erickson said he is not LDS because he found so many things that created too much commotion and he didn’t want to bother anybody.
“I do want to share what I found so people can build their testimony,” he said.
Erickson talked about many people he met along the way, while doing research that he said helped him prove what he believes is true. He said he wishes to teach people who are interested in his research and what he has found — and just how much sense it makes to him.
He said his curiosity started out with religious-like research, as he does follow a book that is sacred to the LDS church, but has since extended far beyond any specific religious organizations.
Erickson said he has dedicated over 70 percent of his life to figuring out that eternal question, and still, with his 82nd year just around the corner, he continues to do so.
“I do strange things,” Erickson said, “but it’s really been fun.”