Once An Engineer, Always An Engineer – Steve Graf, NCWF Charlie Shaw Society Donor and Inventor of the Whisker Biscuit

Steve Graf and family. Steve and his son thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail together, pictured above.
Steve Graf and family. Steve and his son thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail together, pictured above.

When Steve Graf sees a problem or an opportunity to make an improvement, he looks for solutions. That’s why he invented the Whisker Biscuit, a containment arrow rest for a compound bow, which Steve patented nearly three decades ago with his friend and business partner, Ike Branthwaite. Together, they started Carolina Archery Products in 1999 and would later sell the business to Bear Archery. Selling the company allowed Steve to spend more time outdoors and with his family.

“It gave me the opportunity to homeschool my kids, have a farm, and spend a lot off time in nature. My son and I also through-hiked the Appalachian Trail,” Steve said.

In many ways, the Whisker Biscuit allowed him to reconnect with his experiences as a child growing up on 25 acres of woods in rural Virginia.

“I would be gone all day, and it wasn’t uncommon to not be back until after dark,” he said. “My parents really had no issue with that.”

Steve remembers one day walking into the house after hours being outside, and sitting down on the couch. When he stood up, the couch was covered with tadpoles. Little did he know, he brought them home in his pockets after swimming in his clothes in the nearby beaver pond.

“My parents tolerated all kinds of crazy that would not be tolerated today,” he laughs.

Neither of his parents hunted, but it was all that he wanted to do as a boy. As an adult, he’s had many conversations with people that don’t agree with hunting. But instead of debating the issue, he likes to give people resources for further information, like Aldo Leopold’s, A Sand County Almanac. Steve deeply connects with Leopold’s land ethic as a hunter and farmer.

“We are part of the wildness of the universe. We like to think we have tamed nature, yet we have failed to see that we are part of it,” Steve said.

Steve looks for what needs the most help in the world around him.

“The things that are most neglected are the things we take for granted,” Steve said.

You don’t have to live long in this world to see that we take our natural environment for granted. When Steve’s kids were around four and five years old, he would take them on trash cleanup walks to remove litter along the roadway near their home. The bags would be filled to the brim with trash by the end of the walk. But when they returned the next day, his kids were discouraged to find that it was like they were never there the day before.

“We aren’t entitled to throw our trash out the window. We have a responsibility to clean it up,” Steve said.

Which is why Steve supports NCWF. He sees NCWF as part of the solution to addressing habitat loss, wildlife declines, and the nature deficit within our society. Once an engineer, always an engineer.

You can join Steve and other NCWF donors in the Shaw Society by donating $1,000 or more in a calendar year. Some people prefer to give a single gift in a year, others like to give monthly. To learn about all the ways you can join the Shaw Society and support wildlife and habitat in North Carolina today and for future generations, contact NCWF VP of Philanthropy Kate Greiner at [email protected].

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