By: Ted Nugent
It was thirty years ago this month that I walked with a giant for the very last time. Privileged beyond words to be the invited guest of the great Fred Bear at his beloved annual Grouse Haven deercamp in the big woods of Michigan, there was nothing in this world that could keep me away from spending such earth-moving time with the legendary bowhunter and conservation visionary.
My cherished times with Fred going all the way back to my youth were always incredibly special, but the magical setting of an autumn woodland colorfest during bowseason with The Man was literally off the charts exciting.
Surrounded by old hunting buddies and Bear Archery associates from around the country, the atmosphere verily glowed with the essence of the bowhunting life.
Chats around the campfire and fireplace, dining, sitting back sharing hunting tales and lies, making the rounds spreading corn and sugar beets at all the various deerstands, shooting our bows at the range and just classic deercamp hanging out and camaraderie was all so damn special there are no words to describe the magical aura and pulsations of it all.
Old Doug Walker was there. Bob Munger, Dick Mauch, Erv Wagner, Sheriff Bob Blevins, Sherwood Schock, Hap Fling, Dick Lattimer, Frank Scott, Astronaut Joe Engle, so many good friends and A list players from the original days of bowhunting’s rebirth. Every year was the bowhunting camp to end all bowhunting camps.
On that October day 1987 thirty years ago, Fred and I had the rare moment to have some time alone together as everyone else headed to their deerstands. Doing everything I could to be sure I wasn’t being a pest to Fred, I would always opt to stick around camp with him instead of hunting some mornings and afternoons.
Those that knew Fred were well aware of his great sense of humor and there was never a dull moment with him.
With his ever-present oxygen bottle in tow, we headed up the old two-track at a leisurely pace due North from camp under the towering firestorm of the peak of Michigan’s fall colors. It was so beautiful it was almost out of body exhilarating!
We talked rock-n-roll, guitars, bows, arrows, broadheads, guns, ammo, knives, wildlife, the healing powers of nature, the old days in Detroit and Grayling, a little politics, women, dogs, (he loved my Irish Setters Paco, Popeye and Pinecone) the scourge of animal rights insanity and the ugly approaching storm of the yet un-named horror of political correctness.
Truth, logic, commonsense, pragmatism, independence, rugged individualism, law and order, a man’s handshake and word as bond, entrepreneurial challenges and dreams, the sacred US Constitution and Bill of Rights, God; these are some of the things we saw eye to eye on, and the great man fortified my already strong confidence in same.
When I said good-bye to Free a few days later I wasn’t sure if I would ever see my friend again. His health was failing and at 85 years of age with his respiratory condition the prognosis was not encouraging.
From that day on I thought of my friend constantly. We talked a few times in the ensuing months, but by April, the end was near.
I vowed that I would do all in my power to keep the great man’s name alive, and through my various sports publications writings, the powerful Fred Bear song and our 29 year running Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids 501C3 nonprofit charity, I am confident that the name Fred Bear will never die.
So as we grab our bows and arrows these phenomenal bowhunting months of September, October, November and December and beyond, pause and take a quiet moment to gaze up into the heavens and know for sure that our trails were created in great part by this amazing man, Fred Bear.
In the wind, he’s still alive.