Sportsman, rocker entertains Appleton crowd
Ted Nugent takes aim at anti-hunters
By Ed Culhane
Outrageously self-assured, effortlessly funny and as politically incorrect as his song lyrics, rock ’n’ roll gun-rights advocate Ted Nugent appeared downtown Saturday and slayed a crowd of 560 hunters.
Nugent — who coined the hunting phrase “whack ’em and stack ’em” and co-wrote the cookbook Kill It & Grill It — took the stage as the featured speaker for the annual convention of the Wisconsin Bow Hunters Association.
The standing-room-only crowd spent 2½ hours either laughing at Nugent’s manic humor or nodding in assent with his take-no-prisoners assault on anti-hunters and on what Nugent called their “cultural war on the best part of the American dream.”
“There is nothing more perfect than hunting,” he said.
Nugent recalled with horror a 1975 Dan Rather news special, “The Guns of Autumn,” and spoke of waiting in vain for national hunting groups to come out fighting.
“I thought for sure someone would say something on that obscene, dismal, anti-hunting day,” Nugent said. “They called us heathens. They called us cowards. They called us deviants. And no one counter-punched him.”
And so his life’s mission lay before him: a personal crusade against animal-rights activists and government bureaucrats who seek to limit or deny the rights to hunt or bear arms in self defense. It’s why he appeared on Conan O’Brien’s “Late Night” this past week, one of a half-dozen recent appearances on national shows.
It’s why he founded a hunting camp for children.
Nugent ridiculed the idea that vegetarianism is an option to killing for food, an idea popularized by celebrities like Paul McCartney, the former Beatle.
“If you are going to eat,” Nugent said, “something has to die.”
Even if you live on tofu, he said, someone has to clear a field of native vegetation to raise the beans. That field supports a complex ecosystem of plants and wild animals, from mice and squirrels to the hawks that prey on them, Nugent said.
“I’m sorry, Paul, but we are going to have to kill them all because they are interfering with tofu,” Nugent said.
Nugent’s contempt for anti-hunters is rivaled only by his distaste for bureaucrats who enact restrictions and prohibitions on hunting that he said make no sense. There are 11 states that don’t allow hunting on Sundays, he said, as if the science of resource management goes down with the sun on Saturday night. In Michigan and Wisconsin, it is illegal to hunt doves, the No. 1 game bird on the planet.
Nugent, who looks fit and healthy at 54, said he learned to shoot a bow and arrow as a child. He doesn’t drink or smoke, he said. He takes his anti-drug message into schools along with his arrows.
Children are in far more danger from today’s urban culture than they are from guns, he said, citing near epidemic rates of obesity and diabetes among today’s youth.
The future of hunting is in children, he said, and he challenged hunters to become teachers and role models.
“Teach your kids that as goes the mystical flight of the arrow, so goes their soul.”
His message seemed to hit home — even as he managed to insult country and western music lovers along the way, along with gays, “welfare brats,” the unemployed and deer hunters who oppose the controversial practice of baiting.
“I agree with his thinking,” said Cindy Scrobell of Minocqua. “I think our whole country is in trouble, and a lot of what he has to say may help.”
Sue Rieder, a school board member from Monroe, said it is important not to take Nugent’s more outrageous statements too seriously. It is part of his act, part of the way he gains a national audience.
“He is a good proponent for hunting,” she said. “He puts the pressure back on us locally to get involved.”
Ed Culhane can be reached at 993-1000, ext. 216, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org