By Brent Frazee - McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)
KANSAS CITY, MO - It's Wednesday morning - just a few hours after Ted Nugent had pinballed across the stage at the Uptown Theater while performing his brand of hard-rock mania - and you would think he would need some down time.
Instead, he is rushing into his second passion - the world of bow hunting - with the same energy he had just displayed on stage.
Visiting an archery plant run by friend Andy Ross, he talks about his "in-your-face" defense of hunting that has brought him almost as much attention as his music. And as always, he is busy recruiting hunters - this time, two of his band members.
"If you want to be in my band, you have to be a member of the NRA, and you have to love to kill stuff," Nugent says. "That's why we're here.
"These two guys have never bow-hunted before. But that's going to change. I'm going to buy them bows, and they're going to learn about the mystical flight of the arrow."
The recruits - drummer Mick Brown and bass player Barry Sparks - at first look a bit uncomfortable in their new world. But with each arrow they let fly on a practice range under the watchful eye of Nugent, their apprehension melts.
"This is so killer," Sparks says. "I'm going to have so much fun with this bow at home. I'll probably have all kinds of holes in my walls, but that's OK.
"I could see the whole `clearing-your-mind' thing. I could see doing this."
Nugent smiles. Another victory in the battle to preserve hunting.
Another day in his wild and crazy life.
The first thing you have to know about Ted Nugent is that he isn't going to apologize to anyone for hunting.
"I've got a message for all those people who think hunting is so terrible," he says. "They can kiss my (behind)."
That's Ted. Whether he's on stage singing a tribute to a bow hunting legend, Fred Bear, or whether he's on TV, starring in his "Wanted: Ted or Alive" show, he doesn't hold his tongue when it comes to hunting.
Remember, he's the one who came up with the phrases "Kill 'em and grill 'em" and "Whack 'em and stack 'em." Not exactly politically correct descriptions of hunting.
But then, Nugent doesn't care. He will be the first to tell you that hunting is about more than just killing. It's also about sunrises and sunsets, campfires, hunting camps and good times with good friends.
But he doesn't apologize for the killing part.
"People will say to me, `All you want to do is kill things,' " Nugent says. "But if that was true, I'd be out there with a grenade launcher.
"People who don't hunt don't realize how spiritual it is to hunt with a bow. They don't realize how close that animal has to be before you can get off a shot.
"It's not just the killing. But I'm not going to apologize for that part. That's part of hunting."
Of course, some more conservative hunters grimace when Nugent shows a kill in detail on his television show or when he launches into a rant about the thrill of the kill.
"He's a loose cannon, covering the trails with washtubs of blood," Glenn St. Charles, founder of the national Pope & Young Bow hunting club, told Outside magazine.
David Petersen, editor of the book A Hunter's Heart, was even more pointed.
"He's obnoxious, brash and a bully," Peterson told the magazine. "He embodies and magnifies aspects of hunting that the general public detests."
But there's little question that Nugent has a loyal following, too.
"Ted has his facts down," said *** Mauch, director of the Archery Manufacturers Organization. "He is very articulate and is also bold, honest, not shy or afraid to meet any challenge."
But it's the support that comes from unlikely sources that Nugent takes the most pride in.
"At every one of my programs, I'll have people come up to me and say, `You know, I was an anti-hunter before I came in here, but you've changed my mind,' " Nugent says. "I'm (57) years old, but the young people still connect with me.
"When they see me on TV celebrating the killing of a deer, they notice. A lot of these kids hated hunting until they starting listening to me and started learning what it's all about."
A big part of Nugent's message? Get high on the outdoors, not drugs or alcohol.
"Drugs are for fools," he says. "I told (rock legends) Jimi Hendrix, Keith Moon and Jerry Garcia what was going to happen to them if they kept taking drugs. Well, look what happened.
"They took drugs, and they're dead. I went hunting, and I'm still Ted."
Nugent doesn't even crack a smile when he traces his hunting roots back to the days when he was in diapers.
"Before my first birthday, my dad brought me to hunting camp in Michigan," Nugent says. "I'm sure that somewhere between filling my diapers, I absorbed part of what was going on.
"I was destined to become a hunter."
Today, Nugent proudly proclaims that he's never missed an opening day of the Michigan deer season, even with his busy schedule touring.
He spends spring and summer on the road performing, making 160 tour stops. But once fall arrives, it's time to go hunting.
Nugent exudes endless energy in both pursuits.
He is one of the legends of rock and roll, recording more than 30 albums since 1967 and selling more than 35 million copies.
His songs "Cat Scratch Fever," "Motor City Madhouse," "Fred Bear" and "Stranglehold" are legendary in the rock world.
And at age 57, he is still going strong, rocking on.
"The silence between our songs is more intense than other bands' music," Nugent boasts.
He is just as intense about his hunting.
His television shows "Wanted: Ted Or Alive" and "Ted Nugent: Spirit of the Wild" have found award-winning success, and he hit The New York Times best-sellers list in 2000 with his book God, Guns & Rock `N' Roll. He runs a bow-hunting school and a camp that introduces kids to hunting, and guides hunters through his Sunrize Safaris commercial operation. He is editor and publisher of an outdoors magazine, and he has his own organization of outdoors sportsmen.
Today, he and his family - his wife, Shemane, and four children - live on a ranch near Crawford, Texas. His neighbor? President George W. Bush.
That fits. Nugent is an outspoken member of the Republican Party and a big supporter of the U.S. military.
He remembers an encounter in 2000 when he and his neighbor showed their mutual respect for each other.
"It was during an inauguration party, and President Bush came up to me and said, `Just keep doing what you're doing. Don't think that we don't know what you're up to,' " Nugent said. "That was something."
Count Andy Ross as one of many who has been affected by Nugent's message.
Five years ago, he had never bow hunted. Then he joined some friends on a hunting trip to one of Nugent's ranches in Michigan.
The experience, Ross says, was life-changing.
"It was the first time I had hunted with a bow, even though I had been a waterfowl hunter for years, and I really had a good time," he says. "But just meeting and spending some time with Ted was what made it memorable.
"I was impressed with him from the start. He was the hardest-working guy in camp. He did everything from hanging the tree stands to washing the dishes.
"He didn't want the celebrity treatment."
Ross, who lives in Overland Park, and Nugent hit it off, and they soon began hunting together. And as they did, Ross' interest in bow hunting soared.
Today, Ross is president and CEO of Ross Archery in Grandview, Mo., one of the industry's top hunting-bow manufacturers. And he and his wife, Angie, travel the continent on big-game hunting trips.
They frequently appear on one of Nugent's TV shows and plan on releasing their own show, "Maximum Archery," early next year.
For much of that, they credit Nugent.
"Some people will say he's too radical," Ross says. "But I don't see it that way.
"He isn't afraid to speak out for hunting, and I think that's great."
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