By: Ted Nugent
As I submit this here deeranddeerhunting.com NugeBlog#346 on this, the 5th of March, 2020, grand celebration, and substantial emotion is erupting in Grayling Michigan, and I bet here, there and everywhere across the fruited plains, as we celebrate the birthday of our friend, hero, master bowhunter, legendary conservationist and Spirit BloodBrother, Mr. Fred Bear.
Fred was born on March 5th, way back in 1902, which is 118 years ago. We lost the great man on April 27, 1988, and the Annual Fred Bear Day in Grayling Michigan, original home of his Bear Archery World Headquarters and Museum, will once again be the scene where they send off a 21 arrow salute to the father of modern day bowhunting.
I was lucky beyond belief to be born in Michigan in 1948 when Fred’s whirlwind promotion/celebration of the mystical flight of the arrow and bowhunting in general was off and running at fullspeed.
The annual Nugent family bowhunting safaris Up North often included a stopover at the little cinderblock Bear Archery shop where I was privileged beyond words to hangout with Fred, and even share a snack of cherry pie and chocolate milk at the Grayling Restaurant on occasion.
For a kid already addicted to archery and woodland bowhunts, spending time with Fred was like jamming with Chuck Berry as a guitarplayer.
Fred was extremely kind and cordial, funny, interesting and downright fascinating as he shared bowhunting tales that dreams are made of.
Over the years after graduating from High School, I made it a point to keep in touch with Fred as Bear Archery became the number one archery phenomenon in the world, his global bowhunting exploits legendary and his contagious goodwill and charm respected and admired.
Though the most well-known Fred Bear legends have mostly to do with his incredible hunting prowess and clever marketing skills, many of us saw the classic American entrepreneur who struggled, sacrificed and took risks to keep bowhunting alive and growing.
As the namesake of the most successful and respected archery company in the world, Fred never became wealthy and always lived a very simple, pragmatic, utilitarian lifestyle with his beloved wife Henrietta and his Bear Archery family.
To have been honored to be a part of that remains one of the most fortifying experiences in this old bowhunter’s life.
Lord have mercy, Fred was a wonderful humanbeing, and he epitomized the American Dream work ethic, goodwill and decency.
My last hunt with my friend took place at his sacred Grouse Haven hunting lodge and grounds outside Rose City Michigan in October of 1988. It took all my discipline to not be a pesky hanger-on at camp, but I craved every special moment I had with the gentleman bowhunter, and I learned the ultimate lessons in not just hunting skills, but also the ultimate lessons in just being a good, down to earth guy.
It was shortly after his death that following spring that my love and affection, fueled powerfully by the extreme sadness of losing him, unleashed all those emotions and feelings as they came rushing forth from deep inside of me musically.
I did not write or compose the song, but rather just channeled my purest feelings in an out of body flow of love and sadness that could not be stopped.
Everybody I know fondly recalls Fred, and his name is guaranteed to come up at every campfire every year during the hunting season and beyond.
I will touch off a spiritual arrow today in his memory, and I know he is at my side everyday afield.
Later this month, it will be my honor to accept the very 1st Pope and Young Bowhunter Hall of Fame Award at their annual gathering on behalf of the great Fred Bear.
Oh Fred Bear, walk with me down those trails again. Take me back, back where I belong.
Oh Fred Bear, I’m glad to have you at my side my friend, and I will join you in the big hunt before too long.
In the wind, he’s still alive!