By: Ted Nugent
It’s the guy that goes to his grave with the most powerful memories that wins. My memory bank runneth over with the greatest memories a guy could ever hope for, and as we enter March 2019, this is the time of year, every year, when my happy memory planets align, for March 5 is Fred Bear’s birthday.
Born in 1902, Fred would have turned 117 this week and a gathering of Fred Bear loving BloodBrothers got together for the 2nd annual Fred Bear Day in Grayling, Michigan, to commemorate this wonderful human being.
Of course, Grayling, the real Gateway to Up North, was where Fred and his amazing bowyer Nels Grumly relocated their unique and soon to be legendary little archery shop from Detroit way back around 1940 or thereabouts, and they were off to the races.
My good fortune came about because my dad, Warren Henry Nugent was already a bowhunter and follower of Fred’s when I was born in 1948, and like all American kids in those days, we all had Red Ryder Daisy BB-guns, a homemade slingshot and a homemade bow and arrow.
I was addicted to the mystical flight of the arrow and allthings wildlife from day one, and I literally spent my entire youth stalking the wildlife habitat paradise along the winding wooded banks of the Detroit Rouge River right across Hazelton street from my home.
By the time I was six or seven, our Nugent family annual treks north for the October bowhunting season included a stop at a little cinder-block shack just outside the city-limits of Grayling with a hand-carved wooden sign over the door that read Bear Archery.
Within a few years I finally figured out just who this tall, lanky, friendly gentleman was, and lo and behold, my friendship with my bowhunting hero began.
I had the supreme pleasure of communicating, hanging and hunting with Fred and his gang for many years at his beloved Grouse Haven hunting camp in Rose City, Michigan, and the time we all shared with Fred around the archery range, buckpole, campfires and fireplace were priceless.
You see, Fred was not only the greatest bowhunter that ever lived, certainly the greatest conservation promoter that ever lived, a world-class visionary entrepreneur, phenomenal bowyer and champion tournament archer, but more that any of that, he was the consummate gentleman, a true American Spirit BloodBrother!
Some in our sport would lament how our industry has become too business like, too trophy conscious and a bit too mechanical, but I am here to tell you that in my bowhunting world, that great down to earth, Fred Bear Spirit BloodBrother comradery is not only alive and well, it remains the driving force in our beloved bowhunting lifestyle.
There are so many people that still love and remember Fred, and on March 5th at the original Bear Archery epicenter in Grayling, Michigan, the BloodBrothers of the mystical flight of the Fred Bear arrow lined up and launched a loving 21 arrow salute to our friend, mentor, hero and BloodBrother on his 117th birthday!
Timing it the best I could, I grabbed my Bear Super Kodiak, nocked an old original Port Orford cedar Bear arrow, looked to the heavens, and launched my own shaft-O-love for the great man.
The world’s conservationists and hunting families owe a great debt of gratitude to Fred Bear. Google him and if you haven’t already watched his hunting DVDs, take the time to do so and read his books and the books about him, listen to the song Fred Bear, and for all practical purposes you will get to know him and better understand the enormous respect and love so many of us have for him.
As we say with a smile on our face, in the wind, he’s still alive!