I lost Fred Bear, my dear friend, mentor, hero and BloodBrother nearly 27 years ago on April 27, 1988. We bowhunted together and shared another moving campfire at his sacred Michigan hunting grounds, what would end up being his very last bowhunt here on earth, in late October the previous fall, and to this day, many of us have still not gotten over our sadness and loss.
By Ted Nugent
In this crazy world we live in today, now more than ever, thank God we all still have such powerful loving memories of special people in our lives, and as I wrote in my tribute song to the great man, surely, “in the wind, he’s still alive!”
Fred was born on a farm in Waynsboro, Pa., on March 5, 1902, and was the living personification of rugged individualism and true self-sufficient independence that made this country great and so much better than any other. They were glorious days in this brave new world where men were men and stood strong to take care of their families and couldn’t imagine not earning their own way or that somehow animals could possibly have rights in between meals of flesh.
Farming, timbering, hunting, fishing and trapping all provided a good quality of life for the Bear family, and Fred was intrigued with the higher level of awareness that was inescapable as a hunter and honest participant in God’s natural world of the tooth, fang and claw hands-on conservation lifestyle.
Every hunt was the perfect challenging sport, pragmatic procurement of life sustaining meat, hide, bone, tools and medicine and when successful, the ultimate trophy of accomplishment through gungho stealthy patience and dedication to our reasoning predator responsibilities.
Fred became so proficient with his firearms that he sought a more challenging, fulfilling methodology in his hunting pursuits. Once he witnessed the exploits of Saxton Pope and Art Young carrying on the bowhunting lifestyle of Ishi, the last of the Yani Indian tribe of California, the archery fire was started, and Fred went on to lead the charge promoting bowhunting big game around the world.
Though he didn’t begin to bowhunt until he was 29 years of age, his woodscrafting and engineering genius opened a window to new and innovative archery designs, securing his 1st archery patent in 1950.
It was around that time that my dad, Warren Nugent, was struck hard with the bowhunting bug due to Fred’s easy going, genuine style of promoting this exciting new sport. Like all youngsters growing up in the great hunting state of Michigan, I already had a kid’s bow and arrow rig by the time I was two years old, and spurred on by our annual family bowhunting jaunts into the mystical big woods of Michigan’s “Up North” gamelands, my passion for the mystical flight of the arrow and fascination with wildlife was taking over my life.
With the then-brand new outrageous and unprecedented electric guitar sonic bombast of his majesty Chuck Berry and Bo Diddly driving my American musical dreams, it was the great Fred Bear that inspired my bowhunting dreams.
Meeting the man as a youngster then being welcomed into his life, home and hunting camp as a young man, I had to pinch myself often to actually believe I was a hunting buddy of Fred Bear.
We spoke often and had truly amazing conversations around the fireplace each night after every special fall day in the deerwoods of Michigan together.
Fred embodied the two ultimate compliments anyone could hope for. He was down to earth and grounded, and to this day his gentlemanliness continues to inspire millions of us.
When he passed on that April day 27 years ago, a great hush enveloped the conservation world, for we had lost one of the greatest conservationists and conservation promotors the world has ever known. Hearts were broken and grown men cried like babies, saddened that no more campfires would be shared with our hero and BloodBrother.
To this day I share hundreds of spirit campfires with hundreds of American hunting families each fall, and everyone bows their head in reverence at the mention of Fred Bear. Even in death he continues to drive us to stand up for what we believe in and carryon the perfection of killing big game with the bow and arrow.
These may be lyrics to a song, but they are the battlecry for a lifestyle that is cherished by millions of hunting families around the world.
“There I was back in the wild again. I felt right at home where I belong. I had that feeling coming over me again, just like it happened so many times before.
The spirit of the woods is like an old good friend. It makes me feel warm and good inside. I know his name and its good to see him again, because in the wind he’s still alive.
Oh Fred Bear, walk with me, down the trails again. Take me back, back where I belong. Oh Fred Bear, its good to see you again, and I will join you in the big hunt before too long.”
Godspeed my BloodBrother. We will never forget you.
Ted Nugent is an award-winning musician and writer, with numerous best-seller books including “Ted, White and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto,” “God, Guns and Rock ‘n Roll,” and “Kill It and Grill It: A Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish” with his wife, Shemane, among other books. Be sure to check out his website here for more news on his latest music, thoughts and upcoming shows in 2015, and also at World News Daily, Newsmax and Daily Caller for more insights.
Fred Bear studio version: