by Ted Nugent
March 5, 1902, in a freezing cold brutal Pennsylvania blizzard, a man-child was born. We never know when, where, how or who amongst us will pursue the American Dream in what manner, shape or form, but in this case, the birth of Fred Bear would so powerfully impact so many in so many different ways, that March 5, 1902, should be a date we must all remember and celebrate.
This week, on March 5, 2014, I was convalescing at home following my long overdue double knee replacement surgery, virtually writhing in indescribable pain and discomfort.
I was obediently slamming back the painkillers and prescription drugs that my professional team of doctors had prescribed for me, but it still wasn’t very pretty.
My cellphone texts and emails were blowing up with messages of get-well cheer and goodwill from family and friends around the world, but I was still having a very difficult time managing the nonstop pain.
You would think someone had just cut both of my legs off or something!
One week after the surgery, another surge of phone texts came in, but this time, they were reminding me that it was my old buddy’s 112th birthday, and that the song FRED BEAR was blasting away on home, office and vehicle sound systems all across America and as far away as Scotland, Germany, Japan, Australia and beyond.
Along with the deluge of texts and emails, my website and Facebook was tsunamied with joyous celebrations of this great man’s legacy and how his song connected us in moving, spiritual ways.
For the first time since the agonizing surgery, I swear the pain all but went away as I read the gushing love and admiration we shared for Fred from so many.
I believe it was way back around 1952 or thereabouts that I first met this gentleman. Tribe Nuge had an annual tradition of heading “Up North” in our Ford station wagon for the ceremonious October 1 opening day of Michigan’s whitetail deer bowseason.
We always made it a point to stop at Fred’s archery shop, what was then but a small ramshackle double-wide shack just on the outskirts of Grayling, where he and fellow master bowyer Nels Grummly had moved to from Detroit years earlier.
Surprisingly, Fred was usually there plugging away at his various archery and bowhunting inventions, fletching arrows, testing equipment and going over the never-ending business regimen that entrepreneurial small business visionaries must forever contend with.
Though very strong in Michigan, the revival of modern day bowhunting was still in its infancy, so we never really ran into any traffic at Fred’s little shop.
Thank God my dad was already hooked on bowhunting when I was born in 1948, so like most post WWII youngsters, I had a bow and arrows, a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun and a Whammo slingshot from the very beginning. But unlike most kids, I never got tired of archery and shooting.
So by the time I was seven or eight, I started to realize that this Fred Bear guy was something special. Very special.
I was humbled and honored to be welcomed into Fred and Henrietta Bear’s home and lives, and got to share many a campfire at his legendary Rose City, Michigan, Grouse Haven deercamp over many years.
As I have mentioned many times in the past how incredibly fortunate I was to be with Fred on his last hunt on earth in October 1987, those precious moments with such an amazing man have played and continue to play a mighty role in my quality of life far beyond just bowhunting.
“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. In the wind, I can hear, Fred Bear.”
Check out this interview with Nugent about Fred Bear and public relations: