On March 5, 1902, the father of modern bowhunting was born. 120 years later, the legend of Fred Bear lives on each time you pick up your bow and arrow. Fred Bear is known for his hunting prowess and marketing mastery, but he was also an American entrepreneur who struggled, sacrificed, and took risks to keep bowhunting alive and growing.
Here Ted Nugent answers questions from Michigan Out of Doors‘ writer Alan Campbell about the father of modern bowhunting. Ted met Fred when he was 6 years old during his family’s annual bowhunting trips to northern Michigan, which often included a stop at the little cinderblock Bear Archery shop. Over the years after graduating from high school, Ted made it a point to keep in touch with Fred as Bear Archery became the number one archery phenomenon in the world.
1. How did Fred handle the pressure to commercialize, given his passion for traditional values? Even good souls get nicked under the pressure to make a dollar — and make payroll. Fred seemed to keep his intact.
Fred, like all creative, inspired, talented and driven American entrepreneurs wasn’t pressured at all by commercialization, but rather to pursue his archery/bowhunting passions to create, invent and develop his ingenious bowyer visions and gifts for the betterment of the sport. “Making a buck” is the purest form of the American capitalist dream and the foundation of traditional values of being the best that one can be.
2. What about his spiritual side? I feel it in your musical tribute to Fred, which I think was the point. But I’m left wanting to know more. Did Fred’s spiritual beliefs include Christianity? Was he more aligned with the beliefs of Native Americans? Whom did he pray to after a kill?
Spending such special time around Fred all those years, especially the openness of campfire time, showed time and time again how deep this great man revered God’s miraculous creation and our clear and present responsibility to be good stewards of it. His profound statement, like so many of them, “… time in nature with the proper attitude and respect for wildlife … will cleanse the soul” says it all. The intimate relationship as an asset to nature necessary to be a successful bowhunter drives one to remain down to earth and grounded in a timeless way exactly like the Native Americans and all aboriginal peoples.
3. Did compound bows bother him? What would he think about crossbows?
I would hesitate to use the word “bothered,” but as an original instinctive archer, he often made it perfectly clear that he certainly didn’t care for them. He also made it perfectly clear that he supported any and all methodologies that would help encourage everyone to get outdoors. His brilliant “Be a Two-Season Hunter” promotional campaign to support gun hunters to take the next step into archery solidified that.
4. Something about the sheer boldness of Fred in his pursuit of game. Walking with polar bears, sleeping under stars miles from a cabin, ignoring cold and rain. He seemed to walk in and out of civilization like we turn on and off a television.
Fred powerfully reminded a society hellbent on the industrial revolution making life easier that rugged individualism and self-reliance were more important than any technological advances made in the modern era. That wonderful spirit lives on in the bowhunting families of America as we continue to be inspired by this great man. In the wind he’s still alive!