Born in Pennsylvania near the turn of the twentieth-century, Fred Bear was drawn along with millions of other young men to Detroit's shining capitalist engine of employment. During the economic downturn of the early 1930s, Bear turned the loss of a job into an opportunity to pursue his great love of bow making.
As it turned out, Bear's biggest break was the lifting of legal restrictions upon hunting with archery tackle in state after state (Bear's own filmed bowhunting exploits helped win over ignorant skeptics). At its height, Bear Archery of Grayling, Michigan employed more than 400 and was at the center of archery innovation. Sadly, Bear's Michigan manufacturing fell prey to the same covetous agitators who have killed off tens of millions of other US manufacturing jobs: labor unions.
Ted Nugent first met Fred Bear at the age of six at Bear's original bow shop. In Michigan, "Up North" refers to the Upper Peninsula, aka the "U.P." The U.P. serves as an exclusive wild frontier for Michiganders. Nugent family bowhunting trips to the U.P. would provide Ted with many chances to be in Bear's presence, and once he reached manhood (and fame), he took many more opportunities to hunt, shoot and bask in the sun of Bear's hunting and shooting knowledge.
Personally, as a seven year old, I distinctly remember doing my own coveting for a pair of tickets to see the Motor City Madman lying on an end table at the home of teenage family friends. The tickets were stamped, "TED NUGENT, RUPP ARENA, 5/28/77." It was also about this time I first heard the bowstring twang of the hottest thing in archery, the Bear Whitetail Hunter compound bow.
Among we conservation conservatives, no other figure exudes unbridled enthusiasm for life quite like Ted Nugent. I count it a privilege my son and I spoke directly with Nugent at the 2008 NRA Annual Meeting: "Which holster maker do you prefer Mr. Nugent?" "Galco!" Came the reply as he pulled back his cover garment revealing a Glock Model 20 chambered in the romping, stomping 10mm; carried in a Fletch Model thumb break holster. If you want strong doses of genuine zest for life, read/watch all you can of Uncle Ted and his mentor the late, great Fred Bear.
Shane Morris is a retired soldier and teacher.