Last week my 8-year-old nephew Joey asked, “Aunt Karen, who was Fred Bear?” I wondered where to start as saying he was America’s bowhunting pioneer was the tip of the iceberg. I was proud to tell Joey about this legendary American bowhunter, bow tech, bow manufacturer, author and TV host who is so often touted “the best-known hunter in the second half of the 20th century.” So I feel it’s certainly fitting to launch my American Bowhunter blog the week of “Papa Bear’s” birthday. Today he would be 102.
Believe it or not, I read that Fred Bear didn’t even start bowhunting until age 29. Of course once he did, he went full speed ahead worldwide, along the way winning quite a few target archery tournaments and founding Bear Archery, which quickly became known for showcasing the lightest, fastest and quietest bows of the day.
Perhaps few have immortalized Fred Bear more than his close friend, noted bowhunter, NRA activist and rocker Ted Nugent. His song “Fred Bear” reminds us: “We’re not alone when we're in the great outdoors. We got his spirit, we've got his soul. He will guide our steps, he'll guide our arrows home.”
Bear shared many profound thoughts with the bowhunting world, but this is one of my favorites: “Hardships are quickly forgotten. Intense heat, bitter cold, rain and snow, fatigue and luckless hunting fade quickly into memories of great fellowship, thoughts of beautiful country, pleasant camps and happy campfires.” There isn’t a bowhunter across America who can’t relate. (See more wonderful quotes and information at FredBear-Online.com.)
Though Bear passed away in 1988, his spirit lives on and we feel forever thankful for his influence. Every time we hunt, we celebrate his words of wisdom: “Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person." Indeed, it does.