Ted Nugent’s ‘Fred Bear’: Story Behind the Bowhunting Anthem

by Joe Rutland
ted-nugents-fred-bear-story-behind-the-bow-hunting-anthem

Passion and hunting are two topics that drive rock music legend Ted Nugent. When it comes to bow hunting, it’s all about Fred Bear.

Yes, Nugent has one of his signature songs called “Fred Bear,” but there’s more to the story.

There was actually was a person called Fred Bear, who was a bow hunting superstar and a close friend of Nugent. It was their friendship and Bear actually teaching Nugent about the in’s and out’s of bowhunting that drew them closer together.

Nugent says that “Fred Bear was not only the world’s great hunter, certainly the world’s greatest bow hunter.”

“He was probably the most sincere, lovable guy I’ve ever met in my life,” he says.

Bear was born in 1905 and didn’t take up bow hunting until 1929, according to The Bow Hunters Hall of Fame, of which he’s a member. He’s credited with creating and implementing a number of techniques and tools hunters still use.

Ted Nugent Puts His Love For Bear Into Words

This companionship between Ted Nugent and Bear was very strong, a bond between two men who found a like-minded attitude about hunting.

Being around Bear so much moved “The Motor City Madman” to put into words what this man truly meant to him.

It led to him writing the song “Fred Bear,” which is on Nugent’s 1995 album, “Spirit Of The Wild.”

This song’s first two verses and its chorus take aim at what Bear meant to him.

“There I was, back in the wild again
And I felt right at home where I belong
I had that feelin’ comin’ 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 knew his name and it was good to see him again
‘Cuz 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, I’m glad to have you at my side, my friend
And I’ll join you in the big hunt before too long
Before too long”

Nugent Gets Emotional While Writing Song

Nugent recalls the process of writing “Fred Bear” and how emotional he got in the moment.

“I started spitting out these words. … I didn’t formulate them. It was like a jolt,” he says. “I didn’t consider a thought (and) I didn’t think I was going to write a hunting song.”

“I got through the first verse, and I got into the second verse right after Walk me down the trails again,” he said. “So good to have you at my side again. The spirit of the woods is like an old good friend. And I just dropped my guitar pick and started bawling my eyes out.”

As the song ends, Nugent tells his friend that he hears him…which he and those who listen to the song do.

The last words on the song are spoken by Bear himself, Song Facts highlights.

“(Fred)
If some of our teenage thrill seeker really want to go out and get a thrill.
Let them go up into the north west and let them tangle with a Grizzly bear
or Polar bear or brown bear and get that effect that will cleanse the soul”

Here is Nugent peforming “Fred Bear” before a packed crowd at a concert in 2011.

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