August 19, 2022
Sports Column

Rocker, avid hunter, Ted Nugent relishes Maine bear hunt Musician well-known for pro-hunting stance

Ted Nugent blew into Sebec on Thursday afternoon, hopped out of a truck, and hit the ground running (and talking) … just like you’d expect of a rock-and-roller known worldwide as “The Motor City Madman.”

“Hello, y’all,” Nugent says, unfolding his long, lean frame from the truck that delivered him to the Maine woods. “Shouldn’t y’all be in tree stands, hunting?”

Sheepishly, the hunters agree. But the reason they’re standing in the dirt driveway of Wayne Bosowicz’s Foggy Mountain Guide Service is obvious. They all want to see “Nuge.”

Just to say hi. Just to get an autograph. Just to see if the flamboyant guitar genius, rock icon and, perhaps, the nation’s most outspoken Second Amendment advocate, will go on a rant.

Nugent is famous for them, you see. Point a tape recorder his direction, ask a question (or, for that matter begin asking a question), and you’re likely to get what amounts to a verbal version of the high-octane guitar solos that made him famous. You’re likely to get a few words you can’t use in a family newspaper. And you’re likely to either get caught up in his fervor … or, if you’re on the other side of the political fence, to hate everything he stands for.

That’s OK with Nugent. Because if you hate what he’s saying … chances are, he has no use for you, either.

“You’ve got questions? I’ve got answers,” Nugent says, brushing aside the notion that asking him to talk when his mouth is full of a moose burger will be much of a problem.

“Thank you dear,” he tells Bosowicz’s wife as she serves him the wild game he loves. Then, with two quick sentences, he shows why animal rights activists peg Nugent as public enemy No. 1.

“I love dead things,” he says between bites. “Dead things are my favorite.”

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear here. Ted Nugent is a hunter. Not once in awhile. Not a couple times a year. Not even whenever he gets a chance. Much more often than that.

“My life is the American dream,” he says, getting revved up for the first time in an interview that he allotted five minutes for … and overshot by 15 minutes.

“I rock my brains out 100 nights a year and then the other 265, I hunt. You could get angry, I suppose, but why don’t you enjoy it with me?”

Enjoying it with Nugent is unnecessary. After 20 minutes with the man, you realize that he’s milking every ounce of enjoyment out of a life he leads at full speed.

On Wednesday night, he was in Portland, playing a concert with ZZ Top. On Thursday, he flew to Bangor, then hopped in a truck bound for Sebec, and an appointment with a guide he’s known for more than 25 years.

Bosowicz, who has visited Nugent at his home in Michigan, calls Nugent a friend. They’ve hunted together. But until Thursday, Nugent had never come to Maine to hunt black bears.

The plan was for a weeklong hunt, Bosowicz says. But Nugent’s tour schedule got in the way. Concerts kept being added. In the end, all that was left was a Thursday afternoon hunt … an option to get into the woods on Friday morning … and a hasty departure for a Friday night show in Guilford, N.H.

When he arrived in Sebec, his tight schedule continued. Grab a snack. Get into the woods … Oh. Share a few quick words with a writer … on the fly.

“I really crave [hunting],” Nugent says, explaining what drives him. “It’s not recreation, although it re-creates. It certainly re-creates your vitality and your spirit. It does all those re-creation things. It’s what God meant me to do. He meant me to be a hands-on conservationist. He meant for me to witness my consumerism and be more responsible. That has to do with hunting, fishing, trapping. It’s honest, pure consumerism. If you get hungry, you kill something. If you need food and shelter, you save ecosystems that will produce that food and shelter and medicine. And that’s what we’ve always done.”

Nugent says there’s a “cultural war” going on in the United States. On one side are people who feel like he does. People who hunt. People who trap. People who fish.

On the other side are the people who get his blood boiling.

“For there to be a cultural war against us is an indictment on the apathy and the disconnect that plagues mankind,” he says. “The fact that there are more deer, more turkey, more bear, more mountain lion, more wild geese than ever before in recorded history, in a world that is basically paved, is irrefutable testimony to the genuine heart and soul of the conservation effort as led by hunters and fishermen and trappers.”

Over the years, Nugent has become nearly as well known for his pro-hunting stance as he has for his music. He said he decided to enter the “cultural war” back in 1975, after a CBS TV piece showed hunting in a light he calls “a lie.”

“I’ll tell you what the hunter is,” he says. “The hunter is a successful, law-abiding, conscientious, God-fearing mother, father, son and daughter, who will be found in the asset column of any neighborhood in America.”

Nugent said the fact that he defied so many stereotypes, he became a magnet for members of the media.

He doesn’t do drugs, and he constantly bashes those who do. Among his targets: Fellow musicians who made up one of the most popular bands in recent history.

He draws a comparison between people who bought into a stereotype of hunters, and that band, in fact.

“[The] intentional misrepresentation of this honorable conservation lifestyle as some kind of obese, tobacco-chewing -drunken imbecile … that’s like calling Grateful Dead music rock and roll,” he says, before taking a deeper jab at the band, and their legion of followers. “You have to actually tune your guitars first. You actually have to practice. You have to have a sense of awareness, where you can meaningfully collaborate with your fellow musicians and not be on some cosmic drug orgy so that you just collide happenstance abstractly in the night, and if you have enough people on the same drugs, you have an audience.”

Nugent isn’t that kind of rocker. And he’s not that kind of hunter. That apparent collision of cultures led to plenty of interviews, he says.

“I think all the interviewers saw that, ‘My God, the craziest, wildest, most uninhibited, irreverent [person] in the history of rock and roll is anti-drug. Is militantly anti-drug,” he says. “And the most promoting Second Amendment enthusiast, the most absolutist for the right to self defense, has a pony tail and no suits.”

Nugent says that shouldn’t surprise people … but stereotypes are hard to break down.

“I destroy the presumptuous stereotype of the NRA. But I am the NRA,” he says.

He says interviewers have remained fascinated with the fact that he celebrates his lack of political correctness in a world that increasingly embraces it. And he says the images he sought to fight 25 years ago are still in place.

“I so collide with the stereotype of the crazy rock-and-roller being this drug-infested, drooling, puking dork, and the NRA being this tobacco-chewing slob shooting at noises in the bushes,” he says, admitting that some of the former … and a few of the latter … do exist. “But that’s the lunatic fringe,” he says.

Nugent is a still a rock-and-roller, he points out. But increasingly, he’s an activist. And don’t think he doesn’t know about the battle looming over bear-baiting in Maine. Don’t think it for a minute.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been rolling my sleeves up,” he says as he does just that … just as the question begins to slip from the interviewer’s lips.

Then he leans forward and makes a prediction, in typically bold Nugent fashion.

“We will crush such stupidity,” he says. “To hunt bears without bait is like dropping a hook in the water without a worm on it when you’re fishing. It is a proven, scientifically sound, essential management methodology of hound hunting and bear hunting, as proven in California, Oregon, Washington and Ontario with their spring bear hunt ban.”

Nugent says human tragedies and property damage have resulted in those states, where bear hunting has been curtailed. And he vows it won’t happen here.

“We will get that message to the people of Maine,” he says. “And we will crush the Humane Society of the United States, with their unlimited budget, promoting lies and an anti-nature policy, like we did in Michigan. We will kill them. The beast is ugly. We must slay him.”

Any more questions? Ted Nugent has plenty of answers for you.

One final note: Tom Mansell of Bangor dropped by the office this week and brought a photo of his grandsons and a memorable fish.

In the photo, 7-year-old Braydon Yates of Brewer hoists the first fish he ever caught: a two-pound bass landed at Great Moose Pond in Hartland. Joining him in the picture is his brother, 8-year-old Zackery.

Mansell said Braydon, the son of Tracy and Mike Yates, has decided he likes to fish.

“He’ll fish all day from shore,” Mansell said. “He’s just nuts about it.”

Congratulations to Braydon. May he catch many more.

John Holyoke can be reached at jholyoke@bangordailynews.net or by calling 990-8214 or 1-800-310-8600.


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