Variety is the Spice of My Life (photos)

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When I started bowhunting with my dad, way, way back in the 1950s, we were fumbling around pretty good in this fascinating rebirth of close-range stick and string predatorship.


(C) Don Zaidle

Why, with the ballistic advancements of Roy Weatherby and the gung-ho wildcatters developing amazingly efficient ammo and rifles to reach way out there to kill big game, why on earth would anyone want to so severely handicap ourselves and attempt the near impossible to penetrate the nearly impenetrable red alert danger zone of game we could easily kill from afar?

Why, indeed.

What Fred Bear had so profoundly promoted and marketed was the human instinct to seek extreme challenge. Of course putting a bullet in the vitals of a deer or elk beyond 200, 300, 500 plus yards is certainly a serious sporting marksmanship challenge by anyone’s measurement, but there is something primal and freaky about out-maneuvering prey animals’ ears, eyes, noses and 6th sense of escape in order to get within 20, even 10 yards with the bow and arrow.

Such complete dedication to stealth will either drive you completely bonkers or make you the happiest backstrapper in the land. I spent many, many years as a fulltime resident of Bonkersville, I assure you.

Back then, as I believe to a great degree even to this day, all young boys got a Daisy Red Ryder BB rifle, a Wham-O slingshot and a bow and arrow. These days, more and more young girls are now part of this wonderful ritual.

My entire youth from my earliest and fondest recollections, centered around rotating these three magical projectile implements for the ultimate fun a kid could imagine.


(C) Don Zaidle

Back in Detroit, I was put in charge of English sparrow and starling control in our cinderblock garage, and I had to be forced away from my “poop patrol” duties to function as a student and family member. I simply could not get enough shooting in to soothe the little savage Nuge.

The mighty Rouge River snaked through the riverine habitat across the street, and to my young imagination, it may have well of been the jungles of Africa. I played very little baseball, basketball, hockey, football or any other athletic sports, for I literally lived in the woods.

My fascination with wildlife and the stalking adventure owned me. I killed lots of critters with well-placed pebbles from my slingshot, plenty of birds and squirrels with the BB gun, but it was the mystical flight of the arrow that mesmerized me from day one. I believe I still hold the world record for most river rats.

Sixty-five years later now, I am oh so very happy to report that little has changed in my never-ending pursuit of happiness. Much of the game I hunt has gotten bigger and better, but the sheer joy of the pursuit is much like that of my pure, uninhibited youth. And of course, I don’t shoot robins anymore.

I know that 95+% of my hunting on Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild TV on Outdoor Channel is with the bow and arrow, and God knows I absolutely love every minute of it.


(C) Don Zaidle

But my wonderful Labrador retrievers and I still thrill at wing-shooting, waterfowling, and small game as often as possible, and I shoot rifles, machineguns, shotguns, and handguns constantly.

One of our most popular segments on Spirit of the Wild is Uncle Ted’s Favorite Guns, as I try out many of my various firearms.

The grand family tradition of Opening Day firearm’s deer season in Michigan with my sniper 12-gauge is more exciting for me than Christmas, New Years and my birthday combined. I kill a lot of game with my 10mm and other handguns, varmint hunt year round with various firearms and calibers, and literally celebrate hunt, fish, trap, and shoot all year long.

My favorite hunting of all is the strategic ambush where I scout like a madman to determine the best place to kill a deer undetected. Stand placement is a predator science that intrigues me no end.

But I also still-hunt, stalk, wander and even do some long-range sniper work on game and varmints.

I love scoped rifles and handguns, but prefer open sights when I gun hunt. I have done my share of black powder hunting but find the cleanup procedure to be less than enjoyable.

I love my Excalibur crossbow and am working diligently to regain my Robin Hood accuracy with some of my beloved longbows and recurves.

I also run a year round trap line, and no doubt trapping is also one of my favorite forms of hunting. Not only does it teach you the ultimate knowledge of wildlife, but the furs are stunning and the lessons learned on a trap line will certainly make you a better hunter real quick.

And of course trapping fawn- and small game-killing vermin is the ultimate conservation-balancing act known to man.

The Nugent family eats lots of fresh fish, and we get after the bream pretty hard in spring, summer, and occasionally fall and winter when we can.


(C) Don Zaidle

Then there is the most intense shooting fun known to mankind when we saddle up helicopters with my full auto M4 and work on the overpopulated hog epidemic in Texas. There is a very real distinct possibility that I actually have too much fun in the helicopter.

A little this and a little that is what keeps me bright eyed and bushytailed when it comes to my love of the great outdoors. Give it a shot, go beyond your sporting paradigm, and see how much some different methodologies will do for your fun factor this season.

Some things come relatively easy, and some are very difficult to master. But if an old guitar player from Detroit can do, certainly anyone can. And should!


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