I celebrate everyday I’m alive in America as a magnificent gift from God, especially during the dynamo that is my sacred hunting season. But every year on Thursday, December 17, something very special consumes me, as it is my dad’s birthday. Every year no matter what, I climb a Texas tree stand, like I do everyday throughout the fall and winter hunt season, but on my dad’s birthday, this magical hunting day is very, very special.
Warren Henry Nugent was born in Detroit, Michigan on December 17, 1920. Those were wild, wild times in America, and especially in Detroit. America and the world was rejoicing and celebrating the victory of American good over Japanese and Nazi evil, and the industrial revolution was in full swing. America was showing the world what freedom, independence and rugged individualism could do for the ultimate quality of life.
We call it The American Dream.
Michigan was an incredible hunting paradise back in those days, and dad, like pretty much every American during those formative years, enjoyed his hunting.
Pheasant was king and there were no deer in the southern part of the state. Michigan deer hunting in those days was strictly an Up North proposition, and dad looked forward to each November for the ritual camp life in the big timber North Country.
When dad went off to war in the 1940s, bow hunting was a rarity. With center-fire rifle ballistic development, it seemed weird to abandon the extended long-range possibilities to go backward to the incredible challenge and difficulties of bows and arrows.
But when he returned home to Detroit from WWII in 1945, this Michiganiac Fred Bear dude was gaining a lot of attention with his trusty yew wood longbow and Port Orford cedar arrows all fletched up handsome like with those killer, cool high profile natural turkey feathers. And of course there was that uncanny knack of heart slamming, believable mystical flight of the arrow promotion that old Fred had mastered.
It was powerfully contagious.
Returning GIs were desperate for some soul cleansing escape from the horrors of that bloody, nasty war, and without hesitation, dad got himself a beautiful laminated wood/glass longbow and a back-quiver of good looking arrows down at Miller’s Feed Store on Grand River Avenue, and the Spirit fire was lit!
By the time I came a rompin’ and a stompin’ and a rockin’ and a rollin’ into the world in 1948, the bow hunting bug was all ablaze in pockets across America. With Fred in Michigan, Roy Case in Wisconsin, Howard Hill out in California and Ben Pearson down in Arkansas, the bow hunting bug had us surrounded, and those of us inclined to get down and dirty, up close and personal with the beasts, we simply couldn’t help ourselves.
The mystical flight of the arrow called our name, and it called it hauntingly.
After a few years of whackin’ and stackin’ stuffed critters in the living-room wilderness with my suction-cup arrows from my little glass kid’s bow, I graduated around my 4th year on earth to my very own Osage orange longbow ad real arrows, and as they say, the rest is history!
Squirrels, coons, possums, skunks, river rats, chipmunks, sparrows, doves, pigeons, blue jays and blackbirds were in big trouble! Young Ted sneaked and stalked and hunted hard every waking day!
Lord have mercy!
Dad taught me the aim small miss small stealth discipline of bow hunting and performed his parenting duties hardcore. I thank him every day for it.
Dad passed away in 1993, and my memory bank bursts with phenomenal memories and visions of our annual jaunts into the deer woods of Michigan and beyond.
Nobody gets out alive, and with my craving obsession for hunting, I make it a point to take the best damn care of myself possible. I wish dad would have taken better care of himself so that we could have made more wonderful hunting memories together.
Alas, he chose his path and I chose mine. Now I get to hunt with my sons as often as possible, and I must admit I get a little pushy prodding them to make time for more.
The lyrics to my Fred Bear song include the stanza; “The spirit of the woods is like an old good friend. Makes me feel warm and good inside. I know his name and it’s good to see him again, because in the wind, he’s still alive!”
In the wind, he’s still alive. I love you dad. Thank you.
See you on the big hunt before too long.
Email Ted Nugent at [email protected]