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   Fred Bear

         1902 - 1988

  Class of 1972

Bowhunter, Competitor, Contributor to the Sport,  Influence on the Sport

Fred Bear, born March 5th, 1902, in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania was an American bow hunter and bow manufacturer. Although he did not start bow hunting until he was 29 and did not master the skill for many years, he is widely regarded as what some people like to call "A by god legend" and pioneer in the bow-hunting community. Bear was a world traveler, film producer, and the founder of Bear Archery. Best known for his work as a bowyer, Fred has also been immortalized in the song "Fred Bear" from the album Spirit of the Wild by hard rock musician Ted Nugent.



About the Fred Bear Museum.....

The Fred Bear Museum originated in Grayling, Michigan in 1967. Eventually the museum's collection represented the largest privately held collection of archery artifacts in the world. Bear sold controlling interest in his company in 1968, but continued on as President. In 1978, following a strike and continuing labor problems, the Bear Archery manufacturing operation was relocated to Gainesville, Florida. At first the museum remained behind in Grayling, but in 1985 it too was moved to Gainesville, where it found a home in the Bear Archery plant.  That museum closed in 2003, and the collections were sold to Bass Pro Shops and is located in Springfield, Missouri, also home of the Archery Hall of Fame Museum.


 The following was taken from Dick Lattimer’s book, Hunt with Fred Bear.

Too many hunters today place too big an emphasis on the kill. When you  read the stories, the emphasis is too much on the kill - instead of being in natures great outdoors.

"Too many people are uncomfortable in the woods. They do not feel at home when actually they should be. The woods  is a friendly place. Yes, the woods is a big place to get lost in, or to get into trouble in, but the main thing when out­doors is to use good judgment, stay out of trouble and have a good time.

"A downed animal is most certainly the object of a hunting trip, but it becomes an anti-climax when compared to the many pleasures of the hunt. A period of remorse is in order. Perhaps a few words of forgiveness for having taken a life. After this there is a self-satisfaction for having accomplished a suc­cessful stalk and made a good shot.

"But a hunt based only on trophies taken falls short of what the ultimate goal should be. I have known many hunters who, returning empty-handed, have had nothing to say of the enjoyment of time spent in natures outdoors.
"I like to think that an expedition should be looked upon, whether it be an evening hunt nearby or a prolonged trip to some far-off place, as a venture into an unspoiled area. With time to commune with your inner soul as you share the outdoors with the birds, animals and fish that live there.

"And, in another vein, if it is a lengthy trip, select your companions well. A hunting trip is a great place to test the mettle of your friends.

"I feel like one of God's chosen people, having had the experiences I have had in His great outdoors."
—Fred Bear


The following is taken from the last chapter, Hunt with Fred Bear, by Dick Lattimer

Fred and I also worked on converting all of his bowhunting films to video tapes and made more videos of his recollections of the early days of Bear Archery and bowhunting.

Fred's last years were also filled with honors from contemporaries around the country, including being inducted in the first class, into the Archery Hall of Fame in 1972 and the following year he was inducted into the "Hunting Hall of Fame,"

In 1976 he was the recipient of Winchester-Westerns "Outdoorsman of the Year" award. Baseball legend Ted Williams attended that ceremony and I had the opportunity to meet him. Fred was a lifelong baseball fan, especially of the Detroit Tigers. Also that year he received the National Sporting Goods Association "Lifetime Career Award," and a "Regents Citation" from the University of Michigan.

1977 saw Fred awarded the prestigious "Maurice Thompson Medal of Honor" by the National Archery Association.
Following his active career around the world he began making more television appearances promoting our sport on such venues as "The Tonight Show," the "Mike Douglas Show" and "To Tell The Truth." Whenever and wherever he could talk to people about archery in general, and bowhunting in particular, he would go whenever his schedule and health permitted.

And that latter subject began to weigh heavily upon him as he neared the end of his life. He suffered from emphysema and had to roll an oxygen tank around behind him the last couple of years. And he did not let this keep him from making public appearances. He loved people, and they him.

Fred died on April 27,1988, and on July 8 of that same year Jim Hatfield, an old Bear Archery employee, and I put on our waders, picked up our fly rods, and headed cross country through the Grayling, Michigan, area forest and spread Fred's ashes alongside the South Branch of the Au Sable River where we all liked to fly fish. The evening hatch was just coming on. Papa Bear was "back home."

   Notes of Interest


  • The Father of Modern Bowhunting” Popularized the Sport in Films, Books and Television Appearances During the 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

  • Founder of Bear Archery, 1933; Arrowed First Deer in 1935

  • Holder of Numerous Archery Related Patents, Including the Shooting Glove, Bow Quiver, Intregral Bowsight, Interchangeable Grip, 2-piece and 3-Piece Take-Down Bow, and More

  • Bowhunted Worldwide Collecting African Lion and Elephant, Indian Tiger, and a Variety of North American Big Game Including Several World’s Records

  • Recipient, NFAA’s Compton Medal of Honor, 1964

  • Recipient NAA’s Thompson Medal of Honor, 1977

  • Safari Club International Hunting Hall of Fame, 1987





Poem written by Billy Ellis 

read at the Fred Bear statue unveiling

Archery Hall of Fame Induction,

September 21st, 2007

Wonders of Wildlife

Bass Pro

Springfield, Missouri




Click on poem to enlarge


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Office: P.O. Box 558 North Main Street
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Phone: 1.814.392.8901