- Bowhunters showing Excellence in the Field of Bowhunting
In 1927, at the age of 25, a chance visit to the Adams Theatre in
Detroit changed the course of Fred Bear's life... and the sport of
archery. At the theatre, Bear saw a film titled, "Alaskan
Adventure" which depicted the bowhunting exploits of a Californian
named Arthur Young. This movie captivated Bear and when he finally met Art
Young, his lifelong bowhunting quest began in earnest.
Bear began bowhunting in 1929 with a bow carved from an $8 Osage orange
stave. Six years later, he finally connected on a whitetail deer, the
first of many big game animals he eventually downed with a bow and arrow.
He also tackled target archery, winning Michigan's state championship in
1934, 1937 and 1939. In those days, Bear barnstormed the sports show
circuit, demonstrating his shooting skills at exhibitions in major urban
areas like Chicago and St. Louis.
Wishing to be closer to his favorite bowhunting and flyfishing territory,
Bear moved his archery plant to Grayling, Michigan, in 1947. Situated
between the AuSable State Forest and the Huron National Forest, it was
ideally located for his hunting products company. For both Bear and his
company, the '50's and '60's were years of roller coaster growth. In 1952,
for instance, immediately following the introduction of the Grizzly bow,
the first truly mass-produced bow in archery history. Soon after came
Bear's Kodiak line of bows and in 1961 the Tamerlane. Fred with Glenn St.
Charles pioneered the Pope & Young Club and Fred was one of the first
Board of Directors. With the coming of the compound bows, Bear introduced
his famous Whitetail Hunter and the rest is history.
As Bear approached retirement, honors poured in. In 1966, his inventive
genius and promotional tenacity was recognized by his induction in the
Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. Awarded the NFAA's W.H. Compton
Medal of Honor. Bear was a member of the exclusive Explorer's Club, the
Boone & Crockett Club (founded by President Theodore Roosevelt), the
Safari Club International, the Pope & Young Club and the Outdoor
Writer's Association of America.
In 1970, Bear organized the nucleus of what was to become The Fred Bear
Sports Club. Bear's complete collection of bowhunting artifacts, trophies
and memorabilia never had fit comfortably in the lobby of his office, so
in 1978, Bear Archery moved to Gainesville, Florida, and the museum was
opened in the public tour area of the new plant. No wonder Fred Bear was
one of the first inductions into the Bowhunters Hall of Fame®.
Although the company he founded passed out of his hands in the late
1960's, Bear remained actively involved in designing products and
promoting the sport he loved until his death in Gainesville, Florida, on
April 27, 1988. He was 86 years old.