Animals give me life. I like to eat them, ride them, pet them, wear them, grow them, watch them, and know in my pure aboriginal predator heart and soul that the health and condition of the animals in our lives are direct indicators of our own quality of life. The wildlife on the sacred Nugent hunting grounds, like all across North America, is thriving, naturally wild and spectacular. Our three Labrador retrievers and stupid old cat are clearly the happiest pets on earth. I love animals, and they love me. Perfect.
And yes, Eloise, that is an American buffalo between my legs. Isn't he adorable? See the snot flying and enraged fire in the eyes? And the bison ain't bad looking, either.
Having made my spectacular rock 'n' roll stage entrance astride a wildly spirited one-ton South Dakota beast for a few hundred protein-infested concerts, no one knows better than I the dynamic of celebrating wild beasts in dramatic and outrageously entertaining ways. I agree with Jack Hannah and other professional critter handlers that wildlife education provided by zoos, circuses, commercial aquariums and various animal spectacles is appreciated best when it occurs on stage with crazed guitar players. I bet my audiences would concur.
With but a cursory review of my annual hunting, fishing and trapping calendar, the evidence is irrefutable that few men have spent more time with wild animals in their natural habitat that this old Motown rocker. The spirit of the mighty beasts fortify my belly and my soul.
My relationship with wild animals is as pure as it gets. I am a hunter, and surely there is no wiser use of renewable wildlife resources than killing them and grilling them. That's why there are more deer, turkey, black bears, cougars and other big game critters in America today than in recorded history. We manage them according to genuine, value-based utility. Go figure.
The only difference between me, and say, Steve Irwin, brain-dead hippie grizzly bear neighbors, religious voodoo rattlesnake witch doctors, homosexual Las Vegas lion huggers, and the Orca handlers at Sea World is that I am smarter and more respectful to the wonderful wildness of such creatures. I don't taunt, probe, prod or bother my wild animals in any way for your entertainment. And though I do hop aboard for a thrilling ride, I am not so stupid as to forget that my buffalo is, and always will be, a wild buffalo. You know, the kind that would just as soon trample you into a bloody puddle of snot and hair than look at you.
Admitting this truism is why I carried a 10mm handgun in my belt during those stage rides, just in case the beast decided to go buffalo on me. A quick 200-grain armor-piercing slug through the back of his head would have made the difference between a momentary increase in entertainment value and a few dozen or more trampled rock fans. I knew this, and I was prepared. I am such a radical pragmatist.
Remember the circus lion tamers of yore, a chair in one hand, a pistol in the other? Prudent and respectful during a time before dangerous animals somehow became cute. The Bambi curse is to defile the wildness of beasts. They are killer whales, not show whales. And don't tell me that grabbing alligators by the tail promotes conservation. Wise use? I think not. Shame on you.
If you want to manage elephants, lions, leopards, camels, stallions, bears or other such phenomenal wild animals, the very least you can do is to show a little respect for the wildness that attracts you to them by being prepared to neutralize the deadliness of that wildness when it erupts. Not if it erupts, when it erupts.
Not a year goes by without some sensational tragedy ruining human and animal lives by careless, disrespectful misuse of these majestic creatures. Either do it right or just put them on display, hands-off, so nobody gets hurt. It is about time that we cut out the selfish make-believe fun of animal abuse for our own desires, and show some respect. Either that, or we have one of two choices for the killer whales in captivity out there right now - Muktuk or sushi for the masses. Take your pick.
Ted Nugent is an unstoppable American rock 'n' roll, sporting and political activist icon. His best-selling books, "Ted, White & Blue: The Nugent Manifesto" and "God, Guns and Rock 'N' Roll" (Regnery Publishing) are available at amazon.com and tednugent.com.