Tribe Nuge pulled into the little clearing on the banks of the mighty Tittabawassee River in the spectacular wilds of northern Michigan. Our 1958 Ford station wagon was loaded down with all the basic camping gear and archery equipment. We all eagerly pitched in to set up the old log cabin with iron skillets, camping supplies, sleeping bags, bows, arrows and all the basics for my favorite thing in life -- rough-and-tumble bowhunting the old-fashioned way.
With no electricity or running water, even young Ted at the tender age of 9 had a full regimen of chores to fulfill, so I started by gathering firewood and hauling water from the eddy below camp. Mom organized the cooking utensils over the wood-burning stove, and my brother Jeff rolled out sleeping bags and hung the bows and arrows on the porch nails. Dad cut some deadwood for the cold night's fires, and the wilderness was abuzz with what I considered the happiest family on planet Earth.
Quality-of-life lessons were driven home on those soul-cleansing expeditions of my youth, teaching me the ultimate hands-on conservation ethic, which a person could understand without ever uttering or hearing the word "conservation."
I clearly understood the concept of wise use before I ever heard the words, for my father wouldn't allow us to waste anything. The thought of throwing out food or water was virtually unheard of, and no one would dare fail to consume every scrap of precious game meat, sucking every delectable sliver of sacred flesh from each and every bone.
Though we did do a little plinking with the single-shot .22 rifle, every round of .22 short ammo was handled with tender loving care, and every target was planned with maximum effect, whether for aim-small-miss-small discipline or killing game for the pot. Every groundhog was handled like the life-giving venison that it represented, and responsible "wise use" didn't need to be spelled out to the Nugent kids. The pragmatic "waste not want not" mantra was drilled into our heads from birth.
So now, these many years later, one need only watch anyone in my family, including children and grandchildren, to see the same attitude and attentiveness to accountability. To caring people, there is no Plan B. It is a tragedy to witness Plan B in action when you see people, especially young people, leave half-consumed bottles of $4-a-gallon water discarded everywhere you look and the horror of obesity and a disposable society gone mad.
The good news is that real-world hands-on conservation is alive and well and catching on across the America I travel. Not a day goes by when I am not stopped by people of every imaginable description and walk of life in any given city to chat about my "Spirit of the Wild" TV show on the Outdoor Channel or discuss my books, media interviews or various public celebrations about my exciting hunting lifestyle. There is no question that but for a sizable lunatic fringe, the majority of people are aware of the incredible success story of wildlife conservation in North America and elsewhere.
It is hard to hide from the far-reaching and irrefutable evidence of more deer, turkey, cougars, black bears, elk, wild geese and other game species flourishing today than in recorded history. Though the scam of animal rights is still a scourge to reckon with, we all know that these are the good old days for big-game hunting.
The trick, of course, is for all of us to celebrate and promote this truth every day to everybody in order educate more people to this wonderful wildlife reality so as someday to stop the Humane Society of the United States and other rip-off artists and scammers from their dirty deeds and money-laundering misinformation crimes.
Only an ignorant, uneducated society will fall for scams such as California banning mountain-lion hunting and turning a thriving black bear population from an asset into an instant liability by banning the use of hounds. Watch the media for reports of increased out-of-control bear-nuisance hysteria now that bait and hounds are no longer allowed to adequately harvest the annual surplus of California's amazing bear population. More and more mountains of wasted tax dollars will be spent further compensating more ranchers and landowners for destroyed livestock, multiple relocations and ultimately the killing of bears and burying of these precious resources by government-hired killers for guaranteed lose-lose insanity. Such abuse is anathema to anyone's definition of conservation, and quite honestly, Californians, especially the professional wildlife biologists of California, should be ashamed of themselves.
Did you know that a good man, Daniel W. Richards, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, was fired for legally hunting a mountain lion in Idaho, based on the irrelevant fact that lion hunting is illegal in California? We have reached a new low in abandoning logic in the name of some bizarre crazy world of political correctness gone mad. The lunatic fringe is winning in California, and that should be a wake-up call to all concerned conservationists that when allowed, logic will be tossed to the wind and conservation will go out the window with it. Fight to keep that from happening where you live.
So as I write this, I wrap up the greatest rock 'n' roll tour of my life, gearing up for the greatest hunting season of my life. But I assure you, I will force myself to earn each and every day afield, participating in the purest form of conservation known to mankind, by fighting diligently for this God-given right to feed my family the most nutritious, organic protein on earth, while re-creating my mind, body and spirit via the soul-cleansing perfection of our beloved hunting lifestyle.
Use your lives wisely, my friends, and conserve these precious freedoms for future generations. Then reward yourself like I do, with backstraps and grilled game.
Ted Nugent is an American rock 'n' roll, sporting and political activist icon. He is the author of "Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto" and "God, Guns & Rock 'N' Roll" (Regnery Publishing).
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