During the 1970’s s Dick Lattimer at Bear Archery came out with a slogan that was very popular on bumper stickers and T-Shirts. It said five simple but very true words, “Fred Bear Showed Me How”. Archery was beginning a boom that would carry into the 1980’s and beyond, and see unprecedented growth in both archery and bowhunting. Technical improvements in equipment meant that the compound bow, aluminum arrows, and other gear were attracting a new wave into the sport, yet most gave credit to a tall, slim fella in a borsolino hat named Fred Bear.
A young Frank Addington Jr. with his hero Papa Bear.
Fred Bear did show us how. Fred Bear was “us”. He was the face of the modern bowhunter and he was very careful with that image. Fred’s films showed respect for the game hunted, they educated viewers on the habitat and habits of the game and the environment, and his films sometimes made you laugh. There was adventure to be sure, like the footage of the Kodiak Bear coming up the beach. However, Fred was aware that with all eyes on him he would have to present bowhunting in a very specific way. Remember, not everyone was sold on the sport and to attract gun hunters and even non hunters, Fred was out to educate and promote.
After the shot the next view you had of Fred was usually him holding the animal. You would see a quiet celebration of the success and the hunt. The game deserves that quiet respect. The American Indian would often bow and say a prayer after harvesting game. The animals we hunt deserve this quiet moment of respect.
Papa Bear the man who did it all for archery
We have to remember in the big scheme of things, we, as hunters, are a minority in this country. We, as bowhunters, are an even smaller minority. So we must be conscious of this and strive to grow the sport. Fred Bear knew it, and he knew how to attract people to the sport.
Fred Bear also knew how to promote himself, his wares and the sport of archery. In his early days he made leather goods such as quivers, armguards, and gloves. He could not afford a booth at sports shows and would often attend the shows and invite certain attendees by his hotel room after the show closed. There Fred would have his wares displayed across his bed… and people shopped from this hotel room. At the end of the evening Fred would clear off the bed and repeat the process the next day.