Back in 1985 I had the pleasure of working with Fred Bear during filming for my weekly national TV series, “Hunting with Bob & Ben”. This long forgotten series was produced on a very modest budget from my 16 mm wildlife films and with my early 3/4 inch video equipment. I was always embarrassed about the production quality, so after it aired, I never viewed it or showed it to anyone.
But things are different now, and I reminisce as I age out. I had traveled to endless remote locations with Ben Rogers Lee, (the greatest turkey caller of all times). We swapped tales and truths that may never be repeated. And we spent time with many industry figures, including some times with Fred Bear, the father of modern bowhunting.
I remember a time when Ben Rogers Lee and I were in Wisconsin, at a big sportsman’s event, where my 3-year old son noticed a youth-sized compound bow “just like Daddy’s”. He fell in love with it. I noticed it was manufactured by Bear Archery, and we were already scheduled to shoot a TV segment soon after that, with Fred Bear… at the Florida Bear Archery factory.
A quick call and I had everything set up. A short time later, when Ben Lee and I arrived at the Bear Archery factory in Florida, we were accompanied by our camera operator (my wife, Jeri) and our veteran grip (our 3-year old son, Danny). During filming, Danny always had a seat on a heavy fluid head dolly under the nose of a big camera. He knew when to be quiet and he was absolutely still during takes.
Everything went perfectly, until Fred reached behind his chair and produced a brand new Bear Archery youth compound bow… and Danny saw it. He KNEW it was for him, and he started to twitch in excitement (watch the picture jiggle). When Fred called out to him, Danny squirted out from beneath the camera and ran out to see the bow.
We were all busy on a tight travel schedule, but Fred made this a very special event for our family, and we have some wonderful home video that we will forever enjoy. This was Danny’s debut performance on national TV, and he was great! He went on to be featured in dozens of TV shows.
Fred spent time talking to Danny, and it was evident that they liked each other. Fred nicely inscribed the bow for Danny, but he was never allowed to shoot it. It still hangs on a rack with a photograph of the occasion. We purchased another bow for Danny to shoot. A perfect duplicate of the one Fred gave him, except for the inscription. This was a nice family vacation with some great home videos.
Danny has long since graduated to “Mr. Dan McGuire” with a sterling career in percussive arts, but we will long remember his short career in hunting videos, and his live appearances on stage rattling antlers and producing natural deer vocalizations at the Minnesota Deer Classic shows in the ’80’s.