A bend of the bow limb strains the muscles. Feathered fletching tickles the chin. Brown fur reflects in the eyes. The crack of an arrow finding its mark graces the ears.
This was life for Fred Bear. And he was one of the best at promoting that way of life.
So, “Walking Among Legends.”
That’s the Bear Archery motto.
It couldn’t be more fitting.
When I hear that, names such as Fred Bear, Roosevelt, Young and Pope come to mind. A flashback of tradition and heritage comes flooding back, and our bowhunting roots quickly become a not-so-distant memory. It really wasn’t that long ago that these legends walked the mountainsides, meadows and other hallowed grounds that we still hunt today.
Bowhunting is special. It’s akin only to what one might refer to as spiritual. And in a way, it is.
“Now then, get your equipment — your quiver and bow — and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me.” – Genesis 27:3
We hunt for many reasons. But we hunt primarily for food. We hunt for the nourishment and healthy meat that wild game offers.
“Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” – Acts 10:13
But we also hunt for heritage. We hunt for tradition. We hunt for adventure. We hunt for maintaining that connection to our past — where we came from. It’s where we’ll continue to go.
There’s something primitive, yet everlastingly modern, about having a relationship with the food we eat. There’s no relationship like that between a bowhunter and the wild game they pursue. It’s consumption in the purest form.
It’s our lifestyle. It’s your lifestyle. And because of that, we all walk among legends. We’re all united in our hunting heritage.
It all started just outside of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. On March 5, 1902, Fred Bear was born. Not the company — the child who became the man who founded the company. Growing up, he was that kid who was always outside. Running around in nature. Exploring what the wilderness had to offer. Indoors weren’t for him. The elements were his calling — whatever challenge they might pose.
At this time, bowhunting was long established. But modern bowhunting had yet to be born. Hunting enthusiast, Fred Bear, was a man's man. He loved nature, respected wildlife, and wanted to grow the heritage he loved — bowhunting.
It’s been said that Art Young was the one who inspired Fred Bear to not only hunt but also to craft his own bows. As he got older, he took to hunting. But not just hunting — bowhunting. The challenge of getting close to wild game — with bow in hand — was his passion. That passion eventually led to something great. Something legendary.
It wasn’t long before he decided to pursue his dream and created a bow-making company. In 1933, he started making bows part-time. After six years, he’d created enough interest that he devoted all of his attention and time to bow-making. Bear Archery became a full-time business. And that was that. Innovation. Quality. Craftiness. Effectiveness. These things and more described the products he created during the infancy of Bear Archery. And they still describe their bows today.
Bear accomplished much to help grow interest in bowhunting. He designed bows. He filmed hunts across North America – and throughout the world. He won archery competitions. He helped open archery seasons. And much more. Passing away in 1988, it’s safe to say he created a dynasty during his time with us. It’s safe to say he’s a legend.
Fred might be gone now. But Bear Archery carries on his legacy with their innovative and industry-leading bows.
“Today, we are proud to continue what Mr. Bear started and our products are still built by hands he instructed,” Bear Archery said. “His spirit, vision and craftsmanship have stood the test of time. So, here’s to you, Pappa Bear. Thank you for setting an example for generations of shooters and for sharing the passion that’s still with us today.”
Photo Credit: Bear Archery
The relationship between Realtree and Bear Archery is a long and storied history. The first bow manufacturer to ever license Realtree camo, it was a perfect match right from the start. It just made sense. The right fit.
“Bear was the first bow company that ever licensed Realtree camo to put on their bows,” said Realtree’s David Blanton. “That was even before I came to work for Realtree.”
Not only was Bear the first bow company to ever partner with Realtree but it was the first bow that David Blanton ever shot. He started out bowhunting with a Bear 76er fiberglass take down recurve. It was red, white and blue. He bought the generic camo sleeves to pull over it and put a little camouflage on it.
“We just hooked up with some friends of ours who were hunters,” Blanton continued. “We would drive an hour and a half to Fort Stewart Military Base near Savannah, Georgia. We would drive up there and camp out and hunt. You could check in at a certain area and that’s where we learned how to deer hunt. They were truly special memories. We didn’t have a clue, my father and me. It was so cool learning how to hunt together.”
Cool indeed. Learning the great outdoors alongside his father, and with a Bear bow in-hand, Blanton’s love for the outdoors flourished.
“It’s where my roots are. It’s where I started,” Blanton said. “Growing up shooting a Bear bow, I instantly learned who Fred Bear was and what he meant to bowhunting. He is the father of bowhunting. And I remember seeing the old black-and-white film of him hunting with his Bear recurve bows all over North America. I was just so intrigued by that and to this day, to be able to shoot and promote Bear archery, knowing it was started by the father of bowhunting, is such a special feeling. I know a few people who had a chance to meet Fred. I never had that opportunity. I wish I had. But it’s such an honor and privilege to be a part of that heritage.”
Photo Credit: Realtree
Throughout the years, Blanton has taken many big game animals with Bear Archery equipment. But one memory stands out from the rest.
“My most memorable hunt with a Bear in hand was when I took the biggest whitetail I’ve ever taken,” Blanton said. “That’s when I took a buck in Kansas that we named Houdini. I shot it with a Bear Motive 7.
“That hunt was so special to me because, well, on the surface people would think it’s because it was such a large whitetail. He grossed right at 190,” Blanton continued. “But for me personally, it was a very powerful hunt and a hunt that was such a God moment for me. It was during a time that I had allowed hunting to become too important. It was too much of a priority. And when I took that buck, I realized that God had just truly blessed me and helped me realize that when we are successful on any hunt, it’s because God has blessed us. It’s not what we do, but a blessing from God and that hunt for Houdini was just a testament to that.”
What all happened on this hunt? Well, a lot. But you can check it all out right here.
Photo Credit: Realtree
Fast forward, last fall was a great year for Blanton. He took several nice animals with a Bear bow — including a big New Mexico bull and giant Kansas whitetail.
“I shot the new Kuma LD last fall. It’s a little longer axle-to-axle because of my height. I’m 6 feet 2 inches. A little longer bow tends to shoot a little better for me, which is normal. I absolutely love it. It’s fast. It’s quiet. It’s smooth. It’s a very forgiving bow. I love the Kuma LD. I’ve had a lot of success with it. I took a big bull elk in New Mexico with it last fall.”
Blanton trumpeted how great Bear bows feel when shooting them. To him, they stand out from all the rest.
“The Kuma LD is a fast bow. It has a relatively short brace height and normally short-brace-height bows are not as forgiving. But this Kuma LD is different. It’s a very forgiving bow. It just shoots fabulous. And what I’ve always liked about Bear products is that when you shoot them there’s no hand shock once you release the arrow.
Now, Blanton shoots the Kuma 30. And that’s what he’ll be hunting with this year. It’s new for 2019. And it’s a really good bow.
Among other models, the Kuma is another awesome offering by Bear this year. It comes in three different variations: Kuma, Kuma LD and Kuma 30. Each of them offers slightly different specs for different shooters and preferences. Altogether, the Kuma is a fast bow, ranging from 330 to 345 fps. But the true spectacle is the price tag. The MSRP is a surprising (in a good way) $899. It’s basically a flagship-status bow for under $900.
Speed: 330 (Kuma LD) / 345 (Kuma and Kuma 30)
Bow Weight: 4.1 pounds (Kuma 30) / 4.3 pounds (Kuma and Kuma LD)
Brace Height: 6 inches (Kuma and Kuma 30) / 6.5 inches (Kuma LD)
Axle-to-Axle: 33 inches (Kuma) / 33.25 inches (Kuma LD) / 30 inches (Kuma 30)
Draw Weight: 45-60 and 55-70 pounds
Draw Length: 27-32 inches (Kuma LD) / 25.5-30 inches (Kuma and Kuma 30)
Let-Off: 75 percent (Kuma and Kuma 30) / 80 percent (Kuma LD)
The Bear Archery tradition continues to grow. It stands strong. The tradition of bowhunting is all the better for it.
“Walking Among Legends.”
I think that’s a fitting way to describe it.
Long live Fred Bear.
Long live Bear Archery.
And long live our hunting heritage.
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