"Now if you look at that picture carefully," says Bear, "you'll see there's a message there. One reason so many young women are taking up archery these days is the Five Bs: Bear Bows Build Bigger Busts."
Elsewhere on Bear's office walls are the awards, honors and citations accumulated during his almost 50 years in the sport. Bear holds two first places in the Pope and Young Club, which is bow-hunting's equivalent of Boone & Crockett. No other archer holds more than one. In 1966 he was inducted into the Sporting Goods Hall of Fame; three years ago he was one of the original inductees into the Archery Hall of Fame; and that same year he was inducted into the Hunting Hall of Fame.
Bear's own accounts of his adventures have appeared in books and countless magazine articles, and a compilation of his journals of hunting trips around the world will be published by Doubleday next year. He is a frequent guest on television sports shows, and this winter he will have his own syndicated series, The American Outdoors.
Over the years Bear has made more than 20 hunting films covering such diverse quarry as polar bears in the Arctic, tigers in India and elephants in Africa. These are shown on a regular schedule in the theater of the Fred Bear Museum, located a mile and a half west of Grayling.
Each year more than 100,000 people visit the museum, which was built in 1967 and houses, in addition to the theater, the Archery Hall of Fame, a pro shop, a gift shop and an archery range. It is also the showcase for Bear Archery products. The real showcase, however, is the museum itself.
It contains many of the major trophies Bear has collected around the world as well as a remarkable assortment of artifacts that trace the history of archery back to its earliest origins. The museum's collection includes the bow, with its horn knocks and Irish-linen strings, used by Arthur Young on the Alaskan adventure that started Fred Bear's archery career.
Bear has taken more than 125 big game animals with the bow, enduring the considerable number of close calls to be expected in this form of hunting. In Mozambique, after successfully downing the second lion ever taken by a modern bowman (Arthur Young took the first in 1920), Bear found himself trapped in his blind from sunset until after midnight by the animal's mate. He was charged by a cape buffalo that missed him but succeeded in wrecking his hunting vehicle. In French Equatorial Africa, alone and on foot, he was surrounded by a herd of browsing elephants. On two separate trips he was charged by polar bears which would not be stopped by the arrows he put into them. They were finally downed by rifle fire, one 12 paces and the other 25 paces from where he stood. He did eventually take a white bear with a bow (the rifle shots disqualified the first two as trophies) but only after a third expedition and 23 days on the polar ice cap. On another hunt he spent a long, cold night in a pine tree while a sow grizzly dug its claws into the bark a scant few inches below his feet.
"When she came running toward me, I went up that tree as far as I could," he says, "but it wasn't a very big tree and I'm a pretty long fellow. Every time I moved, she'd go huh huh huh and click those teeth. It turned cold and started to rain but she stayed there from dark until 8 o'clock the next morning. It's still true, though, that if you give a bear a chance to get out of your way, 90% of the time he will. There is something very special about bears. They're a very dignified animal. I guess that's why I love to hunt them."