Rocker Ted Nugent: Hunters Are Conservationists

By Tom Foreman
Inside Base Camp
April 30, 2003
Long before shock talk ruled the radio waves—before TV was the land
of "survivors" who would do whatever it took to bag the elusive game of
fame—Ted Nugent was stalking the edges of outrage.

The Detroit born performer burst onto the music scene with a hyper-driven, flamboyant rock style that few others even dared to imitate. Riding a live bison on stage; running wildly with a bushy tail tacked to his jeans and his guitar wailing; Nugent earned the title Motor City Madman and has sold more than 30 million recordings.

Nugent, however, has another passion: hunting. And these days, through radio, television and books (including Kill It and Grill It) he preaches the gospel of conservation through utilization. A board member of the National Rifle Association, he walks into my studio with a baseball cap perched on his head and none of the onstage swagger that has made him famous, but the moment the camera lights come on, Ted does too.

Tom Foreman: There are people who say you shouldn't be here; what you are saying is wrong. What do you say to that?

Ted Nugent: Not a darn thing. There is a lunatic fringe out there that is confused by reality. I get to travel this great country all year, every year. People come up to me from every imaginable social strata and see me there in the media and whether they support gun ownership or hunting rights, they feel good that I celebrate the truth; that I promote the truth and everybody except the lunatic fringe appreciates the truth and lives by the same logic that I do.

Tom Foreman: Then who is the lunatic fringe?

Ted Nugent: The lunatic fringe is people who are avoiding the reality that without flesh and the protein delivered therein, mankind as a species would come to a screeching halt. They call themselves anti-hunters or animal rights people and I think that's just brain-dead. I get to hunt Africa every year and without the steaks and the guts from the antelope, many African societies would have vanished already. The lunatic fringe is people in extreme denial.

Tom Foreman: In your videos, you're glorifying a sense of gun ownership and what can be done with guns. There are a lot of people in urban areas who have faced terrible problems and they cannot help but feel that there is an association between the glorification of guns and those problems. Do you see any link?

Ted Nugent: No. I see a link in recidivism and a failed justice system that continues to let evil, violent, hateful people out of their cages even after they've murdered policemen. The media has intentionally misrepresented the utility of firearms and they don't show the millions of instances where the good people in downtown neighborhoods have actually saved innocent lives and protected themselves because they have a firearm.

Tom Foreman: Many hunters I know believe themselves to be great conservationists. Explain.

Ted Nugent: Well, the evidence is widespread. When the Canadian provinces were drained for increased agricultural production, it was the hunters, the waterfowl hunters that saw the destruction of nesting habitat and came to the aid of Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl. These are hunting organizations. And I can name the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation, Pheasants Forever, Quail Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation. We [hunters] stop the bulldozer boogie. We put value on wild ground. Because not only does the wild ground produce more ducks, of which we only shoot a minor percentage, but that ultimately is going to be where our quality air, soil and water will come. As a hunter, fisherman and trapper, I am proud to join this honorable community in taking credit for that.

Tom Foreman: If that is so true then how come significant numbers of people have a very negative image of hunters?

Ted Nugent: Because the major networks and so many major publications in the world only expose the most callous and ugly examples of poaching and accidents in our sport. For every Bubba that poaches an elk in a national park, there's tens of millions of families conducting themselves in a safe, legal, ethical manner connecting with that natural tooth, fang and claw culture. I'm convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the hunting community is always on the front line of environmental monitoring, therefore [has] an environmental awareness that will determine where pollution is striking, where habitat is being lost, where abuse of our natural resources is taking place.

Tom Foreman: Is it true that you haven't bought a steak in 30 years?

Ted Nugent: I haven't bought a domestic piece of flesh in about 30 years now because I feel that my sacred temple deserves the greatest fuel in the world and there's not only no better health food than venison and turkey and wildfowl, but hunting, trapping and fishing bring balance and health to the environment. My idea of fast food is a mallard.

Inside Base Camp's Tom Foreman on Work, Guests

Presidents and prisoners; scientists and soldiers; the heroic and the hated—all have sat down with National Geographic Channel Senior Anchor Tom Foreman as he has traveled the globe for the past 25 years. Starting out in small town radio in Alabama, he progressed through local television to join ABC Network News when he was 30. For a decade he covered virtually every major news story for World News Tonight, Nightline, 20/20 and Good Morning America.

Now, as host and managing editor of the Emmy Award-winning Inside Base Camp with Tom Foreman, he brings his years of experience—and dozens of riveting guests—to the National Geographic Channel at 12:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and Sundays at 11:00 a.m.

As the show's name implies, Foreman asks the intimate, revealing questions that cut to core of the passions that drive his guests.

Read an interview with Tom Foreman>>

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