In the early 1970s, I made a promise to myself that I would
never miss an opening day of archery or gun deer season. No matter what.
It drove my business associates and accountants nuts. But it was the intense anticipation of this spiritual, earthly ritual, as it helped steer my priorities, that brought balance to my maniacal rock-and-roll lifestyle.
With my hunting activities becoming more intense and more visible over the years, the excitement and joy have become contagious. A perfect example is my friend, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, a band considered by many to be the best in the world.
Along with such mega success comes mega pressure. But having come through a harrowing substance-abuse period, the members of Aerosmith have lived their share of hell, and they thank the good Lord for their good fortune and survival every day.
The two biggest stars of the outfit, right out front taking the lion's share of the pressure, are Perry on lead guitar and front man Steven Tyler. And you want to know what thrilling recreational pursuit they have discovered to escape? Shooting.
And I mean massive, extended, high-powered even fully automatic shooting.
In their "Live Free or Die" home state of New Hampshire, Steven and Joe have found true love in the marksmanship and self-defense challenge. Every time they swing through the Midwest on tour, I can expect to get a BBQ alert from Steve or Joe with a request to whip out the venison backstraps and mesquite. Then I know I must set up the gun range and get out the bowling pins, steel plate targets and FBI silhouettes for an impromptu shoot-out. I am Dr. Fun.
Recently, during a day off on their sold-out whirlwind tour of the heartland, Joe came out for an afternoon of ballistic celebration. After a few hours of neutralizing various targets and reducing a hundred bowling pins into so much fine sawdust, we waded through a sea of shining brass for a little lemonade and BBQ.
I serenaded Joe with my latest recording of his own composition, Rag Doll, which I had just completed for a special Aerosmith Tribute compact disc. Then we strolled to the banks of Lake Nuge, where we spent a most joyous hour and a half hauling in slabmaster bluegills and sunfish for the frying pan.
Settling for nothing less than a full day of outdoor epiphany, we grabbed the old Remington 788 boltgun from the safe, loaded some magazines with Winchester 100 grain soft-point boattails and hit the sacred wild grounds of Sunrize Acres to try to whack a big ol' nasty Rusky PorkBoar.
Joe is a natural beyond the pavement and he smoothly becomes a predator to deal with. It is a far cry from the intense rocker, and his smile bespeaks his enjoyment of it all.
We moved stealthily into the wind, studying the dense forest edges with our binoculars. At one point we saw a massive red hog a few hundred yards ahead emerge from a muddy wallow, but he vanished in a flash. A wild turkey cut through the sun-shafted escarpment and Joe smiled broadly.
With little daylight remaining, we found ourselves ducking through the tangled pine grove, searching the cool shadows. With another slow, deliberate sweep of my small Leupold binoculars, I picked up a slight movement across the alfalfa-clover opening, under the dark shadows of the autumn olive puckerbrush, and signaled Joe.
Quickly, in a single, smooth flowing movement, he shouldered the little rifle, just as a huge tusker stuck his head above the snarled vegetation. In an instant, the .243 blammed, and the beast slammed to the ground. At around 80 yards, Joe had placed the bullet perfectly through the middle of the 260-pound boar's ribs, for an instant kill. It was awesome.
The sun was fading behind a stunning purple, blue, gold and pink western horizon as we wheeled the F250 across the last rutted woodland trail. We drove in silence until we hit the pavement.
Then every detail of the day was relived in excited tones, celebrating the shooting, the freedom to do so, the craftsmanship of the quality arms, the beauty of the lake and the tight lines and fighting fish, the breathtaking forests and creatures, the wonderful sky, sun and clouds, and one gorgeous dead package of pure pork.
We shared the delicious wild meat with family and friends and took a long poke of an ice cold can of Vernor's ginger ale to top it all off. Joe Perry is a Spirit of the Wild. Rock-and-roll blood brother.
Contact Ted Nugent
Write to Nugent at Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America, 4133 W. Michigan Ave., Jackson, MI 49202, send faxes to (517) 750-3640 or e-mail to tnugentdetnews.com. His web site is at http://tnugent.com
Copyright 1999, The Detroit News