Ted Nugent: Hunter, Gatherer, Griller (and Guitar Legend)

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By Molly Wales

Ted Nugent rocks.  Ted Nugent hunts.  Ted Nugent fights relentlessly in support of the Second Amendment.  He has received praise from President Bush and Tom Ridge, amongst others, for being “a good man” and exemplifying “the founding principles of this great nation.”  He writes without regard for traditional spelling.  He eats squirrel.  And he, much to the shock of vegetarians, liberals, animal-rights activists and grocery-store shoppers everywhere, makes an enthusiastic and palpable argument (palpable in that it is entertaining and well thought-out, albeit full of name-calling like “tofu breath”) for the supposed ecological, physical and familial benefits of killing your own food (including growing your own veggies). 

For Tribe Nuge, as Ted refers to his family, hunting is more than sport-it is the philosophy by which they live and eat.  “When one hunts and fishes,” he writes in his book Kill It & Grill It, co-written with wife Shemane, “we perform a pivotal and natural role and duty in creation, truly benefiting the web of life and indeed the balance of wildlife.  To think otherwise is rude.  And it is the encounter on hallowed wild ground under these powerful and natural life and death relationships that truly inspires a respect for all life, for to witness the death of one’s own food will stay with you always and reside deep in your heart, and you will know intuitively that this food-gathering is serious business.”  There are no chemicals, no “salmonella-breath,” no disrespect and absolutely no waste at Tribe Nuge’s 100 percent self-sufficient compound; conservation, recycling and awareness to wasteful cause-and-effect are priorities.  Even the smallest fish gets tossed to shore for the birds to eat.  “I like balance,” says Ted.  “Itsa beautiful thang.”

The “Nuge” Meets the “Pope”

Nugent directly attributes his quality of life to the number of BBQs he celebrates with his friends and family.  After the killing, cleaning, cooling, cutting, curing and freezing-all described in thorough, often gruesome detail-comes the grilling.  Luckily, the cooking rules aren’t so tediously detailed and cemented to tradition.  Whether it be venison, wild boar, duck, rabbit, bear, etc., the rules are simple:  “NEVER OVERCOOK!  Pick a flesh, any flesh.  Cook slowly over hot coals, but elevated away from intense heat.  Baste and brush with a goop made from butter, olive oil, brown sugar, seasonings, and preserves of your choice.  By constantly brushing the yummy slop onto the meat, we can determine when a nice singed crust is formed while keeping the inside rare and juicy.  Oftentimes we add a good mustard and honey to the baste as well.  Let your imagination be your guide.”  There are many tips, suggestions and recipes in the book, for everything from Squirrel Casserole to Bar-B-Que Black Bear, and every one of them proves that Tribe Nugent doesn’t just cook-rather, they “dance at the primordial campfire of life.”  And whereas the barbaric images of such an idea (picture Tribe Nuge, loin clothes, grunting women and men grunting louder as they dance in a frantic trance around the fire) no longer apply, the basic motivations still do.  As Ted says, “Everything short of ultimate ultimately sucks.”  Whatever that means for you, celebrate life.  Rock on.

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