Ted Nugent: "Maximize the Good While Crushing the Bad and the Ugly"

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Ted Nugent

If you're enjoying the current crop of outdoor-related reality programming, you may want to check out -- and thank -- Ted Nugent's Spirit of the Wild. Now entering it's 25th season on Outdoor Channel, Spirit of the Wild is an up-front and unsanitized look at hunters and hunting starring Ted and Shemane Nugent doing what they love.

This writer was honored with the opportunity to speak to Nugent about his show, but also his music and his unfettered political opinions -- and anyone who's heard Nugent interviewed knows the best thing the interviewer can do is get out of the way and let Nugent take over.

The new season of Spirit of the Wild debuts Tuesday, July 2nd at 8:30pm EST on Outdoor Channel.

I've been looking at the sample videos of your show, Spirit of the Wild, and I find them refreshing. There are so many reality shows that are "unscripted" but have writers. Your show looks so off-the-cuff. How much of that is scripted or plotted? How do you do it?

Well, first of all, I've never done a "take two" in my life. I think that then spontaneous instinctual first reaction, first statement is sacred ground. Just go back to the Stranglehold guitar solo. It was a "take one" jam session, we caught the magic right then and there -- and you just don't tamper with that kind of spontaneity and that kind of unleashed honesty.

And that's why Spirit of the Wild is so popular. I have such an incredible, very very intense connection with people in my travels. People stop me all the time, and the really amazing emotional communications we get via email and otherwise is a testimony that what you're identifying is the pulse of what the hunting lifestyle should be, and actually is real working hard, playing hard families across this country. They know that I get genuinely tickled when I shoot a woodchuck! And they see that it's a youthful enthusiasm, because the hunting lifestyle is in my blood. I've been doing it for sixty-four and a half years. I started shooting suction cup arrows at stuffed animals probably before I was two years old! And I haven't stopped since. I shot a red squirrel this morning, and you'd think I'd just shot the world record elk. It was really kind of cute.

So that honesty factor is really missing link all too often. Now, that's not saying that many, many of the other shows aren't absolutely honest. I think that Fred Eichler and my buddy Pigman and so many of these other shows, they're really, really genuine and down to earth. And that's really the way they live, so what you see is really what you get.

I was surprised to read that the show is in its twenty-fifth season. (I blame my cable provider for not carrying The Outdoor Channel.) But being on for that long, your show is something of a trailblazer for these other outdoor shows that have come up since, like Swamp People and Duck Dynasty.

First of all, what we did -- because I've been so addicted to what I call a hands-on and (dare I say) rugged individualist conservation lifestyle, it's been pretty simple. The most basic things in life, sex and food -- you're supposed to get your own. You're supposed to be self-sufficient in all the important pursuits of life, including music as far as I'm concerned.

But yeah, we started when Shemane and I first got married in 1989, we had a big Sony video camera. She was a professional videographer. She had done some commercial work. And we started to haul it around to the different hunts we went on, and we created this "Down to Earth" video -- which, according to the communications we've gotten, it literally changed people's lives. It caused anti-hunters to become dedicated, gung-ho hunters. We have communications from hardcore vegans who decided that the more organic diet -- the more responsible and environmentally friendly diet -- would be venison.

So I knew that the way we lived was not accurately represented on hunting tv shows. It left me weak. If I had to watch another outdoor television host talk like Mister Rogers with some Lawrence Welk music in the background and a slight filter on the lens of the camera to keep things soft, so we don't offend anyone, I thought I was going to puke. That's not how we hunt. It's not how we live. There's blood. There's guts. There's arrows penetrating chest cavities. Get over it! And I saw the lie of cleaned-up animals on tv before the host set it up so he could "take four," and approach the animal so no one would question his ethics, because he had no blood on his hands -- and amazingly there was no blood on the animal! It just made me sick that such dishonesty and such political correctness had infested this pure, natural, God-created tooth-fang-and-claw predator and prey world.

So we decided to approach some public television shows here in Michigan, on the west coast over in Grand Rapids -- there's a great man, a great visionary named Tim Scarpino. Tim Scarpino of Western Michigan Public Television ran the "Down to Earth" video, with arrows slamming into hogs, and me gutting hogs and skinning hogs and butchering hogs and cooking hogs -- which, I think, is how you get food. You can't extract any of those activities from the sequence of sustaining oneself. So we went on it with a gung-ho honest approach, the way that I'd always lived, and the way that all my hunting friends lived -- and the way that everybody celebrated Thanksgiving with a big dead turkey! Why is Thanksgiving in November? Because it's the natural celebration of the season of harvest.

So we started setting pledge record drives on public television in twenty-six states. Then the birth of The Outdoor Channel came, and this natural, honest procedure was depicted naturally and honestly, and it's been very, very impacting. We're very proud of it.

I think there's a lack of understanding that hunting is about the conservation of animals. One of your videos shows Shemane taking a crossbow to a buck, and there were several other deer within range. And there wasn't this "Get 'em all, kill 'em all!" attitude displayed. Can you talk about the efforts of hunters to keep animal populations at sustainable levels?

I think it's very telling that in your pursuit of an interview with Ted Nugent that you're asking a question that indicates we are aware of -- I am aware of and you are certainly aware of -- the impetus of the question: that there are people that don't know this! And it's a direct indictment to our failed education system, our absolute dishonest media, and the embarrassing, brain-dead assumption that people go hunting to kill everything, or that hunting damages wildlife, when just the opposite has always been true, and just the opposite has always been celebrated by educated, knowing, honest people that natural hunting season is all about sustained yield. X ground will support X life. And next Spring, X life is going to reproduce again -- but the ground is not! So the deer will increase by fifty to seventy percent, but the ground won't. And, in fact, the carrying capacity of the habitat actually diminishes because of all the productivity and all the increased agriculture; the development of highways and schools and malls, etc. So I have always emphasized this on our show, and people tilt their head to the side and their eyes get big, and they go, "Oh! Oh, I see! Killing the surplus every year and eating it is the natural and responsible system by which we make room for next year's fawns and new goslings. Wow! Why didn't anybody ever tell me that before?"

I get a chuckle out of it, but ultimately it's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking that there's still an enormous segment of humanity that is that ignorant. And that's political correctness, which is the system by which you absolutely protect your ignorance so you can feel good instead of admitting the truth. And the truth is that animals need to be utilized. They need to be killed, they need to be eaten to make room for next year's productivity, because we're going to do the same thing next year, every year, ad infinitum.

Isn't that amazing that the author of Wango Tango has to be a source of that information? That's why we have Barack Obama as the President, and Eric Holder is running guns to Mexican drug gangs, because that many people are that clueless!

In that vein: When people look back at the history of Ted Nugent, what they see or think they see is this transition from Revered Rock God to Second Amendment "Right Wing Nut Job." Was there some sort of spiritual conversion in your life that happened at some point, or were you always the person you are now and people just didn't notice it as much until recently?

The latter. I remember doing interviews in the 1960s, when I had my little band in Detroit, and whether there was a school newspaper or a local interviewer, I always celebrated that I got my energy and got my passion for life from my hunting lifestyle and from the discipline of the "aim small, miss small" firearms marksmanship routine that the majority of American kids in those days went through -- safe gun handling, legal gun handling, the incredible discipline of marksmanship and sniper capabilities, and certainly the mystical flight of the arrow. On the very first Amboy Dukes album in 1967 I had songs called "Living in the Woods" and "Good Natured Emma" about my grandma who lived on a farm in Freiberg, Pennsylvania and sat around the wood-burning stove at the local dry goods store, kind of tormented between the difficult ultra-rural lifestyle and the drive of the industrial revolution to go to the big cities, and the the spirit -- the joys and gratification of self-sufficiency of the rural lifestyle, particularly hunting, fishing, and trapping, was far more gratifying and fulfilling and inspiring and responsible.

So, no, I've always done this. And I saw the scourge, the embarrassing, self-inflicted plague of political correctness and the cult of denial brought about by mind-altered dope-smoking hippies running the media and running academia and running at the mouth, and somehow condemning me because I went hunting with a bow and arrow over the weekend with my dad -- but taking acid was somehow cool! I thought I'd landed on the Planet of the Apes before there was a "Planet of the Apes" movie! I understood the Cuckoo's Nest movie better than most, because I was surrounded by Cuckoo-nesters. So, no, I've always stood up for it, and I couldn't be more proud that I'm on the front lines -- and always have been on the front lines -- for the simple Second Amendment premise that I have a right to defend myself, period!

I love when you're a guest on the Dave Glover Show, and you just take it over. They don't even have to ask you questions, they just give you the microphone and take a break.

Well, I've been doing media -- I'm the only guy you'll ever get on the phone, ever. I don't care how hard you look, you can't find anybody else in taking on the hunter haters, the gun haters, in the media as long and as consistently and as voluminously as I have. I engaged the hippies and rock-and-roll radio in the 60s non-stop who would attack me for doing the perfect things in life. And one of the perfect things in life is killing deer and eating them. And another perfect thing in life is to be armed so you can stop evil and survive. And you're going to condemn self-defense and venison? Are you kidding me? So I've taken them on, that's why nobody can touch me.

That's why when you hear me on Glover and all the different media -- I do anywhere from six to ten media interviews a day! And if you dare to argue against the Second Amendment, or the right to eat venison, I'll go Piers Morgan on your ass, and then I can feed my dogs from the skull tissue from my dancing on his face.

Those that argue with me are literally gagged by lies. They live a lie, they perpetuate lies, and they can't get away from their lies. So I just have to clobber them with the truth. Actually, it's a shame. But it's also fun.

Because you are so outspoken when it comes to politics, I wanted to take this opportunity to get your opinion on the current scandal du jour, which being the allegations of IRS abusing its power and its funds.

Well, certainly it's a manifestation of a cultural abandonment by We the People, and the curse of apathy that has strangled this country for so long, beginning after World War II and metastasized to this indecent level where literally Nazi-like tactics -- and people will consider that rhetoric and "extreme talk." Give me a break, it's Nazi tactics. It's the government going after people who dare to function as We the People monitoring and asking questions of our employees in government. And the government's response is to harass, intimidate and browbeat to the point of financial economic ruin. If the real truth came out of how the Environmental Protection Agency has been targeting people who dare to speak out, and the Endangered Species Act, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with their Lacey Act abuses... Do some googling on this stuff and your skin will crawl!

So what we're seeing today with President Barack Obama appointing Susan Rice as the National Security Advisor... You've got to be kidding me! Who's he going to appoint in charge of the children's playground, Jeffrey Dahmer? This President, this Vice-President, this Attorney General -- these people are absolutely enemies of freedom! They're the enemies of America! The IRS is a Nazi-type jackbooted organization who runs with impunity and will do what they damn well please. Google what the IRS did in Chicago a dozen or so years ago, causing men to commit suicide in a contest between agents to see who they could harass the worst! Do a little research on that one! I can't believe as I'm watching this scrutiny of the IRS abuses today that that incident isn't brought up. This has been their standard modus operandi forever! That's why the U.S. Attorney General, appointed by President Barack Obama and Eric "Gun Running" Holder, went after Ted Nugent in Alaska! That's why jackbooted Fish and Wildlife thugs kicked down the doors of three of my absolute law-abiding friends in California, because they alleged that I shot a deer over bait! Yeah, that's a good reason to kick people's doors down -- because of a "jaywalking ticket."

I have been in the cross-hairs of this power-abusing, corrupt, criminal, gun-running government for the last dozen or so years. Why do you think they sent the Secret Service to investigate Ted Nugent, and why the Secret Service agents were absolutely ashamed of themselves for wasting their professional law enforcement capabilities on probably the most law-abiding citizen in the history of humanity? I can't wait for those agents to be allowed to talk honestly about what they thought of that encounter. I've been in the eye of this storm for a long time, because if you try to tell me to "shut up," I'm talking more and I'm talking louder -- because I've got the truth, and the evidence to support everything I stand for is irrefutable and undeniable. So the President is the enemy of America, the Vice-President is just a complete buffoon, and the Attorney General -- the top cop in America -- is guilty of running guns to Mexican gangs. Go figure that one out for me.

I don't do any "guesswork." I find out the facts. I talk to the actual players. Boy, some day... when my friends in the Federal law enforcement agencies, when I'm sure I can keep them from getting retaliated against, wait till I unleash the information I have. It's just diabolical. I'm writing a book right now, Ted Nugent: Ballistic, and it's going to name names, it's going to give dates, and it's going to talk about drunken U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents at the SHOT Show telling my U.S. Marshal buddies that they're going to "fuck this industry."

Bottom line is, there's always good, bad, and ugly. My band is so good. My family is so wonderful! My venison is so unlimited. I'm eating fresh Michigan bluegill filets this afternoon. I'm picking Mrs. Nugent up from the airport, my labradors are tired from chasing woodchucks and raccoons. I'm a happy American dreamer. I'm on the greatest tour of my life, with the greatest music and the greatest band and the greatest crew, with the greatest audiences a musician could ever dream of performing for. And I keep fighting the bad and the ugly, because the more you destroy the bad and the ugly, the bigger and better the good gets. So I'm on a jihad to maximize the good while crushing the bad and the ugly. And the bad and the ugly is so obvious right now, that We the People have got to take this country back, and I want people in the IRS in jail. I want Eric Holder in jail. I want Barack Obama in jail. I want Joe Biden in jail. I want Hillary Clinton in jail. This is absolutely out of control. Good Americans are dead because of the criminal abuse of power and corruption by the President and all his punk gangsters.

Well, I was going to try to swing things back around to the show here for the final question...

If you watch the show -- I wish you could see it, because it's so much fun it's insane -- but I actually do this kind of diatribe on the show! When I'm standing over an animal that I kill, I attack the U.S. Fish and Wildlife jackboots and the President, and I name names on the TV show. That's one of the reasons it's the most popular show out there, because we're not playing games here. We need to maximize the good while attacking and destroying the bad and the ugly. And that goes for conservation, gun rights, hunting rights -- there's a lot of work to be done, so I'm more than proud to spotlight the cockroaches and hope there's enough We the People to stomp on them.

So that's really what Spirit of the Wild is about as well. It's mostly -- I'd say 95% -- about the good. But I also expose the bad and the ugly on occasion, too.