The Fred Bear Museum

Attractions List
Poster Gallery

Fred Bear and trophy taken bowhunting

There is perhaps no one who did more to popularize archery and bow hunting in the United States than Fred Bear. Born in 1902, Bear didn't become interested in bowhunting until the late 1920's, when he saw the film Alaskan Adventures featuring outdoorsman Art Young, who he sought out and convinced to teach him what Young had learned about bow making. Bear first began making bows and related equipment in his basement as a hobby, eventually expanding into commercial production in 1939 and experimenting with new materials like fiberglass for bow construction.

In the late 1940's, Bear's manufacturing operation was located in Grayling, Michigan. Bear displayed many of his hunting trophies in a waiting room at the plant, this collection, along with his growing collection of bow hunting and archery related artifacts, became the nucleus of the first Fred Bear Museum, in Grayling, in 1967. Eventually the museum's collection represented the largest privately held collection of archery artifacts in the world. Bear sold controlling interest in his company in 1968, but continued on as President. In 1978, following a strike and continuing labor problems, the Bear Archery manufacturing operation was relocated to Gainesville, Florida. At first the museum remained behind in Grayling, but in 1985 it too was moved to Gainesville, where it found a home in the Bear Archery plant between Archer Road and Williston Road, just off of I-75.

Fred Bear died in 1988. The Florida museum continued open until 2003, when Bear Archery sold the museum's collection to the Bass Pro Shops chain of sporting goods stores, which also took over operation of the Fred Bear Sports Club. Bass announced that they would display parts of the collection at one or more of their retail stores and planned to use parts in a traveling exhibition. The Gainesville industrial plant continues to manufacture Fred Bear branded bowhunting and archery equipment, but the museum is gone.

Return To Florida's Lost Tourist Attractions

Postcard image of Fred Bear and a trophy bear taken bowhunting from the author's collection.

This site Copyright (c) 1997-2011 by Robert H. Brown