A Few Bones to Pick

Why the wildest man in rock and roll works for Rush Limbaugh

Ted Nugent has problems. He might be the happiest rock and roll animal in the jungle, but sometimes you wonder if he's just one synapse away from Koreshville. Believe him A if Janet Reno and the government ever send the badged boys out to his place, they're going to get more than a mouthful of the Nuge's hard-core conservative logic. They're gonna get a bellyful of lead -- or maybe a custom-designed hunting arrow right between the eyes.

Famed as a spokesman for hunting (he first picked up a bow at age six, three years before he began playing guitar), Nugent admits that nobody needs a high-powered, fully automatic gun to knock off a deer or elk. Just recently, in fact, he killed a buffalo using a fairly light (60-pound pull), hand-held bow and an arrow he designed himself. "We're talking about a 2200-, 2300-pound bison, a garbage scow with hair. It went all the way through him! Yeah, 'Wow' is what I said, too."

But damn if he doesn't think you should keep an AK-47 or two around the house. "These weapons are wonderful, but not for hunting. Nobody uses automatic weapons to hunt," he notes. "I'm a tool guy. And I believe in the Constitution. Read the Second Amendment. Americans have the right to weapons equal to the government's military to repel overzealous governments. It clearly defines the right to keep government in check. Those cocksuckers work for us. My intellect is insulted by motherfucking Janet Reno A shut up, bitch, you work for me. I don't have an arrest record, you fucking whore; you don't need my fingerprints. She wants to make sure you and I have to deal with dozens of felons because her system of justice sucks."

His beef with would-be gun controllers extends, naturally enough, to the top. His description of Bill Clinton: "Billy? A holier-than-thou, pontificating, self-righteous, condescending.... He's so inept I want to gag. I have no fond feelings for the guy at all."

Perhaps Nugent -- riding high with an album due out on Atlantic in the fall and a tour that brings him to the Button South on Monday -- will run for prez himself. After all, it was only three months ago that Senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming delivered an impassioned speech on the senate floor hailing the Nuge as the ultimate role model. "What most impressed me about Ted is his commitment to the real America," the senator intoned. "He cares about the country. He cares about our family, his family, and he leads by example."

In addition Nugent publishes a magazine for outdoorsmen, founded the Kamp for Kids program and a couple of bow-hunting organizations, is a spokesman for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, works for Rush Limbaugh and his radio-TV empire, and is a member of dozens of civic organizations (most of them hunting-related). Any potential campaign managers might also point out that Nugent is one of the most popular performers around, having sold some 30 million albums and filled countless live venues during his 27-year career.

He would certainly garner the green vote -- Nuge is America's greatest conservationist. How does killing wild animals behoove the environment? "Jeez," Nugent says impatiently before launching into a rapid-fire lecture about the fees and taxes contributed by hunters: "How about providing billions of dollars to scientifically proven programs for a healthy, thriving, diverse ecology in the world? Pass the ammo and let's celebrate! I'm a conservationist not by policy but by a sense of reverence for how I fit in to the concrete jungle of rock and roll or the habitat of nature." Living on a 680-acre spread in Michigan, Nugent cuts down about four trees per year for his family's use. "And I plant somewhere between 2000 and 3000. It's a renewable resource, and anyone who doesn't get it has shit for brains. It's so obvious, so utilitarian -- it's not because it's a cute trend."

A couple of major rock stars fit into Nuge's definition of "shit for brains," including Paul McCartney. "When McCartney says he won't eat anything with a face, I ask, 'What are you saying to millions of Americans barbecuing chicken on the Fourth of July?' I think Paul should shut up and sing. And I think Linda should just shut up. I'm proud to be a hunter because it's as pure a function as giving birth. There's this vicious misrepresentation of hunting, a lie repeated so often people believe it: That I weigh 350 pounds, inbred, shooting Bambi and stop signs and the occasional nephew in the leg. Hunters are mothers and fathers...we understand how we fit in. With respect for Chief Seattle, the elk and the wind are my brothers. I have critters for dinner, and for clothing."

Simply put, Nugent believes that technological progress has outpaced moral evolution. He calls it "the slaughter running unchecked." With bag limits and all the other regulations, however, hunting is now nature's best friend: "My hunting dollars saved the bison; the animal-rights people didn't." Further, the actual "sport" involves "the stealth of getting close. It's not that I'm macho; besides that I'm an unbelievably good provider for my family, which is macho."

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