Fred Bear’s 10 Commandments of Hunting

Pappa Bear

Fred Bear March 5, 1902-April 27, 1988

Known affectionately among his friends, and much of the hunting community as Papa Bear, Fred Bear is to this day one of the most influential people to ever grace the sport and lifestyle of hunting.  To many people’s surprise, Fred Bear started out hunting with a rifle as a young man.  He’s been quoted saying “you can learn more about hunting deer with a bow and arrow in a week than a gun hunter might learn all of his life.”  Considering that he is deemed by many to be the godfather of modern bow hunting, he began his bow hunting career relatively late in life at age 29.  This should be an encouragement to many who feel like it’s too late in their hunting career to start bow hunting.  This guy revolutionized an entire industry, broke six bowhunting world records (barren-ground caribou, Canada moose, stone sheep, Alaskan brown bear, and mountain caribou), and ended up in the Archery Hall of Fame, and was almost 30 when he started bow hunting!

Fred Bear Deer

Fred Bear was soft spoken, humble, small in stature, and slight of frame; however, he possessed a dogged determination that made him a larger than life character.  Despite all his world travels, accolades, and archery accomplishments, Fred Bear had a kind of common man, “aw shucks” philosophy on life and hunting that heralded simplicity at the center of its genius.  He had a way of putting things that got strait to the point with no fussing, and was pretty deep.  One of Fred Bear’s famous statements is the 10 COMMANDMENTS OF HUNTING.

Fred Bear


  1.  Don’t step on anything you can step over.
  2. Don’t look for deer, look for movement and remember that it’s what they’re looking for, too.
  3. Always approach from downwind.  In the cool of the day, move uphill; in the heat of the day, move downhill.
  4. The best camouflage pattern is called, “Sit down and be quiet!”  Your grandpa hunted deer in a red plaid coat.  Think about that for a second.
  5. Take only the gear to the field that allows you to hunt longer, harder, smarter.
  6. A rainstorm isn’t a reason to quit the hunt, it’s the reason to stay.
  7. Camouflage your appearance, your sound and your scent.
  8. Be sure of your shot.  Nothing is more expensive than regret.
  9. Hunt where the deer actually are, not where you’d imagine them to be.
  10. Next year’s hunt begins the minute this season’s hunt ends.

There is a great deal of wisdom in these ten simple measures. My grandfather used to tell me, “when you don’t know something, always find the people with the greyest hair, and listen to them.”  The wisdom of Fred Bear, and hunters like him (famous or not-so-famous), is derived from years of irreplaceable experience and knowledge from the greyest among us. Thanks Papa Bear.

Categories: archery, bowhunting, hunting, Nature

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. I like # 8 and #10 the most! I’m trying out Bow hunting for the first time this year, and I’m 35. Looking forward to it. I start fine tuning my bow skills next week when I get back from holidays. I only half follow #2…I do look for deer (and/or movement) . But just shapes and out lines. Heck, I’ve even seen just a eye or a tip of an ear, legs sticking from the bottom of trees. I’ve been trained my whole life though to look that way. It works for me 😉 Cool article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been bow hunting for years, and I’m still a novice. It’s one of those things that can’t ever be mastered, but it sure is fun trying.

      A shoulder injury has turned this season into a race between an aging body’s ability to heal, and a quickly approaching opening day. I’m dreaming of fall weather, and the familiar crunch of hooves in the leaves, with my fingers on the string of a Fred Bear Kodiak Magnum recurve.

      The idea that I may have to completely sit out this season is tempering a fondness for bow hunting that can only be appreciate by someone who has lost something. I hope that I can rehab before its arrow flinging time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s one of the finest, most concise articles on hunting I’ve read in a long while. Very nicely done, my friend! My compliments and thanks to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All the wisdom of Fred bear’s ten commandments has and I can’t find a copy to place on wall next to God’s ten commandments why? Kenneth Dombroski


  4. I have never claimed to be a great hunter or even a good hunter. I’m 71 now and started this passion now, at age 12. Totally agree when Fred said; if you’ve been a gun hunter, then turn to bow hunting you will learn more in that first year of bow hunting then all the time you had spent with your gun. What a truly great ambassador the man was and still is as you can see in this article. The 10 commandments well, if we all of us as bow hunters followed them to the letter our success rate would increase by a great percentage l believe.


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