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Ted Nugent: Hunting thrills, music pays the bills

Ted NugentTed Nugent is one of the more interesting characters in the media maelstrom. A hard-rocking, take-no-prisoners guitar player, Nugent first came to public attention in a minor way as the guitar player for the Amboy Dukes, which had a hit with "Journey to the Center of the Mind" in 1968. In the '70s, Nugent went solo and became one of the nation's hottest touring acts on the strength of hard-charging ditties such as "Cat Scratch Fever," and "Wango Tango."

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While Nugent's music may have been in keeping with the times, his attitude toward the partying of the era was not. Nugent has always been virulently against the use of drugs and alcohol. He does not drink or take drugs and expresses bewilderment and disgust toward colleagues who do. Nugent knew and jammed with all the greats, including Jimi Hendrix, and has stated that in his belief, they all played better and showed greater creativity when sober, defying the belief of many that the substances ingested during the psychedelic '60s and hard partying '70s encouraged a freeing of the mind.

At some point in the midst of his success, Nugent's philosophies on this and other matters became increasingly public. Among these beliefs was that Nugent was emphatically pro-gun rights and pro-hunting. In recent years, Nugent, a board member of the National Rifle Association, has become something of an icon of the right, as associated with shooting a bow and slamming a liberal as with playing the guitar.

Nugent has also turned his beliefs and attitudes into a mini-empire, with his own hunting lodge called Sunrize Acres, Ted Nugent Adventure Outdoors Magazine, the "Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild" TV show (the latter two both dedicated to hunting) and several books, including a cookbook co-written with his wife Shemane titled "Kill It and Grill It."

Bankrate.com spoke with the ever-outspoken Nugent about his various investments, including the profitability of pigs.

BANKRATE.COM: At this point, with all you're involved with, what's the biggest moneymaker in the Nugent empire?

TED NUGENT: It's always the music. None of the others are money-makers. I guess you can say I make a lot of money from book sales -- that's six figures a year -- but all the money is music-oriented. You know I make six digits from my magazines a year, but I'll spend that in air fare this month. The TV show probably grosses a substantial sum every year. But we use it all going to the hunting places and editing and buying equipment, so that's not a money-maker. The hunting operation is substantial -- we're talking millions of dollars -- but it's all spent in administration. You would call it the cost of doing business. Because when you hunt hogs at Sunrize Acres, if we make a million bucks hunting hogs, we spend a half million buying them. Then pay another quarter million paying the guides and another quarter million for insurance and feed. So all the money is gone. So the other operations, they gross substantial sums, but they don't represent much profit.

B: So music's the big money-maker?

TN: Absolutely.

B: What makes the most -- touring or publishing?

TN: It's a combination. Touring is still extremely lucrative.

B: Considering the sorry state of the music industry, do you manage to make money off your albums?

TN: Oh, absolutely. My last album sold a couple of hundred thousand. I'll make a lot of money on that. Not just the mechanical royalties but the publishing and the songwriting. I just got a gargantuan check because some goofy Fox TV show ("Fast Lane") used "Cat Scratch Fever." Those were some pretty good sums of money. I can buy a nice new Corvette with it. A Corvette or two, actually.

B: Are you a big investor in the market?

TN: No. I don't know jack about it. My wife has done quite well there by investing in a real pragmatic way. If we like a product and use it, we invest in it. I think of Snapple, 12, 15 years ago, I think of Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, and now some scientific companies that are involved with security technology that I know is going to explode post 9-11. So we've done quite well. I also have a lot of land, and guns and ammo, and pigs. (He laughs.) I invest in pigs. Because I guarantee that every one I buy, I will double my money on. So, the hunting is a very stable investment. When I invest half a million dollars this year on a new lodge in Sunrize Acres, I'm sure it will be paid for posthaste.

B: Tell me about the lodge.

TN: Sunrize Acres in Michigan. I own the land. And we also hunt another satellite operation as well.

B: And the pigs?

TN: We buy Austrian and Russian wild boar. We release them on our property and allow them to get to trophy size. Actually, it's not up to us. They get that way just fine on their own. And then we attempt to hunt them down.

Larry Getlen is a freelance journalist and comedian in New York.

-- Posted: Oct. 15, 2002




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