Posted by: Kath Usitalo | March 5, 2012

Roared Food Report: Bear’s Den Pizzeria

A carved wooden bear greets diners at Bear's Den Pizzeria

Michigan rocker Ted Nugent wrote a song about him. He’s revered as a pioneer in bowhunting and is listed as the first honoree admitted to the Bowhunters Hall of Fame. His dad’s name was Harry Bear and he became known as Papa Bear. And you can eat a pizza at a casual joint in the upper Lower Peninsula that honors the adopted hometown hero.

Fred Bear was born on March 5, 1902 and grew up in rural Western Pennsylvania where he learned from his father how to trap and shoot game for food and pelts. At the age of 21 Fred moved to Detroit to work in the auto industry and attend night school; in 1927 he saw a movie about bow-hunting in Alaska that changed his life.

He began bow-hunting and making archery equipment, which led to the founding of his manufacturing company, Bear Archery, in Detroit.

Fred was the first president of the Detroit Archers club and started competing and racking up awards for his skill. He was involved in Michigan’s establishment of a bow hunting season in 1936, and continued to develop innovative archery products.

The sportsman and businessman knew how to work the publicity machine and gained an international reputation for his archery equipment and expertise, conservation efforts, and the films he produced about his exotic international hunting trips.

In 1947 Fred moved his company from Detroit to Grayling to be closer to the North Michigan woods, and in 1967 he opened a museum there to exhibit his collections of rare bow hunting equipment and the trophy game he’d taken.

After selling the company in 1968 he remained involved; a decade later the operation moved to Gainesville, Florida and the museum followed. Fred died in April 1988 at the age of 86.

Bear Archery Products still exists in Florida but the Bass Pro Shops acquired the museum artifacts. You can learn all about Fred Bear and his accomplishments at the website A Tribute to Fred Bear.

Luckily local businessman Bill Gannon has kept a bit of this history alive at his Bear’s Den Pizzeria in beautiful downtown Grayling. Archery bows line the walls of the restaurant and a few display cases are filled with Fred Bear memorabilia collected by the owner, whose father was a friend of the archery legend.

Books by Fred Bear and other artifacts on display at Bear's Den

The joint was jumping on a winter evening when I stopped in on a solo visit to the area.

I passed on Bear’s “100” Pounder, an 18″ pie with 100 pieces of pepperoni and a pound of cheese.

Bear’s Den also offers a choice of pasta dishes, salad bar and a dozen sub sandwiches called HUPs, but I decided on The Kodiak from the 8 bear-themed personal pizzas.

Accompanied by a glass of house red wine my tasty meal was under $10 and hit the bull’s-eye.

Bear’s Den is open 7 days and located at 243 East Michigan Avenue, Grayling. No website; phone 989-344-1234.

Visitor Info Clicks:


Pure Michigan

The Kodiak personal pizza and a glass of wine at the Bear's Den



  1. […] archery evolved from a survival skill into a competitive sport, and in 1900 joined the Olympics. Michigan bowman Fred Bear did his part in the 1930s to revive bow hunting. It seemed to be popular with women in the 1940s […]

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