Thursday, December 18, 2014

Running into a childhood hero: Dan Haggerty AKA "Grizzly Adams"

Last January when I was covering SHOT Show, I had the good fortune to run into Dan Haggerty, star of the 1970s TV Show "Grizzly Adams." Dan was at SHOT on behalf of Young Adventurers, an organization that helps young people build character, hope and vision through outdoors experiences.

Grizzly TV Guide
Dan on the cover of TV Guide in the late 1970s

For those not old enough to remember Grizzly Adams, it was a TV show about a guy who lived during the mid-1800s who had to "bug out" and live in the mountains to escape charges for a murder he didn't commit.

While making his way into the mountains, Adams ran across an orphaned Grizzly Bear cub stuck on a ledge. He felt bad for the stranded animal and decided to rescue it. The cub and Adams quickly bonded and became lifelong friends.

As outlandish as the story sounds, it was actually based on the real life story of "John Capen Adams," a famous mountain man and grizzly bear trainer who traveled the west during the mid-1800s with his pet grizzlies.

Dan Haggerty's portrayal of a grizzled yet warm-hearted mountain man struck a chord with millions of Americans and left an indelible print on American culture.

Evidence of this enduring influence can be seen in movies such as "Happy Gilmore," where in one scene, Christopher McDonald's character, Scooter McGavin, mouths off to Adam Sandler's character Happy Gilmore, saying 'Yeah right, and Grizzly Adams had a beard!"

Here are some photos of Dan I took while he was at the Young Adventurer's booth, joined by actor Darby Hinton, who starred on the popular TV show "Daniel Boone":

(click any photo to enlarge)

I had a great time talking with Dan, and got to share with him the influence Grizzly Adams had on me as a kid. Dan was really down to earth and had a great sense of humor. He was even gracious enough to offer to let us interview him, so check back again as Spring draws closer and hopefully we'll have an interview posted.



For more information about Dan, as well as the Young Adventurers organization, please visit

About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ (without spaces)

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