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Legend Biography

Forrest Wood


Father of the Modern Bass Boat

Sponsors: Coming Soon

Internationally known as the "Father of the Modern Bass Boat," Forrest L. Wood
was born June 9, 1932 in the tiny town of Flippin, in the Ozark Mountains of
Raised to ranch and farm life, Forrest worked cattle and the land. Forrest married
his childhood sweetheart, Nina Kirkland, and they worked together,
simultaneously running a cattle ranch, construction company, and fishing guide
operation. Ensuing years produced four daughters who combined schooling with
work in the family businesses.
The now famous Ranger Boat Company was founded in 1968 and almost as
quickly was destroyed by fire in 1971. With no insurance and armed only with 60
salvaged boat orders, the undaunted family nailed a telephone to a scorched tree,
cleaned off the blackened site and began rebuilding. Within 40 days the company
was back in operation building boats.
An excellent fisherman and guide, Forrest brought innovation to the simple boats
of his day. The tall, lanky fisherman made his boat so much more comfortable and
efficient that, when other anglers saw it at early fishing tournaments, those
fishermen wanted boats from "The Ranger Man” and the company prospered.
Forrest helped pioneer the sport of competitive bass fishing. Personally fishing the
B.A.S.S. circuit, he did well, qualifying for two of the prestigious BassMasters
Classic events and went on to become the foremost innovator of bass boat design
and safety.
Wood's boat-building contributions are legendary. He designed and patented the
first aerated livewells to hold and protect fish for later live release. He was the
first to use heavy gauge wire to minimize current loss in trolling motor operation.
He installed conduit in his boats to protect and house essential electrical wiring.
But it was his designs, and innovations in upright and level boat flotation that later
encouraged the U.S. Coast Guard to adopt the standards that continue to save lives
Forrest's simple business philosophy encompasses the essence of marketing. In his
words, "You must build a good product ...price it fairly ... let folks know you have
it, and treat your customers right."
Forrest and his family believe that any American can go as far as effort and
determination will take them; that individual efforts, not big government,
contribute to continued national strength and growth. The Woods underscore that
positive attitudes have a positive effect on our lives, our times, and even our
economy ... and they practice what they preach.
Forrest has been widely recognized for his personal and financial contributions to
conservation causes, and was inducted into the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of
Fame, National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, the International Boating Hall of
Fame, the National Marine Manufacturers Hall of Fame, and the Arkansas Game
& Fish Foundation Outdoor Hall of Fame, and received the American Sportfishing
Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. He, along with his wife, best
friend and teammate, Nina, was prominently featured in the books, "Rare Breed-
The Entrepreneur, An American Culture" and "Living Legends of Fishing." In
2003 the B.A.S.S. Federations presented Forrest with the Lifetime Achievement
Award as a “visionary in the bass boat industry” as well as his continuing support
of the Federations. He and Nina have also been featured on Outdoor Life
Network’s, Circle of Honor program, as Americans who have made great
contributions to protection of the environment and promotion of the great outdoors.
Forrest was most recently inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame at the
Sam Walton College of Business on the University of Arkansas campus.
Forrest continues to be very active in promoting products of the famous company
he founded and is the namesake behind the renowned Wal-Mart FLW tournament
trail and widely marketed line of fishing products. He takes great pride in Ranger
Boats, having been the recipient of the prestigious J.D. Power Award for three
years running. He and Nina also continue riding herd over the family's extensive
cattle ranch. In 1998, Forrest was humbled by the responsibility of being
appointed to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, helping to ensure
conservation efforts in Arkansas and is presently serving as Commissioner
Emeritus. He continues to be very involved in helping to establish a minimum
flow of water for the White River system in northern Arkansas to facilitate a better
habitat for trout, not only aiding the thriving tourism industry in the area but giving
a tremendous boost to the environment as well. He's a voracious reader and highly
informed citizen and also tries never to miss an opportunity to hunt and fish across
his beloved America.

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