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Bartlett grew up on a remote farm in Kenya where he started hunting at an early age.

After serving in WWII, he returned to Kenya to farm. After a few years, he decided to join the Kenya Game Department as a game control officer, which required him to shoot buffalo and elephant at very close range. He had a fine reputation as a buffalo hunter and was considered to be one of the quickest shots with a double rifle. By the time he became a PH for the legendary Ker & Downey Safaris in 1957, he already had more hunting experience than some professionals gain in a lifetime. His professional hunting career took him throughout Kenya and Tanzania as well as into Botswana. Fred was one of the men who, because of his knowledge of the countryside and wildlife, was tasked with tracking the Mau Mau gangs during the Emergency. With his brother-in-law and fellow professional hunter Don Bousfield, he also ran a tracker-training school. Fred relates his many stories of his hunting life in Africa's rich game lands.