From the start: how a hunter was born
There I was on my eighth birthday, standing with my dad in the checkout line at Smith & Edwards, a local sporting goods store in Ogden, Utah, about to buy my first Red Ryder BB gun. My stomach was in knots and I was shaking from excitement. My mom waited patiently in the car with no idea what was taking place. Needless to say, when she saw what we had done she did not share the excitement. From that day forth, she was constantly warning me to be careful and reminding me to not shoot my eye out. I have always been extra careful, just for her!
As I grew up, my parents did not share my same passion of hunting, but they always knew how much I loved it, and always supported me and my dreams. I had the best childhood any young boy could ask for. I grew up in a valley that provided the means for numerous outdoor activities like deer hunting, waterfowl and upland game hunting, fly fishing, dirt biking, smashing pennies on the train tracks and plenty more. I was very fortunate to say the least.
I was born to hunt — plain and simple. Growing up, I was blessed to have great role models, both family and friends who taught me the importance of conservation along with being respectful of the wildlife and land that we hunted each year.
As I have grown older, I have noticed the bad reputation that hunting has received amongst particular crowds. Just like anything else, once someone has an opinion about something, it is hard to change. As hunters it is our duty to portray the huge positive impact that we have on the environment through our respectful words and actions.
The word that comes to mind each time I think about my hobby of hunting is passion. To be passionate about something, you cannot pursue it light-heartedly, but instead it requires 100% of your effort. This realization became obvious to me when I embarked on my first-ever backcountry mule deer hunt in Wyoming.
After spending the first day at almost 11,000 feet and 12-plus miles deep into the wilderness, I quickly realized two things, I immediately recognized that this is something I wanted to do for the rest of my life and If I was going to be successful and safe in this lifelong passion, I was going to have to put in more preparation during the off-season than I had ever done before.
Preparation can have different meanings to different people. For me, I want to be completely ready for any situation I find myself in, be it in the backcountry, desert, badlands — anywhere. Whether you hunt with a compound or traditional bow, basic or long-range rifle, muzzleloader or shotgun, preparing for all possible scenarios during the off-season will produce positive results when it really counts.
Aside from the method that you choose to harvest your game, physical preparation is key, especially when it comes to the backcountry. Lifting weights, running trails and hiking with a weighted pack will all help you on your long 5-10 day hunting trips. I have noticed by participating in these activities that I have also become mentally stronger which in turn, helps me overcome challenges in the wilderness.
Mapping out your areas and scouting for prospective animals during the pre-season is also very vital to success.
After putting in hundreds of hours preparing each year, having it all come together and finally harvesting the animal you have been after is truly an experience that cannot be fully described in words. Aside from the role that a hunter plays in wildlife conservation, the experience of being with family and friends in the outdoors, coupled with the ultimate goal of bringing home lean-organic meat to your family is what keeps me going year in and year out.
To help shine a more positive light on the hunting lifestyle and to show the true passion that I have for this sport, I have begun filming and documenting the entire experience from the off-season preparation to the end result in the field. I do not expect everyone to become hunters themselves, but hopefully as the world sees the amount of work we put into this each year, they will begin to understand and respect what we do and why we do it.