By Aaron Neilson, Worldwide Adventures, January 2015
We hear it all the time, "Hunting, it's not what I do, but it's who I am.” In my case, however, it’s both what I do and who I am. It’s a fortunate opportunity I’ve been blessed with for the past 23 years. I think we all dream of making a career out of something we love to do, and luckily for me I have definitely been able to make that dream come true. Recently, I was approached by the great folks at Huntin’ Fool® to lead a new division offering outstanding hunting adventures around the globe! Huntin’ Fool® has established a strong tradition of providing domestic hunting adventures to its members, and now we plan to broaden the horizons a bit. I hope each of you will put in us the same trust as you broaden your hunting horizons that you have when searching out your next western big game adventure.
As a youngster, I was introduced to hunting by my father. I would call him a more casual hunter than I am today, but, regardless, it was his willingness to get me into the field that led to my love of hunting. We spent much of our time in my home state of Colorado chasing greenheads and Canadian honkers (my father’s real passion). However, it was the once a year deer and elk hunting trip that I spent many sleepless nights thinking about. Although my father is long since gone now, the memories of my first spike Mulie at age 14 will never be forgotten.
After high school I enrolled in college with an emphasis in law. My original plan was to become a criminal defense attorney, but in the fall of my second year I was offered a chance to guide deer and elk hunters and my life’s direction changed forever. I continued school, but only during the spring and summer sessions as fall was reserved for guiding hunters. By my early 20’s I was operating my own outfitting company and all thoughts of law school were long forgotten.
For years I specialized in outfitting and guiding trophy Whitetail and Mule deer hunts on the Plains of eastern Colorado, along with some elk hunts in Colorado and New Mexico as well. I lost count long ago of the many great bucks we’ve taken over the years, but there’s no doubt that the Plains have been good to me. It’s a passion I still have today as I continue to guide regularly on the Plains and manage the outfitting company now operated by one of my former guides, Western Legends.
Elk has always been my biggest passion in North America, but it was Africa that captured my imagination from a very young age. I still remember Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom,” and I simply could not imagine what Africa would be like, especially the “King,” the lion, the single greatest trophy ever to walk planet Earth, in my opinion! It was the lion that would first take me to Africa, and it’s the lion that has taken me back time and time again. Since my first trip to Africa in the mid 90’s, I have made 33 trips to 8 different countries on the Dark Continent, almost exclusively in search of the Big 5 and the Dangerous 7. I have also sought out other species, including the Lord Derby’s giant eland, the Bongo, and many, many others, but dangerous game has always lit my fire. To date, I have taken roughly 50+ different Dangerous 7 critters, including 13 lions, close to 20 buffalo, numerous elephants (the biggest was 82 lbs. x 84 lbs.), leopards, hippos, crocs, and one rhino. I am also one of the few Americans who has ever held a full Professional Hunter’s license in Tanzania, East Africa. I received that honor in 2010. Although Africa still has numerous species that I have yet to hunt, only the Mountain Nyala still captures my imagination. I hope a trip to Ethiopia in 2016 will cure that little obsession.
As my hunting opportunities continued to expand, so did my involvement in the international hunting industry. It was a natural progression into the “hunt consulting” side of things as I felt I could definitely offer some great hunting opportunities to my current and future clients. For roughly 12 years now I have helped arrange hunts for my clients close to home and around the world. Aside from Africa, my experience over the past 20 years has also taken me to Alaska and Canada (including a Polar Bear hunt in the Arctic) over 15 times for all species and guiding/hunting in Sonora, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Spain, Pakistan, Mongolia, all over the continental U.S., and many other places. With over 100 species worldwide and only a couple short of my North American 29, I feel I have the knowledge and experience to help Huntin’ Fool® members with a lot of additional hunting opportunities available around the globe. I have certainly not been everywhere, but who truly has? I will, however, do my best to help serve the members and do what I can to make their next adventure a success!
I will continue to reside in the mountains of Colorado where I love to be. However, Huntin’ Fool® will become my new passion, but I will also continue to manage my outfitting operation in eastern Colorado as well as run my elk hunting outfit in New Mexico. For those of you who might be interested in broadening your horizons but still aren’t quite sure yet, you can also tune in to my hunting television show “Wild Sheep Foundation’s World of Sports Afield,” only on the Sportsman Channel. We constantly feature hunting trips not only domestically but also throughout the world.
In closing, let me thank all those who have made this possible for me at Huntin’ Fool®. Also, I hope to hear from you, the members.