When I look back over my life, I realize my dad was the first “Huntin’ Fool” I had the good fortune to meet. I am thankful I was lucky enough to be introduced to his passions before I was even able to walk. As a kid, I don’t remember a family activity that did not revolve around hunting, fishing, or trapping. I did not realize how fortunate I was back then to be raised outside.
My dad regularly pursued work opportunities throughout the western United States in search of new and exciting ways to make a living. These adventures created a very close family bond. During that time, my “homes” consisted of everything from floathouse logging camps in southeast Alaska to mid-winter wall tents in the high deserts of northern Nevada. I alternated between one-room school houses and homeschooling during the first 14 years of my life. I was able to hunt, fish, and trap to my heart’s content.
I won’t bore you with the details of how many house fires, car wrecks, boat wrecks, and “pet” coyotes and rattlesnakes we had growing up, I’ll just say that it was enough to make my normal a little less normal than most. I’ll also say that it made my taste for wild places and adventure pretty much insatiable.
In hindsight, it’s no surprise that the usual path to starting my own family wasn’t in the cards for me. I met the love of my life when we were both baby-faced teenagers. Fortunately, we enjoyed a four-year friendship before we realized we enjoyed each other’s company so much that we didn’t want to spend any time apart. We were married at the ripe old ages of 18 and 22. In retrospect, we were crazy, but we were also very committed to each other and marriage. We grew up together and raised two amazing boys of our own in the process. I consider the 22 years of marriage and 18 years of parenting to be the most important parts of my life to date.
As I’ve raised my boys and watched them progress from barely being able to carry a couple of elk tenderloins to the point where both of them are excited to outdo the “old man,” I realize more and more why my dad was a Huntin’ Fool. The memories I’ve made in the field with my boys and my wife are among the very few that do not fade with time.
For the last 14 years, I have been blessed with a job in the archery industry as the General Manager for Trophy Taker. During that time, I’ve had the privilege of hunting from Alaska to New Mexico, Africa to Ohio, and a little bit of everywhere in between. These experiences have reinforced how similar all of us Huntin’ Fools really are. Whether you are sitting in a whitetail treestand in Iowa or a blind in Africa, on top of a peak in Montana or chasing bugling bulls in the pinyons of New Mexico, there is a common bond among us that calls us back to the woods for every spare minute of our time.
When the burdens of today’s fast-paced world threaten to steal the joy from my day, the thought of a crisp, cold fall morning bull elk bugle can put a smile on my face. Whether it is hearing the first spring turkey gobble or seeing my first spring bear munching glacier lilies in the high country, I count down the days to spring. Then I find myself counting down the days to the sweltering heat of August antelope seasons and the brilliantly colored aspen leaves that accompany September’s rutting bulls. I know the Huntin’ Fool membership longs for those precious days afield just like I do.
This passion led me to start applying for limited-entry tags over 15 years ago when I worked at a non-profit youth ranch for at-risk teenagers. At the time, I could not afford to put in for hunts on my meager salary. Each year, I questioned my sanity when I sent off my applications and money in the hopes that I was buying a chance at the hunt-of-a-lifetime. During that time, I’ve drawn some awesome tags and made more of those memories that keep me sane during long hours under fluorescent lights. I’ve also donated a lot of money to the nine or more states I apply for hunts in each year. I have always believed that the money ultimately goes to a good cause for wildlife, and at the same time I cross my fingers for that ever-elusive coveted tag.
I remember reading the “Apply, Apply, Apply!” mantra of Huntin’ Fool over a decade ago and thinking that so many of the good tags were out of my reach. I now sit poised on the cusp of drawing many great tags for multiple species in multiple states. At this point, I am glad I followed Huntin’ Fool’s advice. I am also glad I started building points for my kids as soon as they were eligible. At some point in the future, they will thank me and I will get the chance to build more precious memories in the field with them.
I am excited to start this new chapter of my life with Huntin’ Fool. I believe one of the best things we can offer you, our member, is the ability to maximize your time in the field with the best possible information and resources. My goal is to help facilitate your opportunity to create memories that won’t fade with time. I believe that great hunts make great memories, and Huntin’ Fool would like to keep you experiencing great hunts.