Meet John Makoff

By John Makoff, Huntin' Fool Partner, April 2014

It’s an honor and privilege for me to join the Huntin’ Fool® leadership team. I love this company, industry, and the outdoors. I was born in Idaho and come from a family of farmers and outdoorsmen. From childhood, I was introduced to fishing, the shooting sports, and, of course, hunting by my grandfather, my dad, and my uncle, all of whom I consider my best friends. Most of my life has been lived in the West with the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains and the amazing outdoor arena they provide. My happiness is dependent on a continuous dose of the outdoors.

I am a regular guy who loves to hunt, not a professional hunter. I am a dedicated family man with a wife and two kids. I have had the same busy job for 20 years and the same associated, demanding schedule, trying to balance it all. That probably sounds familiar to fellow members.

I am most proud of the time I have spent with my family, and in particular my wife and kids. My job is demanding and requires me to travel, but my wife has been willing to travel with me and haul the kids along. We have home schooled our kids for many years so we could be together when work required a temporary address, but, more importantly, so we could spend quality time in the outdoors as a family.

I have been a member of Huntin’ Fool® since 1996. My member number is 36. The outdoor and hunting experiences introduced by my family were more about enjoying the experience rather than the harvest of a quality trophy. Over the last 25 years I have worked really hard to become a better hunter. I literally learn something new every year from every hunt. The truth is, hunting cannot be mastered, and that is why I am so drawn to it. It also explains why we hunters feel so fulfilled when we connect with that dream trophy. It’s such a precious moment in time and feels like magic. Huntin’ Fool® has been an invaluable tool and partner during my evolution as a hunter. Hunting is competitive with resource opportunity severely constrained and limited compared to demand. In order to access quality opportunities, hunters need mountains of information, investment dollars, and a navigation plan to put that information and money to work. When orchestrated correctly, we finally get the opportunity to go on that elusive quality hunt. Then there is the hunt itself. The opportunities are so special that we want to do everything in our power to maximize the experience. Now we need more information, advice, direction, gear, and a little luck to transform our opportunity into a fulfilled hunting experience. If you are an average person like me, you don’t have the time or resources necessary to make this happen. Huntin’ Fool® has filled this requirement for me. Without this service I would not have been able to go on the hunts I have and enjoyed the resulting experiences. For an annual price less than a tank of diesel I don’t know of a better value in hunting, or in any industry for that matter.

Because my hunting time is limited I focus on animal preferences and quality experiences. Like most hunters, I love the animals and sharing their environment. However my favorite species to hunt are Mule deer and elk. Most of my hunts are self-guided hunts with friends and family. However I do guided hunts as well when it makes sense for my budget and objectives. Trophies are in the eye of the beholder, and some of my most memorable and favorite hunts did not result in high scoring trophies. I recently hunted Mexico for Mule deer and had an awesome experience. In the last hour of the hunt I shot a 30" 3-point with a beautiful open frame. The people were first rate and fun. I had a Mexican guide who did not speak a word of English and I don’t speak a word of Spanish, but we still had a blast laughing, enjoying the environment, and looking at the wildlife. The best moment came after I shot the buck. I turned to look at the Mexican guide and was immediately in receipt of the biggest man hug I had ever had. He was so happy, and it was infectious. I was thrilled with the buck and felt lucky to have had the experience.

I was the lead investment advisor on behalf of the Unique Investment Corporation and our investors when we purchased controlling interest in Huntin’ Fool®. The circumstances were completely random. I was on a hunt when I met Garth, and we shared the same camp. It took a year getting to know each other before we consummated the transaction. Garth will always be celebrated as the founder of Huntin’ Fool® but will be retiring in May from all day-to-day responsibilities.

My job at Huntin’ Fool® is to provide oversight, resources, and advice to the day-to-day managers. In simple terms, or what my family would consider farmer terms, my job is to make sure we don’t do anything stupid and when we do, we fix it quickly.

Our members are the most important stakeholders, period. All of our decisions are focused on providing our members with services and products that will make them better hunters, give access to their next hunt, and deliver a comprehensive set of tools to maximize a lifetime of hunting experiences. Whether you are strictly a hard core trophy hunter or the average hunter looking for quality hunting opportunities, Huntin’ Fool® is a mandatory partner if you want to maximize your hunting investments. The most common misconception about the company is that we are solely a magazine. Our publication is fantastic and will continue to serve as the primary distribution point for members to access services and products, but it’s the comprehensive services that are the underlying value driving member satisfaction. I am committed to the continuous improvement of these services and products on behalf of our members. I am also committed to expanding services or products if it’s a clear value for members. HuntinFoolStore.com powered by Black Ovis is an example. There are great products on this site that our members require for their hunts. The member discount is a meaningful and useful value.

There are times when we have to make difficult decisions. Huntin’ Fool® recently changed the price for memberships. Hunting consultants are a valuable and required resource for the company and our members. However the past membership fee structure did not cover their cost. The company was losing money supporting the consultants. We adjusted the price to address this problem without affecting the balance of all other services our members enjoy and require, including the addition of the Huntin’ Fool® Online Forum and HuntinFoolStore.com for the same $100. If a member wants or requires a hunting consultant, they can upgrade anytime for an additional $100. Relative to other professional consultation in the business world, it’s competitively priced and a great value. We did not roll out this new change well. It was confusing and appeared as though we were doubling the price to our members. Our communication and execution as a management group was not clear to our members. For this I sincerely apologize to all members.

Growth is imperative for a company. First, a company that does not grow does not create the necessary resources to reinvest. Reinvestment is critical in sustaining market advantages for our members. We have identified many investments, including technology, products, and industry relationships to improve our members’ hunting resources. Second, inflation will erode the value and health of a company if it does not grow. There is a common misunderstanding that the quality of service to members will decline if we grow. A decline in services would more likely be a result of management mistakes, not necessarily growth.

Our members’ satisfaction with the company’s services and products is paramount to the success of Huntin’ Fool®. There is no higher priority for the company today or in the future. I am a member like you. That is the perspective I bring to advising and helping the company better serve us all. Though I have regular and continuous involvement with the company, I do not have an office at the Huntin’ Fool® facilities. However I would like to offer and encourage members to contact me via email at john@huntinfool.com with your ideas on how we can improve the company and member services. Your ideas are invaluable and would be very much appreciated. Please be patient with my reply. I really look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship and the opportunity to improve the hunting experiences of all our members.