Everyone has a passion aside from their career. It just so happens even Bassmaster Elite Series pros, like myself, toil in other activities during our free time. Other than spending time with family, hunting tops my list. I love the outdoors and moments spent on the water and in the woods, so it makes sense that deer and duck hunting are passions of mine.
Believe it or not, hunting was a bigger focus for me when I was younger. Fishing came on strong and I began to love that more, but hunting has been a passion since the beginning. There are many reasons to hunt and fish. I love catching big bass, killing big bucks and filling good limits of ducks, but it’s more than just that. I love the fellowshipping with the crew, storytelling on past hunts and figuring out what makes those animals tick. Connecting the dots in the woods is just as fun as piecing the puzzle together on the water.
Hunting is my escape.
I had a cool experience during the opening week of duck season this year. I gathered with numerous outdoorsmen all related to the Realtree Outdoors and Drake Waterfowl brands. We hunted for a day or two, told stories and ate some good food. It’s cool to see the crossover between fishing and hunting and the shared support for each industry. Partnering with those folks will be extremely rewarding because they do encompass everything I love as an outdoorsman.
Most folks don’t have the luxury of enhancing their career with their side hobby or passion, but my side-hustle of hunting has really been amazing as I’ve worked with reputable companies I love and trust.
It’s not easy though. Hunting is a lot of work, just like bass fishing. You’re dealing with animals that are wired differently and they operate to the beat of their own drum. Planning, knowledge and work are needed if you want a successful hunting season. Sure, you can walk out on a piece of public land and put up a stand and knock down a deer in a day or so and it seems easy, but often times the necessary work yields big benefits. The same can be said with fishing. You rarely sack up a huge stringer the first time you fish a body of water. Sometimes it will happen where you hit it perfect and every guess was correct, but more times than not it takes plenty of work and study.
One aspect that brings my outdoor passion full circle is sharing it with my family. I’ve always shared fishing with my wife Lindsey and my children Kei and Linnie, but not always hunting. Now that Kei is old enough, he can tag along with me hunting this offseason. Sharing those moments with him is what I love. Do I hope he loves the outdoors as much as I do? Sure, but I’m never going to force him to love my passions. Introducing him to the outdoors is the simplest way to for someone to love it though. I know one thing is true, I want to be by his side when he gets his first kill because it’ll be a key moment in time.
Arkansas is a gem, it’s a hidden treasure for outdoorsmen. I’ve been blessed to grow up here and continue to live in the “Natural State.” There may be some states with better bass fishing and better hunting. But combine them together and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more centrally located state that has the best of all those worlds.
The offseason is always filled with mixed emotions as things change from one year of fishing to another. I never take for granted the downtime I have and the ability to spend some time in the woods and in the flooded timber when the temperatures begin to cool off.