In our world of archery hunting whitetails, it’s not often that we get to share the final moments when one of us decides to let an arrow fly. Yes, we plan and strategize together, hang tree stands together, cut trails & plant food plots together, check trail cameras together - but rarely do Emilie and I actually end up hunting together when we are chasing whitetails.
The day started out in the most beautiful of ways. It was one of those sunrises that makes you meditate on how lucky you are to be living a life that allows you to soak up the magnificent attributes that the great outdoors and public land has to offer. The sun gleamed a warm orange aura across the landscape that surrounded us from every angle.
If you are a whitetail hunter, you know that there are a list of strategies that are religiously followed in an effort to harvest this species. Some of these strategies include factors such as temperature, time of year, wind direction, scent control, bedding areas, food sources, hunting pressure, and age of animal.
Modern American society is based largely around the premise of retirement and the concept that if you work for your entire life, save up enough money, you can “retire” to a stress free lifestyle. You FINALLY get to choose how you spend your time. The irony is that once most achieve this, they find themselves in a dissatisfied state oftentimes reflecting and reminiscing on the hard times and struggles they endured throughout the course of their life.
I remember sitting on the garage floor as a 6-year-old with my family’s old yellow lab, watching as my dad butchered his wildgame kills. His knife strokes were so beautifully meticulous, each with a strategic purpose. I was always afraid to say a word, as it might interrupt his focus. In
I have been fortunate in my life to have experienced hunting for a handful of different big game animals. I have hunted with some very skilled hunters on both successful and unsuccessful hunts. On the other hand, I have also hunted with poor hunters and had my share of some downright awful hunts. As I continue down the endless path of developing my prowess and skill as a hunter, I search for opportunity to learn from those who have knowledge and expertise to share.
Cooking high-quality wild game meals is more involved than simply throwing a piece of meat on the grill. Unless you have a prime cut like a backstrap or tenderloin, or you just enjoy eating dry, gamey meat, then it’s going to require a little more TLC to make a noteworthy meal. But let’s face it, not all the wild game meat in your freezer are prime cuts.
As I write this, I can barely feel my hands as I sit 20 feet up in a cedar tree during the second week of November – supposedly, during the peak of the whitetail rut. Despite countless hours of scouting, hanging stands, checking cameras, and learning deer movements, I have yet to see a deer.
This day in age, we are all too familiar with Generation Y – also known as millennials. Those within this generation were born between the early 1980’s and early 2000’s and are associated with plenty of negative connotations. In fact, I would be willing to bet that by me simply mentioning the term, several of those negative characteristics have begun to infiltrate your mind.
I will never forget the last time I saw my great- grandmother Connie, my granddad’s mom. She was in a nursing home, her body and mind destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease while my grandpa cried and my grandmother tried to convince her that we were her family and that she really did know us. I was only 12 years old, and it’s a memory forever seared in my brain. Flash-forward 26 years and I’m in the one room assisted living facility that my grandparents shared due to the ravages of neurological disease. Alzheimer’s Disease was now my grandfather's life, like his mother’s. Most days it was the same heartbreaking conversation “ Where do you live? How old are you? What’s your name? That was until he couldn’t talk anymore.
Traditional hunting is not something that most people can just jump in to. Many of those who hunt today, likely grew up in a hunting family or had a mentor who they have followed such as a father, grandfather, uncle, or family friend. With the vast majority of the hunting culture being lost with urban civilization, knowing where to start in your quest to learn more about this lifestyle can be difficult.
In my near 3 decades of hunting and backcountry experiences, I've hit a point in life where I actually prefer to hunt alone. The solitude I enjoy in the wild creates an intense appreciation for all things nature offers. Loneliness gives way to clarity, which allows me to fully appreciate and understand the meaning of why I'm there. It’s also true that I’m a born introvert. I feel energized by time alone with just my thoughts. NIn my near 3 decades of hunting and backcountry experiences, I've hit a point in life where I actually prefer to hunt alone. The solitude I enjoy in the wild creates an intense appreciation for all things nature offers. Loneliness gives way to clarity, which allows me to fully appreciate and understand the meaning of why I'm there. It’s also true that I’m a born introvert. I feel energized by time alone with just my thoughts. No outside voices or influence, other than the sometimes deafening sound of creeks, storms or wildlife.o outside voices or influence, other than the sometimes deafening sound of creeks, storms or wildlife.
Ryan was invited by Exo Mountain Gear to join the 2017 Death Hike in Hell's Canyon. He did well as finishing the over 38 miles in 17 hours. This was a great experience that he will be doing again!
Today is my 20th wedding anniversary. I didn’t wake up to flowers, breakfast in bed, or on a beach in Costa Rica. My morning consisted of doing dishes, folding laundry, cooking breakfast, feeding the chickens, hanging with my girls, and writing this blog. Ryan didn’t get a day off, a good morning kiss, or breakfast at all- he had to wake at 3 am to go to work because it’s Wednesday, a sturgeon opener, and he has a lot of people at work counting on him. We didn’t get each other gifts, we didn’t have an elaborate plan, or a plan at all. This is called life, and it’s not an Instagram dream.
If you are a male hunter, or are in a relationship with one, it’s obvious that biochemistry takes control over one’s mind and body when it’s time to go into the backcountry. For many thousands of years, man was raised to be part of nature and it’s cycles, and with the changes of the seasons, the male’s hormonal system adapted to the ways of living that demanded fitness, focus, and fortitude.
The number one question that I get asked about is “What about my hormones?” In the world today, almost every disorder, disease, or symptom has been related to a hormone dysfunction, and so naturally people think they need to fix their hormones. In most cases hormones become a big issue when one is trying to lose weight, gain muscle, increase libido, or get pregnant. But how much to do many people really know or UNDERSTAND what a hormone is, what it does, and why it’s important? Improving energy, mood, sex drive, and body composition means you need to understand your hormones, and how you can help them throughout the natural aging process.
This is a long blog. Really, it’s a story. One that has taken me nearly 20 years to write. If you don’t have a relationship in your life, then this story may not interest you, but if you love, are, or know anyone who has a passion greater than most, you may get something from it. It wasn’t an easy story to live or write about. It’s not easy to share our flaws, our secrets, our fears.
Listen in to Ryan's second feature on the Outdoor Line ESPN radio show, Seattle, early Saturday mornings. Also, check out The Outdoor Line blog by Rob Endsley that outlines all of Ryan's favorite gear for a backcountry hike, hunt, or adventure!
Ever get that question “Dude why do you hunt?” It’s an unavoidable reality in today’s world where so many have become completely disconnected with what’s actually getting crammed down their piehole. It’s fashionable today to go with the easiest answer “I hunt for the meat.” Yes, it’s true, I myself do hunt to feed my family.
Spreading the Word
What we've learned is that small changes matter. If you have one pot and access to soil, you can grow a plant. If you desire to hunt, you can find a mentor(s) to help you provide quality meat for your family. If you cut out one bad thing and replace it with something healthier, then you are making the changes to create a better quality of life for you, your children, and the planet. Staying healthy for the long term is our way of life, and he hope to share it with you here.
Kicking and screaming is how I would describe my introduction into the world of social media. I had a real hard time seeing any real benefit when it came to sharing photos or stories to the masses. What’s the point?