Today I want to talk to you about my past, my driving force for Wapiti_Fit. I like many was raised in a hunting and guiding family. though I feel extremely blessed to have had the upbringing I had, we heavily relied on the fall harvests and garden to keep our pockets, and stomachs in the black throughout the year. From a very young age my Dad showed me the necessity of good work ethics. One of my most notable memories, was when I was about 10 years old. The water line had cracked from our frost free water faucet, we proceeded to dig it up, the ground solid frozen as if it was stone. Not long after starting I began to complain of the difficulty of the task at hand, he let me ramble on for a moment as we both ran shovels. His face began to fill red. I paused only to catch my breath, then proceeded like the onrey child I was. No more then a second later he looks me dead in the face and said “You know!, if you ran that shovel as much as you ran your mouth we’d probably be done already!” Then quickly put his head back down and continued to work. I fell silent the rest of the time. Once done he said if it sucks don’t complain about it, no one gives a shit they know it’s cold they know it’s hard they are right there with you. So do yourself and them a favor, if it’s a crappy job and you hate doing it, bust your ass. The harder you work the sooner it will be done. Those moments have stuck with me now for over 20 years, through the cold high mountains of Afghanistan. And to every job I’ve ever had.
I’ve always had a fascination with hunting when I wasn’t in the woods I could be found sitting and watching Realtree Outdoors and Mossy Oak hunting the country with my grandpa Theo (dad’s dad) for hours. My dad was a rifle hunter, his brothers and our cousins and myself were bowhunters. I had the bug since my parents bought me youth bow when I was 6, just lacked the budget. This obsession with the outdoors eventually landed me in the presence of a then Australian and New Zealand outfitter, that would guide in the western United States during our seasons then Australia in our “offseason”. Glenn was an great man with an amazing family. He loved my passion and drive to learn and offered me a position in his outfit. I began to train myself on the species and habitate for the next 9 months. Until one day as I’m in the school bathroom critiquing the military uniform ensuring everything was dress right dress for the Veterans Day program I’d has the honor to depict a soldier. When I was suddenly flooded with a calling so strong it could not be ignored. It was in this moment that I knew I was intended to serve. Shortly after I informed him I could no longer work for him. I’d been called to serve. I enlisted and left at the end of that next September, after elk season of course.
During my time in Afghanistan we did somewhere around 14 air assault missions into the mountains via chinook. I was a grenadier for 1 and SAW Gunner the rest of them. During one of the first few we were dropped off at 4600 feet with full gear and ruck with 5 DOS (Days of Supplies) in May or June. The OP where we were going to be setting up camp was at 10K. It’s hot as hell but we’re climbing that summit more within our reach with every step. So after 4 hours of straight up vertical. We were literally steps from cresting the summit when we suddenly begin taking strong fire from our left on top of the summit. A small enemy squad was setup on the the opposite side of its summit. Putting fire heavy fire on the our unit as we peaked the summit. In moments like this you have no choice but to drop your gear and engage. Luckily during this conflict we suffered No U.S. or allie casualties. I’ve seen this very thing in combat as well as on the mountain. Its what you do in these moments where your most tired, when the weakness is creeping in, that detemines who you are and ultimately your successes.
After returning, my passion for hunting was still very much alive despite the loss of friends and allies. I reached out to my one outlet My dad, who had become heavily plagued with gout. And could no longer handle the strenuous effort and miles required to hunt the mountains of the west. One day just a few months before his passing I was talking to him from JRTC in Fort Polk La. He was very depressed, plagued by the condition and overall health. I can remember him being very monotoned discussing the how his gout increased the difficulty level of his daily tasks to the point that he even hard time doing simple chores like washing dishes and feeding the town animals. He was by far one of the hardest men i’ve ever known, So you can imagine my astonishment whilst hearing this, realizing it had to be absolute torture if he was talking about it. I had recently been talking to my section leader about bowhunting and treestand hunting on the our home base of Fort Campbell Ky. I mentioned the idea of flying him and my mother out for a hunt where he could just hang and hunt. Which would eliminate the demands of western spot and stalk hunting. His demeanor changed immediately, and we ended the conversation with an excitement of the pre-season. A possibility that I feel he thought he’d never feel again. He would pass suddenly from a blood infection 3 months later in June.
Needless to say I was crushed and coupled with the loss of a few amazing friends, it was mentally crippling, my biggest outlet would forever be changed. Complaining wasn’t an option I had responsibilities to my family to hold strong and provide. After leaving the military my mind was telling me my opportunity had past. After all I was no longer a kid and couldn’t imagine leaving my family for 4 to 6 months to guide hunts abroad.
After the military I guided 2 seasons then attended trade school in the pursuit of a career as a diesel technician in 5 years I had worked for Kenworth, Cat and John Deere. All extremely high profile dealers in terms of dream jobs for a technician. But my passion was not there, I loved it, but I could never get comfortable. I rarely worked in the shop, as I preferred to work alone outside as quietly as possible. The busy noise of the shop gave me extreme anxiety, this coupled with other symptoms. I would later find out this caused by a silent enemy.
One day during work, through the busy buzz of work I heard to coworkers discussing archery deer season. And just like that the passion flooded back in. I became obessed all over again. I finally had the means to afford a bow, a distaste for sudden loud noises, coupled with my hunger for a good challenge. Ment bowhunting would be a natural fit. As many veterans can attest, precision has a particular appeal. Once again in my life I realized I wasn’t on the right path. At the time I had no idea how much archery and bowhunting would change my life. Through the loyalty of my family I found the strength to climb and seek my goals with a hunger of a spring grizzly. A hunger to guide people in life and in the backcountry.
I want to take you back to that moment when we’re topping that summit and feel as though you have nothing left. And opportunity presents itself. It is my passion to grow hunters as well as myself to trive and excel in those moments. Join me in becoming hunting and survival specialists. Standby #WapitiFitNation there is much more to come!