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Hunter Spotlight: Ryan Callaghan

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Photo credit: Garret Smith @dirtmyth photography

In preparation for CARNIVORE 2 hitting stands on August 24th, we're featuring hunters who share our passion for everything that leads up to putting food on the table. We welcome the hard work, accept and learn from errors, and then rejoice when we connect and put game in the freezer. If you're interested in being featured in this Hunter Spotlight series, please email [email protected]



RECOIL: Tell us about your first hunt.
RC: I think some of the most formative hunts were before actual legal hunting age. My father and uncles circle of friends would take me out with them duck and goose hunting. I got to do everything they did just with a Red Ryder BB Gun. Early mornings, breakfast in restaurants that were completely empty, overloaded boats in icy rivers.

The kids ride with the dogs who want nothing to do with affection because they're at work, but those labs were wet so, so was I. No complaining lots of listening and occasionally I was cut loose to crawl through the grass and sneak up on a couple of puddle ducks with the Red Ryder. In my mind, the whole crew of “adults” were watching and critiquing my every move, when in reality they were probably just drinking coffee and telling a higher level of dirty joke than I could comprehend. They were definitely having fun but what really imprinted was the camaraderie, it was catching.


Pulling meat for elk neck tacos. Photo credit: Ray J Gadd

RECOIL: What was your favorite hunt and why?
RC: Truthfully I just need to be outside, I've had amazing hunts for mushrooms and shed antlers that I hold in the same regard as some big game hunts. Nothing really tops being around for someone's first hunt, watching someone get that first experience is amazing.

We all have a huge responsibility if we want to see hunting continue to get first-timers in the woods or on the water. It's harder than you think, I see people make the mistake of showing first timers success instead of how to succeed. Taking out a first-time hunter plopping them down in front of an animal and making them a trigger puller doesn't do anything for hunting, you've taken the hunting out of it.

RECOIL: What is the one piece of gear is your “must-need” for every hunt (other than your weapon)?
RC: To stay away from the obvious boots, binos, etc.  I feel lost if I forget a couple of items. Neck gaiter and a long-handled spoon. If I forget one of those things I really start to wonder what else I am messing up.

RECOIL: Is there anything else you would like included, i.e. public lands, types of hunting, etc… or anything you're passionate about?
RC: I've been incredibly fortunate to spend a short lifetime on our public lands. I used to earn my living working for public land outfitters. Presently working for First Lite these places are still feeding me, as the bulk of our sales go to people who also hunt on public lands. As fewer hunters and anglers hit the field, we have an increased responsibility to fund what we love while not pricing the average person out of the game.

We all need to be better advocates for the things we pursue, we don't need everyone to hunt, but we need people to understand what hunting is. We need to see those interactions at trailheads as an opportunity, not a conflict. I've said before that our annual purchase of licenses stamps and tags just aren't enough anymore. If you can't donate money donate time to be a mentor and focus on the hunt, not the kill. If you focus on the hunt, you've created a hunter if you focus on the kill you've wasted time and energy on someone who is likely to not remain in the game long enough to make a positive impact.

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