We got on the phone with Cameron Hanes to discuss his recent feature on Outdoor Channel, his deal with Under Armour, and being a modern storyteller.
Fresh off a featured appearance on NRA All Access presented by Franchi, which aired on Outdoor Channel Wednesday night, Cameron Hanes spoke with us about the profile, his evolution as a writer, and his affiliation with one of the fastest growing athletic wear companies there is.
The NRA All Access segment was filmed a while back, and emerged through his relationship with fellow outdoors enthusiast Theresa Vail, host of the show.
“I think it all kind of came together because of me and Theresa’s friendship,” Hanes said. “She mentioned I’d be maybe a nice candidate for a profile on the show, and we set it up.”
And the recognition from the NRA itself? How did Hanes, an avid bowhunter who hasn’t shot an animal with a rifle consistently in a while, feel about the opportunity?
“It’s a huge honor,” he proclaimed. “The National Rifle Association obviously is an amazing organization, and does a lot for hunters and gun owners. Just to even be linked to it, even a little bit, is a big honor for me, so I’m pretty excited to see what people think.”
Cracking the front page of FOXNews.com, even surpassing Madonna and Dancing with the Stars for the top spot (seen in his Facebook message below), definitely let Hanes know how big of a deal his story was becoming.
“Yeah, that’s pretty amazing,” Hanes said with a laugh. “Everybody knows Madonna, everybody knows Dancing with the Stars. Nobody really knows me, so to have my story out there, and just to see a positive article on hunting, man, that’s just huge.”
He went on to explain how hunters had been “slammed” and negative stories, be it Cecil the lion, Miley Cyrus, or any other recent story picked up by the mainstream, were all that were being reported on.
“It seemed like anytime hunting flashed across any media, whether it’s a newspaper or Internet or whatever, it was negative,” he said. “To see hunting in a positive light on a major news network was really cool, and I never thought I’d be involved with it, so it’s definitely humbling.”
Hanes hopes the NRA All Access profile will get some positive momentum going among the hunting community, and it’s enforced by his most basic tenant of good old fashioned hard work.
“The way my bread is buttered, so to speak, is just hard work,” he said. “I work really hard to prepare for the hunt. So I always look and say, here’s how to the story going to be spun, are there any holes in it? Could somebody, not just haters, but somebody who doesn’t like hunting, or doesn’t get hunting, what could they take a shot at? How could they turn this into a negative? And I don’t really see how people could take working hard for something and turn that into a negative.”
Seems simple enough. Sure, Hanes admits his high pain tolerance is a frontrunner in the list of characteristics that attribute to all that hard work, and a tough-to-match dedication helps as well. But it’s the simple idea of trying, and trying really freaking hard, that makes the story of Cameron Hanes one that is resonating.
He originally set out to be more of a traditional storyteller after a high school teacher read a paper on killing his first buck and told him “You’re a good writer.” Hanes wrote more, and eventually became editor of Eastman’s Bowhunting magazine, which he acknowledged as having grown into a pretty great publication. He also supplemented magazine writing with two books (Backcountry Bowhunting is in its ninth printing).
Now he’s begun to see how more of an evolved, modernized storyteller can impact followers with online means. That’s not to mention the fact that it can work a lot faster and a lot stronger when it comes to reaching the masses.
“Now with social media, I still write, I still put a lot of thought into my posts or whatever I put up, but I’m not really writing in print anymore,” Hanes said. “It’s just sharing everything that I talked about and why I love writing, I just share it on social media now. So my writing has just changed in how I deliver it. The vehicle in which I get it to the public has changed, but my passion for writing is still there.”
Along with that evolution, he’s been able to “ride on the coattails,” as he put it, of his sponsor Under Armour. His connection with the now top-tier company began early on, and he’s one of Under Armour’s longest tenured athletes, officially signing on in 2004.
“I know I killed a bull in Wyoming wearing all they had at that time, which was just the base layer,” he said. “The black base layer with white logo, I remember it specifically.”
The initial marketing scheme that pushed Under Armour onto the scene, the “We Must Protect This House” commercials, was what initially drew Hanes to them. “That’s always been Under Armour, and that’s always been me,” Hanes pointed out. He feels the company believed in him from the beginning, and it means a lot to him. He tests gear, provides input, and is the primary face of Under Armour’s hunting line, set to further emerge as a newcomer to the sportsman lifestyle, but backed by a multibillion dollar company.
“I know how important my relationship with Under Armour has been to me. If I go away, it’s not like Under Armour’s going to fail, right?” he asked. “But for me, to have Under Armour fly my flag and be proud of what I do, and share that, has been monumental in my, I guess you could call it, hunting career.”
Celebrating hard work, motivating and inspiring with unique methods, and sending a strong positive message. That’s how both Under Armour and Hanes think you should approach your workouts, hunts, and 200-mile foot races.
“I’ve got a big race coming up later this summer,” Hanes said towards the end of our conversation, rather nonchalantly. “It’s uh, you know, a 200-mile footrace… I’m pretty much gearing up now, I’m trying to get in 10 miles every day on the mountain running.”
By the way, he wears Under Armour Fat Tires, the only shoe he’ll ever run in. Just in case you were eyeing a 200-mile race of your own.
Mixed in with training for that ridiculously long distance, Hanes will be appearing with Under Armour and Ram Trucks at various places this summer, as well as speaking at the Alaskan Bowhunters Association Banquet on April 9 in Anchorage. Spring bear season starts in May, and Hanes said he’ll try to “show up at the 9-to-5 every once in a while so they remember that I work here.”
If there’s anyone who doubts he’s working in one way or another, they can think again.