10 Big-Name Outdoor Pros Tell Us About Living the Dream

We sit down with some of the biggest names in the industry who have some of the best jobs you could ask for.

If you thought having your own television show was the only job in the hunting industry, you're not the only one. There is much more to the outdoor industry than those who work in front of cameras, and they have what we could all consider a dream job.

I was able to sit down with 10 peoplesome you'll no doubt recognizewho all work in the outdoor industry who truly love what they do. The best part isn't always the where they ended up as much as how they got there. Everyone has a story, and these ten have a heck of a story about living the dream.

1. Matt Drury: General Manager, Drury Marketing, Inc. (Drury Outdoors)

matt drury outdoor industry jobs

Matt Drury, GM of Drury Marketing, Inc.

So, what's your career like day to day?

I primarily work out of our studio and run our day-to-day business operations.  Anything from overseeing the social strategy, marketing, securing and working with our business partners. Then there is handling of our 45+ Independent Contractors (our DOD Team), production and deadline schedules, as well as quality control on the production. I co-host the 100% Wild Podcast as well as co-host DODTV online. I'm a cast member of THIRTEEN and honestly, the list goes on.  I have my hands in everything so Mark and Terry can do what they do best, hunt.  Unfortunately, the thing I do the least of, is hunt.

What's the best part of your job?

I think the best part of the career are some of the interesting people I get to meet and places I have traveled to.  Conversely the travel is a double edged sword because it means missed time with my young family, which is not something I like.

What kind of training or education do you have?

My background was actually not in business, but instead in production.  Mass Media major with an emphasis in production.  I started out as an editor and producer for Drury Outdoors and over the past 14 years or so I have slowly graduated into the role I'm currently in.  Before being named as the GM, I was the Brand Manager for several years and before that, Producer/Editor.

Average pay: Varies

Connect with Matt: 

Twitter: @mattdrury81
Instagram: @mattdrury81
YouTube: DOD TV

2. Gregg Ritz, CEO, Wildcomm & Host of the Outdoor Channel's Hunt Masters

gregg ritz outdoor dream jobs

Gregg Ritz

So, what's your career like day to day?

At WildComm, I oversee a very diverse portfolio of various engagements with our TV shows and sponsors. From ad sales to licensing and endorsements, social media and marketing services, production development and brand consultation, we try to raise the bar every year to make every show and sponsor as successful as they can be.

As host of Hunt Masters, on Outdoor Channel, I go on all of the hunts, coordinate all of the activities of the hunts. I coordinate the locations interfacing with the outfitters, working with the production company on all of the storylines both in the field and in front of the camera, handle all of the narration, and deliver the best possible show to the network. That also includes sponsorship deliverables, contract negotiation, creative development, and meeting the needs of our clients, while always networking for potential opportunities. 

What's the best part of your job? 

Helping aspiring hunters achieve their dreams by providing consultation, brand direction, and networking assistance. Working with corporate partners in marketing and brand strategy to drive consumer demand.

What kind of training or education do you have?

Depending on which direction you want to go in (business management, production, or show host), a degree in everything from business to marketing to film is beneficial. As far as training goes, again depending on which discipline you choose, nothing beats starting as young as you can and working as hard as you can.

When I graduated from college, I went to work at a graphic arts and printing business because that's the industry my dad worked in growing up. That was the start to my professional career, but I really wanted to be in the hunting industry. I had developed a good set of contacts, because I was a member of the US Olympic shooting team for international trap, so I spent 2 summers at the Olympic training center and made some good connections with Winchester, Hornady, and other companies in the industry.

At this point, I had my heart set on being in the outdoor industry, and that's when I was introduced to George Stumpp who ran GB Stumpp & Associates. At the time when I got out of college, he didn't have any openings in the company. But because of my contacts and representation from my Olympic shooting days, when Remington Arms hired on GB Stumpp & Associates to be their rep group in the northeast, George called me and said, "if you're still interested in the job, I've got an opportunity for you." So I moved and worked for $20K a year and drove around to handle retail promotions. I loved every minute of it and the best part was meeting all of the people; I obviously have a passion for hunting and the outdoors. So knowing I was going to places where people have the same passion as I do doesn't really feel like work for me.

From GB Stumpp & Associates, I was recruited by Thompson/Center Arms to be their Sales Manager and I worked my way up to Director of Sales and Marketing, and then VP of Sales and Marketing, and then eventually acquired the company and operated as it's CEO until I sold the company to Smith and Wesson. I then spent two years as the president of Smith and Wesson's Hunting Division and handled both the Smith and Wesson and Thompson/Center Arms lines. I then retired from there and founded WildComm in 2007.

Shortly after that, I acquired Horton Archery and was the CEO until I sold that company. There's such a diverse selection of outdoor jobs out there and I've done just about all of it. I've worked retail, wholesale, I've been a telemarketer, and have worked retail promotions. So anyone who really has the passion for the outdoors can find their niche in this industry. As far as career potential, the sky is the limit as far as how hard you want to work and how creative you can be. With the right attitude and work ethic, you can become anything you want in this industry. As Steve Jobs once said, if you do something you love, you'll never have to work another day in your life.

Average pay: The better performing shows with established reputations and sponsor relations can make anywhere from $50-150K per year. It is really dependent upon the work and time you are willing to put in.

Connect with Gregg:
Twitter: @GreggRitz
Instagram: @GreggRitz
Facebook: Huntmasters

3. Nick Hoffman, Country Music Artist and Host of Nick's Wild Ride on Outdoor Channel

nick hoffman nicks wild ride

Nick, Television Show Host of Nicks Wild Ride on The Outdoor Channel

So, what's your career like day to day?

I am one of the rare people who can say they are living their dream! I play and sing music for thousands of people and I have the greatest job in all of the outdoor industry!   I travel around the world to hunt and explore the local food, drink, culture, music, and people of the area that I'm hunting.

What's the best part of your job? 

The best part of this is getting to hunt in places I had only dreamed of when I was a kid. On the music side, I love playing in front of people.

What kind of training or education do you have?

I've been in the entertainment business my whole life. So I guess that qualifies as training. But, the biggest qualification for this type of work is perseverance. It's a lot of work and you hear a lot of "NO's."  So my advice would be to just never give up.

Average pay: Varies

Connect with Nick:
Twitter: @NickFiddle
Instagram: @NicksWildRide
Facebook: Nicks Wild Ride

4. Brandon PalaniukProfessional Angler and Owner of BMP Fishing Inc.

brandon palaniuk hunting outdoors industry jobs

Brandon Palaniuk after catching 93 pounds, 12 ounces to win his third Bassmaster Elite Series title.

So, what's your career like day to day?

I get to compete in the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, and Major League Fishing.  I also participate in product development for several sponsors along with public speaking and social media marketing.

What's the best part of your job? 

The people I get to work with, the never ending change, and the travel.

What kind of training or education do you have?

No formal education required, but it definitely helps.  Time on the water and street smarts go a long way in this industry.  Being able to speak and communicate is crucial.

Average pay:  This one has a wide range and since we "Pay to Play" it can vary quite a bit. Most elite anglers will vary between $20,000-$750,000+.  Expenses will bring that down $65,000-$110,000 however cashing tournament checks will raise that number.

Connect with Brandon:
Twitter: @BrandonPalaniuk
Instagram: @BrandonPalaniuk
Facebook: Brandon Palaniuk
YouTube: BMP Fishing

5.  Chase Rohlfsen: President, RubLine Marketing Corp

chase rohlfsen outdoor industry jobs

Chase Rohlfsen, Owner of Rubline Marketing

So, what's your career like day to day?

We are a marketing and strategy company.  Our function is to analyze our clients current and future marketing agendas, messages and budgets.  We then create multi channel, multi level plans that take that message to their desired audience.  We work with advertising platforms making sure there is a clear line of communication and execution of every marketing agenda at a fair price.

Being aware of the latest cost per impression metrics and experts in negotiation, we create opportunities within television, digital, social and print. Our policy is to take our clients plan and budget, and put it into action on what we like to call a balanced diet.  Our office handles everything from conception to production to execution, on static ads, video production, media buying and social management.

What's the best part of your job? 

Having spent 18 years in Marketing and Sales in the financial sector, the job is not all that different in the actual strategy or execution. However, the outdoor side is so much more personal.  It is like a big family where anywhere you turn, it is somehow connected.  So many individuals within this industry work hard from passion. The other thing I would have to say is the willingness to help others is so strong within the Outdoor Industry it's remarkable.  We opened our doors in 2008 and we had so much help from other, more connected folks that helped us grow.

What kind of training or education do you have?

Experience would be number one.  You're not going to come out of college very often and land a marketing position within your dream field. Be willing to get experience and excel within what ever field you can land.  Then, always keep trying to open doors until one proves to be unlocked.  Bachelors degree is a minimum.  Experience in accounting or finance is helpful as well.

Average pay: Starting marketing positions can hover around between $27k -$40k. Higher level strategy positions can exceed $100,000.

Connect with Chase:
Instagram: @Rubline_Marketing
Facebook: Rubline Marketing

6. Jessica DeLorenzo: Professional Photographer, Owner at DeLorenzo Photography, LLC, & Ambassador for Sitka Gear

jessica delorenzo outdoor industry jobs hunting sitka

Jessica DeLorenzo, an accomplished photographer also helped develop and test new full system women's Sitka Gear.

So, what's your career like day to day?

I am a published photographer in the wedding and outdoor industries. My work has taken me all over the United States and as far as the southernmost tip of South America. Some of her photography can be seen with companies like Outdoors Sportsman's Group with several big named outdoor magazines. As well as Mathews Inc, Quality Deer Management Association, The Fly Shop, Sitka Gear, and many more. Most recently, I have helped the several years todevelop and test the new women's line at Sitka Gear.

What's the best part of your job?

Pursuing my passion for the outdoors and photography. I love to travel, the flexibility and preserving moments to share through photography. Getting to have a hand in creating the first fully functional complete system of women's hunting gear and seeing your hunting apparel wish list become a reality is beyond incredible.

What kind of training or education do you have?

A Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design for a formal education in the Arts. My photography career was self motivated and self taught with several Internships and continuous training to hone my craft. I suggest some formal training in the arts and some business classes to run a successful photography business. For Sitka, a knowledge base of varying situations and elements that are encountered while hunting. As well as the ability to test products at the most extreme conditions in order to provide the best feedback while field testing.

Average pay: Standard rates for wedding photographers can range between $2,500-$10,000 per wedding depending on experience and location. An average day rate for an Outdoors Photographer can range from a few hundred per day to a few thousand depending on variables. Freelance consultant work can also vary greatly depending on the job, while a full time field consultant salary can average between $51,000 to $85,600 a year.
Connect with Jess:
Twitter: @jess_delo
Instagram: @jessdelo7 & @delorenzophotography & @latendressemediacollective
Facebook: DeLorenzo Photography

7. Jake Latendresse: Professional Film Maker; Owner & Executive Producer at Latendresse Media, LLC

jake latendresse sitka hunting outdoor industry jobs

Jake Latendresse a film maker, in his element.

So, what's your career like day to day?

Freelance videographer for Bassmaster Elite Series on ESPN2, RNT-V, Into the Blue, Saltwater Experience, and The Wild Outdoors on Sportsman Channel. Another primary job of mine is freelance filming International Big Game hunts and other extreme outdoor adventures.

Destinations visited for filming hunts include, Mongolia, Turkey, Tajikistan, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Alaska, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania, Kodiak Island, to name a few. We also contribute content and brand development for a number of companies as well as build web sites, develop apps and provide social media management. 

What's the best part of your job? 
Being able to work outdoors, in unique environments, with incredible people. I love to see new cultures and continue to learn more about my craft.

What kind of training or education do you have?
While formal education isn't required, my career involves fast growing technology and digital concepts. Therefore, constant research and self-educating habits are quite necessary. If I had to do it all over again, I'd go back to school for a Multi-Media degree, specializing in animation graphics and film production.

Average pay: Standard day rates for freelance videographers in this industry range from $300-$750 per day. Most small multi-media companies can gross anywhere from $20,000 to $500,000 annually, with some exceptions to the rule.

Connect with Jake:
Instagram: @outdoor_cameraman & @jake_latendresse
Facebook: Latendresse Media Collective
Vimeo: Latendresse Media Collective

8. Todd Bigbee: Whitetail Properties

whitetail properties todd bigbee hunting outdoor industry jobs

Todd Bigbee with a buck he shot with a bow at one of his properties.

So, what's your career like day to day?

I put buyers and sellers together on some of the best hunting ground in the nation.

What's the best part of your job? 

Evaluation of land. I get to determine for buyers and sellers the very best way to make a parcel of land work for both parties. What makes it a dream job is that I get to help people get their dream property that they spent a lifetime trying to acquire.

What kind of training or education do you need?

Studying and passing the real estate exam to become an agent is probably the first step. There's no doubt that nothing can better prepare an agent that a lifetime of experience.

Average pay: Varies per market

Connect with Todd:

9. Breck Cherry: Professional Hunting Guide at Hooray Ranch (Specializes in Waterfowl)

breck cherry hooray ranch hunting guide outdoor industry jobs

Breck Cherry as a Hunting Guide at the Hooray Ranch in Kansas


So, what's your career like day to day?

There's a lot that goes into being a waterfowl guide at the Hooray Ranch. Hunting is a small fraction of what we actually do as guides. Our busy season really begins when duck season ends. We manage our properties and make it the best we possibly can for the wildlife. We work nine months out of the year for the remaining three months of waterfowl season we get in Kansas.

When the season rolls around we scout daily in order to constantly try to stay one step ahead of the birds in our area. After scouting, we come up with a game plan for the following day. We'll go get the decoys set up, brush in blinds etc. When we get to take our guests out, we deliver the best possible hunting experience. It is 100% our responsibility to keep our guests safe, legal, and overall having a good time. We as waterfowl guides at the Hooray take it as a privilege to do so. 

What's the best part of your job? 

My favorite part of guiding is the people that I get to deal with. I'm still in awe at the phenomenal guests we have the privilege to hunt with throughout the year. As well as the awesome people in the hunting industry we get to deal with. What makes this a dream job is a combination of a couple things. From watching the work in the spring and summer pay off in the fall and winter or just the fact that I get to do what I love for a living. Sharing hunts with new hunters and also enjoying the comradery of hunters with years of experience. It all makes this a dream job

What kind of training or education do you need?

The best training or education in the hunting is experience. The more one can go out and hunt and take note of why birds do what they do or why a deer does a certain thing, and learn from that, and apply it in the field to make their success rate higher, is a huge educational component with hunting. 

With guiding, the guide needs to produce a good hunt as well as keep everyone safe. We need to keep everyone laughing and give everybody a good time overall. There are a handful of college programs throughout the country that educate students in the world of outfitting. Kansas State, for example, has a great program that can prepare students for the world of outfitting and guiding, however hands on experience is the largest factor.

Average pay: The average salary of guides can vary drastically. There's are thousands of outfitters and guides out there hunting just about anything one could imagine. All salaries will vary simply because of game they pursue, parts of the country they're located, and weather or not they are seasonal (only work/guide during hunting season) or work for an outfitter full time like myself. Salaries can vary drastically. 

Connect with Breck:
Instagram: @BreckCherry

10. HUSHIN [Hunt-Fish] (Casey LaVere Butler, Eric Chesser, Brian McElrea): YouTube Creators

hush hushin hushing outdoor industry jobs

The HUSH Crew (Left-Eric Chesser, Middle-Brian McElrea, Right-Casey LaVere Butler)


So, what's your career like day to day?

Casey: We share our passion of everything outdoors with our world-wide audience. Hunting, fishing, conservation, exploring and the cooking of wild game represents the content we create.

Eric: We film our adventures....everything from hunting, fishing and outdoor cooking. Those videos are later cut, edited and uploaded to YouTube where a large audience from around the world can view and enjoy them 24/7. Smart phone technology allows our followers to watch our content from their phones. The change in the way media is being consumed aligns well with our You Tube and social media platforms.

Brian: As You Tube creators/vloggers we are able to film and edit in a way that is raw and authentic showing people what hunting is really about. We expose it all, the ups and downs that all hunters have experienced at some point in time. Sometimes it is a miss and many times we don't fill our tags. But, that's hunting. It's real and relatable because it happens to everyone.

What's the best part of your job? 

Casey: Being able to positively affect both hunters and non-hunters by showcasing our unscripted adventures.

Eric: I would be doing it without the money anyway. I've always filmed my hunts. There's no schedule, no time clock, no script and nobody to tell me how to edit the film. Inspiring and motivating people in a positive way keeps me excited to work even harder.

Brian: Inspiring our followers to chase what they are passionate about in life. If you find what you absolutely love to do and can make a living at it then chances are you're going to wake up happy every day.

What kind of training or education do you have?

Casey: Self-taught through years of trial and error.

Eric: YouTube tutorials. Learn as you go.

Brian: No formal training or education is required which is what makes this a great platform for a wide variety of people to make a career out of. I graduated college and have spent a number of years in corporate sales and marketing prior to working with Casey and Eric at Hushin.

Average pay:

Casey: $0-$10,000,000. The sky is the limit when you're not restrained by TV networks!

Eric: Honestly like most things in life you can make what you put into it.

Brian: It's hard to say what your earning potential could be honestly. Think about this instead: If you made $150k a year working 60 hours a week and hated your job would that make you rich? In contrary, if you made $50k a year but woke up doing what you loved every single day, spending time with family and friends, and being passionate about your career. Who would you think is richer?

Connect with Hushing:
Twitter: @thehushin
Instagram: @gethushin
Facebook: Hushin
YouTube: Hushin

BONUS: What's it like to be an outdoor writer?

I'm Dustin Prievo, Contributing Writer for Wide Open Spaces and career Firefighter with Baltimore City Fire Department). I can answer this one.

dustin prievo outdoor industry jobs

Dustin Prievo, Author (Left - On a media hunt in Kansas, Right - At his full-time career as a firefighter in Baltimore City)

What this job is all about: As a writer, I look to bring the areas of my knowledge to the readers. I'm offered media hunts where I join companies to test their products in the field. Often, I'm sent several products to field test to give our readers honest, real reviews. Spend a great deal of my time researching and learning new things and then taking notes in the field during the year to formulate my own hunting guidelines makes this one of the dream jobs. I then get to share all of my experiences with our readers.

The best part of the job: I'd have to say doing what I love and getting paid to do it. I used to be a mixshow radio DJ and also did nightclub DJing in Washington DC and throughout Maryland. With that, I follow a quote from the late DJ AM. "Find something you love to do so much that you would do it for free, then find someone to pay you to do it." I've managed to turn hunting into a part time job, for now. As a writer I can travel and hunt in different states and work with several different companies and brands, and then write about it. I love to tell stories and share my experiences, both good and bad. My ultimate favorite part is meeting new people and working together to spread the word to our readers about products, experiences and strategies for their own success.

What kind of training or education do you need?

I went to college for Fire Science, so my major plays no part, but learning the format to write was acquired. I would say the number-one thing you need is passion and a "never give up" attitude. I challenge myself more than anyone else and I feed off those who say "You're wasting your time."

There is a requirement to understand AP writing style as well as knowing how to market your articles. Knowledge of SEO is a big plus as well. I was given an opportunity as a writer because of a blog post I wrote as a writing sample, but I had to apply the same way everyone else did. I just had a passion for writing before I even knew I had a passion for it.

For the longest time I tried to be popular amongst the social media market. I wanted to be on television and host my own hunting show more than anyone. That was until I found writing. I can now slow down, really learn the trait and try to provide the most raw, sustainable content that our readers will find help them succeed.

Average pay: For me, this is my part-time job, and some of our writers make great money the more they write. It's all in how much work you put in, and I find that writing for Wide Open Spaces is a humble but rewarding source of supplementary income that goes along with doing what I enjoy. As a firefighter, our base salary is over $62,000 annually, but the schedule is what allows me to work more in the spring and be off all hunting season. That allows me to travel and do what I love every hunting season.

Connect with Dustin:
Twitter: @TopPinOutdoors
Instagram: @TopPinOutdoors
YouTube: Top Pin Outdoors
Articles: Dustin Prievo

Like what you see here? You can read more articles by Dustin Prievo here. Follow him and his hunting team, Top Pin Outdoors, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.