Working in the hunting industry is the dream for most of us, but it's not all shotguns and trophy hunts. Even hunting for a living has a few drawbacks.
Working in the hunting industry is pretty awesome.
In my line of work, I meet a lot of people who want to know how I got in the business. Getting paid to hunt? Yeah, sign me up. That's only part of the story though. Like any career path, working in the hunting industry has its ups and downs.
If hunting is in your blood, if it's key to who you are and what keeps you motivated, it's definitely the right place to be, but it's not all fun all the time. Here is some of what to expect when you land your dream job.
Con: The point of most hunts is not hunting.
Before I entered the hunting industry, I hunted on my own terms and for my own reasons. Whether it was to get a break from work, spend time with friends, or just because I had a venison craving, I was out there for me. After entering the industry, I was out there for the millions of consumers that use my company's products. I was testing, refining, researching, demonstrating, and so on.
That "on" mode can stick with you, too, so even on your personal hunts you're still scrutinizing every product you have out with you. Not just your own, but everyone's. How would you do it differently? What's their marketing on this? Their sales rep at SHOT was really cool. This list goes on of the things that can enter your mind when you're just looking to bag a buck. It takes effort to be able to turn off "work mode" after you've entered the industry.
Pro: You get paid to go hunting.
That's the dream. That's it. Getting a paycheck to chase pheasant all day? I can handle that. Maybe it means that I have to work harder to stay "in the moment" when I'm out by myself. Maybe it means that some of my hunts will be more about business than pleasure...but it's still hunting. It's still fun. My office is still the field and I'm still hunting.
Con: You're gone a lot.
Hunting is a sport that changes with the region: the terrain, the game, the laws, they're all different and if you're going to work in the hunting industry, you need to know about hunting in all of those. You can't just read and research about these areas. You need to hunt there, with people that hunt there regularly, and that's just the beginning.
There are the trade shows, the consumer shows, the seminars. You will go from Las Vegas to Anoka, Minn. and back again in a week's time. They'll all be red eye flights because you'll be heading out after a show in Salt Lake City and landing before it's time to hit the field in Indiana.
Pro: You're with some of the coolest people in the world.
Yes, you will become a road warrior, but there are others like you. As you travel from show to show you will begin to see a number of familiar faces. As time goes on, you will share drinks and battle stories with this group of people and it will be awesome.
You will pick up new hunting buddies in areas you'd never dream you be hunting and you'll meet, what I believe to be, the coolest consumers in any industry, and that will make it all worth it. The trips are stressful, the business never-ending, but after all the miles are fun people. It will remind you why you got in the hunting industry in the first place and eventually while you're nursing sore feet after a show or trading stories after a hunt, you'll realize that it really does not get better than this.
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Con: Your hours are all of them.
Unfortunately, the majority of people don't get to do their hunting between the hours of nine and five Monday through Friday. That means the majority of people aren't buying whatever it is you're selling during those hours. Thanksgiving morning you may get a call about a malfunctioning product in Europe; Christmas Day may find you answering insane amounts of emails regarding people commenting on your latest article, or midnight on a Tuesday, your retailer may realize they don't have enough stock for tomorrow's sale and you're working with them and your company to make the save.
The hunting industry doesn't stop because our people don't stop, and in a lot of ways, that's what makes it great. Not only do you get paid to hunt, you're getting paid to help other people enjoy their hunt more. It's a great honor and a big responsibility.
Pro: You love what you do
They say if you love what you do then you'll never have to work a day in your life. They're wrong of course. Some days you will feel like you're working. Your feet will ache from working a show all day, you will have talked to so many different people you won't even be sure you have words left, and you'll be busy in paperwork while your consumers are out with your product. It will be hard sometimes, but it will be worth it, because if you love what you do, the days that you're working pay off.
Yeah, you spent hours summarizing areas of improvement on your latest product, but man did that puppy work great the first time you took it out. Or maybe you didn't get any sleep because a deadline was approaching for your latest article, but seeing it published in black and white? It's worth it.
The hunting industry is not for everyone. It requires an intense about of dedication, passion, and patience. For those that are willing to give it their all though, there's no better place to be.