Okayest Hunter has been called the most relatable brand in deer hunting. It's also been called the deer hunting brand that hands out participation trophies. No matter what the label, Okayest Hunter is on a mission to end buck shaming.
Co-founders Eric Clark and Tyler Mieden have started a movement to normalize the average hunter, what they have dubbed the "okayest" hunter. They believe hunting is about having fun and making everlasting memories, not gaining bragging rights or bagging the biggest trophy. In other words, it is about cherishing the process and not focusing on the impact of the grip-and-grin outcome.
Clark compares it to golf. Not all golfers are elite, professional-level golfers. Most people who love to golf are average folks doing it simply because they enjoy doing it. So it is with hunting and all kinds of outdoor activities.
"At the end of the day, most of us are pretty average," co-founder Eric Clark said. "We want to be relatable. We want it to be okay for everybody to hunt the way they hunt, as long as it is ethical and legal."
It started with an experience Clark went through, one that's unfortunately all too common these days. He harvested his first bow kill - a doe fawn- and posted it online. It was a special moment for him, and he was excited to share it. But that quickly turned sour as people on the internet started ripping him apart for shooting a small deer. They called him names and blatantly shamed him. Clark, a marketer by trade, was immediately inspired. The gears started turning in his mind, and the idea for Okayest Hunter was born.
He joined forces with co-founder Tyler Mieden and launched the brand, which includes a blog, a podcast, plus merch like apparel, stickers, decals, and koozies, in 2020.
Moreso than a marketplace, Okayest Hunter has become the loudest leader pushing for a shift in perspective away from the ego-based, elitist hunter persona that permeated much of the outdoor community's social media presence.
"It's not to shame people that are getting big deer," Clark said. "It is recognizing that everyone is at a different place in their hunting journey and that their circumstances are all different also."
Podcast cohosts Greg Tubbs and Derek Malcore round out the crew with the brand's Okayest Hunter podcast. Each week they host a live, listener call-in deer hunting show that airs via Facebook and YouTube. They delve into a variety of hunting-centered topics while remaining true to the down-to-earth, humility-based approach that anchors the Okayest Hunter name.
The podcast has been well-received by listeners, who have called it "awkwardly good" and "a fresh perspective. This is what we need in the hunting space right now."
Upon the launch of Okayest Hunter, they started to receive several private messages from hunters reaching out to share their photos of deer harvests that they deemed un-sharable for social media.
"What we figured out while this was happening was that these people had never shared these deer photos on social anywhere ever," Clark said. "These photos had never seen the light of day. We kind of gave space for that to take place. It wasn't happening before, because people were afraid of getting ridiculed, myself included."
Part of the Okayest Hunter message is that everyone's definition of a shooter buck is different because everyone's experiences are different. Okayest Hunter intentionally provides a platform for hunters to share their failures and successes, support other hunters, and normalize the average hunting experience on social media. And it is all delivered with a healthy sense of humor, as it should be.
They have some guiding principles that sum up the Okayest Hunter philosophy, playfully called the ten commandments of an Okayest Hunter. They are as follows:
- Don't take yourself too seriously
- Remember where you started
- Never pass on making memories
- A shooter buck is in the eye of the beholder
- Congratulate people you don't know
- Bring a buddy,
- Always be learning/love the process
- If you don't have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself
- Be mindful of the hunting journey and how everyone is different
- Never pass up time outdoors/hunting with family
- Celebrate failure (They included an eleventh since the Okayest Hunter crew loves spike horn bucks, also known as an 11-pointer)
"The main takeaway in all of this as an Okayest Hunter is to remain humble, enjoy the chase, the process of becoming an okayer hunter, and having fun," Clark said. "If you ever stop learning or having fun as a deer hunter, you might as well hang up your bow and find a new hobby."
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