Every bar has its fly—the hunter who’s never without a drink in hand and a tall tale to tell…about how great of an outdoorsman he is, of course. As hunters, we run across these folks every season. That deer hunter who embodies the local Michigan culture—if you can call it that. That kid turning into another pig-sticking Okie hog hunter. Or the guy wearing Costa sunglasses and Sperry deck shoes, who reminds you of everyone from Dixie you’ve ever met.
This list captures all those crazy folks, or some version of them, from the Eastern Shore to the coasts of California. Just remember, it’s all in good fun. So enjoy.
The “Roll Tide” pregame show whispers through the woods each Saturday morning from a small FM radio dangling in the deer blind. That same .30/30 lever gun grandad shot all his Booners with is perched in the window alongside a half-empty tin of Grizzly wintergreen snuff. Every time he tells the story of the big buck he shot the afternoon ‘Bama came back to win the Iron Bowl, its rack grows another 10 inches.
With cut-down calls pressed to their lips, eight best friends hug old oak trees, kicking water to shoot half-limits of mallards. “It’s Missouri’s fault! It’s DU’s fault! It’s the cornfield floodin’ Yankee’s fault! They stole our ducks!” Their grandpappies hunted this timber hole for 65 years, “and the ducks ain’t here no more.” All are clad in Natural Gear camo from facemask to wader boots. There’s an extra-full choke at the end of their Benellis, all stoked with 3.5-inch No. 5s…that might be lead.
This hunter has a long beard on his chin or a braid down to her butt, and both have the faint musk of last night’s boozing efforts: The 10 darkest beers on tap at the Salty Dog. A stone-colored flannel and Barney’s Sports cap are the only “system” they need to hunt the mountains. A hand-made pack and recurve bow go with them everywhere, which is mostly out to the garage because it’s so damn cold here. In the fall, he packs out unprepared grown men up and down the Dall sheep mountains. She might wrestle a grizz—and win—come spring.
A high-mountain elk hunter to the core, the Arizonan has to live out of studio apartment and shoot his bow in the parking lot because Flagstaff has become so damn expensive. He’ll pop down to the Valley for desert deer and see more doves in Yuma than you will on most Argentina hunts. You need a ladder to climb in his pick-up because the tires are big enough for a monster truck, which come in handy when it snows in Tucson once every 25 years.
The northern and eastern half of the state have some darn good huntin’, and this bro is fully in tune with Mother Nature as he pursues non-GMO quarry in skinny jeans and a pair of Vans shoes. His plant-fiber hoody is complete with a pocket full of non-toxic copper ammo, thanks to the state’s lead bans. He leaves no carbon footprint behind, traversing the hills for big game on vast chunks of #publicland.
It’s high times in Colorado—literally. After running into hunters from 27 other states during elk season, it’s off to the goose pit on the Front Range to hunt some of the most pressured birds in the country. He still fills a late-season whitetail tag on the plains each winter because all the yuppies already burned their granola money chasing wapiti. On Sundays he’s tipping Fat Tire tallboys and wishing Elway was still slinging pigskin for the Broncos.
Is that George Washington’s cavalry? Nope, just the local fox hunting field-trial group. If you thought you were stepping back in time, well you aren’t wrong. This hunter sits atop a hand-crafted leather saddle that costs more than her engagement ring, and hounds you swear are clones chase red bandits through the Connecticut country(club)side. If you like talking about the stock market, this tony crowd is definitely your money bag.
Pull up your boots—we are going pheasant hunting. No, not that swamp-wading cattail nonsense! Wingshooting, good sir! Tweed and double guns are the gear du jour. When those roosters get to flying out of the tower it’s a jolly good time. But it’s all really just an excuse to light up cigars and drink brown liquor out a of a fancy glass back at the lodge.
Leaning against an oak with the Spanish moss swaying in the sun, this hunter is playing cat-and-mouse with the old ghost of Osceola. The foggy meadows are dotted with cattle, and the shadow of a longbeard making his approach. He still has to keep a watchful eye out for the testy rattlers and cottonmouths hiding behind every other stump. But the snakes are only half as dangerous as the sketchy rednecks in cut-off T-shirts hanging outside the never-ending line of Florida strip malls. No, you cannot “bum a smoke.”
On Saturdays, you can bet he’s lacing up his snake boots and throwing on a tin jacket. Brunch starts at the plantation house at 10:30 a.m., and Miss Jones’ biscuits are to die for. Two things get high praise around here: Jawja football and good quail dogs. Hope you don’t like breaking a sweat, because in Red Hill country, folks don’t walk behind their setters—they ride behind them in a mule-drawn carriage.
Aloha, brotha! To a wave-catching bowhunter, the countryside here is the grocery store. Anything that comes from the land gets his appreciation. He keeps his freezer full thanks to axis deer and a feral hog invasion that would make an Okie shiver. This islander is a legit hunter, and rightfully so. If he can survive 30-foot sets at dawn and stalk an axis buck in the afternoon, that deserves a Big Wave Golden Ale at sundown.
Deep in the Bitterroot National Forest, this bear-dogging backwoodsman has vivid memories of the old days. The elk used to be thicker than cattle in a feed pen, and the only bootprints you came across were your own from last year. Ask him about his opinion on wolves, and you’re in for a rant that’s longer than a Phish song.
A rare red-blooded American in the land of anti-gun and anti-fun, he sticks close to the farm. You’ll hear him spin yarns about the deer boom in Pike County and the days of mass waterfowl migrations before Chicago turned the river into its own drainage ditch. You can still stick a Booner in this state, but borrow your buddy’s truck because the potholes are as big as Cadillacs in “Illinoid.”
This Hoosier is wearing her favorite IU hoodie, stained with plenty of character from leaky oil seals on the tractor. She knows how to maximize every inch of the family farm for wildlife: Leave an extra row of corn here, grow native grass there, and hinge-cut a few trees on the back 40. Habitat management is just as much of a passion to her as the hunting itself. Nobody avoids Terra Haute more than this gal, unless it’s to pay homage to Larry Legend.
The name is John. He also drives a Deere and grows two-story-tall corn. He’s a little obsessed with giant whitetails, too. The fall revolves around trail camera photos, harvest, and getting his boys to wrastlin’ practice. He lives in a combine cab, but his office is a Lone Wolf treestand in a pinch point by the field edge. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is more of a whitetail freak than this guy. “Don’t you dare come near me with that smelly lotion, honey!”
It’s not all thoroughbreds and stiff bourbon, though we’ll take three fingers if you’re offering. Some of these guys are serious country bumpkins from their doo-rags down to their camo Crocs. You have to be a do-all woodsman here—that’s the way it’s been since the smoke settled after the Civil War. You can bet he’s got his Mossy Oak at the ready for longbeards, even when there’s still snow on the ground.
Wearing size 3XL and smelling like gumbo, this ol’ boy hunts anything, anywhere, and goes on at least four guided trips a year. No Cajun story end’s with “we had a great time and got our limits,” because hunting seasons and regs are only a suggestion—he has to get ’em ALL. He spends more time in his boat than anywhere else, and only owns two pairs of shoes: white rubber boots for catchin’ gators and sandals for tax season.
You ever see anyone with a beard frozen to their eyelashes? The harbor café is full of these guys looking to thaw out after a good rip for some sea ducks on the granite outcroppings of Penobscot Bay. These guys came out of the womb knowing how to drive a boat through fog and 5-foot rollers. Once every year when the lottery comes out, they rub their lucky nickels together in hopes of drawing that coveted Maine moose tag. “Pap drew one back when Teddy was president…”
The Eastern Shore was where gander warfare began, and tradition still runs thick through the bloodstream there. An old black hoody, trusted goose flute, and Carhartt bibs are all this hunter needs for a morning trying to kill one honker. The Waffle House is the meeting spot for square-body Chevys after a sunrise hunt from the family blind. Hard-asses at every table are saucing their coffee with Crown Royale over endless chatter about the chicken-neckers to the west. If you don’t have an “it’s a shore thing” decal on your truck, you’re not Maryland-ish enough.
He has Patriots bed sheets on the bunks up at deer camp and a man-crush on Tom Brady (well, up until this offseason, that is). Fortunately the march to another Super Bowl has never kept him from the treestand, because you still can’t hunt on Sundays here. This Masshole does hope like hell the Pats don’t play the Monday night game right after Thanksgiving—the traditional deer opener—or he won’t sleep for days.
The son from Mississippi is the spawn of the Tenth Legion and Mr. Pittman’s early VHS tapes. He’s wearing the same original Bottomland camo that he wore when he won the Evans County calling contest in ‘99. It stays in the truck every day of the season, bubba. When he wakes up next to his down-home country babe in the mornings, he lets out a puff and a gobble. From scratchin’ leaves to getting the flu every turkey opener for 15 years strait, he is a strut buster. If you even think about going back to the same patch of turkey woods he took you to years ago, you’re a dead man.
If its brown it’s down, baby! The king of pushin’ bush and sluggin’ deer. Nothing better than you and the boys heading out on the quads after a fresh snow to do some trackin’. This hunter has spent most his adult life trying to best Pa’s 130-inch 10-pointer in that swamp off County Road 9. Nobody loves a good story more than a Michigander, and every Sunday he’s at the café feeding anybody who will listen some tall tales from the annual U.P. ice fishing trip. If you’re trying to avoid getting cornered, at least you can hear his POS Ford coming from two counties away.
You want to talk about goose huntin’, bud? This here is your guy. Resides just outside the Twin Cities and can give you a 30-pack lecture on how urbanites have ruined the state. You’ll find him at Scheels most nights, giving free goose-calling demos and testing out hockey sticks. Nobody is sick for big honkers in the snow like this guy. A lanyard full of bands from refuge geese proves he’s a pro. That and the flannel he wears every day of the year, including the 4th of July.
Deep in the Ozarks, this Missourah hillbilly knows how to punch tags on the smartest of gobblers, and the best spots for golden-window gas-station chicken. He always has two things handy in the truck: a trusty gun and cold Busch Light. He grew up wild in the woods of the Mark Twain National Forest, and there ain’t a squirrel, deer, or a duck that he can’t kill, clean, and cook to perfection in the same black iron skillet. You can find him at the bars on Friday nights telling deer stories in the same old Mossy Oak hoody he wears to the treestand; it’s got scent control built into it, so he can smoke filterless Camels without worrying about a buck smelling him.
Based out of Brozeman, this brohunter is always ready for the next high-mountain 3D archery shoot. A big public-lands advocate who strictly hunts elk on a 1 million-acre private ranch, this guy loves craft beer, photography, and his Tacoma. The fly rod is never far away, but working a 9 to 5 certainly is. Who has time for a real job, bro, when there’s all this #publicland to hike? Now, where did I put my Chacos…
L.L. Bean boots and a flannel that deserves three purple hearts? That’s a New Englander. The Bullwinkle lottery here is more stressful than the actual lottery, and if she doesn’t draw, she’ll be stuck hunting shifty gray bushytail’s and a few log drummers. When she’s not hunting she’s ranting about the damn Boston yuppies invading HER timber to view the fall foliage while slamming another stack of flapjacks, drenched in homemade maple syrup.
When he’s not field hunting geese or brown ducks, you’ll find him at the only sports bar in town, clad in a Cabela’s jacket and a pair of muck boots. Hammering Marlboros and pounding tankers of grain alcohol, he reminisces about the days of killing 70 honkers in 30 minutes—before all the damn blue-platers from Minnesota started migrating west. Don’t dare get in a drinking match with this guy—them fellas have gills that breathe beer.
Don’t ask him for a hunting report because he won’t tell you. This farmer spends his days cutting 12-foot-tall corn and fixing a leaky combine auger. He turned his barn into a five-star lodge just for hunting buddies. In the morning, they shoot greenheads on the Platte or wild roosters in the uplands before housing a pound of bacon for breakfast. Afternoons are for the treestand, waiting on ghostly bucks to work their way out of the cottonwood bottoms.
“Gettttt the f— outtttaaa here!” is the best hello you’ll get from this greezball from Jersey. He hunts urban whitetails from his kid’s swing set and has to ring the neighbor’s doorbell when an arrowed deer dies on their front lawn. There isn’t a public boat ramp or marsh he doesn’t know, and he loves to fish for stripas on the Atlantic…and rock out to Bon Jovi.
During hunting season, he’s as nomadic as a tumble weed, blowing wherever the elk take him. The ability to sneak close to a big bull is in his DNA, and he almost always finds wapiti whether he’s got a tag in his pocket or he’s just glassing a hillside in summer. His jacked-up truck is lifted higher than a Roswell meth head, and the hills outside Santa Fe will always be his home.
After grinding it out in the city all week, this hunter flees to his deer camp upstate to get away from Park Avenue and the hustle of NYC. He takes cabs to the marsh for early-morning broadbill shoots, and is back in a suit and tie by breakfast time for the usual at the corner diner. Come summer, he heads to Long Island for $30 Coronas in Montauk and deep-sea fishing trips on the Great South Bay with Anthony (pronounced “Ant-knee”) and rest of the goodfellas.
You’ll find him at a Casey’s gas station, guzzling black coffee and grabbing a couple slices of cheesy goodness to-go. He always keeps Carhartts in the backseat in case there’s a chance to slip into the deer stand after work. Catch him at the Co-Op buying corn for his feeder and he will give you a cussing lecture on non-resident deer hunters leasing every piece of ground that’s ever had a buck track on it. He lives by the mantra: “If you can’t take an ass chewin’, go live in Oklahoma.”
Between working overtime in the yards and keeping all the kids clothed in Buckeye scarlet and gray, this hunter doesn’t get time to hunt like he did in college. The countryside is colored by big oaks and brightly painted hardwoods. Hiding under those leaves are the monarchs of the whitetail woods. Come deer season, he’s slipping out of work early every Friday to climb into the stand on the cornfield at the family farm.
A Natty-Light-drinking sumbitch, this Okie spends his summers diggin’ holes with the trackhoe. Winters are for guiding Cajun duck clients and shooting deer over a bait pile. Always ready to fight and running turf battles with rich-boy-wannabee outfitters, he don’t trust nobody and will not hesitate to kick your ass outside the greasy spoon if you leased something out from under him. Ask him how many Heisman’s the Sooners have won—he will damn sure learn ya.
Right beside his grid maps and loggin’ pants are his trusted Phelps calls. He eats, breathes, and sleeps elk hunting in the forests of Oregon. Never mind those fancy ranch hunters that are shooting pet bulls on the eastern side of the state. This here is Rooooosevelt country, bud. He has his favorite rain slicker ready at all times and his bow dialed to shoot the ass off a gnat at 80 yards. Every fall, he’s going to tag the bull of his life, and the Ducks are definitely winning it all this year.
This fella still hunts in Grandad’s orange jumpsuit, stained with the blood of hundreds of dead critters. In his opinion, deer season should be a months-long holiday filled with Yuengling tallboys and punched tags. He names every buck Big Ben, and has had Steelers season tickets for years, though he’ll have to sell a couple now that you can finally hunt a few Sundays this fall.
If you listen and sit real quiet in the deer stand, you can hear the neighbors arguing over stock portfolios and what kind of takeout to order for dinner. This urban bowhunter thinks tree saddles are our nation’s greatest accomplishment since the moon landing. His best fall was in 2004 when the Sox broke the curse of the Bambino and he shot his biggest buck to date: a 118-inch 5-pointer.
Nothing’s more Tar Heel than a good pack of buddies and some wild ass hounds running wild game through the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you have a taste for fried food, sweet tea, and stepping back in time, well, you’ll get along with the guy from North Carolina just fine. Black bears are the quarry to chase, and you can bet your Blue Devil-loving ass he’s going to kill one this season.
Hope you like a slower pace of life. Quail hunts by horseback, plantation socials, and scotch-soaked tin cloth pants are the staples of South Carolina…with hospitality to spare. In the depths of ducks season, you will find him in the low country, hunting the historic ACE Basin from a blind older than his grandfather. Summer is for red fish, and he’s gonna catch the state record, but first he has to buy Bass Pro out of wind shirts and visors.
He’s driving an old 1997 Z71 Chevy with some knobby A-T tires and towing a badass custom duck boat that’s worth more than his house. November is for kickin’ roosters in the cattails behind a good bird dog. Other than the family deer drive, the rest of fall is for killing mallards (that never migrate out) on the open water of the Missouri River. Ask him how many greenheads went on the strap, and you’ll get a vague answer. And don’t bother applying for a non-res duck license, because ”it ain’t worth it.”
His pockets are lined with West Texas oil money and his daddy owns a ranch the size of Rhode Island. This hunter knows how to kill high-fence deer and drink margaritas, and if you don’t come home for the dove opener, don’t bother ever coming back. All his cousins own guide services near Lubbock for goose hunting, and they all hate each other. If you drive anything smaller than a King Ranch Ford F-250 in these parts, it might as well be a Prius.
Miner headlamps light up the Smokey Mountains at night and rusty old trucks with dog boxes clatter down gravel roads. Coon hunting is in his blood, and many boys have followed behind him as the hounds strike out on the tracks of ringtail. Moonshine is the unofficial state beverage and disinfectant.
Flat-bill hats and CrossFit games have overrun the cherished public land that politicians are trying to privatize in Utah. If you don’t have a six-pack (abs, not beer), and don’t sling arrows at foam targets (with the broadheads still on) while wearing your gaiters, why even bother, bro? There are still a few salty duck hunters cruising the Salt Lake flats in airboats chasing the migration, but hell—all the real big-game hunters moved to Wyoming.
This old soul knows a thing or two about maple syrup, cheddar, and chasing grouse through the Green Mountains. The coveted myrtle surrounds the fading cabins of old farms, the grouse thumps, and the bird dogs quiver. This here is the perfect piece of New England, and that Parker side-by-side shotgun proves it. A generational grouse hunter, this guy has a better nose for ruffies than most champion pointers.
A goose addict, he knows every inch of the Great Basin. He owns enough wind- and hand-powered duck decoy motion gadgets to entertain a kindergarten class. No motorized decoys allowed here, which makes a guy get creative. In the back of the truck are 10-dozen Dave Smith cackler decoys and stuffers he took out a second mortgage to pay for, but boy, are they worth it. Come spring and summer, the Columbia River is his playground as the salmon runs keep his attention until fall.
You have to be a resourceful hunter in these parts, so while most of the weekend warriors head to the Eastern Shore to watch geese, he stays home and kills ’em on farm ponds. The deer are so overpopulated you can fill a truck bed with does…and he does. The frigid cold of January takes him to the Potomac River, dodging ice flows and shooting scaup from the layout boats. If you like risking your life for two divers, you’re welcome to join him.
A Mountaineer to the core, he chases squirrels and varmints with the best of them and his coon dog is a world champion hound, but don’t ask him if you have someplace important to be. He’s in the hills and hollers, looking for ginseng (‘sang as they call it round here), or pulling trout from the river with a tree branch and twine. Wealth isn’t determined by how much cash you have in WVAa, but how much hooch your still makes…and his makes plenty.
He knows all the words to “Roll Out the Barrel” and can tell ya how many cheese curds he ate last year at camp. With at least five of his best buds in-tow, he takes to the deer woods for a drive he hopes will bring him the “turdy-point buck” Dad used to tell him bedtime stories about all those years ago. He’s a genetically-superior beer drinker, which comes in handy when he’s in the ice shack 10 months out of the year jigging for perch. And if you don’t own a snowmobile, take your flatland-loving ass back to Shitcago.
She loves to hunt and fish, because, by God, there’s nothing else to do in this state, and that’s just fine. She drives an old 1983 GMC with a .22 rifle in the gun rack and a cattle rope on the floorboard. There’s always game meat in the freezer, and she’s never set spurs inside a McDonald’s. It’s a toss-up between what’s more worn in: the leather of her boots or the sun-leathered skin of her face. A woman of few words, she has a nose for smelling bullshit and muleys in estrous.