Hunting is hard. Flat out. It takes patience, courage, and grit. More often than not you are left with an unfilled tag in your pocket and a long walk back to the truck. So why do it? Why put in so much time, money and effort if percentages do not go in your favor? I know why I do it. I do it because the effort it takes to successfully harvest an animal is unlike any other feeling in life. Because with no risk there can be no reward. It is what makes hunting and harvesting your own meat so special.
Being new to hunting, I constantly second guess myself and have doubt about if I am doing the right thing, especially since I never had a mentor to bounce questions off of. It is my weakness. It is the internal battle that I struggle with when hunting. Have you ever had questions about what others would do in certain situations? Maybe you catch yourself not staying in the game mentally. I know I often do. I find myself double guessing a move or a plan of attack when I hunt. Being new to hunting can be frustrating and defeating, so much that it is hard to stay motivated.
This series is meant to be a way to inspire and motivate you when it comes to hunting your dreams, and at the same time making a difference in recruiting new members and building community in the hunting world. Hopefully the advice and insight shared by our guests can help you feel like you are not alone in your struggle against the wild, as well as build confidence in your chase.
WBC: What is your name?
Chad: Chad Ryker
WBC: Where are you from and where do you currently live?
Chad: I am from a little bit of everywhere. Being in the military for 17 years has taken me around the world and provided me great opportunities. To answer the question, I am from Lafayette, Indiana. I was born and raised in that area, went to college for a short time at Purdue University before joining the military. Currently I live in San Antonio, Texas and am stationed at Fort Sam Houston. It is time for me to change my duty station in the next couple of months so in the summer of 2019 my wife and I will be moving to Washington State.
WBC: What is your day job?
Chad: I am a Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army.
WBC: Do you have any family or pets?
Chad: I am married to my wife Myra. We have two boxer dogs, Max and Mena.
WBC: How and why did you get started into hunting?
Chad: I was introduced to hunting as a child. My father was a hunter and trapper, so my brother and I would get to tag along with him at times. He taught us how to small game hunt, mostly squirrels and raccoons. He also taught us how to trap for muskrat and beaver but I was very little and don’t remember much about trapping.
WBC: If you did not have a mentor, how did you learn to hunt?
Chad: My father taught me a lot about small game but I don’t really have a backcountry mentor, I am new to the backcountry hunting community and have been learning as I go. If I did have, I think scouting and tracking wounded animals would be something I would want to learn more about.
WBC: What has been your favorite hunt? Why?
Chad: I think my favorite hunt so far has been my Arizona mule/coues deer hunt. Although I was not successful at harvesting one, this was my first solo hunt. I went out a few weeks early and scouted out where I wanted to hunt and learned the area. It gave me a lot of opportunity to try new things I was not familiar with and the time to make mistakes and learn from them. On opening day of the hunt, I found out my brother-in-law’s house burned down. That lead me to pulling off the mountain and heading home early to help my family. As I said, although unsuccessful, it was one of the places in time I would love to go back to and relive that few weeks in Arizona. (My absolute favorite state)
WBC: What has been your biggest struggle when it comes to hunting?
Chad: Finding the time. It seems like life and work get in the way of all the fun. Being in Texas, a state with very little public land requires a person to travel to engage in a public land hunt. These types of hunts need to be scheduled in advance and vacation days are taken in order to make it happen. I am excited to move to an area where it is a little easier to get outside on a piece of public land and hunt the game we want to hunt.
WBC: Our strengths can also be our weaknesses. What are your weaknesses that can inhibit you on your hunts?
Chad: I would say my stunning good looks inhibit my hunting. Ok, no really, being a backcountry rookie is my weakness at this point. I have only been at it for a couple of years and I know I have a tremendous amount to learn and will likely never learn it all. I try daily to learn what I can and overcome my inexperience.
WBC: What piece of gear can you not hunt without?
Chad: Tough one, for my wife I will say my Garmin inReach Mini. She really likes that I have that piece of gear. Aside from my bow or rifle, I would say OnX maps and a good water filter system. Honestly, I have my gear pretty dialed in and wouldn’t want to hit the woods without any of it.
WBC: What is your favorite place to hunt and or species?
Chad: Another tough one, I really love the mountains, but my favorite place to hunt is West Texas. Over the last 10 years I have spent more time in West Texas and chased more critters out there than anywhere. I can hunt almost anything there and go from hunting coyotes in the morning to glassing for mule deer all day and hunt hogs in the afternoon. When I first started hunting West Texas it was more of a truck hunt style of hunting. Where we drove the old ranch roads looking for game or we would step 100 yards off the road to call coyotes but over the last few years I have started walking more and playing with spot and stalk methods to hunt mule deer.
WBC: What is one piece of advice you would have liked to have or know when you first started hunting?
Chad: Test your equipment!! I didn’t have to learn this the hard way, at least not with backcountry gear, but I have experienced it in the Army. If you get a new piece of equipment practice with it, use it, understand it and then you will be proficient with it when you hit the mountain. This is a common mistake with electronic items, but it happens with clothing, packs, boots. You name it, it’s happened. Clothing may not fit you right and the last place you want to figure that out is 5 miles from the truck. If it is an electronic, turn it on, sync it to your phone, send messages, track maps, whatever that piece of gear is supposed to do for you practice with it.
WBC: What is your social media account handles or website?
Chad: You can find me on on the following platforms:
Website – https://backcountryrookies.com
Instagram – @backcountryrookies
Facebook – Backcountry Rookies
Facebook Group – Backcountry Rookies Nation
We want to thank Chad for sharing his insight and thoughts. If you want to know more about Chad and what he does, be sure to follow along on his journey by checking out his Instagram, joining his Facebook group and listening to his podcast. I recommend episode 114 (LINK), I think you will like it. You can find the Backcountry Rookies Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher & the Sportsmen’s Nation website (LINK). Lastly, don’t forget to check out backcountryrookies.com, where you can find some killer discounts from some amazing companies that Backcountry Rookies has partnered with.
If you enjoyed reading the article or can think of anyone that could benefit from the insight given, please share it with others. It is “OUR” job to continue the growth of the hunting and outdoor community. Be sure to invite someone to start hunting with you. You never know what type of impact it may have for them and their life. Remember, mentorship is conservation and you cannot out give good.
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