Disclamer: this podcast has been transcribed from the original audio and likely contains errors. This transcription does not reflect the views and opinions of Epic Outdoors LLC. Please consult the original audio with any concerns.

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Freaking stud. Heavy, big old

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I guarded.

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Happen to be a great moisture year. I drew in at 10.

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No, there, there are fun opportunities for almost anyone out there every year.

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Anything to do with Western big games.

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Welcome to the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour.

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Hey everybody. Jason Carter here at the Epic Outdoors Podcast sitting here at the Hunt Expo with Troy, Justin Sson. Really appreciate Troy spending some time with us. And you know, just going over a few of the things. Troy is current s f W President and is heavily involved with the outdoors, heavily involved with conservation and does an excellent job in our opinion, of working with sportsmen across the state of Utah, as well as working on a lot of different projects and doing good things for wildlife. Troy’s been involved in the hunting industry for I don’t know how many years, but a long, long time. And he’s definitely made a positive impact on hunting. Troy. Troy has hunted all of his life and has also been heavily involved in the outfitting and guiding aspect of the hunting industry as well. So anyway, welcome Troy. Glad

00:01:13:26 –> 00:01:15:18
To be here, Jason. Appreciate the opportunity.

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You betcha. So tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in the industry.

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Just born and raised in Davis County and just always been passionate about hunting. I thank my father for getting us out when we were kids and instilling that desire to get out there and hunt fish and just being the great outdoors.

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You betcha. So what do you remember, like when you were young, like eight, eight years old, five years old? I mean, any, any significant stories when you were young and how you got started?

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I was kind of a family tradition that you didn’t get to go on the deer hunt until you were 16 years old, but I found if I cried loud enough, pounding threw on a fit that I was able to go at about the age of eight. So my brother’s kind of resent me for that. I was the only brother that got to go at an early age, so That’s all right.

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That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s awesome. Well, the earlier the better, and I know we’ve changed things since then. I remember those 16 year old days and it was tough and we did look forward to that. But now we get, there’s a lot of opportunities for the youth across the west, you know, especially in Utah. Well,

00:02:14:13 –> 00:02:27:04
I think it’s a great thing. I mean, I couldn’t wait for that, you know, 16th birthday to be able to hunt deer now what the age of 12. Yeah. And even earlier that with when upland game waterfowl. So it’s important our youth are our future and and to get the earlier we get ’em involved, the better.

00:02:27:08 –> 00:02:39:14
Yeah. And we’ve even reserved SETASIDE tags for the youth now and Sure. And so they get to go quite often and, and even some of them, you know, they basically are treated like a dedicated hunter where you can have multiple seasons on the general. So yeah,

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I’m walking around this expo here and I see some deer taken by youth that are probably 15, 16 years old that I’ll probably never kill a buck as big as them. I know.

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That’s great. That’s awesome. I know it’s good. Just makes you a little jealous at times. So anyway. And so tell us a little more about your background as far as, I know you were an outfitter and guide heavily involved with some of these tags and some of the awesome opportunities across the state.

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Yeah, I’ve been in the outfitting business for, you know, probably 30 years. You know, I really got my start down on the Heaton Ranch, you know, probably one of the best meal deer ranches in the world, no question. Just kind of branched out on my own after that. But as far as the conservation aspect, it really boils down to a family friend when I was back in junior high school, asked me to be part of the Davis County Wildlife Federation, Gary De Young, and kind of started from there. And then as Dawn come along with this organization and asked me to get involved, it started out as just a volunteer and then evolved into the fundraising aspect. And then 20 years later, here I am and quite an honor and privilege to hold this title of president.

00:03:35:09 –> 00:03:49:28
Well, you’ve sure earned it, Troy. I know, I mean, I’ve known you since, I don’t know, I can’t even remember the first time I knew you, but it was probably when my teens It is. And in fact, when you were on the heatons, well, I had a tag there in 1996. I don’t know where that place is. You

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Been probably just after I left. Okay. Yep.

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So, yep. And so anyway, and I graduated high school in 93, but I mean, I knew you if I’ve known you for, you know, as long as I can remember. And, and you were always a significant, you know, person in, in the state of Utah in regards to hunting and always well respected by everybody. And so anyway, definitely, you’re definitely earned as, as president and looking forward to all the good things you’ve got in store and, and all that you’ve done. And we do appreciate that. So, so ba what is the goal and maybe overall purpose of, of SS f w

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Really, you look at our mission statement, it’s a conservation education and tradition. You know, the conservation aspect is, hey, we understand that we have a responsibility to make sure we have animals to hunt and to take care of those animals and provide, you know, habitat for ’em, food, whatever it is, just to preserve that, the tradition, the family tradition. It’s important, you know, Utah’s a big family state. My fondest memories are going out with my brothers, my cousins, whatever. We wanna preserve that tradition here in the state. And education such as we have here at the expo, we have the opportunity to educate hunters and other sportsmen and what, how we can be involved and how we can make things better. And we can ensure this to last in the future generations. You

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Bet. That’s awesome. Well, I know I’ve seen a lot of different projects go up across the west, whether it be chainings or, you know, different transplants or all kinds of crazy stuff. And, and I think, you know, Utah is somewhat considered to be the leader in some of those things. I know in my own home backyard unit of Southwest Desert, we’ve got Chainings and things that every year I’m like, holy cow, where’d that come from? I didn’t know they were doing that. It just feels like, you know, the conservation organizations such as S F W are doing tons and tons of great things and great projects.

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There is no doubt, you know, we’ve treated more acreage in the state of Utah than all the states combined. And the big reason that is the conservation permit funds is that provides the avenue. We know that with government today, money’s the big issue. Yep. And you know, sportsmen have sacrificed a few permits to raise some money to benefit us all and more so the average sportsmen and these acres don’t get treated without those funds. And so it, it benefits us all and it’s, it’s been a real neat process to see.

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Okay. And so, and I’m, I a hundred percent agree, there’s just been a lot of good things that come from some of these things, but bringing up funds, where do some of those funds come from?

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Oh, came from our banquets or fundraisers. We have 17 chapters throughout the state, and we raised those funds there that night in the banquets. We also raised money through the conservation permit program. There’s also an avenue here at the expo with the 200 permits. And then also the money we generate from booth sales and things like that.

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That’s awesome. And so the money generated from those permits, where does that go? How does that work? Where does that go?

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We’re an in-state group. All our money here stays in the state. Obviously we have some overhead, you know, we have very small overhead. There’s only four employees of S F W. Yeah. Our membership’s under 10,000. And quite frankly, we can never raise enough money to get everything done. And so our model’s a little bit different. We we’re real big on, we’ve gotta exercise our influence on those that can get us more money through the legislature, through federal government, whatever, just to, you know, as we raise this money that we can get it matched 10 X through Pittman Robinson or whatever. Okay. So that’s, that’s kind of what we do. But all the money states here in the state, it’s controlled, you know, our offices are there in North Salt Lake.

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So what do, what are some of the new exciting things that are happening maybe that you got in the works for this upcoming year or the few years down the road? Yeah, kind

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Of the biggest thing is involving youth. You know, one thing about SFW is we’re multi-species. We’re not one. Yep. Yeah. Army F is elk. Yep. Know M D F is deer. Yep. Ss f w What? Well, we cover fishing, we cover upland game, we cover waterfowl, we cover big game. And we made a real push the last couple of years pheasants as a kid growing up, one of my most exciting times that I looked for was the opening day of deer season. The opening day of fishing season. Back then there was a season, it wasn’t year round and then pheasant season. Yeah. And there’s nothing like a big old rooster coming outta the brush. And so what we’ve done is we’ve, we’ve bought birds, you know, to put out in these WMAs to let people go out and harvest, and especially kids do. But we’ve also done some things with some predator control, some habitat, and trying to augment our wild populations with some more birds to get ’em to reproduce on their own. We’re never gonna be the South Dakota or North Dakota, but at least it provides some opportunity for those kids to get back out. And I’m pretty excited. That’s a lot of fun to go out there and especially if you’re behind a good dog, see a big old rooster come

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Out, that’s so awesome. You betcha. Well, I know this Troy, like back when I was a kid and in my high school years and even earlier, you know, we had some hunting opportunity. It was very limited. And you just look at what we have here in the state and the different opportunities we have across the board with all of the different species doing so. Well, I mean, we do have some hotspots and things that areas of concern. And I totally understand that. And I know that will never go away. You’re gonna have sheep with disease or different things and breakouts that we can’t control. But nobody can argue with the fact of how many new desert sheep units we have open over the years, or how many, all these different opportunities that are available. Things have only gotten better. I I know it’s not a hundred percent because of SS F W I know it’s not a hundred percent because of M D F or R M E F. And it does have some things to do with weather and timing and things like that. But you cannot argue with the fact of the good things that you guys have done as well as the other organizations does help. And it does. All of those factors matter and do help with our herds and the different game species.

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No doubt. I mean, the stars have gotta align. You know, we can only do so much and the mother nature kind of has the ultimate say. Yep. But you’re exactly right. I mean, you look at what we have today with the opportunity to hunting sheep. We didn’t have that back in the eighties. That’s right. You know, look at the bison. We’ve just, you know, a new herd out on the book Cliffs, you know, that’s another transplant success. And now we got hunters out there the same way with mountain goats. Yep. You know, deer season, general deer season last year is probably the best it’s been in how many years. Yep. Now Mother Nature’s threw us a curve this year. Yep. And we, I know we’re gonna lose some deer from up north, but we mobilized, we tried to feed those deer help, but hey, we do the best we can. At least we have the tools and we have the resources to try and help out.

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Yep. And I think it’s just like you said, you know, we mobilized, we did something back in the day when S F W wasn’t here, there was nobody to mobilize. Nope. Game and Fish got to do it on their own with a few volunteers and they can only do so much. Let’s face it. I mean, state departments can only do so much and they have very limited budgets to work with.

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You’re right. And, but you know, the neatest thing about the current administration with the D W R is in the past it was a hands-off approach. Yep. You know, hey, we’re the experts, you stay away. You know, this administration with Greg Shehan that has opened their arms to conservation groups, not only SS F W, but others, Hey, what’s your input? Get involved. They beg for us to get involved. And that’s great because that gives us some ownership and it’s our volunteers, you know, put the time and money in and raising funds for them. At least they have some say and they get to see projects accomplished in their backyard and they stick around. That’s right.

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Well, that’s awesome. So what do you think, what do you find to be the most satisfying part of your job?

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Volunteers. Bottom line. And I, you know, I I I’m an emotional guy and I, you know, you probably can hear it there, but you know, I’ve got chapter guys that have been there 20 years, they’re personal friends who I knew in the hunting industry that supported me and, and, and my ventures with SS f W and they’re still there today. Wow. And I can’t say enough about our volunteers without our volunteers. SS f w doesn’t exist wildlife today, what we experience and the greatness of Utah isn’t what it is today without the volunteers.

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Wow. That’s unbelievable. And I, I’d have to a hundred percent agree with you. There’s some guys out there that truly give it their time, money, and, and resources to go out and do good things for wildlife. And we never hear. But from those guys, you know, they’re those kind of guys that actually usually don’t want the spotlight. And we’ll, they’ll probably never know who they all are. You’re right. And but, but a guy like you that’s dealing with a lot of projects get to meet these people and, and probably time and time and time again.

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Yeah. I get paid for what I do. Those guys don’t, yeah. I mean, they’re the real warriors. They’re the one that re deserve the real credit and hats off to them. Yep.

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Well, and and, and I agree with the fact that you get paid, Troy, you know, we all, we all need to do things in life to make money and provide for our families. And if you weren’t getting paid, if, if we truly just relied on volunteers, the organization wouldn’t be what it is. You’re right. And, and so we’re good with it. We, we don’t have a problem with it, you know, as long as good things are happening and the majority of the funds do go on the ground.

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So, let’s see. So how, how do people get involved with ss o w How can the average hunter, the average sportsman, do something and volunteer? Like, where do they find out about the projects? Do you need more help? Like, tell me a little bit about that.

00:12:25:02 –> 00:12:45:08
Oh, we can always use more help. I mean, you can jump on our website and go through there. There’s different links if you just grounding your towns. Our chapter leaders and chap committee members there, we’re always looking for new people to come in and help us. There’s so much you can do with hands-on projects or help with banquets, planting bid brush or whatever it is, raising pheasants. We’re always looking for more volunteers. You

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Betcha. Yeah. So what’s your favorite aspect of working in the hunting industry as a whole? Just,

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Oh, that’s, man, that’s a hard one. I mean, my, my passion is sheep. I mean, I love to see the sheep, I love the success we’ve seen here. You know, as I’ve mentioned, the volunteers, the people I get to meet. But the biggest thing is just getting things done. Yeah. You know, so often when we hear you can’t do it, we can’t do this. Well,

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You’re doing

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It. We can do it. And it’s just a matter, you know, I’d rather try and fell than not and then fail to try. Yep. And so that, that’s a neat thing.

00:13:13:27 –> 00:13:50:04
That’s awesome. Well, there are things that you can’t control, but I’m the kind of the same type of guy. I like to control the variables we can control. And if that means cutting down a, you know, a whole entire forest opinion, juniper or cedar trees or whatever to, to bring on new growth and things like that, we can do that. Sure. Those are things we can control, you know, winter kill and whatnot. We can’t control that, but we can control how much we feed those deer during that winter. Sure. You know, and so that is awesome. And I, I can imagine how gratifying it it is to actually, you know, be able to have a say in what gets done and then watch that materialize.

00:13:50:07 –> 00:13:57:11
Yep. Especially when it’s your you guys’ ideas, your committee members, and they see it in their backyard and they get that ownership. And that’s a proud day.

00:13:57:15 –> 00:14:03:25
You bet you. And you’re never gonna please everybody, Troy. Nope. You know. No, you’re not know Ssf, WIA has a few critics. Oh,

00:14:03:29 –> 00:14:04:19
I just a few.

00:14:05:14 –> 00:14:48:06
And, and you know, at times I feel, you know, I’ve, you know, voiced some concern over different things that all any organization does because we are so passionate. And that’s one thing I think you’ll find in the hunting industry is, is the people that are, that live it, breathe it, they are extremely passionate. And with passion can come some conflict because they might not agree on everything. And so, you know, you, I know you guys do your best. There’s politics involved. You’re trying to keep everybody happy. You’re trying to work with the D W R as well as work with the sportsmen. And, and I’ve been in the RAC meetings and there’s not just one or two good ideas. You know, there might be 20 good ideas and we can only implement one and we’re gonna offend some people and not everybody’s gonna get taken care of or feel like that their voice was heard.

00:14:48:11 –> 00:15:27:13
There’s no doubt. And you know, Jason, there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing. There’s nothing wrong with me and you having a difference of opinion. It’s what we do with that difference. If we become divisive and try to divide our ranks, then it becomes a problem. That’s right. You know, it, you can’t, like, just like you said, if you go and talk to all these people here in the expo, they all have a different idea. Yeah. And you no doubt that s f w we’ve made some mistakes. Yeah. We’re gonna, it just, it is what it is. Yep. But at the end of the day, I think we’ve advanced and move towards the big picture making things better. That’s right. And we’re stronger as a team. I know that there’s several other conservation groups out there. We’re stronger as partners and we need to work as partners. ’cause our ultimate goal of making things better, it, it’s gonna be easier with we’re all on the same team. You

00:15:27:14 –> 00:15:33:28
Bet. So let’s see. Do you have like a, a favorite hunting memory or experience?

00:15:34:08 –> 00:15:53:04
Oh, there’s a ton of ’em, but I’ll share one with you this year, as you mentioned that, you know, I’ve been involved in this guiding aspect and, and especially with the high dollar tags, the governor tags for years. Okay. Yeah. In the early years, spent, you know, a lot of time trying to keep up with Ryan Hatch down on the pon spot. Hard to keep up with Ryan and oh man, that guy’s just, he’s a mule deer legend and always a step behind,

00:15:53:08 –> 00:15:53:19
No doubt.

00:15:53:28 –> 00:16:00:25
But, you know, a very close friend and client of mine, I’d say more so friend and Dan Smith. I’ve had the opportunity to hunt with him. And he’s

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A legend as well. He is

00:16:01:25 –> 00:16:43:02
A legend. And this year I had the opportunity to hunt a particular buck we had on a lease up northern Utah. And four years this deer’s been on our place. And in those four years we’ve seen him live on the hoof twice. Wow. And so Dan come in and I got to spend 15 days with him hunting this deer. And we killed him on the 15th day. Wow. Dan’s 70 years old and it was, we walked out that night, it was a snowing blizzard and we had to pack the deer out. I was walking behind Dan with the deer on my back and just thinking back of the memories and all the big deer we had chased together and how honored I was to be a part of this thing and especially know Dan Smith and for the opportunity he’s given me. And so that, that memory I’ll never forget and Mark Lafe and Greg Bird to be a part of that made it even more special.

00:16:43:10 –> 00:16:51:28
Wow. You know, is there anybody that’s killed bigger deer than Dan over the course of his life? I I, I that guy was killing giants when I was a kid.

00:16:52:07 –> 00:16:52:19
Just you.

00:16:53:22 –> 00:16:55:26
No, I wish.

00:16:56:08 –> 00:17:07:16
No, you are. Jason. I take my hat off to you for what you’ve done and, and, and killing some awful big stuff. And the business you got going. I’m proud of you. Well, Utah Boys self-made and happy for

00:17:07:16 –> 00:17:54:17
You. I appreciate that, Troy. But, but I do, I, I look up, you know, to people like Dan yourself, you guys have been out on Big Deer, you know, on some of those auction tags and even just regular tags. You guys have killed some giants. Henry’s first opened and different things. And, and I mean, I mean, we’re just all in this together. And of course we all want to kill the biggest deer out there. Sure. We’re all working hard at it, but nothing but respect for what you guys have accomplished and all the, and all the different species. But, but I have followed Dan as well as Ryan Hatch and all the other guys that are killing big stuff. And you can never learn enough. No, you can’t. You know, that’s one of those things. Deer just keep teaching you new things every year. And, and, and I know Dan has some an, an amazing trophy room just, just flat out amazing. And I’ve heard nothing but nothing but praise about that guy. Yeah.

00:17:54:17 –> 00:18:06:28
He’s a quiet guy. Yeah. And you don’t see him out there in the limelight, you know, type doing that. I think that’s what makes Dan Smith, what Dan Smith is. Yep. He’s just, he is a legend in my mind. Yeah, he is. And just being able to associate with him and going, some of those hunts I’ll never forget. So

00:18:06:28 –> 00:18:10:24
That particular buck tell me, I think it’s the number one deer killed in the state,

00:18:11:06 –> 00:18:28:22
I believe. So year he, he ended up grossing 2 71. He’s just a giant deer. He is got a 221 inch frame. Just geez. You know, it’s just, it’s crazy. Geez. Where this deer lived. He didn’t move a lot. And it was just a matter of sitting and watching an opening to see if you catch him coming through the pines. And I was actually, wasn’t with him when he killed me here.

00:18:28:23 –> 00:18:30:07
I had heard that, I had heard, he was out there

00:18:30:07 –> 00:18:43:12
Hunting. I was up the, I was up on the ridge with another hunter and Dan was sitting there and I heard the shot Jesus. And man, my heart was going. And man, I drove down there and I come to the edge and I look up and I see Dan walking up and I hollered down there. Did you get him? Hell yeah, I got him. You know,

00:18:43:14 –> 00:18:43:20

00:18:43:20 –> 00:18:50:06
Then I took off and down to him and Wow. When I’d seen that deer laying on the ground, honestly, Jason, my knees buckled. I just, I’ve never seen such a big

00:18:50:06 –> 00:19:11:06
Deer. Wow. Wow. It was not only that, the story to go with it, you know, there’s nothing like hunting a specific animal. I don’t care if it’s elk, deer, sheep or whatever, but naming him, knowing him, and then like you guys saying, only seeing him twice and and whatnot, depending on the year and following him and somebody’s picking up their sheds and then you finally get to put your hands on that animal. Like, that’s hunting Troy. Oh it is. That’s hunting.

00:19:11:12 –> 00:19:11:26
It’s special.

00:19:12:11 –> 00:19:56:28
It’s awesome. So, anyway. Well, I can’t think of anything else. I just really wanted to tell you we’re a fan. We love SS f w and all these conservation organizations. They’re doing good things for me and my kids too. You know, I’ve got, I’ve got young kids. I’m everywhere from nine years old to 16 and they’ve enjoyed some good hunts. They get to go out with me, me as well, and, and you know, without things, organizations like S f W and, and everybody, everybody being involved, you know, I’m just not, I wanna make sure there’s good things for them in the future too. And, and I think that requires all of us working together and as well, you know, as well as good conservation organizations with, with that kind of goal in mind. Sure.

00:19:57:19 –> 00:20:28:29
So anyway, really appreciate you, really appreciate Under Armour. They are the sponsor of this podcast. They, they make some incredible hunting gear. I think they have, in my opinion, and I’m a little biased, but they do have an awesome camel pattern. I think it’s one of the best camel patterns in the West, their Baron series. And so really appreciate them and all the efforts they’ve done to support the hunting community. And again, Troy, can’t thank you enough. Appreciate you keep doing good things. No, and let’s try to save all those deer we can on the winter, winter range and then, and continue to do good things down south as well.

00:20:29:00 –> 00:20:32:07
Thank you Jason, for the opportunity. We appreciate you being here and your support. Alright, so

00:20:32:07 –> 00:20:33:04
Sounds great. Thanks Troy.