In this episode of  the Epic Outdoors Podcast. Our Host, Jason Carter, sits down with Jason Hairston, founder of Kuiu to talk about the building of Kuiu. Jason Hairston talks about his history with building Sitka Gear and having to start from scratch again. He talks about the challenges and tough times while chasing his dream. After upsets and pitfalls the brand takes off and leads to current day with new products, innovation, and constant striving for the best gear possible. This episode is a great inside look at a remarkable story within the hunting industry.

Disclaimer: 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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I know you involved a lot of your customers.

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You’re really gonna be as successful as you can be. Do something you love,

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You’re in the tents. Put gear bags, game bags. I

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Love constantly improving our product.

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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, it’s Jason Carter. Welcome to the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour Hunt. In these episodes, we sit down with some of the leading people in the industry and just extract good and valuable information and ideas that help us become more educated as sportsmen and also help us become more successful at hunting. So anyway, if you’re new to the show, don’t forget to subscribe to the Epic Outdoors Podcast as well as on our YouTube channel. Just want to tell everybody we do here at Epic Outdoors, publish a monthly magazine December through June, bimonthly from then through the rest of the year for the first six months of the year, we break down all the states Western big game drawing ons, kill percentages, best units, as well as offer personalized application strategy service. And we also help guys find outfitters for different hunts you’re looking for. So anyway, look us up. It’s epic Number 4 3 5 2 6 3 0 7 7 7. Got an awesome visitor here with us today. Really appreciate Jason Harrison with Q You. It’s

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Good to

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Be here. You bet. You welcome buddy. Anyway, just want to kind of dive into this. I’ve known Jason for many, many years. He’s, everybody knows who he is. He’s definitely one of the lead innovators in our industry and made some revolutionary changes. Of course. Thank you. We all have some of their products Q you as well as his former company. And just really wanna welcome you here on my podcast today.

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Honored to be here. Awesome. Known each other a long time. I’m honored to be on here as a guest. You bet.

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It’s been fun. Proud of what you guys are doing with Epic. Thanks. It’s outstanding.

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Appreciate that. Yeah, we appreciate your support. You guys are awesome. Absolutely. In fact, you were the first guy to sign up and, and just can’t thank you guys enough. So

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Of course. Yeah. I’ve always been a big fan of what you guys have done and what you’ve done in your, your career and your past. And I dunno if you remember, but Sitka Advertising and Hunting Fool was like, that was like our first advertising.

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That’s right. And

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It was big for us

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And it was big for us.

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It was. And when I launched, same thing. So it’s, yeah. I’ve always loved what you guys have done and and how you guys have done it and yeah. Honored to be a part of Epic. It took one phone call before I said Absolutely. It’s awesome.

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All in. Yeah. And we appreciate that and never forget it and looking forward to a long-term re relationship. Absolutely. And partnership with you guys. And so anyway, maybe as we get started here, I’d just like to invite you to go ahead and, you know, introduce yourself kinda maybe from when you were a child is what brought you up through the ranks, what you’ve been doing. I know you’re accomplished in many other aspects of your life. And then just kind of give our, our listeners, you know, a little something behind who Jason

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Is. Yeah, I’d love to share it. You know, I kind of of an unlikely person to be where I am today in business and what I’ve done with my career. I grew up in Southern California, in Orange County, near the beach. Grew up surfing. Fortunately I grew up with a father that loved to hunt. Yeah. And I had an instant connection from my earliest days. And always just loved the events of the outdoors. Loved prepping for the hunts, talking about the hunts. The only thing we read or I read as a kid was hunting books. Wow. We read Cat in the Hat, we read, you know, stories about Fred Bear and, and yeah. Uncle O’Connor. And those were my heroes growing up. Yeah. And really to kind of define my future and growing up in Orange Canada, not all the places to hunt, but we Right.

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We found local places. We went outta state and it was a big connection from my father and I. Wow. And you know, he’s kind of old school and we always had that. Yeah. And that always kept us close. Still to this day. I just took him on a moose hunt. He’s 72 years old. That’s awesome. Shot a moose. He was, it says Bucket dream. Yeah. List animal. And we’re able to get it done on film at 12 yards. Wow. With this long bow wood arrows. And so it’s, it’s been a massive part of my life. That’s awesome. And I got in athletics, had a reasonably good high school career. Ended up at uc, Davis played a a, was a three time all American there. And then ended up with the Niners 95 as an inside linebacker. And then was picked up by the Broncos after that season in 96. Went to camp, broke my neck in 14 places. Geez. Paralyzed my left arm. Got surgery on it, corrected it. And fortunately I’m fine today, but it ended my football career.

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Wow. That’s crazy. Went from being paralyzed to now you got full use of

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It. I do. I do. And you know, it, it was a scary time and in a couple different ways, the injury, although I believed I’d come back from it, the doctors thought I could and, but really the, just the, the transition in life. Yeah. You know, they, when you’re a college athlete and you’re getting looked at to go to the N F L, I mean your whole focus becomes football. Yeah. Still hunting as much as I could when I could. But when that all ends suddenly it’s kind of a a you go. And I see a lot of athletes go through that period of time where you’re like, alright, what’s next? Yeah. You know, you’re running a football stadium with 80,000 screaming fans, mile high stadium or wherever it is. Yeah. That’s a hard thing to replace. And I fell back on hunting. Yeah.

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So you went back to it. Did you ever quit Or just so busy? Well, the falls are hard training and all of that.

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The falls are hard. Yeah. You’re playing football. So I got into waterfowl shooting birds ’cause I, and we did some blacktail hunting in California. ’cause that was opening in July. But yeah, I was, I fell back on the mountains as my medicine and, and my peace. And I got doing back into doing more backpack hunting, which we did a bit with my father growing up. That’s awesome. And ended up doing just a lot of solo backpack trips into Nevada, Idaho. And that’s what led me into my career in Creighton Snip. Yeah.

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Did a lot of training for you. Just doing real world training out in the hills.

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Yep. And all my spare time I spent scouting or hunting Wow. Or planning to scout and hunt. Yeah. As you do all the research. And I loved it. Yeah.

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And, but just the struggling with the product we had got to choose from, from hunting retailers at the time. Yeah. And I ended up going to r e I and mountaineering shops to really build out my kit for the type of hunting I was doing. And in oh four we came up with a concept. I invited my, who ended up being my business partner at the time in Sitka on his first out-of-state elk hunting. He’d never been on one before. Okay. Sent him to Cabela’s with kind of some ideas of what to buy. Right. He bought some kit and gear in that trip. We were sitting on a mountain, we’d done a big climb that morning chasing some bulls in the dark. Yeah. And got up on top of a storm. Came in, we were cold, wet, and miserable sitting in this tree. He was colder, wetter, more miserable. ’cause he is wearing stuff from from other companies. From the hunting market. Yeah. Yeah. And we just like, why can’t we have a complete layering system? Why can’t we have the synthetic performance fabrics? Yeah. Like you can find in the outdoor markets. Sure. And that was the birth of the idea for Sitka.

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Wow. Okay. So then, so then now how do you transition from having idea to building the product? You

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Know, I, I getting in out of football, I got into sales commercial real estate and was doing well in it. Yeah. But realized that it really wasn’t meeting all my goals in my life. I felt like I always wanted more. Yeah. I wanted to do something that I loved and was passionate about. When that idea struck, I knew that was it and felt like in my gut, like, that’s my future. I’m gonna do this. Yeah. And just started networking and calling and talking to anybody that knew anything about apparel. Cut and sew technical fabrics. Like who can help me get this thing together? Yeah. And just because my instincts and my gut were telling me that’s it. I was so excited about it. I just never quit working on it. Yeah. And one thing led to another, we were able to build a sample line. I knew of Shana’s boots at the time and their catalog went out to the type of customer that I was trying to reach. Yeah. Fortunately at the time, John Edwards had just bought Chanas and he didn’t know what he was doing. I had no really idea what I was doing. So it was a match made in heaven. Yeah.

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And you’re both just gonna go through it together for

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A minute. Yeah, exactly. And he’s trying to expand his catalog offering. I had this new product line and so he took a gamble on me. Sure. And he put a $10,000 purchase order in. It’s the only dealer. We got to pick us up in 2006. And I had to make that purchase order. I had to order $200,000 of, of product. Wow. And I just believed it was

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You did it.

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I I believe that you and your partner. Yep. And so I leveraged my house, put the money in, and product arrived. Fortunately on time. Catalog dropped. And he called me the second day after it dropped and said how much product you have, we’ll take it all. ’cause we just crushed crazy the first day. It was okay. Yeah. It was just right place, right time. I think the, the market was starving for a brand that meant something that was different than what was out there. A product line that functioned and performed different. Yeah. And it was like overnight success.

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Wow. Crazy.

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And we went and from, in 2006 from one door, which is shanae’s to almost every single major retail in the United States overnight. Wow.

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And it just blew up. So basically two employees started out with you and your partner?

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Well, just me. Really. Jonathan stayed in his old job. I put all the money in, built it outta my garage. And, and then once I got up off the ground and we knew it was gonna be successful, he he quit

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His job. Job.

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Yeah. And I sold, I got outta what I was doing and and just went head first into it.

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Crazy. It’s awesome. Awesome story. Awesome.

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And I was just so excited about it. I couldn’t sleep at night. I was so excited

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About it. And so you basically went from professional athletics to investing in clothing

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To about five years later. Yeah. Went into commercial real estate. It was just lost. You know, one of those things where wasn’t God is this it? Yeah. You know, I I God there’s more for me in this life than just making some money selling real estate. Yeah. And I wanted to do something that was meaningful to me that I had a passion about. When you come with the idea, I was like, you know, you know it Well there’s something

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About building

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A business.

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Yeah. And there’s something about building a business that you just feel like, you know, it’s just like a child and you get nurture it and watch it grow.

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Well you do. And get attached to it’s, and if you’re gonna be successful in business or build a brand or build a company, if you’re really gonna be as successful as you can be, do something you love. Yeah. And it makes all the difference. Yeah. Because Mondays are awesome when you love what you do. Yeah. Same at night. You never stop working at, it’s just like what you’re doing. Yeah. It’s crazy. You know, you never stop thinking about it. You never stop working at it. And that makes the difference. Right. Yeah. It makes it hard to compete against somebody that loves

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Do it is hard to compete. ’cause when you have normal employees, they go home at night and they don’t think about it anymore. Exactly. And they may even dread eight o’clock coming. They all do.

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Well yeah. I hope they don’t ac coo you. I try to make it that way. But most of market have the same passion. Right? Sure. Absolutely. And it makes it so it’s really hard. I I always say, you know, these other brands that are coming into this space right now, it’s like, it’s awesome. Yeah. I don’t know that they can out commit me ’cause I don’t think anyone loves what they do more than I love what I do with Kuku. Right. It just makes that big difference. But there’s room for

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Everybody. We’ll see.

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Yeah. Awesome. So let’s see. You guys, you guys separated, ended up starting up q Well

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You know, it’s one of those things you, you know, we grew really fast. We needed to raise money to chase demand and oh eight Gore-Tex came and approached us to license, which is kind of opposite. Okay. Most companies beg Gore-Tex to become a licensee. Sure. They came to us ’cause we were so hot and hunting, they wanted to become relevant hunting and we licensed them. They wanted us to help ’em develop new materials for this market. And we needed to raise money that year ’cause we were growing like crazy. So they invested in us. Yeah. And we closed the investment. Two weeks later their market crashed.

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And that’s when things got a little bit scary for some people at Sitka at the time. Yeah. And they just convinced themselves the market was gonna be so bad that we could be insolvent and go bankrupt. And I was totally bullish on the brand at the time. Yeah. I mean

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You’re like, I’m not giving it up. Well no,

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We’re still hot. Hunters are still going hunting. They’re stealing by our product and they’re going, oh, it’s hunters are passion. The world’s coming to an end. Right, right. And I ended up being right. They were wrong, but they convinced Gore that it was the right thing to do. They did kind of put a, a transaction behind my back to sell the company to them. Forced my wife and I outta the company at the time. Yeah. And didn’t do it very well professionally. Professionally. Yeah. And there I was nine months later after taking an investment from Gore and I thought we won at that time, you know, $2 billion global leader in tech performance textiles. Absolutely. At the time. And nine months later I was sitting in my garage. I started the company in unemployed, A newborn empty garage. Newborn girl. Where am I gonna go? Well, on a baby girl on the way Born was being born the next week.

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22 month old, no source of income sitting in the worst economic crisis of her lifetime. Crazy. And my life savings was tied up in the business still. And I was like, how the heck did I get here? Yeah. Nine months before I thought I just won. Wow. And that’s a really big, went from winning the Super Bowl to having your heart ripped outta your chest. Totally. For your biggest dream you thought you accomplished. And so that was a, that was an amazing time. Sit you down for a minute. It does. Yeah. It does. I learned a lot about people. I’ve been there. Learned a lot about myself. I got a little, I thought I’ve got a little, little bit. A similar story. Yeah, exactly. It does sit you down for a set. It does. And I thought at that point that was the worst thing that ever had happened to me.

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Yeah. Point in my life. Yeah. You know, people I thought were my friends ended up not being Yep. I learned a lot about loyalty. Yeah. Or the lack of it. And, but now I look back, it’s like, thank God, oh thank God it happened. Yeah. Freedom now. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Absolutely. Yeah. It got me out of, out of that business with those people I was able to get out without a non-compete. Yep. I had met Tory, the fabrics we buy from now when I had Sitka, they were just too expensive for us to make work within our line. Sure. But I knew about the performance and all their advantages. Yeah. We just couldn’t get ’em to market. Yeah. In fact, nobody could. Tory basically given up on the US market ’cause of their pricing. Yeah. And that stuck with me.

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I was also really frustrated with the retail model selling high performance products in it. They couldn’t add any value at the time we sold. And so I was having to, to really guarantee sell through at the, at the big box retailers. I was having to educate our customers. Yeah. Well in advance. Yeah. And alls they were doing was going down there, taking off a hanger and checking out. And I thought, man, that a hundred dollars jacket that they’re selling to the big box retail for 200. Yeah. They’re selling to them for 400. How can they get $200 for that jacket for hanging on a, on a right hanger? They’re not doing anything. Right. Right. Other than providing the brick and mortar space. Right. And they’re limiting. I’m having, I’m forced to use less expensive materials. I’m cutting costs on factory choices. Yes. And I’m giving up product performance and quality for the retailer, which I didn’t wanna do for the customer, but I was forced to. Yes. I just felt like it’s all broken. Yeah. And I thought maybe I’m looking at this thing different ’cause I’d never had experience in this market. Yeah. Maybe it’s just the way it is. Which is good at times. It’s good at times. And then as I got farther along, I was like, I think this thing just is broken. And now I look at it, I’m like, I was right. As we look at, you know, all these, all these retailers filing bankruptcy, all these retailers in trouble. Yes. And,

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And yet you can still sell direct.

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That’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Yeah. And so I just felt like there was, so there was an opportunity to bypass the retailer, build a better product with a coup direct to consumer business model and sell it to them. Give, let’s give the retail market back to the customer. Yeah. They’re the ones doing the homework and the research. Yeah. They should have it. There you have it. And that’s what I believed my gut told me. The hard thing was that people, we talked about this business model, my business plan is, I talked to professionals, investors, they’re like, man, how are you gonna find that first customer? How are you gonna get people to trust you? Yeah. You have a brand name, no one can say. Yeah. Right. Ku, why would you name business that

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I that That is a good question.

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My gut told me it was. Right. Right. Yeah. And I’ve been on Kuku Island before and yeah. I just like the name I believed in it. Yeah. And it ends up being really great brand name now. Yeah. Yeah. But I had a lot of doubters with the business model. No one wanted to invest me. I got one. My business partner now Rob took a chance on it

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For it. Best thing he’s ever done.

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Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s awesome. And yeah, it’s just been an amazing run with this thing. So

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Now you’ve extended, you know, you’ve expanded way beyond clothing. You’re into tents. What? Gear bags, game bags, vinyl harnesses. What do, tell me about some of this. Yeah,

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No it’s a, it’s a good question of why we’ve expanded those things. A lot of it’s customer feedback. Yeah. I mean, customers ask for certain things. We came out with our super down jacket when I was introduced to Torre’s waterproof treatment to their down feathers and why it’s, why it’s so good. Made the jackets. Customers came to us, said, can you make a sleeping bag for us in this? Yeah. It’s amazing. Sure. We got into sleeping bags. Hey. Kind of not stoked with the tent selections that are out there. You know, have you guys looked at tents? And I wasn’t either. So we got into the tent business. A lot of this is customer driven. Yeah. And looking at products, customers out there.

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Customers are telling you what they want. Exactly. They’ve given you the demand.

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They’re, and then I can look at a product and we don’t necessarily, you know, invent anything. Yeah. We just use way better materials and thoughtful design around our customers. And since, and

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You know this stuff, because you’ve been doing it for the

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Clothing’s Right. You’re,

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You’re visiting these people, you’re going overseas, you’re doing whatever it takes to develop product.

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And you know, the time we spend in the mountains Yeah. We get a lot of time in the mountain looking at our products going, God if it just did this or just did that. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s what we’re always doing with ourselves. Right. Especially ’cause

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Your gears are turning, you’re thinking about stuff. That’s what you’re thinking about. How to do it, make it better. Design fabrics,

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Always. All of it. Always. And we’re relentless. And this business model, what’s so cool about it for me ’cause I love constantly improving our product. Yeah. You know, when we sold to Cabela’s, if we changed a product that was similar, I mean it was a massive problem. Yeah. When we had Sitka. ’cause then they had to discontinue everything. They had to put in a whole new skew. It was just, they, they brutal discourages us from making any changes once a product hit the shelves Yeah. For a long period of time. Yeah. Well we make inline changes in production now. Wow. And we’ll change things quickly if we find out there’s either a better material, better way to do it. And that’s really powerful stuff. Yeah.

00:17:55:02 –> 00:18:00:18
Yeah. That helps a lot. Really powerful stuff. I can only imagine. So anyway, so what are some of the different products you’re putting out?

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Well, I mean that we currently have or that are coming out? Well,

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Whatever you wanna, whatever you wanna disclose.

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Sure. No, I mean we’ve got our full range. You know, we go from skin to Shell and that’s where we started on a, on a kit and a system that takes you through a wide range of conditions. And that’s just built over time. Yeah. So we got, we came across a really amazing fabric called Dot Air Technology, Tory invented for the Beijing Olympics. Okay. And it’s got little micro openings, a hundred percent polyesters or high grade, high grade polyester yarn. So it dries really fast. It’s really thin feeling, but it’s actually really durable. I don’t know if you’ve worn it. I know Adam has.

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I, I don’t think I have.

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And so we took this material, we tested it and we took it out in the hot weather. It’s just, it’s a game changer in the deserts. Good. And so we did a shirt and a patent in that. So we’ve gotten, you know, expanded the range of the product line to hotter weather. Okay. And then we’ve done the same with colder weather with Super down. Okay. And then with like Yukon products. Okay. And just continue to evolve to continue to solve problems. Yeah. In areas that we can with either the materials or design Yeah. Or weight reduction.

00:18:58:01 –> 00:19:05:01
Awesome. And so what about the camel pattern? Isn’t there, is there a lighter version of what you got? Are you sticking with that Camel panel? Well, we

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Have vs. We have Verde 2.0 the new version of Verde that just came out. Okay. I dunno if you’ve seen that yet. I have. And we’re always playing with stuff. Yeah. You know, we’re always evaluating it. You know, we’ll constantly evolve every aspect of this business, every aspect of this product line. Yeah. And so Verde 2.0 is a ver example of that. We had, you know, Verde has been very popular for, for guys that don’t like the, the look or or the color scheme or the high contrast that Vs. Is designed for, which is really high alpine rocks. Cheap country. Yeah. And just studied Verde and figured out a, maybe a more effective way to do it. Opened up a little bit more. Add in some grays. Yeah. And it’s awesome. I dunno if you’ve seen the field, but it’s, it’s really pretty awesome. Really

00:19:46:02 –> 00:19:52:22
Cool. Yeah. You know, I was, I was always impressed when you started this. You, I know you involved a lot of your customers and, and took on their,

00:19:53:04 –> 00:19:53:17

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You even came out with a product. We, I, you started blogging.

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I blogged 18 months before

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I, and I watched those blogs and it was pretty much wasn’t that amazing?

00:20:00:05 –> 00:20:00:13

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It was like you had a lot of almost cool thing like not customers but fans.

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We had a following like Yeah. And I remember we started that and this was before social media. With social media. Yeah. Recognized for how powerful it can truly be. I just blog ’cause brother recommended doing it because he is like, man, you started Sitka, you’re gonna disappear for two years. Yeah. Like, what am I gonna blog about? I can’t blog about myself. We may be interested in blogging about it. Building a new company. Right. Yeah. It’s supposed a week until we launched for 18 months. And I’ll tell you what, it was the coolest thing.

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Yeah. You had a lot of feedback.

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Tons of feedback. And you know, I think

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Appeared you were listening.

00:20:35:09 –> 00:20:39:26
Yep. You were listening to that. I answered every single comment on that blog for 18 months prior to launch. The

00:20:39:26 –> 00:20:41:11
Owner of Q u listening to every

00:20:41:11 –> 00:21:19:12
Comment, everyone asking questions. And it was a great opportunity to educate. Yeah. That’s what I used it as. And to listen, share with what I was finding. Share with what, what I was learning about materials. Yep. And share what I knew about materials and what great factors look like versus others. And just my discovery of building the brand and also telling ’em about retail, the retail model. Yes. What, what it, how it really functions. How, what other companies are buying when they’re buying inexpensive fabrics. Yes. And it and it was so well received and created so much trust. Yeah. And that’s how I ended up getting my first customers Yeah. Was by building trust. By being open, transparent. Answering their questions.

00:21:19:12 –> 00:21:20:22
Well now they’re invested. They’re with, they’re with you.

00:21:21:16 –> 00:21:42:22
And they’re the one they felt like they helped and they, our sales team, yeah, they do. They have ownership. I mean we built this business off of very little marketing dollars for direct to consumer compared to other business models out there. And Right. It’s created a truly a cult type following for this brand. It’s That’s crazy. It’s amazing. Amazing. Well beyond I ever imagined. Yeah. I built my original business plan. I thought we were be a small little niche lifestyle business outta

00:21:42:23 –> 00:21:43:22
Dixon. Yeah. Right.

00:21:43:26 –> 00:21:46:07
And five and a five and a half years later we’re a global brand.

00:21:46:07 –> 00:21:48:20
Is that what it’s been? Seems like five and a half years. Yeah. It seems like yesterday,

00:21:49:01 –> 00:21:58:17
Five and a half years later now I’ve got three people working in Europe supporting the demand over there. I’ve got a guy in South Pacific for Australia, New Zealand. I haven’t spent a dollar of market over there. It’s all word of mouth. Wow. Like

00:21:58:17 –> 00:22:01:04
You said, your customers, your customers are your biggest salesman.

00:22:01:22 –> 00:22:02:23
It is. It is.

00:22:03:27 –> 00:22:11:19
That’s awesome. And so, you know, you’ve been doing some amazing things. I know. Have you sent some veterans on some hunts? I’ve heard

00:22:11:21 –> 00:22:27:03
We have. We outfit veterans all the time to support ’em. I, I love the programs of guys taking those guys out to the field. Yeah. And those guys come back and a lot of ’em are just in bad shape mentally. Yeah. Or physically or both. And you know, the outdoors is an awesome connection to those guys.

00:22:27:16 –> 00:22:27:23

00:22:27:26 –> 00:22:29:00
Like it’s always been for us.

00:22:29:12 –> 00:22:29:18

00:22:30:02 –> 00:22:36:29
And there’s peace, there’s quiet, there’s a bigger purpose. Yeah. And to help those guys stay warm and dry in those environments. I’m just honored. Yeah.

00:22:37:11 –> 00:22:48:05
That’s awesome. Super honored. And so, you know, like tell me about some of your recent hunting experience. I know you hunt a lot. You’re out there as much or as more than anybody?

00:22:48:24 –> 00:22:49:16
I don’t want to be.

00:22:50:23 –> 00:22:51:10
Yeah, you do.

00:22:52:10 –> 00:23:11:22
I gotta test the product for customers. Oh know that’s right. I feel like it’s, it’s part of what I signed up for in building this company. I do it for our customers. Yeah. But no, it’s an, it’s awesome. Yes. Do a lot hunting, lot sheep hunts. Do a lot of sheep hunts. I do a northern sheep hunt every year. ’cause as you know, there’s no true test of product in Gary then putting it in those situations. So

00:23:11:22 –> 00:23:15:10
When you go on a hunt, you throw every product you got in the bag or how do No, it’s,

00:23:15:10 –> 00:23:20:27
It’s a lot of new stuff. It’s some new stuff. It’s a lot of new stuff. A lot of concept stuff. Putting different mixes of kits together.

00:23:21:00 –> 00:23:23:22
It starts raining buckets. You’re going out in the new stuff and just

00:23:23:26 –> 00:23:33:23
See, I’ll find out if it works or not. I’ve had some, I put myself in some precarious situations at times. That’s cool. But you really learn about your product. You really learn about your designs. Yeah. You really learn about your materials.

00:23:34:05 –> 00:23:35:21
And there’s no weather like the north stuff.

00:23:35:21 –> 00:24:01:10
It’s nothing. You’ve been in it. Yeah, I have. It’s a mess. I mean it could be, it’s crazy. So freaking hard on you mentally, physically, your gear and your product. It’s when you really find the deficiencies. Yeah. And it’s interesting, like Tori makes the best membrane in the world for waterproof, breathable fabrics. And we found its limitations. And we’ve presented it to Tori, this is a few years ago. And they’ve, they fixed it. They fixed what they thought wasn’t a problem really. We found a problem and they’re like, that shouldn’t happen. All the lab tests this and the lab tests tell us that. And I said it

00:24:01:16 –> 00:24:01:19

00:24:02:02 –> 00:24:20:20
I go, you want me to take you up north? They’re like, no, no, no. We don’t want to up up north. We believe you. Right. But they love it. Yeah. Like this is what really happens’ beyond. Oh yeah. And what’s great about Tory is they we’re the largest account globally now. Yeah. And I get direct access to all their scientists. Yeah. In the development rooms. There you go. Always working to,

00:24:20:25 –> 00:24:22:08
Well you’re probably one of their biggest customers.

00:24:22:09 –> 00:24:33:06
We’re the number one and their best referral source ever because we’re transparent. Wow. I tell everybody about Tori and Yeah. Japanese aren’t boastful because that’s their culture. Yeah. So yeah. They’re awesome.

00:24:33:11 –> 00:24:33:29
That’s great.

00:24:34:04 –> 00:24:34:20
Super fun

00:24:34:20 –> 00:24:37:29
Stuff. Well good. And so what a sheep pun up north, meaning doll stone,

00:24:38:08 –> 00:25:02:07
Goat stone. She hunting up with Gunde. Who, there you go. This summer Should be a fun hunt. I’m taking Donald Trump Jr. Along with me as well. We’re both gonna, we’re both gonna hunt. And we, this has been booked for a while, but his dad became elected. I called him after I said, Hey, you still coming? Able to go? And he is like, heck yeah, I’m going. I wouldn’t miss it. He’s like, okay, what about secret Service? He’s like, right. Yeah. I think they’re gonna have to go with us. I’m like, oh that’s gonna be Awesomes

00:25:02:07 –> 00:25:03:07
Now you’re gonna have to outfit them.

00:25:03:14 –> 00:25:14:24
We will. And he’s like, let’s get in really good shape and bury ’em. I’m like, they gotta stay with you. So Yeah. Should be interesting. It’ll be fun. What an honor. Man, that’d be great. Those such good people too. I just tell you what he is the most down to earth.

00:25:15:11 –> 00:25:20:02
Yeah. He spoken in a lot of these banquets. I’ve seen him. He’s great. Man. Shook his hand man. He

00:25:20:07 –> 00:25:20:13

00:25:20:13 –> 00:25:21:14
Super, super guy.

00:25:21:19 –> 00:25:25:11
I look at how the press makes him out to be versus the reality. ’cause I get to know him and it’s like, man.

00:25:26:10 –> 00:25:35:11
Speaking of that, speaking of that, I know you’ve spent a lot of time with the Trump family. Just tell us a little bit about that. What are you doing out there? What, what do you what? What’s the agenda?

00:25:35:11 –> 00:26:29:06
Agenda? I got to know, I got to know Donald Trump Jr. When he became a customer. I wrote him a handwritten thank you note. I mean we sent out a lot of handwritten thank you notes. Yeah. That our business part of our culture. You know, I do that kind of all the high profile people that come through and ’cause we know who buys from us. And he called me on the phone after I said the, the note and he said, Hey, I’m going cheap out with Jim Shockey. Got some questions on product gear. Right. And that kind of started the friendship. We just connected a lot to share about business, about life. A lot in common. And became just became really tight friends. And I got involved with introducing his dad and Junior and Eric to the hunting community last year when his dad was, you know, obviously running for president. Sure. So they, we could share their authentic story around hunting. ’cause not a lot of people are gonna associate Donald Trump with hunters. Right. Or hunting. And I wanna make sure it was clear why Yeah. That it is authentic. Yeah. Eric and Don Jr. Are is they’re just die hard hunters. Yes.

00:26:29:06 –> 00:26:29:23
Just like you and I.

00:26:29:26 –> 00:26:33:20
And they love it and they believe it. And their dad’s gonna support their passion. Know junior because he understands

00:26:33:20 –> 00:26:46:16
It. Well I know Junior went out with a good friend of mine, Josh Hors lion hunting. Josh had nothing but rave reviews. Real deal man. Packed the lion out just as far as Josh took turns the gear. Two feet of snow, the whole thing. Like a legit guy.

00:26:46:19 –> 00:27:00:25
Oh yeah. He is. He is. And they’re just good people. Yeah. I always think that, you know, you meet someone and or you meet somebody’s kids. Yeah. It’s always a true sign of their character. It is. If their kids are down to earth, grounded, good people, you know, just solid people.

00:27:00:27 –> 00:27:01:04

00:27:01:04 –> 00:27:10:12
Does the same way. He’s like junior’s. Like, God, I hope he wins because he’s a pain in the to work for. He never lets me have a day off.

00:27:11:03 –> 00:27:11:12

00:27:11:14 –> 00:27:16:19
He never lets me have a day off. And so he’s, I’m looking forward to, I can do more hunting. Yeah. Dad’s

00:27:16:19 –> 00:27:19:28
Gonna, I could be my own boss if he, you know, give him something to do. Keep busy.

00:27:20:08 –> 00:27:20:18

00:27:20:22 –> 00:27:22:18
But I’m sure he leans on his kids a lot. He

00:27:22:18 –> 00:27:23:10
Does. He does.

00:27:23:17 –> 00:27:24:16
He’s got ’em plenty busy.

00:27:24:27 –> 00:27:30:11
Oh, they’re really busy now. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Busy running his big crazy organization. Yeah.

00:27:30:25 –> 00:27:35:00
So I know you’ve done some hunting down in Mexico. I mean, you’ve been all over. Yeah,

00:27:35:00 –> 00:28:03:06
I’ve been to a lot of different places. I’ve been to me, I’ve been to Mexico all over the West United States, Canada, Alaska. Yeah. Been on the hunt in New Zealand. Yeah. So, yeah, I get to, you know, travel the world and, and you know, test our stuff and shoot photos and Sure. I mean it’s all that, you know, it’s, it’s, it just teaches me so much about the products Yeah. And the different situations we can face. And it, you know, you always learn something. Yeah. And it’s always good stuff. Do

00:28:03:06 –> 00:28:06:22
You have a favorite hunt we can talk about? Or like this kind of experience?

00:28:06:22 –> 00:28:07:26
I love, I love doll

00:28:07:26 –> 00:28:08:20
Sheep. Okay.

00:28:08:28 –> 00:28:15:05
I love white sheep in that black shale is magical as you’ve seen ’em. Yeah. I mean in that country there’s, it’s like magic. Yeah.

00:28:15:21 –> 00:28:16:01

00:28:16:04 –> 00:28:26:24
Are the ones. Those are the ones I like. I like the hard ones. I did a hunt this year in the Yukon. Brendan was with me. Okay. And you know, we’re always great Guinea pigs for guy, for outfitters. ’cause they always have that area where

00:28:27:12 –> 00:28:29:02
Nobody’s been, course we haven’t been for 20 years.

00:28:29:02 –> 00:28:30:12
Course we can’t get anyone in there. Nobody would go.

00:28:30:16 –> 00:28:31:04
No one’s stupid

00:28:31:04 –> 00:28:32:17
Enough to go in there. And so

00:28:32:17 –> 00:28:33:29
Brendan’s like, I’ll, I’ll do Well

00:28:33:29 –> 00:28:35:16
We both are, we’re like, we’ll go. Yeah,

00:28:35:17 –> 00:28:36:00

00:28:36:06 –> 00:29:16:05
Absolutely take us in. We even ask like, we’re the places you, you don’t take clients you don’t have That’s awesome. People in, in and out. So we’re always those guys that’ll sign up for that. And we did a big, you know, big hunt this year in the Yukon. That was tough. I mean it Yeah. I dunno if you’ve hunted in, in bonnet plumes area, but I’ve been in there. Yeah, that’s right. You have. And you know, it’s just steep and nasty and rocky up straight. And a lot of that same country. Your dad killed his big Ramon. Yep. Yep. And you know, there’s no trails in there. Like arctic red’s got trails from the car, but there’s no trails. It’s steep, rocky, nasty loose rock. And we ended up walking every day for 10 straight days. Just the way that sheep hunt went. Where he killed the sheep at the end of the day. Yeah. And got the next day and walked again. Geez. We, we never got a chance to set up camp. So we had fully load of packs for 10 days. You sleep out in your clothes,

00:29:16:05 –> 00:29:16:26
You’re just sleeping in

00:29:16:26 –> 00:29:23:16
Your clothes. And we walked 10 hour days, 10 straight days probably did, you know, 150, 200 miles. Wow. Some

00:29:23:16 –> 00:29:24:28
Nasty stuff. Wow. That’s agra grass.

00:29:24:28 –> 00:29:27:12
That’s awesome though. Yeah. Those are the ones you remember. You,

00:29:27:27 –> 00:29:36:05
We, when we spent our time up there, I mean, Garth and I just slept on the side of a mountain the entire night. Like it’s crazy. It is. You know, in a little tiny cave. And those

00:29:36:05 –> 00:29:37:05
Are ones remember though, right? Yeah.

00:29:37:07 –> 00:29:37:19
You never

00:29:37:19 –> 00:29:40:13
Forget it. I know. I love the hard hunts. I love the grind. It’s,

00:29:40:19 –> 00:29:52:07
Yep. It’s awesome. So anyway. Well, how about young kids coming up through the ranks and wanna make a living and hunting. Do you have any advice for, for people that wanna make a living doing what they love,

00:29:52:28 –> 00:30:08:11
Do what you love first of all. I mean it’s, it’s made such a difference in my career, in my life. And I encourage young people to come to me and say, God, I wanna start a business. I wanna do this, I wanna do that. Or people even want a job. Yeah. They’re not hunters. I say, and they’re young. I said, why? Yeah,

00:30:08:21 –> 00:30:09:00

00:30:09:00 –> 00:30:24:12
I just think your company’s cool. And I said, well, do you like hunting? Well no I don’t hunt, but go find something you love. Yeah. Take the opportunity while you’re young and do that. Yeah. Do a big soul search. Anything’s possible. Yeah. I mean you’re proof of it. Anything is, I started with nothing. No experience in industry and just

00:30:24:19 –> 00:30:25:23
Backpacking back when you were young

00:30:25:28 –> 00:30:35:02
It was love. Yeah. Right. And if you love what you do, you can go find a way to make a living. Brendan’s my fir. I love the example of Brendan. Yeah. What does Brendan love? Hunting. Hunting.

00:30:35:11 –> 00:30:35:22
What does

00:30:35:22 –> 00:30:39:01
Brendan tell Archery elk. And what does Brendan turn? And sheep, we call him.

00:30:39:03 –> 00:30:39:14
We loves

00:30:39:14 –> 00:30:45:18
Sheep. We call him sheep. Three po. The only way to get Brendan to stop talking about sheep is like three c three po. You gotta shut ’em off.

00:30:47:01 –> 00:30:47:19
That’s awesome.

00:30:48:10 –> 00:30:54:07
But it’s true though. You can find a way to make, if you become an expert. Yeah. Something you love, you can create Yeah. A living out of it. So

00:30:54:07 –> 00:30:58:24
Brendan started off, and maybe he’s still doing it, but he started off with heading up the outfitter program.

00:30:58:26 –> 00:31:01:08
He did? Yeah. He was my first person who joined me at cu.

00:31:01:17 –> 00:31:02:12
I remember you brought him down

00:31:02:12 –> 00:31:04:06
To the office. Yep. And he’s such a good

00:31:04:06 –> 00:31:07:23
Guy, man. He’s a good dude. I mean he is. He’s intense like you. Very intense. Very, very intense.

00:31:07:23 –> 00:31:12:05
Intense. Super intense. Incredibly loyal. Yeah. Which is hard to find these days, you know? Yeah. It is

00:31:12:05 –> 00:31:14:11
Hard to find brutal.

00:31:14:26 –> 00:31:18:14
I know. And he always have my back. They don’t, you can’t learn loyalty. No, you can’t. You’re

00:31:18:14 –> 00:31:19:04
Either born with it or you

00:31:19:04 –> 00:31:24:02
Don’t have it. Exactly. And he is highly competitive and he is just lives, it breathes it real. One of the most,

00:31:24:15 –> 00:31:25:04
One of most competitive people

00:31:25:05 –> 00:31:34:04
I know. He is ex-athlete, you know, wrestling Ohio State in college. Yep. Grinder. And I mean, talk about a fungi to go hunting with. Oh yeah. Have you ever been hunting with him? Oh, I’ve

00:31:34:04 –> 00:31:42:28
Just been around him a little bit. You laughed back up there. Do stone. I was up there and I mean, I woke him up and he came out the door and of course gave me a rash like Brendan does always. I, he just crushed me.

00:31:43:06 –> 00:32:06:25
I know. Awesome. He’s so fun with He’s always in a good mood. Yeah. Always positive. Positive. And yeah. We have great times together. Mountains. But yeah, he was the first one on board and you know, when I left, when the whole thing went down with Sitka, he, he kind of found out about it through the grapevine called me and said, what’s going on? I told him, he called them and said, I’m off. The pro staff called me and said, what are we doing next? Wow. I’m in, I got your back. And I was, he was the only one. And I was like, yep,

00:32:07:02 –> 00:32:08:19
He’ll be with you forever. And you

00:32:08:21 –> 00:32:13:11
Never forget it, man. Yeah. I mean, I’ll never forget that time only person. Yep.

00:32:13:29 –> 00:32:15:26
I’ve got those guys in my life. That’s phenomenal.

00:32:15:26 –> 00:32:19:05
Right. As you get older you kind of think back, you know, I don’t need a lot of friends. These are the good ones.

00:32:19:20 –> 00:32:23:01
Right. And usually you can count ’em on less than one hand. It

00:32:23:01 –> 00:32:24:05
Gets that way. Yeah, it does.

00:32:24:07 –> 00:32:26:24
It does. And the older you get, the more more important it is. It is.

00:32:26:28 –> 00:32:53:04
It is. And so, yeah, I mean I’ll, I’ll never forget it and he has just been an awesome person to have in my life. Having the business. He’s done so much. I mean he’s built us a giant guiding outfitter program of the best of the best. And the guys he is built that have, he’s brought in. I mean they’re just like his friends. Yep. They love Brandon. He always takes care of him and can talk the talk and walk the walk. Yeah. Do you see that piece in New York Times It comes out? No.

00:32:53:05 –> 00:32:56:14
Well you, you sent me that it was coming out. Yeah. I didn’t know if it’s officially come out.

00:32:56:19 –> 00:32:59:10
It comes out tomorrow. Okay. Front page first time.

00:32:59:11 –> 00:33:00:10
And it’s about sheep hunting.

00:33:00:19 –> 00:33:08:08
It’s about hunting. It’s focuses on sheep hunting. Yeah. It talks about hunting and conservation in a way that’s never been done in mainstream either.

00:33:08:11 –> 00:33:09:08
In the New York Times

00:33:09:23 –> 00:33:10:14
On the front page.

00:33:10:16 –> 00:33:11:02
Are you nervous?

00:33:11:19 –> 00:33:14:10
I’ve read it. It’s awesome. Have you read it yet?

00:33:14:20 –> 00:33:17:08
I haven’t read it. I haven’t had a chance. It’s awesome. Well it’s been busy here at the show.

00:33:17:08 –> 00:33:46:28
Well we were nervous. Right. I was introduced to John Branch, to the writer. He’s one of Pulitzer Prize for writing for New York Times and does these one or two feature pieces every year. Yeah. And you know, I was like, man, it’s a New York Times. People wouldn’t get interviewed by him as we’re putting this together. I introduced him to Brendan C three sheep, three po took over. There you go. Right. Crushed it. Introduced him to everybody that he knows. And it, and as it was getting written, everyone’s like, God, are you nervous? Are you scared? I’m like, my gut tells me he’s gonna do it. Right. And he’s gonna tell the truth. We’ll see. Oh he did

00:33:47:13 –> 00:33:49:14
Your front and center. Well, we’ll see. Wait till you read it.

00:33:49:20 –> 00:33:50:00

00:33:50:00 –> 00:33:52:04
See how it’s perceived. It’ll be awesome.

00:33:52:07 –> 00:34:06:24
It’s been perceived. It came out digitally yesterday or the day before and it’s So you’ve been awesome. And the coolest part about Jay is people that don’t hunt that Reddit, the response has been, I had no idea. Wow. That’s great. I thought you just chopped their heads off and left their bodies

00:34:07:01 –> 00:34:07:25
And looked manly.

00:34:08:15 –> 00:34:11:17
And I thought you guys were just trophy hunters. They’re like, no, that’s illegal.

00:34:12:19 –> 00:34:13:07
Yeah. That’s

00:34:13:07 –> 00:34:14:10
Illegal. No Hunter does that

00:34:14:10 –> 00:34:15:22
Waste of wildlife’s a pretty big deal.

00:34:15:22 –> 00:34:31:12
Yeah. We’re not, those aren’t hunters. Those are Yeah. Criminals. Yeah. And that’s the coolest part of it. Yeah. And people that were anti hunters that red, it even responded like, man, I had no idea. I think this is awesome what you guys do. I had no idea you guys saved wild cheap. Wow. Single handedly

00:34:31:21 –> 00:34:32:01

00:34:32:12 –> 00:34:52:19
It’s big, big for hunting. I mean that’s, you know, I get a lot of, I’m getting a lot of mainstream media opportunities with, because of Kuo. I’ve got a great PR firm outta San Francisco and I feel like it’s my having this opportunity to be able to give back Yeah. And give back through mainstream media to tell the truth about hunting. Yeah. And share with them the reality of hunting, why it’s so important. It’s awesome to all of us. I feel like

00:34:52:19 –> 00:34:54:07
It’s, and you’ve got a good platform to do it from.

00:34:54:11 –> 00:35:03:00
It’s awesome. And I, and I feel like it’s just something that it’s, I have the chance to do it and I want to do it for our market. Yeah. Our customer, for our heritage, for conservation wildlife. Well,

00:35:03:00 –> 00:35:10:06
As you, as your company grows, you’ll continually have more and more opportunities to do that. When you’re standing in your empty garage, nobody’s gonna listen to you. No.

00:35:10:09 –> 00:35:10:25
But as you

00:35:10:25 –> 00:35:12:05
Grow, no. As you grow, no.

00:35:12:19 –> 00:35:37:20
And you continue to do things there more opportunities. I think it’s such an awesome opportunity for honey. Yeah. And it’s such a, and it’s such a obviously huge aspect and impact in my life and my family and my, my Yeah. It’s been a generational thing in my family. And to be able to give back and do things like that is just awesome now with conservation and Trump in office and it’s awesome having access to the Department of Interior now and Absolutely. You know, be working with them on how, you know, what we can get done over the next, next four years.

00:35:37:28 –> 00:35:38:25
I’ve got a few ideas.

00:35:39:01 –> 00:35:39:16
Love to hear

00:35:39:19 –> 00:35:41:25
’em. We got some wild horse you talking about. We got some wild horse problems.

00:35:41:26 –> 00:35:43:25
It’s on the list. I know we do. I

00:35:43:25 –> 00:35:44:16
Love to hear that.

00:35:45:02 –> 00:35:45:26
Yep. And so

00:35:46:08 –> 00:35:48:04
It needs to move really high on the list.

00:35:48:23 –> 00:35:49:22
We can do that. Okay.

00:35:50:00 –> 00:35:51:17
Yeah, we’ve got some major problems.

00:35:51:25 –> 00:35:53:17
I know we do. I know we do. We’ve talked about it, it

00:35:53:17 –> 00:35:57:11
And I, and I know you’ve, we’ve witnessed it. You’ve hunted some of my favorite units there in southern Nevada.

00:35:57:16 –> 00:36:01:18
So that was on a buck this year. Fricking ran on a wild horse and blew it.

00:36:01:20 –> 00:36:06:29
Brew. Oh. And you. And those are actually lower densities of horses. When you see high densities of horses, it’s

00:36:06:29 –> 00:36:08:02
They’re obnoxious. Deteriorating.

00:36:08:07 –> 00:36:09:16
Oh well they crushing the springs.

00:36:09:18 –> 00:36:12:01
Well, besides when they habitat, but there’s

00:36:12:01 –> 00:36:12:08
A lot going

00:36:12:08 –> 00:36:12:14
On there.

00:36:12:15 –> 00:36:12:25

00:36:12:25 –> 00:36:16:10
Is no, so it’s a, we got four years to make a lot of change. Yeah.

00:36:16:23 –> 00:36:17:11

00:36:17:11 –> 00:36:23:17
Eight. And my goal is to do eight. Well we know we got four. Yeah. Let’s, I don’t want to, I don’t wanna bank on eight. We got eight even better. Right. It needs

00:36:23:17 –> 00:36:24:24
Go high on the list. But

00:36:25:05 –> 00:36:32:11
No, we have a, an opportunity to make as much changes as been made for hunting, conservation, wildlife and habitat that we’ve had since Roosevelt. That’s

00:36:32:16 –> 00:36:35:19
Awesome. With I agree with you Trump office. Agree. And I agree with you a hundred percent.

00:36:35:26 –> 00:36:38:00
I want to do everything I can to make sure we take advantage of it.

00:36:38:00 –> 00:36:43:22
That’s awesome. Well anyway, so much appreciate you coming on this podcast, spending some time with us, Jason. For

00:36:43:22 –> 00:36:43:25

00:36:43:25 –> 00:36:47:25
I’m honored. Can’t thank you enough for your partnership with Epic. You are the one, you were the first guy to sign up.

00:36:48:29 –> 00:36:51:26
I told you I got your back Jay. We love it. No matter what you’re doing, I’ll support you.

00:36:52:01 –> 00:36:52:24
No, we sure.

00:36:52:24 –> 00:36:53:23
But friends do sure

00:36:53:23 –> 00:36:58:29
Appreciate you and Sure. Anyway, we’ll be, I know we’ll be doing cool things together forever. So appreciate

00:36:58:29 –> 00:37:00:16
That. Look forward to coming back on anytime you wanna have me

00:37:00:16 –> 00:37:03:12
And wish you guys the best of luck and we’ll go from there. Thanks a lot. Thanks buddy.