#542 Scott Haugen Outdoor Career Secrets

Scott Haugen Host of Trijicon's The Hunt
Scott Haugen Host of Trijicon’s The Hunt

I’m heading up to the Pacific Northwest and Scott Haugen and Tiffany Haugen . And they’ve been in the business quite a few years and they’ve got a lot of experience. And people are paying for experience today because they want to know how to do things. It’s the content that’s selling. And we’ve had numerous discussions already about what’s important in the outdoor industry today. So, Scott, that’s where we’re going to start off with, what’s important for people looking at the industry. I mean you’re an icon in the industry, nobody…pardon me, everybody knows who you are in the industry and you’ve been successful doing it your way and being a diversified businessman. So let’s talk about the business of the outdoors, and then we’ll get into why we hunt and your hunting experiences.

Scott Haugen Outdoor Career Secrets

Well, you know, business-wise I’m not a very good businessman, but really I just stuck to my morals and integrity. I never sold out, you know, never compromised things for the sake of being famous. My goal in all that we’ve ever done was to teach and educate people and motivate them to get out there. And, you know, before we got into this industry full-time 18 years ago both my wife and I were schoolteachers up in Alaska. And I come from a line of schoolteachers, my wife comes from a line of schoolteachers, we actually met in second grade, my wife and I did.

So we knew who each other, you know, were the whole time. I went to University of Oregon, she went to Oregon State. We went our separate ways, we met right at graduation, we both had our teaching degrees, and she said, “What are you doing with your teaching degree?” And I said, “I’m moving to remote Alaska up in the Arctic because I want to teach up there and learn how to hunt and fish in those harsh conditions with the Iñupiat Eskimos.” And she said, “Well, you better go now because no woman is ever going to marry you and go up there.” And so four months later we were engaged, nine months later we were married and we were teaching school up in Alaska together. And we just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary here a couple days ago.

So it’s worked out good and it’s been a fun ride. And, you know, we weren’t envisioning to be here. You know, when we stepped away from teaching, I’d been doing some writing for a different magazine and thought, you know, I might be able to make it for a year or two. We’d already had one son, we’d moved back home to Oregon here and were wanting to have another child. And I figured, you know, if I could do this for a couple years, stay at home, hunt and fish a little, and then I’ll go back to teaching and, you know, carry on a normal life.

And the timing that this was taking place was just prime for the outdoor industry, you know, little did I know. But magazines were in high demand of, you know, quality content. You know, remember, just like a lot of folks, I’ve hunted and fished my whole life. So we were just coming off of Alaska where we lived, you know, seven years up in the Arctic, had a subsistence lifestyle up there. I could kill four Dall sheep a year, a moose every year, a grizzly every year, caribou…five caribou a day year-round, that was for subsistence purposes up there. King eiders, common eiders, you know, fishing, I ran a couple-hundred-mile wolf trap line up there, with some great native Iñupiat Eskimo folks up there, and just had a wonderful time. So, you know, also traveled around the world and hunted and fished in a lot of places.

Scott Haugen Outdoor Career SecretsSo throughout my whole life I was gaining the knowledge in the background that allowed us to be in a position where we could, you know, convey these things. My wife, you know, she cooked everything that we got up there in Alaska. We butchered it ourselves, we, you know, packaged it, cooked it. Same thing when we moved back home, that didn’t stop. We were just fortunate to have access to more great fish and game because now we were making a full-time living hosting TV shows, writing, and speaking, and all in the outdoor industry. So all the pieces of the puzzle came together at a nice time.

So when you say that, you spent a lot of time investing in your craft. You went back to college. As a teacher, you went to college, paid for some credits, but then you really got into your career, your avocation, and invested in that. And let’s talk about that a little bit because some people don’t understand what it takes, that investment, what it takes to be successful. Not just have your name up on social media, but be successful as a person knowledgeable and known and sought out in the outdoor industry.

Yeah. Yeah, I think, you know, being dedicated to acquiring the knowledge, that’s the biggest thing. And, you know, our biggest teachers through learning have been being…spending time in the outdoors. And that’s something we couldn’t do if we had a regular full-time job. And I know there are a lot of folks, I get asked every single day, you know, “How do I, you know, break into the outdoor industry? How do I do what you’ve done?”

And, you know, number one, you’ve got to quit your job because there’s no way you can acquire knowledge if you’re not out there in the field, you know, 250, 260 days a year, I don’t feel. Number two, you’re going to sacrifice a lot of family time. Even though you’re not working, you’re going to be working twice as long for you as you would for someone else, but you’re doing something you want to do.

So there’s got to be an understanding and support from the family. I mean there were…gosh, there were days when we were hosting two different TV shows and, again, going on 50, 60 hunts a year. So I’m gone 280 days a year, sometimes 300 days because I’ll go…you know, your hunting season starts the 1st of August, it will end mid-January, and then you’re going right into sports shows. And there was one year I was gone 15 weeks in a row on sports shows, you know, traveling around the country. My wife was with me on a lot of those and we’d take the kids with us, as well. So the kids were…you know, kind of grew up in that atmosphere. And there would be times when we’d have to, you know, fly to different parts of the country and sometimes the kids would come with us. We home schooled them when they were young, so that was convenient.

And, you know, just having a dedication to acquiring knowledge through personal experience, not through reading. You know, I hardly ever read magazine articles or books anymore. We don’t have TV. I kept track one year, a couple years ago I watched eight hours of TV and the other was three hours the year after that. I just don’t have time, I’m always too busy out in the field, you know, creating my own content, kind of living in my own little world, and learning as much as I can through personal experience. Not through other people, not through other writers, not through other books. I used to enjoy that growing up, but I found that as I got into this and really wanted to make a living on it I didn’t want to acquire my knowledge through other people, I wanted to acquire it by being out in the field. Maybe it’s through other people that I’m with while I’m out in the field, biologists or guides or, you know, fellow hunters, things like that. But what I’ve found, the reason we’ve kind of been able to keep our boat afloat longer than we’d planned is I think it comes back to knowledge, genuine, pure knowledge. And that knowledge holds value and that’s what we have the passion of sharing with others.

“knowledge is power” is as true as anything

So the truism “knowledge is power” is as true as anything. And, you know, you have a stage presence, obviously, because you’re so passionate about your knowledge. You were a teacher, so you know how to transfer that knowledge off the whiteboard, off the slides, you know, off your notes into a compelling story that people have takeaways. And that’s the biggest thing I get credit for Whitetail Rendezvous. On every story, on every episode there’s a takeaway. The people go, “Oh, I didn’t think of that. Oh.” Because with 500 and some odd people, I’ve got a few years of experience just in that content. And there’s no question about that.

And in saying that that’s a great segue to, so, here you are today, you’re downstream, been married 28 years, and you’re still going strong. What is the one thing that you wish you knew today, the one big thing that you knew 5 or 10 years ago?

That’s a good question. And someone asked me that the other day and I blurted out an answer and my wife said, “You can’t say that.” And I said, “Well, it’s the truth, isn’t it?” And she said, “Yeah, but,” she said, “it’s really mean.” And I said, “So? It’s the truth.” And, you know, we’re Christian folks and, you know, we don’t like to bash people, but the biggest disappointment I’ve run into is how quickly relationships deteriorate. In not only this industry, but I think just business all around.

You know, years ago a lot of the personal contracts, TV contracts we had, they were on a handshake. And, you know, a handshake and a person’s word meant something. You could look now, we’re owed so much money by people and by companies that, you know, those companies then change hands or they sell off. And, you know, when that happens and people owe you quite a bit of money and you have that happening with three or four companies, they just don’t care. They don’t care about you, they don’t care about the relationship, it’s all about what you can do for them in the moment and to help them excel.

And that’s one of the reasons we’re very careful with who we align with. We don’t do a lot of fame-seeking, we don’t do a lot of sponsorship shopping, we never approach a company to be sponsored by them. You know, if they approach us, that’s fine. But we just…we don’t seek that out. We’ve seen too many train crashes, and I think that’s been the most disheartening thing. And no matter how many times we try to hook up with someone, you know, try to help them out, try to get a business relationship going, we come back to the same thing and say, “Okay,” my wife and I, “Okay, never again,” and I know we’ve said this before, in the forum before, never again are we trying to partner with anyone else because it’s just it’s always a train wreck.

We’ve found that it’s better for us just to stay small, keep it a family business, and, you know, again, maintain our integrity. And just convey knowledge and the companies that want that knowledge will seek us out. We’re doing more short video content now. It’s great because our boys are helping film that and they edit it. So, you know, they’re able to get a pretty good income from that, as well. And we just kind of, you know, change with the times. And, you know, not to say there aren’t great people out there, there are a lot of good people out there. I’m just surprised at the number of people who’ve just really kind of taken advantage over the years. And that was something I didn’t think you’d see in the outdoor industry.

we’re on the same team here.

You know, so few people hunt. What? About 7% of the population hunts. So you’ve think that, okay, come on, we’re on the same team here. And if you tell me something, you know, hold to your word at least so you can sleep at night.

Unfortunately there’s plenty of stories out there, and we’ll let them lay. But, you know, I like what you said. You know, create the content, you know, build it and they will come. And that’s what you’ve done with your business and kept your business with the moral compass, with the integrity, with the character that you set, not selling out and saying, “Oh my goodness, if this happens, wow.” And, you know, I don’t sense that wow factor with you, I sense a guy that has really had a great life and got a good family, and a wonderful family, and got kids and is living…you know, living right in his sweet spot, his own sandbox. So that’s props to you that you can do that.

Thanks, yeah, it’s been very blessed. Like I say, we’re not going to be famous, we really care less about that. You know, someday we’ll go back to teaching probably. When that is, where that is I don’t know. You know, things are always changing in the industry. And that’s some of the challenges we like, is there’s…you know, been doing it for 18 years now and there’s no monotony at all and there’s always changing technology. I mean, gosh, when we went to digital from slide film, I have 60,000, you know, slides and slipcases all around my office and files here. And, I don’t know, have a quarter-million digital images, you know, stored on this basically.

So that changed the world, as well, but I’m having…you know, having a really good time now staying at home. The years we were on the road with the TV show my…I was away from my dad quite a bit. My dad is 77 now, I think. We’d do a lot of hunting growing up together and now, you know, we have a couple dogs. I’m loving the dog training, working with them, going on more bird hunts with my dad as he ages and spending some time together there and staying a little closer to home.

Like I said, we’ve branched out, we’re doing some live stream stuff and some content creation now for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Again, a very good educational platform and finding that live streams are a great way to reach that 80% of the population that doesn’t hunt or fish, but have an interest in it, possibly.

So it’s been fun seeing how technology is changing and allowing us to get our message out there to educate people and motivate them in different ways than we ever dreamed possible, you know, 10 or 15 years ago.

Well said, well said. I’m just trying to think where we want to go. Let’s talk about your last season to get people…you know, start in August and end in January and just kind of high-grade it and tell people, you know, how busy you were and what you were hunting and what you learned.

Yeah. You know, when we were doing a couple TV shows, there you were, you were going on a lot of hunts, archery hunts, rifle hunts. The West is still my favorite, the Western U.S. But, you know, we were in Canada four or five times a year usually, in Alaska, Africa, Australia, New Zealand. Just going to, you know, a lot of different places, hunting, doing some fishing, stuff here and there. Since we stepped away from TV about five years ago now I believe.

Scott Haugen Outdoor Career SecretsOur show The Hunt, we were done filming it, but then Netflix picked it up and they ran that for about a year and a half, it ended here this month, that contract ended. There was a lot…we were hoping that they were going to pick up Season 3 of The Hunt and continue airing Season 1 and 2, and that was the intent, but they were pressured pretty hard by the non-hunting community. The anti-hunters, I guess, pressured them pretty hard. Because it was a hunting show and they didn’t like all the gun issues going on and the fact that our show was about killing. And that’s what it was, it was a hunting show. It was made for the Sportsman Channel, not Netflix.

You know, in hindsight, had we been able to shoot a show and create it for Netflix, I think it would have had a much bigger impact because we would have filmed it for a totally different crowd. You know, the Sportsman Channel show, when we did three years of The Hunt there, that was built for hunters. You know, we could have built a really good show non-hunters or for people who, you know, wanted to look to get into that and learn more about why we hunted. And that was kind of a bummer to see go away because I saw a lot of potential there. At the time same time outdoor TV has changed so much I really have no ambition to get back into that whatsoever, unless it was on, like, a Netflix platform or Discovery Channel or something like that.

So, you know, we’ll see how it goes. But, you know, that’s one of the things that’s allowed us to make a great living in this industry, is to diversify. We have the writing in magazine, we have our books, we have our seminar presentations, you know, we have a few pro staff relationships, we have our live streaming that we’re doing now.

So all these little pieces of the pie allow us to, you know, keep food on the table and it’s a year-round endeavor. I was just trout fishing earlier this week, before that we were banning waterfowl with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Eastern Oregon, right before that I was fishing up in Alaska king salmon, I’m back up to Alaska here in a few weeks. We’ll be doing quite a bit of fishing around here, crabbing, clamming here, you know, in the next month or so, and then I’m back up to Alaska in September, twice in September. So I’m up to Alaska, I think, three more times by the end of September, fishing and then waterfowl hunting up there. And then we have some big game stuff around here, but I’ll be doing quite a bit of waterfowl hunting around here this year with my dad again.

So, yeah, there’s never a dull moment, there’s always something to do.

Well, Scott, it’s just been a pleasure connecting and thanks for your time. I know you’ve invested some time in us and I look forward to watching you continue to evolve because the journey is, you know, we could say, possibly half over. But with your forethought and your understanding of the industry, you know, education is huge. And that’s the only way we’re going to recruit non-hunters, is to educate them into what hunting is and what hunting isn’t. And I think the industry is lagging way behind on that aspect. Because to bring out continually new market…

And I understand the business model, you know, and bring out new products and new products all the time and have a portion of the people say, “I got to have that new bow.” It’s just like I used to play golf a lot, I used to have that new tailored driver because that would give me give more yards, or whatever. But in the end it really doesn’t matter. You can kill as many deer with your .30-30 in Wisconsin that your grandfather had handed down to you and handed down to your grandson. The same rifle, because you’re hunting similar farm lots, it’s the same farm, the deer are there because you manage them well, and then the tradition of the hunt just lives through the equipment and then through the stories and all that.

And that’s the most marvelous thing about hunting that I’m trying to give back to my grandchildren and the people that listen to my show. It isn’t just about pulling the trigger. It’s fun and exciting and I give thanks for every game…big game animal I ever took, but that’s just the beginning. That’s not the end of the hunt, that’s just the beginning of the hunt.

So with that, any final thoughts? And we’ll get the heck out of here.

No, it’s been a great industry to be a part of, to be involved with, a lot of changes. And being able to kind of, you know, mold with those changes is what’s allowed us to be successful. So if people are looking to get out there, you know, it’s a scary slope to ride because there are so many changes that are taking place. And, you know, again, it all comes back to sharing knowledge, having the passion to educate people and motivate them to get them out there. Because the bottom line is we need more hunters, more anglers out there, and the best way to do that is to have, you know, fellow experienced hunters and anglers share that information. So I encourage folks to do that in a good wholesome, wholehearted way and see if we can share with the rest of the non-hunting world out there how great it really is to do what we do.

Thanks again, Scott. And with that we got a great show for thousands of listeners across North America to kind of sink their teeth in and say, “That was a little different episode,” but it’s a worthwhile episode because this is the future of hunting. Thank you so much, everybody.

Special add on Why We Hunt with Scott Haugen

we’re talking about the why of hunting and the changing industry. And, folks, this is a little…this is an extra special segment with Scott Haugen and Haugen Enterprises. And he’s up in the Pacific Northwest and done so many things for so many years. And, Scott, you know, it’s just a pleasure to have you on the show again. We were reminiscing, we both hunted the same ranch in Wyoming. What? 10 years ago at least. But, you know, when you think about it, Scott, you said something that stuck with me. You know, you got to build content, and then you got to stick after it. Let’s illuminate that a little bit.

Scott: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. And like a lot of other folks in the outdoor industry, or back in the old days, I grew up hunting and fishing and, you know, here in Oregon. And then my wife and I, we got married and moved to Alaska where we lived a pretty much subsistence lifestyle up there in the Arctic for years. And, you know, I was kind of building in knowledge as we went and not knowing that I was going to ever be doing this for a career. You know, I had the passion of, or I guess the dream, of one day writing a book, you know, to share all my tales. But this is our 18th year now doing this full-time and when we stepped away from teaching, my wife and I were both schoolteachers for 12 years, you know, figured, “Oh, we’ll do this, you know, for a year or two,” so my wife could stay at home with the kid, we were starting our family.

And, but the more I got into it the more I found that, you know, gosh, if I’m apprehensive, if I’m waiting around, if I’m waiting for things to happen, if I’m waiting to be invited on hunts or fishing trips around the world, you know, it’s going to be a long wait. So I just jumped in with both feet. And, you know, cost is always am issue or a concern, but the more I found that I just jumped in and went for it the rewards were higher, and they still continue paying off.

It’s funny because you mentioned the hunt that we’ve shared together with Center of the Nation Outfitters. I think you came in a week or two after I did and I just wrote another article the other day about them. And I think the first time I went with them was 12 years ago.

So the content…


Once you have the content and build the knowledge from these outdoor experiences, wherever it may be, and, you know, have good photos and have good notes and, you know, keep track of everything, it just keeps paying for itself over and over again.

Yeah, the folks at Center of the Nation http://www.centerofthenation.com/, Guy and Shanna Howell, he’s a roper, semiprofessional, but their girls have just unbelievably excelled in athletics as young ladies. So if you ever get a chance, folks, Center of the Nation, it’s up out…it’s right on the Montana-South Dakota border, right in Wyoming. I’m just trying to think where the cutoff is to go up to their place. I can’t think of it now.

Yeah. Well, we always just flew into Rapid City. We drove there once or twice, I think, but we’d just fly into Rapid City. On the ride through you can stand right on their property line and have one foot in North Dakota, one in South Dakota…or one in, what is it? One in Wyoming, one in South Dakota, and one in Montana right there on their property line.

Right, right. At the mom’s original homestead. You know, and you say, that the mom’s original homestead, those people have been there, the Howell’s have been there, that many years. And it’s just great when all of a sudden you’re back in time basically, what’s been farmed and ranched and everything for all those years, and then have those conversations about, “Gee, you know, just how did your family get started here?” You know, and that’s part of hunting.

“Well, what’s so special about hunting?”

It isn’t just, folks, you know, I say it over and over again, but with the world we live in people have to understand, especially people on the common ground, not the left and not the right but the common ground, say, “Well, what’s so special about hunting?” Hey, come jump in my truck, spend a week with me, and you’re going to meet some of the marvelous people in the world that you would never be…hear stories that… You know, even, you know, I’m trying to think. Meat Eater’s book about the American buffalo. The people live right where the American buffalo lived. And part of their story, the buffalo jumps and stuff aren’t far away from their house.

So you start throwing all that in, it’s like, “Man, this is like an open classroom, this is the outdoors.” Yes, it is, but it’s the history of our nation.

Yeah, it is, the people you meet. And I remember I was on a plane one time and we just got done filming a deer hunt in Montana. And we were flying into Portland, Oregon and we were descending. You know, as the plane was coming down the land in Portland, going down to Columbia Gorge. And it was right at sunset and Mount Hood was right there all covered in snow and it was just…still I can just close my eyes and see that beautiful sunset. And that was in…this was 15 years ago.

Scott Haugen Outdoor Career SecretsAnd I was sitting next to a lady who was 20 years older than I was and she said, “Are you from Oregon?,” the first conversation we had on the whole flight. And I said, “Yeah, born and raised.” She said, “How many times have you been to Mount Hood?” And I kind of guilty look and I said, “Well, none, actually.” I said, “Have you hiked it?” She said, “Yeah, I’ve been to the summit three times.” And she said, “You’re a native Oregonian and you’ve never been to the top of Mount Hood? Why not?” And I said, “Because there’s nothing to kill when I get to the top.” And I just kind of said it, you know, just not even thinking. But the look on her face, obviously she wasn’t a hunter, but it got me thinking, you know, it’s just what you said. It’s not about the kill, it’s about the journey to get you there.

And I have hunting to thank, you know for taking my all around the world and seeing the famine in Africa and, you know, hunting in 120-degree weather in the Swamps of Australia and, you know, several other countries and several states. But it’s the journey that gets you there and it’s the people that you meet along the way and it’s the hardships that you endure that teach you about life and, you know, teach you about yourself and it’s not so much about the kill, especially the older I get.

Right. And the kill part is the eating part. It’s the harvesting is just the start of the next part of the hunt. Because, yes, we go out and we get our query, we kill it, we dress it, we bring it back, we take care of it and process it, but then we start eating it. And how many meals have you had and your family has had… And you got recipes, I know you guys do well with the recipes. And then you’re sharing these recipes in a meal with people and they go, “Wow, this is really good, what is it?” “Well, it’s water buffalo from Australia,” or it’s sheep from Alaska or it’s king salmon, you know, poached, or whatever. And they say, “Boy, this is really good.” “Well, I secured it. I didn’t go to the grocery store, you know, I harvested that. I’m a hunter and I’m a gatherer.”

And that’s what we do. And all of a sudden people say, “So this is kind of the end result of all that that you do?” “Yeah. And I get the journey, I cash in so many times along the way it’s scary,” which we really do.

It is, yeah. I honestly can’t tell you the last time we bought meat. The only time my wife… My wife Tiffany Haugen writes cookbooks. She has over a dozen cookbooks out, big game fish, you know, [Inaudible 00:07:19] the whole thing. And the only time she’ll buy any meat for the family to eat is if a company wants her to develop a recipe. She does a lot with outdoor cooking companies, so they might want, you know, a rack of ribs or, you know, some steak or something like that.

It’s funny because the boys grew up, they’re teenagers now, they’re 16 and 18, and they grew up eating wild game. And they’ll eat a hamburger once in a while, but they don’t like steaks, they don’t like top sirloin, they don’t like tri-tips. They just don’t like the fatty taste and texture of beef. And, you know, they’re used to that lean wild game. And Tiffany kept track one time. And, you know, two teenage boys, they eat a lot. And I think there was one year I think we ate nine deer, three elk, a couple antelope, two or three bear, you know, and then all the birds and fish and, you know, crabs and shellfish on top of that.

And that’s pretty much been the norm of our life and that’s one of the reasons we live…we’re born and raised here in the Northwest. And, you know, we’ve traveled to over 30 countries and, my gosh, I don’t know how many states and, you know, could live pretty much anywhere we went to. But right here in the Northwest where we are in Western Oregon you can hunt or fish year-round, every single day of the year. And it really comes down to what you said, putting food on the table, and that’s really why we do it.

Bruce: And with that, this bonus segment of why we hunt with Scott Haugen, is going to end. Thanks, Scott, and we’ll move on.

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Scott Haugen Outdoor Career Secrets

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