Hook and Barrel Magazine’s Hunting for Answers with Michael Waddell
I am not quite sure what an Editor-in-Chief does at other publications, but here at Hook & Barrel, it’s not all fun and games (though by our Instagram, you may think so). My job description spans from the face of the company to the stock-boy. Sure, I get to meet some great people and go on some amazing hunts, but that all comes with a lot of hard work in between that most don’t see. One of my favorite responsibilities is stocking the local stores.
A few weeks back, a man named Dennis approached me while I was unloading my truck. “Looks like a long day,” he said, motioning to the 25 boxes of magazines I had in the bed. “Yes, sir,” I responded. “Gotta’ get the new issue out.” He smiled, and with his hand cupped to the side of his mouth, whispered, “Good, I have been waiting for the deer porn to arrive… you know, the kind of deer I’ll never get to shoot… God, I wish I had a shot at one one day…” He then walked away. You could almost see sadness in his stride.
That got me thinking, have we put too much emphasis on the trophy? Are we glorifying high-fenced bred deer too much? Are “influencers” taking the specialness out of our hunts due to internal-self-social-media-comparison? Is there a such thing as deer-shaming, as stupid as that made-up term sounds? And if so, what good is it doing us, the industry, and the future of the sport? So, I set out to find answers.
There is no other man I could think of that has more fun hunting than, my buddy, Michael Waddell. With a quick flip through my iPhone contacts, I had Waddell on the line and a trip to his pecan farm in Georgia planned to get his perspective on the subject.
Most know Waddell as the Bone Collector—a primetime Outdoor Channel icon with 11 seasons under his belt, owner of the highly successful Bone Collector brand, a man who has hunted the world and who owns more taxidermy than most normal men should. I have come to know him a little differently though. I know him as the father of five, who rolls in the grass as his youngest of age four, Waylon, tackles him during a local concert while his wife, Christie, watches with a smile. A man with four more kids including a teenage daughter, all growing up faster than he can believe—tack on a blind dog and a three-legged cat, and Waddell has a full house. But he is a guy who truly understands that the greatest trophy is the life he lives between the hunts and the friends and family he gets to share it with—no matter how chaotic his household may get.
Waddell was raised in rural southwestern Georgia in an area he lovingly refers to as Booger Bottom. “Booger Bottom is not on the map, but everyone in the area close to it, knows where it is,” he says. He grew up a country kid in a small home that lacked air conditioning for the sweltering Georgia summers and that was heated by a wood stove in the winter.