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Without a doubt, the Aug. 11 announcement of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as Mitt Romney’s pick for the GOP Vice President spot immediately sent waves coursing throughout the outdoors community.
By Alan Clemons, Southern Managing Editor
Why? Simple. Paul Ryan is a diehard outdoorsman. He loves to hunt and get outside with his family.
He’s from Wisconsin, where enjoying the outdoors seems to be entwined in everyone’s DNA. Whether it’s in the glorious summer months or the frigid snowy winters, hunting, fishing, paddling, camping and other outdoors activities are a way of life.
So when he was announced as Romney’s running mate, the outdoors community went all a’twitter with the news of Paul Ryan bowhunting. Finally, someone in Washington who actually does hunt and fish, doesn’t do it for show as a campaign stunt, and doesn’t back down from it one bit.
Earlier this year when we were kicking around folks to contact for our “I’m A Deer Hunter” series, Deer & Deer Hunting editor Dan Schmidt mentioned the memorable Time magazine photo of Ryan in his Capitol Hill office with a bow. Ryan wanted to show his passion for hunting and contacted Jay McAninch with the Archery Trade Association to see if he could borrow a Mathews bow for the photo op.
Considering Paul Ryan deer hunter for “I’m A Deer Hunter” was a no-brainer. But the reality of contacting a high-profile member of Congress while it was in session was a concern. Asking for time for an interview with a non-political hunting magazine might be looked upon strangely and dismissed by Ryan’s communications team, too.
But it never hurts to ask, right?
A request for an interview was made and we were told Ryan would love to talk when his schedule allowed. A few weeks later I was granted 15 minutes. Ryan was gracious, as I expected, and eager to discuss his love of the outdoors, bowhunting, how he got started and what he enjoys. When the 15 minutes ended, he said “Thanks very much” and hung up. I didn’t mind a bit.
In almost 30 years of reporting I’ve interviewed some high-profile figures. Sometimes I’ve been nervous and other times it was like talking with an old friend. I believe if Ryan’s schedule had allowed he could have talked for hours about hunting, bows and whatever else we hunters gab about. Hunting with his family? Fishing for walleyes or bass? Watching football?
I’ve always found that celebrities or notable figures enjoy talking about something other than their jobs. A few years ago a country music singer called from his tour bus rolling down the interstate for an interview and said, “Man, no one ever calls to talk with me about hunting or fishing.” I think Ryan would have done the same if he could have.
What do we know about Paul Ryan hunter?
Now that we know Ryan is on the GOP ticket, what are some things we’ve learned about him in the last few days?
He’s married and has three children. He grew up in Wisconsin and his family was in the construction business. Ryan worked in it and has some other blue-collar background, too: He worked in a Washington restaurant and also promoted Oscar Mayer “Lunchables.” He got to drive the famous Wienermobile, too, which is cool.
Ryan is a big fitness buff, leading Congressional staffers and peers in P90X workouts. He’s longtime friends with McAninch, of the Archery Trade Association, who had some kind words about Ryan’s character.
Ryan shoots a Mathews Z7 Xtreme compound and loves the thrill of bowhunting, but also enjoys firearms and is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. Before he was announced as the VP candidate, he and Romney engaged in a little skullduggery that included Ryan skirting the media by going through the woods behind his house where he played as a child. Waiting for him was a Romney staffer to drive him to the airport and, eventually, to the announcement.
Paul Ryan’s deer hunting this season most likely will be limited or possibly non-existent, depending on how November’s election turns out. Ryan said he tries to get in some hunting trips on weekends when he’s home in Wisconsin. This autumn, pounding the stump might curtail those quick hunts. Having a Secret Service team hanging around might not help, either.
“Deer strategy and habitat is just fascinating to me,” he said in our interview. “I have a whole row of books about tactics, strategies and habitat, and I read several magazines. It’s just a big hobby.
“I read about Chuck Adams, the first guy to get the Super Slam, which is pretty impressive. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to try but one of my goals is to get a grand slam of sheep with a bow. It would be very tough and very expensive. But I’d love to do some of those great western hunts for sheep and deer.”
We’ve also seen in the last few days the outpouring of opinions from the Republican and Democrat camps, from conservatives and liberals and independents, from anyone who can pound a keyboard on social media sites and personal blogs.
Ryan has been praised and pilloried, hailed and reviled. Pundits and the citizenry are starting their storms of love and vitriol. Already, during a campaign stop in Iowa, he was heckled by two women who were removed. More of that will come as the election approaches.
What else do we know about Paul Ryan deer hunting and as an outdoorsman? You’ll have to wait for his exclusive interview in the new issue of Deer & Deer Hunting, which should be arriving next week and on newsstands the first week of September. Or, check back here on DeerandDeerHunting.com later to read his responses in the “I’m A Deer Hunter” feature.
“I’m just pretty typical for a Wisconsin guy. I love hunting and fishing,” Ryan said. “Bowhunting is my passion. Studying the strategy, preparing food plots, the strategy of where a dominant buck is living or will be moving and then being in position to get a shot, that’s really exciting. Half of it is getting ready for the shot.”
Is Paul Ryan’s bowhunting and outdoors passion enough to vote for him?
It should not be the sole reason, because an intelligent decision must be made for whichever candidate you think is best. From an outdoors standpoint, however, it’s quite gratifying to see a true hunter, angler and lifelong outdoorsman on Capitol Hill.
If you want to read more about Paul Ryan hunting and his passion for bowhunting, including hunting’s roots in his family, his first deer, and how he feels it is important to balance his love for the outdoors with his fiscal responsibilities for the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, watch for the October issue of Deer & Deer Hunting.
The issue arrives in mailboxes next week and is released on newsstands Sept. 4.