Donald Trump Jr. is Executive Vice President of Development & Acquisitions of the Trump Organization and a longtime hunter with a passion for bowhunting white-tailed deer. He is a boardroom advisor on the wildly successful television show, The Celebrity Apprentice, and also is a board member of Operation Smile, which provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities for children around the globe.
Among the most recent high-profile openings Trump supervised was the grand Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen, Scotland. He is the son of famed developer and investor Donald Trump and has a brother, Eric, and sister, Ivanka. Trump is married with three children and a fourth on the way. He took some time earlier this year to visit with Deer & Deer Hunting managing editor Alan Clemons:
Thanks for taking time from your busy schedule. How did you get started hunting and involved in the outdoors?
From the time I was about 3 years old I’d spend four to six weeks with our grandfather in the Czech Republic out in the woods at his cabin. He got us started in all that. He passed away when I was young but he instilled a real and great love of the outdoors in me. When I was younger I read every book imaginable. Over in Czech Republic hunting was more of an elitist sport, but shooting airguns and spending time in woods is what got me started. I still read a lot and catch some of the outdoors television shows when I can.
When we get away for the weekend at the cabin or with friends, we’ll hop on the ATV, go fishing, and walk through the woods. Our 3-year old son loves it. When he sees me getting ready in the mornings and putting on camo, he says “Da-da, go ‘unting” because he wants to go. Along with our son, we have a daughter, a 6-month old and another baby on the way. Someone’s going to get a great gun collection one day.
What’s your average day like, or is that possible to describe?
It’s usually nonstop from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 24/7 … back in spring I was in five countries in eight days, and there are days I don’t sleep in a bed because I’m flying at night and sleeping on a plane. I fly commercial most of the time. Everyone assumes I fly private, and we do sometimes, but that’s not always the case. We also fly commercially with the kids because I want them to experience that, too.
I tie a lot of flies in the city because I can’t do any reloading since you can’t have (gun) powder in the city. I shoot competitively with some other championship rifle shooters. I’m a subscriber to Deer & Deer Hunting, Turkey & Turkey Hunting and fly fishing magazines. If I’m able to make it home before the kids go to sleep, I’ll spend time and read with them. During the week it’s tough to do that with business dinners and events.
Dry fly? Nymphs? Streamers? Any favorites?
I’m not a fly snob. When we’re with the kids we’re fishing with worms. I do some trout fishing at our cabin in the Catskills. I have a boat and love the technical and entymological sides of that. Stripers, tuna, marlin, trout, bass … I love doing it all.
How’d you get the itch for bowhunting and what do you prefer?
I’m a gear junkie. I love seeing new stuff, trying out things. I have a Mathews compound bow, another bow for shooting 80-pound draw with sleeved arrows in Africa, a Blacktail, a Black Widow, a DAS, an ACS longbow. Our grandfather started me in archery with my longbow and that evolved into the compound. When you’re younger, I guess, you want that edge. As you get older, I think you want something maybe a little difficult again, so I flipped back to traditional. But I shoot both, traditional and compound. I keep my options open and pick up whatever I feel like using.
Why do you enjoy bowhunting?
As much rifle as I do, I hunt with a bow for deer because I enjoy the challenge. In New York where we hunt, if we see a 130- or 135-class deer that’s a serious deer. It’s not like in Texas at my friend’s ranch where they see 130s and laugh. Whether I’m at work or play, I’m quite disciplined. When I shoot with my compound I can keep it in a softball at 70 yards barring unknown wind conditions. Where I hunt (in New York) I like limiting myself to 20-25 yards.
Have you ever gotten your father to wear camouflage?
(Laughs) No, I have not. John Rich got him to wear a cowboy hat on The Apprentice, though. That’s probably as close as we’ll ever get.
What’s it like working for your father? He’s known to be pretty aggressive and intense.
He is a very demanding boss. Tough but fair. He expects a lot out of us. He’s never going to subsidize my employment at the expense of his business. Me, brother, sister … he holds us to expectations and is more demanding, and that’s fine. That’s the way it should be.
You and your brother Eric were raked over the coals in spring by a hit-and-run Hollywood website about your African safari. Obviously they were merely trying to stir the pot. Everything settled down since then?
When you have people with false agendas without facts portraying things … the story they tried getting out was we were being investigated or doing something illegal. We didn’t do anything illegal. We weren’t being investigated. People said ‘you should apologize’ and I thought that was silly. Apologize for what? The King of Spain apologized and I thought that was the wrong thing. People have their opinions and I don’t begrudge them that, but when they have an agenda … they don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story. When all that came out and we were vindicated it all fell away. The truth isn’t as juicy or exciting of a story.
There definitely are some polar opposites between working with Trump International in one of the world’s biggest cities and then sitting in a quiet treestand with a bow. You seem to have a pretty good handle on balancing everything.
I haven’t spent a weekend in the city in seven years other than for the births of our children or some kind of emergency. We’re good about getting time away on the weekends with the kids and relaxing. I don’t get to do much hunting or fishing during the week. Spring is better because it’s not daylight yet and I can slip away sometimes for a quick two-hour turkey hunt, then be back in the city in time to start work. My brother and I take vacations one or two weeks a year and that’s great. We’ve been to Alaska, Argentina for wingshooting, Africa. It’s great to get away, spend time with him and enjoy doing something we love.
Hunting and fishing has kept me out of trouble some of my other friends have gotten into staying out late in clubs or doing whatever. Not that I didn’t have my share of fun times, but there were more mornings when I was waking up to go climb a treestand or going fishing.
When Hawke Optics said that I was a new face or spokesman for hunting, I took that as a big honor. Most people assume I’m a New York kid who hunts, but anyone who spends time with me knows I hold my own and am passionate.
Name three cool things about New York City.
If you’re going to live in a big city there’s probably nowhere else like it in the world. It’s just incredible, the diversity and there’s always something going on. Picking three is tough, but here goes:
Food – Anywhere you go you can find something amazing, and not ridiculously expensive. The best of the best from around the world ends up here.
Museum of Natural History – We love taking our kids there because there are just such great exhibits. It’s a fun trip, and an especially good way to spend a rainy day.
Central Park – When you have a city as busy as New York … it’s a unique place within a huge city. I’ve been to a lot of big cities and this one is unique. From my father’s office I see Central Park every day.
That chunk of land in the middle of Manhattan could command a good bit of money. Think any part of Central Park ever will be developed?
It’ll never happen. That is sacred ground. No one will ever get to do anything there, and no one ever should.