Ep 26 – Getting Filthy Rich One Antler at a Time with Outdoor Business Mogul Ben “ShedCrazy” Dettamanti



Summary

Living Country in the City kicks back with fitness icon and outdoor business mogul, Ben “ShedCrazy” Dettamanti to talk about his first experience at Total Archery Challenge, turning shed hunting from a hobby to a full blown career, meeting hunting industry “celebrities”, how to find good shed spots, outrunning Cam Hanes, the physical aspects of shed hunting and memorializing your hunts through video and journaling.

Check out my recap video from my weekend at Total Archery Challenge – Snowbird at livingcountryinthecity.com/snowbird17.

Visit HiketoHuntChallenge.com and make a donation to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers on behalf of me and, if you send me your receipts, I’ll pledge to hike one (1) mile for every $5 donated. The largest single donation, I will match up to $100 with lbs in my pack and live stream myself, fully weighted, hiking up to Griffith Observatory. Additionally, you can win extra entries to my 2K Follower Giveaway. See the giveaway page for more information.

Enter the 2K Follower Giveaway to win gear from Elk101.comMTN OPS, Bowhunter Brotherhood, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and more by visiting livingcountryinthecity.com/2k.

Help support Living Country in the City by visiting livingcountryinthecity.com/amazon to do your Amazon shopping or by visiting livingcountryinthecity.com/blackovis when purchasing hunting gear.

Websites Mentioned

Episode Partner

Transcription

Ben

There’s a guy parked in our town that was buying antlers and so I took him down and I remember showing him that pile of antlers and sold it at like $550. And I was like holy cow that’s a lot of money.

I had my 5k time that’s through the roof now and I think I’m running like a two and a half hour 5k so I told him I’ll step aside, you send me some Under Armour swag and I’ll let you win your own race.

I love it. There are very few things I would rather do than go around looking for shed antler.

That’s the coolest thing about sheds. You can pick up a giant set of sheds and just keep walking and look for another one. The hunt’s not over.

You should just go hit up Joe Rogan and see if he’ll shoot with you. I’m sure he could teach you a thing or two.

Plus, an animal doesn’t have to die to get dog chews so even all the yuppies that are opposed to killing can sleep good at night.

In a typical day of shed hunting, I’ve had several days over 15 miles hikes this year. I’ll break 20 a handful of times during the year. I think my best day this year, I had 18 elk sheds on my pack, at one time. You’re well over 100 lbs.

Hey, this is Ben Dettamanti aka ShedCrazy and you’re listening to Living Country in the City episode 26.

Living Country in the City

Y’all ready for your dose of flyover state spirit, straight from the concrete jungle, well put down your latte and put on your boots. It’s time for Living Country in the City.

Hey y’all, welcome to episode 26 of Living Country in the City. Living Country in the City’s brought to you by Bowhunter Brotherhood. A brotherhood can be formed of many different types of people in many different ways, but the one thing they all have in common is support, respect, and a desire to bring out the best in each other. This is what Bowhunter Brotherhood represents. Check out all the latest videos and blog entries on the Bowhunter Brotherhood website and get 10% off all purchases in the Bowhunter Brotherhood store by visiting livingcountryinthecity.com/partners.

Now, a couple quick items before we get started. Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is running the Hike to Hunt Challenge in an effort to raise more funds for conservation. And I wanna get y’all involved over and above just the basic membership. So, what I’m doing is, you head on over to hiketohuntchallenge.com and donate on behalf of me, Samuel Ayres, Living Country in the City and then e-mail your receipt to info@livingcountryinthecity.com. I pledge to walk one mile for every $5 donated. Additionally, I’ll match the largest single donation made on behalf of me up to $100 with pounds in my pack and I’ll livestream myself hiking up to Griffith Observatory. Now there’s a possibility that if the number is way over that $100 mark, I’ll take on something a little bit more crazy or do something special, but I haven’t quite decided on that yet. So, head on over to hiketohuntchallenge.com and donate any amount on behalf of me. Just remember that the more you donate, the more you get to completely make me suffer hiking up that hill.

Now, on top of that, everyone who’s participating in my 2k follower giveaway on Instagram, which, incidentally, I’ve added some awesome new stuff. Y’all can get bonus entries by e-mailing me your donation receipts. The first $10 donated on my behalf for the Hike to Hunt Challenge will get you one bonus entry while every additional $5 donated will get you another bonus entry on top. Whoever makes the largest single donation in addition to the bonus entries they’ve already accumulated as well as forcing me to carry the heavy pack up the trail, that donor will receive 10 additional bonus entries.

So, alright. Today, I’m on the line with Ben Dettamanti, better known as ShedCrazy on Instagram. Now, I finally got to meet Ben at the Total Archery Challenge in Snowbird. He’s a really solid guy. Now, y’all may only know him as a bit of a goofball with all his posts on Instagram, kind of a wise-guy. Well, what you may not realize is that Ben is a really wise guy. He’s taken what most people consider to be a fun outdoor hobby, shed collecting, and really turned it into a career that supports a lifestyle of hunting and spending time in the outdoors. And, I know myself, I can’t wait to get the inside scoop.

Ben, thank you so much for joining me on the show.

Ben

Happy to be here.

Living Country in the City

So, one thing I always like to start with. Why don’t you just kind of give the audience a little introduction about yourself and your history with the outdoors and hunting.

Ben

Well, I was born and raised in kind of the hub of the world of the Western hunt. I was born and raised in Southern Utah right in the heart of big mule deer country. As long as I can remember, my favorite thing to do was go out and hunt deer with my dad. I’ve been hunting since I could walk, since I could get in the truck and go. It’s been an obsession that’s taken over every other thing that I should’ve been doing my whole life. It’s the reason I quit football, it’s the reason I probably should have gotten married sooner, and a lot of things. I couldn’t quit hunting and I’ll never quit hunting. I’ve been at this for as long as I can remember.

Living Country in the City

It’s funny. It’s one of those things where – People have been talking to me lately because this is all that I can talk about anymore, this is all I ever think about. My social life has pretty much become completely non-existent. But, people are like well, what happens with all this hunting stuff – somebody actually said this to me today, what happens with all this hunting stuff, when you meet that girl that really turns your head, or how you’re gonna work all that out. I’m like, well, one of two things is gonna happen. We’re either gonna meet because we both happen to be running on the same trail at about five in the morning or the girl that turns my head is gonna be the one that is probably just as obsessed with hunting as I am. Otherwise, the only girl that’s gonna be turning my head is probably going to be a cow elk.

Ben

That’s exactly right. With my wife, that’s kind of the way it was. I kind of faked her out a little bit because I thought she was really hot. I didn’t really let her know how obsessed with it I was until I kind of already had her on the hook. And she’s been good; she goes along with it. She likes the hunt, she likes to shoot her bow, but she’s nowhere near as die-hard as I am. And for me, that’s kind of a good fit, because I like to hunt alone. I like to go and know that stuff’s taken care of at home. And she’s awesome, she handles that so well.

Living Country in the City

It’s cool that you’re with someone who supports what you love to do and you can go enjoy that with her and talk with her about it. But then she’s also willing to let you do your thing and have your time doing something you’re passionate about. You’re a lucky man.

Ben

Yeah, for sure. My wife’s a teacher so she brings in a pretty paycheck for us so I can do what I want. All the guys that she works with think ‘I married the wrong girl’. I have no idea how but I lucked out big time.

Living Country in the City

Speaking of shooting a bow, I got to meet you this weekend at Total Archery Challenge. It was good to see you out there.

Ben

You too. It was cool to finally run into you in person.

Living Country in the City

What did you think - Have you done any of these archery challenges before? Whether it’s Alpha Bowhunting, Total Archery Challenge, any IBO stuff, have you ever done these before?

Ben

None of it. I’m probably like the world’s worst actual archer. I’ve never been to a 3D shoot. I’ve shot like a few target ranges that have some 3D targets set up. I’ve never done any big shoots before so. I was actually a little bit like apprehensive about it but I figured if I smashed an arrow I can play it off, crack some jokes and stuff, pretend I’m playing around. But, I was a little nervous. Especially because they put me in a group with the guy from Hoyt, the guy from MTN OPS, the Hush guys. So I was like, jeez, way out of my league here. But I didn’t do too bad.

Living Country in the City

That was one thing. At least the guys I was shooting with were super – They’re with their families. Some guys I ran into, they had heard the podcast and so we started talking and I ended up shooting with them. But they were there with their kids so honestly, I was shaking arrows left and right and I didn’t feel – You know, these guys could shoot, but I was there with their kids too and I didn’t feel self-conscious about it. It made me feel a lot better, except for the times I got outshot by a 16-year-old. You know, it happens. I couldn’t imagine going out with the who’s-who of bowhunting and doing that.

Ben

Luckily they’re such down-to-earth, they’re mellow guys. They helped me a lot, especially Jeremiah that owns Wilder Archery. He talked me through some stuff with my form, gave me a little bit of advice and stuff. And then Jeremy, the guys from Hoyt, same story. I was shooting significantly better at the end of the day just from that little bit of advice. So that’s gonna be rad.

Living Country in the City

See, that’s the flipside of that coin. You’re a lot more self-conscious, you’re kind of comparing yourself to some guys that are way up there, but then you also have the benefit of all that experience. You couldn’t imagine better guys to sit and give you pointers and stuff like that.

Ben

Oh, yeah, 100%

Living Country in the City

That’s something I definitely miss out here sometimes. The range I go out to, it’s an outdoor range. I go there early in the mornings, it’s not like a manned thing. There’s no pro shop guys there. It’s kind of me figuring out what I can do and I kind of – I don’t wanna say I taught myself to shoot, but to some extent I did, and I’ve learned stuff, picked stuff up from people here and there, but I really need to find a good shooting mentor. And I need to take some time and really dedicate it to going to a place where there’s people that know what they’re doing, that can be like ‘Oh, come on. Your string’s not touching your nose’ or ‘You’re cranking your head down’, whatever that may be.

Ben

For sure. Well, I know some guys out there in California, you should just go hit up Joe Rogan and see if he’ll shoot with you. I’m sure he could teach you a thing or two... Probably be down to go shooting.

Living Country in the City

All us LA guys, we’re buddies. I’ll just roll up, knock on Joe Rogen’s gate.

Ben

Yeah, just go see if he wants to shoot or something. He’d probably be cool about it.

Living Country in the City

You know what? I was super bummed, because he’s doing his tour right now and his LA shows were just before Snowbird. Just a week or two before and I was looking and I was just ‘Awesome, I’m gonna get some tickets’. And I got distracted for like a week, and I didn’t remember until just before the show. And both of ‘em in LA were completely sold out and I was super bummed. It was probably better, because I’m not sure I would have been able to resist the temptation in the middle of one of his sets, just stand up and be like “I’m a bowhunter!”

Ben

We have something in common, nameless person.

Living Country in the City

Pay attention to me, please.

Ben

Acknowledge me, acknowledge me. That’s funny, man. It’s fun when you get to like, meet some of these famous whatever quote-unquote social media hunter guys. It’s funny, people kind of lose it around them. I’ve seen it with – Hanging around with some of the Hush Guys especially, you’ll see people – They’ll see Eric and they’ll just kind of come unglued and it’s kind of hilarious.

Living Country in the City

That’s funny. I will say, one of the exciting moments for me this weekend was getting to meet Cam. I don’t get star struck a lot. And I was very proud of myself though, that I managed to hold it together and not act like a total idiot when I got to meet him. I’ll admit. I got a chance to meet Brian, gritty bowman Brian before. I met him last time I was in Utah. I wasn’t quite so smooth, because I was kind of surprised when I met him. We were at the Sitka Sub Alpine launch event with BlackOvis and all of them. There was a taco truck there and I roll in to line, to get my second helping of tacos. And all of a sudden – I knew Brian was there, they were one of the hosts of the event and he turned around and he’s like “Hey, how you doing?” And I just – I kind of have this mental freeze moment and then I just look at him and I’m like “Uhhh, I’m a big fan.”

Ben

That’s hilarious.

Living Country in the City

We talked for a minute and both him and Aaron were like super great. They’re the nicest dudes in the world. They’re super gracious and kind of let me be a fanboy for a moment. I got to run into him again at Snowbird and sit down and talk with him for a minute and we got to talk about podcasting. And then – Just how it’s a passion and getting to learn from these people. It was really good. I loved Snowbird so much because everyone was together. A lot of the friends I’ve kind of made in my past trips out and. Man, everybody was there. It was good to see everyone, good to meet everyone, and say hello. I really enjoyed that. It was probably one of the best weekends I’ve had in gosh, ever.

Ben

Pretty sure, man, 100%. Everybody’s just kind of hanging out on the bridge, kind of a small space. You know if you come to the expos and stuff, they’re so crazy and will and there’s all this. So it’s just kind of like a friendlier place, you rub shoulders and talk to some people. I had a lot of fun; I wish I could have stayed the whole time. I only shot Friday, but was a good time.

Living Country in the City

You weren’t there for the trail run on Saturday morning. I know you would’ve smoked us all.

Ben

Well, I have my 5k time that’s through the roof right now. I think I’m running like a two and a half hour 5k so it would have been over.

Living Country in the City

Well, you can’t really embarrass Cam at his own trail run – 5k. That’s just.

Ben

Well, you know, he messaged me, and asked me to step aside and I was more than happy to do it. You know, I told him, I’ll step aside, you send me some Under Armor swag and I’ll let you win your own race. So, I’ll assume you won.

Living Country in the City

It’s just really gracious of you. You kind of gotta let people keep up appearances, is really what it is.

Ben

They get so embarrassed when they see a fat dude outrunning them. That’s part of it.

Living Country in the City

Speaking of all of this, I’ve been following your fitness tips on Instagram. Especially, I really like the rounding down calories. That’s my absolute favorite. I had like four meals today and I’ve only taken in probably about 100 calories, I think. Total.

Ben

That’s awesome. That sounds like a pretty typical day to me.

Living Country in the City

I was really good. I was thinking about going to get one of those In-N-Out protein shakes, but you know, I don’t know. I don’t know if I can get that jacked.

Ben

If you get the strawberry, that’s a fruit, and fruits are the same as vegetables, so it’s just healthy.

Living Country in the City

Good to know.

Ben

You can’t go wrong.

Living Country in the City

Ladies and gentlemen, tips from the fitness expert here, ShedCrazy Ben.

Ben

I’m in the middle of a two-year bulking phase and it’s really paying off. I’ve been following all these tips by myself for three years. Every time people see me, they just kind of ask me what are you doing, how do you keep up that look? It’s what I do, you know.

Living Country in the City

Anyway. So, really, other than being kind of known for your strict fitness regimen, and kind of being this fitness icon in the hunting industry, you are on Instagram, of course known as ShedCrazy. For a very good reason. You’re super well-known for being a shed hunter, a very successful shed hunter.

Ben

Yeah. I love to shed hunt. It’s something I’ve been crazy about. It started to dominate every part of my life over the last about five years. I love it. There’s very few things I would rather do than go out and look for shed antler.

Living Country in the City

We were talking earlier and I like to kind of play devil’s advocate here and ask the dumb questions. Really, it’s mostly because I honestly don’t know and I’m just legit asking these dumb questions. But shed hunting is honestly – it’s just something, especially in LA that’s not something we get to do. You know like, I take my vacation time, I’d get out. And that’s reserved for the typical hunting season. Unless I just happen to be out somewhere, there’s not a lot of shed hunting around here. I like to do what I call urban shed hunting, which is you walk around and if you see a stick that kind of looks like an antler, you pick it up, you pose with it, and then maybe Photoshop something over it later. That’s what I call my urban shed hunting. But this whole shed hunting thing – Like, what do you do? Do you kind of just go out and walk around and be like ‘I hope I see an antler’. How do you find a good shed spot?

Ben

Yeah, there’s a lot of research and science that goes into it. It does kind of seem like just this weird thing, just picking up wildflowers or something. But, we spend a lot of time on Google Earth, looking at elevations, looking for specific types of winter feed. Looking at migration routes and patterns for like big herds of deer and elk. And we also spend a lot of time out looking for shed spots. Scouting, finding the animals, keeping track of specific animals and then going in and looking for their shed once they drop. It’s something that a lot of people don’t really understand. And I’m okay with that. I’ve got a ton of competition. A lot of people are like ‘what, why?’, but it’s really fun. To me, it’s kind of my form of trophy hunting. Don’t get me wrong, I trophy hunt. I go in, I wanna kill the biggest deer, I wanna kill the biggest elk. I’m all about scoring stuff and knowing what it scores, but. The coolest thing about shed hunting is that you can pick up a giant set of sheds and just keep walking and look for another one. The hunt’s not over. You can be all about antlers and not have an ethical question about whether or not you’re hunting for your own reasons. You just go out and find as many as you want, keep all the big stuff and look for the giants. It’s kind of a – I don’t know, there’s a lot of reasons that I love to do it.

Living Country in the City

Well, you know, there’s definitely a -. You don’t have to worry about the wind changing and spooking an antler. You don’t have to take off your boots and stalk up very silently on that mule deer antler.

Ben

No. It does take a lot of that out. You don’t have to worry if you smell bad. But there’s a lot of methods of hunting. You can’t hunt out of a tree stand, that’s totally out of the question. It doesn’t work that well, I’ve tried it. They’re no good. You have to hone your skills for sure.

Living Country in the City

I don’t get it, man. I got my tree stand set up over water, where are the sheds?

Ben

Haven’t found one yet. Yeah, it definitely has a lot of technique to it, though. There’s a learning curve, for sure, to be successful at it.

Living Country in the City

So, I mean, how far do you travel – Like, you’re in Utah. How far do you travel to go hunt down these sheds?

Ben

I drive six hours regularly just to go to better shed areas, premium elk units and out of state, you know, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico. Just to up the amount and the quality of sheds that you find. My ma always says it’s better to drive six hours than to walk six hours without finding one. So, I don’t mind going far. In a typical day of shed hunting, you know, I’ve had several days over 15 miles hikes this year. I’ll break 20 a handful of times during the year. A good portion of that will have 30 or 40 lbs of elk antlers on my back.

Living Country in the City

That’s the other thing. I think people don’t realize – I didn’t realize at first is. You know, you think like, it’s shed hunting. You know, you’re kind of walking around and picking what you find, and you’ve got maybe an armful of stuff and it’s not a physically demanding thing. It’s nothing like packing out an animal or anything like that, but you’re rolling out with a serious amount of weight.

Ben

Yeah, on the good days, that’s 100% what we aim for. It’s to have a large quantity of big sheds. And I love elk sheds more than anything. If you have a good day hunting elk sheds, I think my best day this year, I had 18 elk sheds on my pack, at one time. You’re well over 100 lbs on a pack like that. So probably about 110 – 120 lbs. And I had 18 plus miles hike that day, a lot of it with that amount of weight on it so it’s way physically taxing. It’s hard on your knees, and if you’re not in hiking shape, you’ll end up having to leave antlers behind, which is just like leaving money on the ground.

Living Country in the City

Now, speaking of that, you do this for a living, right?

Ben

Yeah, that’s my sole target now.

Living Country in the City

How did that even come about? Once again, from a layman’s perspective, it’s – You know, for me, I’d be out shed hunting thinking like, oh cool, I can have an awesome thing that I can put on, you know, hang up somewhere like a decoration or something kind of cool to have for a while. How did you go from that to turning it into a full-time gig?

Ben

Well, I started out like that for sure. I got into it, like I said, really hardcore maybe six or seven years. And I was just picking up the antlers around the town I lived in because I thought they were cool. And my brother-in-laws were really into it and I kind of wanted to go with them. And then the end of the year came, and I had a decent pile of antlers. I made some elk trips that year, and I had a little pile of antlers. There’s a guy parked in our town that was buying antlers and so I took him down and I remember showing him that pile of antlers and sold it at like $550. And I was like holy cow that’s a lot of money. Right then, the wheels started turning in my head. Now I’ll see if I can get more and more and make more and more money. I think the next year after that, I made a couple thousand dollars on elk sheds. I realized you gotta go after the elk sheds if you wanna make money. Since I started selling some decent piles, making decent side money and paying for my fuel and stuff, I’ve always just wanted to try it and just see if you could actually pick up enough money to pay for it, make a decent income off of antler. So this year, it’s been a year that, by far, I’ve picked up the most ever. I think I’ve picked up about 150 elk antlers this year. Somewhere around 100, 200 deer antler. I don’t count the deer, really. I think I’ve probably, so far, picked up probably 10 to 15 thousand dollars of it.

Living Country in the City

This is obviously seasonal work, generally, right?

Ben

It is, for the most part. Antlers become worth less as they fade, the color fades in the sun. So you wanna get as many of the brown antlers as you can. Right at peak time, right when they’re fresh drops so they’re worth the most money and they weigh the most. And then pretty much due to summer, I quit. Because it’s so hot. The places where I shed hunt become brutally hot. It’s 110 degrees right now. This is kind of not worth trying to do anything in that kind of heat. And I’ll go back to it throughout the fall and then the months of November, December, January I’ll hit it really hard.

Living Country in the City

Now, you kind of mentioned you want ‘em when they’re fresh dropped, brown, they haven’t been bleached out by the sun. What else kind of determines its worth. Is it a weight thing, is it whether you have a matched set? Assuming all that kind of stuff goes into it.

Ben

Yeah, it can all played into it a little bit. Color is the main thing. It’s all done by weight. When you sell your piles to an antler buyer, he’s gonna go through it and separate it, typically into three grades. Brown, which is fresh, not faded, no cracks.  Hard white, which might have a few little cracks, but are in pretty good shape. And then chalk, which has cracks and maybe like flaky from the sun. And then they’ll just weigh each pile individually and give you a certain price per pound for each grade. That’s kind of how they buy antler. There’s a different price for deer and elk. Elk right now is worth quite a bit more than deer per pound. So that makes it the most lucrative to try to go after.

Living Country in the City

So it’s just the straight poundage then, once it’s separated out by quality. You don’t get necessarily like a bonus if you get the matching set or anything like that?

Ben

Unless it’s like really trophy class stuff, you don’t. Like a mule deer’s singles is about 85 to 90 inches are worth more money. And honestly a set in that 190-inch plus range could be worth more money. Elk, typically anything over 370 – 380 of a matching set. And the singles are worth a little bit more.

Living Country in the City

What – You know, people are coming out buying this. What do they do with this? I’ve gone to the pet store and seen chew toys that are made from deer antler. That’s really – What do the sheds get used for actually?

Ben

A lot of it do go to those dog chews. You go look on Amazon, there’s piles of sellers, eBay, making elk antler dog chews. People like ‘em because they’re free range. Plus, an animal doesn’t have to die to get dog chews so even all the yuppies that are opposed to killing can sleep good at night knowing that no animals were harmed in the making of their dog chews. Also, a lot of them that I saw actually work with a buyer – I’m partnered with a buyer and I buy antlers as well. And we work with an exporter. They go in a 40-foot shipping container straight to China. And over in China, they grind them and the make a supplement out of them, like a vitamin, and take ‘em as medicine.

Living Country in the City

Some sort of aphrodisiac or male enhancement?

Ben

I’ve heard that. That’s the rumor. They must make a lot of it in China, because they buy that stuff by the container load. I don’t know.

Living Country in the City

I don’t even wanna know, man.

Ben

Yeah, just let them do the same as long as they’re paying us for antlers.

Living Country in the City

What if – just someone was like, I kind of wanna get into shed hunting, maybe just as a hobby, just to check it out. What would you recommend for somebody that wanted to maybe try and explore and find their first sheds this year? Without giving away all your industry secrets.

Ben

The first thing I would tell people is have realistic expectations. Because Instagram, social media, they blow your expectations out of the water and you’ll think ‘oh wow, everybody must be finding lots of sheds, must be easy’. And you get so frustrated and quit. Because I’ve had so many people message me saying ‘I wanna get into shed hunting’ and then they get so frustrated when they can’t find them. But I wish I had a dollar for every day I’ve hiked and not found an antler. Because: hundreds of days, literally. Over the last five or seven years. But if you stick it out, you can find them. But the main thing you wanna look out for is just wintering habitat. The best thing to do is go early in the winter, find out where the animals are staying, where they’re feeding on, what elevation they’re at. And then just give them their space. Let them feed. They’re really vulnerable that time of the year, so don’t go push them around. Wait til they move out of the area and then kind of like go hike those wintering areas. You can just pick a ridge. I like to zig-zag up and down a ridge. And make sure you’re making a 20-yard pass back and forth. And another thing that’s really underutilized in shed hunting is glassing, to just sit down where you can see an open face where the bulls have been wintering and the deer have been wintering. Then use your binoculars in a spot and just take it apart. I glass antlers all the time. You find them in the binoculars, it’s so much easier.

Living Country in the City

I can imagine that takes a bit of a trained eye, though. To recognize something as an antler, not a piece of wood or a stick or who knows, whatever. Especially if it’s buried in snow or something like that.

Ben

Oh yeah, it definitely does. It’ll take getting used to. Even now, you know, having done it for years, it’s still – I still miss ‘em. I still scan the hillside, it’ll be sitting wide in the open but I’ll still miss ‘em. But then a couple of times, they’ll be there in the wide open, white antler just shining bright as day right when you pull up your binoculars. And then you get over to where it was and it might be buried from that perspective, so you see stuff you would never have seen otherwise. And even if you glass a hillside and don’t see anything, still go hike it out, because there’s stuff that you would never have been able to glass. I think you just get like, a more thorough approach to covering the whole area like that.

Living Country in the City

One that note, let’s hear a quick note from one of my partners.

Partner:

Alright, y’all, I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a huge geek when it comes to games. Well, let’s face it, a lot of other things too. However, when it comes to nerdy card and board games, I really can’t get enough. So when I found out there was a card game out there combining two of my passions, hunting and nerdy adventure games, I really had to pick it up. The game is called Gutpile and the goal is to build the ultimate Alaskan hunt. You do so by collecting several cards, including animals such as Grizzly bear and moose, hunting locations like Yonder Mountain and Nunya Creek, as well as weaponry, gear, and transportation. But make sure you’ve got tags or donuts handy, because you never know when an Alaskan state trooper will drop in unannounced. It’s a great game and a ton of fun for hunters who are inspired to share stories about their past hunts, as well as non-hunters who can be brought into discussions about hunting in a very non-threatening way. If you’d like to learn more, check out my podcast with the guys at Gutpile Games by visiting livingcountryinthecity.com/22 and get $5 off your order from Gutpile Games by visiting our partners page at livingcountryinthecity.com/partners.

Living Country in the City

Well, so we’ve talked about antlers once they’re off the animal. What about antlers once they’re – while they’re still on the animal? What are you looking forward to as far as hunting season this year?

Ben

I have huge plans. One of the things I probably underestimated about quitting my job to shed hunt was that I would have to find other ways to create income. So, one of those ways that I found was to like, content creation - YouTube, Instagram and so I’m always looking for stuff to film. So I’m pretty much packed. My hunting season this year. Just so I have stuff to make blogs about, basically. The first thing I’m going to do is an over the counter elk hunt in Utah, it’s an archery tag. It has a crazy low success rate. It’s a way difficult hunt. Tons of [unintelligible]. But I’m gonna go try to give her heck on that. I’ve had that tag before and had some decent success on it. I’m gonna try that one and I have a motherload of deer tag in Utah in a fairly good unit. And then. Hopefully got a couple tags in Idaho, over the counter tags. I’m looking at Arizona, late archery. Deer tag. Then the Arizona over the counter elk tag. I call that over the counter elk tag. And then, we’ll see. I’m gonna add hopefully a wolf hunt in Montana. Maybe another bear hunt. I wanna see what I can squeeze in. [Unintelligible] looking forward to putting out a ton of videos.

Living Country in the City

That sounds exciting, man. I wish I could score that much time out in the field. It’s definitely one of the benefits of the seasonal shed hunting, because you get a little bit more time out for hunting season, that’s for sure.

Ben

Oh yeah, 100%. This’ll be the most I’ve ever hunted. I’m usually in the same boat as everybody else so I’m trying to balance and juggle my vacation time with what I wanna hunt. The most I’ve ever hunted in the past has been three weeks out of the whole hunting season, so I’m really excited to go after it and go full-time hunting and hopefully make some really good content.

Living Country in the City

Very cool. So, what would you say your dream hunt is. The one, you know, no limits, could go anywhere, any animal, any weapon. What would it be for you?

Ben

That’s a tough one. I have this thing in my head. I wanna kill a 400-inch elk so bad. I had a premium tag in Utah a few years ago and I had an opportunity. Like, a 390 bull. Never could get it down, that giant bull. But I just, I want that next level giant bull elk. I killed a 355 bull a few years ago, I just want that sweet, giant bull. So I think if I could have any tag, I would probably choose one of these really premium Utah elk tags. But as far as like, crazy exotics and stuff, I don’t get into too much of that, to hunt out of the country. I really like western big game, but I’d love to hunt such big horn.

Living Country in the City

That’s one thing that I – I had – When I first started getting interested, I had zero interest in any sort of rams or goat or sheep or anything. And then all of a sudden, just watching all these dang hunting shows and seeing all the Instagram posts, I’m like oh, these are really cool animals. Looks like just a crazy, like, challenging hunt. Aww, man, I guess I’m putting for points for more animals now.

Ben

Yeah. And start building ‘em now, you know, like when you’re getting into it. It’s gonna be a long road to get those premium tags drawn and you gotta make sure you got your points built. It’s a long time to get a bighorn tag. Unless – I don’t know. I’m trying to decide if it’ll be a better idea to draw a bighorn tag or trying to build a business and get rich so I could buy one. I think we’re probably both take about the same amount of time.

Living Country in the City

Definitely. The one nice thing about building a business and getting rich though is. It definitely helps out with all other aspects of things as well.

Ben

Yeah. It gets a lot more perks than just getting bonus points.

Living Country in the City

I’ve been looking at – Of course I’m blanking on the name of ‘em. New Mexico -

Ben

Ibex

Living Country in the City

No, not the ibex. No, sorry, the Barbary sheep. That’s – Something about that. I saw a picture of that thing, and I just fell in love with it. I wanna get one of those so bad and do like at least a full front mount. Just because they’ve got like, those crazy beards and it’s like a mane.

Ben

Yeah. They’re really cool. They call ‘em aoudad or something too, don’t they?

Living Country in the City

Is that -? Maybe that’s another name.

Ben

Are they the same thing?

Living Country in the City

I have no idea. I’m gonna Google search that to find out. But yeah. It’s just things I never thought I’d have an interest in. And then now suddenly I’m obsessed with. But, I still just – Elk still holds this place in my mind that is just on this pedestal. This holy pedestal right now. There’s just something magical about that to me. Versus – I would really love to take a bear, going after a wolf would be super badass. I mean, I’m doing Idaho this year, so I’m taking – I’m gonna take up a bear and a wolf tag just because I’m going to Idaho and I figure if I run into one I might as well be able to shoot it. But, it’s cool. I’d look forward to it, I’d be super stoked. But it doesn’t hold that same awe to me, that complete and utter awe that an elk does. And I can’t explain it, but everyone seems to know exactly what I’m talking about. You know?

Ben

I did, 100%. I’ve always been an elk guy. I drew a crazy premium tag when I was 15 years old, and killed a really good bull. Just thought, just got hooked ever since. All I thought about was good elk tag, we’re chasing these public land elk. But, that’s awesome that you have that passion, because there’s so many over the counter opportunities available. Been a lot easier to get a tag for it. There’s tons of chances to chase bulls. Big bulls are my passion for sure, but the little bulls screaming and coming into calls, they get your blood pumping too. Elk just does it for me, man. I know exactly what you’re talking about.

Living Country in the City

Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to get as big of a bull as humanly possible. But, you know, this is my first year going out. I’m trying to have realistic expectations. But, I’m like the first thing that comes in, if it’s got anything sticking out above its head. I’m super stoked on that. That’s a trophy animal to me. I’ll still probably wet myself a little bit when I see my first one, but – I dream about this September when I get to go out there and actually hear it. I’m a kid from Southern California. I saw my first moose in person just this last weekend at Total Archery Challenge. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen pictures, whatever. I’ve never seen a moose in person. I’m like sitting there and it occurred to me, like, oh that’s cool, it’s a moose. Then it occurred to me, this was the first time I’ve ever had that experience. It was cool, it was exciting. But a lot of people, I feel that, don’t get that. You know, by this age, everyone’s kind of had that experience. There’s all us city folk who’ve just never been around it. If you can’t tell, I’m a little bit excited.

Ben

Oh, no, you should be. And there’s so many more action when you actually get out in the hills, spending more time behind a bow or whatever, however you choose to hunt. I remember so many firsts. I remember the first buck mule I saw when I had a gun in my hands and could actually shoot it. I remember that like it was yesterday and it completely and it was a giant deer and I botched it, I didn’t even get a shot off. I was so unraveled by that whole situation. I remember the first deer I ever shot at and missed. You’ll have so many more of those crazy firsts, and I would encourage you to write them down. And the podcast is awesome so it’s another record that you’ll have. So, it’s nice to look back on all those moments you have on the hill. For me, though, those are the biggest moments. I have family moments and stuff, but they have a different significance. As far as who I am as a person, those times in the hills do more to define me than anything else you could ever do in your life. And maybe it’s just because I put so much importance on it personally, but like, remember that stuff and write it down so you can think about it. That stuff is what, I don’t know, stands the test of time. I still know stories about my grandpa when he was a kid hunting, my dad. It’s a special thing. There’s a reason people get so reverent, I guess, about it. Reflective. Even people who are normally clowns, like myself. That’s one of the few things that can ground me and put me in a place that I’m 100% focused and reverent. It’s a cool thing, man. You’re gonna experience that, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Living Country in the City

Definitely. And that’s one thing - I’ve always been bad, never been the guy who journals or anything like that. I just – I don’t know. I’ll do it for a week and I won’t be able to keep it up. But I wanted to make sure – I bought a nice little small compact notebook that – it’s a little leather-bound thing that I can write it. And I feel like it will be a nice keepsake for me. Rather than just some spiral notebook that pages are gonna get torn out or whatever. I wanna make sure I take that with me. Each night I sit and kind of write about the day, what happened. If nothing else, too, it’ll help me with the podcast. It’ll help me with – You know, I’m taking a couple GoPro’s out. I don’t expect to make a full draw film tour style production of it, but enough to where I can throw up some videos and have those memories and get to relive it. It’s just like I – The video I took at Total Archery Challenge. It’s not great video by any stretch. It’s not epic video of me making these great shots, it’s just – A couple clips of me talking with people, walking through, going up the tram. And just flinging a couple arrows. But I watch that thing probably twice a day for the past, you know, since – Because it takes you back. You remember more than the video. You have that moment. I definitely wanna make sure that I can just document as much as possible. I was thinking about actually depending on where I end up camping versus where I end up camping and how I can do it, and just how much weight I end up packing in. I was thinking about taking one of my headsets and my recorder with me. And each night, sitting down and recording it and kind of clipping that together and turning that into a podcast or just something to remember. We’ll see. There’s so many unknowns.

Ben

That’s a good idea.

Living Country in the City

I think that would be a fun way. Who knows? If I do get some really great footage that I really enjoy, I can use that as a voiceover for it. You know, record something after the fact.

Ben

Yeah, you’ll definitely never regret doing that kind of stuff. I just use, take my iPhone with me. I do voice notes, I have a voice recorder on there. And you can edit it later for something if you wanna use it for something. Use it to make a plot, if you end up making a video. That’s been one of my favorite things about doing YouTube is having that video to look back on. Just for me, even on shed hunts. I’ve watched some bear hunts I’ve gone on in Canada, I’ve watched that video probably 20 times. It’s so cool to relive that experience and be able to hear it happen and see it happen. Instead of just going over it in your mind.

Living Country in the City

So, now speaking of this video, all the video. Where can people find you online? Where can they follow, kind of find this content that you’ve been putting out?

Ben

My Instagram is ShedCrazy like you said earlier. And I’m using it when I post a new YouTube episode. I’ll post something on Instagram on it and put the link in the bio. My YouTube channel is just ShedCrazy as well. I’m doing pretty much weekly videos on there right now. If hunting season comes around I might try to up it to two a week, just depending on where I’m at, what I’m doing, how much time I have to edit. But, I’m gonna be doing some big things on there this fall. I’m hoping to do possibly a semi-live hunt. I’ll do a video after a day or a night of hunting. That’s kind of where I’m putting the focus in my work right now.

Living Country in the City

That’s so great. And you guys also have a podcast you mentioned.

Ben

Yeah, we do. It’s called the Crazy Antler Podcast. Me and my buddy Josh Corbin who is antlertrader on Instagram. We live in the same town, and we thought we should just do a shed hunting podcast. And that’s kind of how we started out. Then it’s kind of turned into like, just kind of all things hunting. And then a little – I don’t know. We’re both full-time shed hunters. So, we talk a lot about the ins and outs of how to not have a job if you don’t wanna have a job. And how to do what you love instead of working for somebody else. Do what you wanna do. It’s been fun, got some good guests on. We’re gonna keep dropping it there. You can find it on iTunes or PodBean or anywhere.

Living Country in the City

I’ll definitely make sure to post the link there on our show notes page. That’s gonna be livingcountryinthecity.com/26. Yeah, I’ll post up all the links to your social pages, the YouTube, the Crazy Antler podcast. So yeah, before we end this. One of the things I always like to end on is just - this podcast is directed at new hunters, or people just, that kind of feel interested in getting into the outdoors, but maybe intimidated or folks like me who are kind of just in the city and kind of think like, I don’t know. There’s a lot of work to get into this. What advice would you have for people like that, people getting into this. What advice could you give them as far as getting into the outdoors, getting into hunting?

Ben

I would say, don’t be afraid of the work. Don’t be afraid of the practice, and the new things that you’ll have to learn. Because there’s such a wealth of resources out there for people who are looking to get into this. There’s all kinds of – The Internet should be your absolute go-to. You can find archery lessons on YouTube, you can find anything you need to know. So don’t be intimidated by the fact that it’s gonna take some work and it’s gonna take some practice. And the other thing that I tell people is don’t be afraid to do stupid things, don’t be afraid to be emotional, don’t be afraid to get excited. Some people get these ideas from hunting TV shows, the Internet, that it has to be this calculated, perfectly done, reverent thing. And the reality of hunting is that it’s sometimes ugly, and sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes you get excited and you do dumb things. Shoot an arrow – or whatever it might be. It’s gonna happen, it’s part of the experience, part of learning. And it’s okay to be so excited that you’re shaking so bad that you can’t nock an arrow. That’s part of the fun with it. It’s gonna happen to everybody. Even the big-time professional hunters started out just like that. It’s okay to be new at it, it’s okay to not be good at it. Just give it time, stick with it, and you’ll get to – I don’t know. Don’t worry about comparing yourself to everybody else. Just get to where you need to be and to where you feel comfortable.

Living Country in the City

I think that’s really important. That just needs to be reinforced in a lot of people’s minds. I know one thing I promised myself. You know, doing the podcast and creating this whole Instagram page, it definitely intentionally throwing myself out there. As a new hunter, it’s easy for me to take a lot of flak, because I’m – Honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing. I learned something, but everything is new to me. And you know, I get a lot people just talk a lot of smack, because they want to feel tough in front of a new guy. But I keep reminding myself that I made a promise that I will never present myself in a way that’s not totally true. I will never pretend to be an expert on something that I’m not an expert on. I’ll never – I’m not gonna go out – I didn’t come back from Total Archery Challenge being like, man I smoked ‘em. I was getting 12 rings the whole time, bro! I came back, I’m like, I shot like crap. But let me tell you what I learned from that. And, I think people – Like you said, it’s easy to get super intimidated by what you see on social media, on the hunting shows. But then, that’s also why I appreciate a lot of the guys that I got to talk to this weekend. Because they present themselves in really real ways too. I mean, they’re incredible hunters and they’re definitely successful, but they’ll also show those times when they get an animal and they’re near tears afterwards. They’ll show the time – Like Cory Jacobsen, he shows in his Wyoming video, the Elk 101 Wyoming video. I think they just screwed that up like three times before getting a bull. I mean, you wanna talk about an expert on elk. You see that and it makes me respect these guys so much more. That’s part of the reason. That’s why I promised myself like, I don’t wanna ever be tempted, whether it’s just to seem more important than I am, or just to not get flak from people. I never wanna present myself in a way that’s not totally honest and not true. I kind of hope that that resonates with everyone out there. Because, you know, I can’t be the only one. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one that’s new to this and feels intimidated.

Ben

Yeah, 100%. I think that you will succeed that much more for keeping it real. People can spot a fake. People can tell when people are overcompensating, so as long as you keep being genuine, that will definitely attract more for that personality. I think we see that more in the hunting media world. In the world in general, it’s okay to show your insecurities. It’s okay to show the things you worry about and your weaknesses. Because people identify with that. I think it’s a good approach.

Living Country in the City

Well, Ben, thank you so much for hopping on the show with me tonight. I appreciate you taking the time out and I had a good time chatting with ya.

Ben

You too, Sam. It was a lot of fun.

Living Country in the City

Alright, y’all. That’ll do for episode 26 of Living Country in the City. Give Ben a follow on Instagram as well. Also make sure you’re subscribing to the Crazy Antler podcast. You can find those links on our show notes page at livingcountryinthecity.com/26.

Now, I’m gonna keep harping on this. Make sure you head on over to hiketohuntchallenge.com to support Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Make sure you send me those donation receipts if you wanna load down my pack and see me struggle up that trail and get your bonus entries into my 2k follower giveaway. But, in the meantime, keep it country, y’all.

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