We used to hunt a mile from the house in Florida. I loved it. Whatever my dad was doing, that's what I wanted to be doing. He'd try to sneak out of the house and leave me at home so that he could go out by himself, and I'd come dragging those jeans down the stairs.
We had 14 Walker hounds in the back yard, so whenever he came out in the mornings, they'd get all stirred up because they knew they were going hunting. I'd hear them barking. I know whenever Dad pulled his truck out there, he'd be like "sssshhh" to the dogs. I'd come down, and he'd walk back in and I'd say, "Dad, you weren't going to leave me, were you?" He'd say, "No, I was just loading up the dogs."
My dad has always been an outdoorsman and an athlete. But I think once the family moved to Pierson (Fla.), he really got into the outdoors because all the people he came in contact with, whether it was at the high school or in the fern industry, they all hunted. It was more or less a time for camaraderie and fellowship on the weekends. That's where it all started.
All those guys had kids my age, so we had huge cup-ball games. Ball up a cup and play baseball right there next to the camp. It was a good time for all.
It's still a passion of mine. What I get out of it now is more of the release from playing baseball ... in the spotlight, under a microscope. Hunting is just so peaceful, and I've really come to appreciate the serenity of it all. I use it more to recharge the batteries.
I'm involved with "Buck Commander" project now. There are five, six, eight, 10 guys with cameramen who I really enjoy hanging out with. That's part of it. You go out in the field by yourself and shoot dinner that night, it's not that gratifying if you can't show it off to your buds. You like to have some people around to be able to share the story of the hunt. And now everything we do is documented on camera, and we're actually getting paid to do it.
It's hard to say how I stack up at hunting. I've probably beat the most bushes — been in the woods longer than anybody else. But Adam LaRoche is off the hook. He is really good. He's a very good hunter, a very accomplished bow-hunter. I would say when it comes to bow-hunting, he's without a doubt the top. Matt Duff is also very good. I just started bow-hunting two years ago. I was more the rifle hunter, and I'm very good at it. But it takes more skill to kill with a bow than it does with a rifle.
Hunting takes patience; that's the biggest thing. That's where people get turned off — they want constant action. I've gone to Kansas four times in my life, and I've stayed for a week each time and I haven't pulled a trigger or pulled a bow back yet. It's putting in that time. Then later on down the road, when you get that opportunity, you want to make sure you take full advantage of it.
Hunting is something that I really enjoy because you're not going to walk out on a field and do it every day. You're not going to be successful at hunting every day. There are going to be a lot of near misses and encounters that are going to go by the wayside. You just got to take the good with the bad, a lot of ups and downs.
I guess hunting is a little like baseball that way.
— Compiled by external content editor Tim Ellerbee