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How Marshall Johnson Got to Work at the Mule Deer Foundation


Before I came to work for the Mule Deer Foundation, I had worked in the newspaper business for 20 years selling advertising. Then in 2010, I left the newspaper business. Since I was a salesman, I felt certain I could get a job anywhere in the country selling something. So, I asked my wife, “Where do you want to live?” She said, “Fargo, North Dakota.” I sort of smiled. I was hoping she would have said Billings, Montana. If we lived in Fargo, I knew I would have to drive 300 miles in any direction to get to some good mule deer hunting. When we formed a mule deer chapter in Fargo, we named the chapter the 300 Mile Club, because all of us knew that we’d have to drive 300 miles to get to some of the best mule deer hunting available. 

Marshall_day2I started applying for jobs in North Dakota. I went online to see when the mule deer’s chapter meetings would be held and saw a post for job opportunities, saying the Mule Deer Foundation wanted to hire someone to head up the chapters in Montana and North Dakota. I showed the post to my wife, and she said, “Honey, you have to apply for that job. You’ve always wanted to work in the hunting industry.” I applied for the job. Some of the people associated with the Mule Deer Foundation remembered some volunteer work that I had done for the organization. Later, I learned that my predecessor had recommended me to be the director for these two states before he left the position. But he also said, “I doubt if Marshall will take the job, because he has a highfalutin newspaper job.” When I called my now boss, he told me, “If we’d known you wanted the job, we wouldn’t even had you come in for an interview, because we know about the work you did for the Mule Deer Foundation.” When I had the opportunity to take this job, I jumped at it. 

Although I've hunted mule deer all my life, since I’ve become a director for the Mule Deer Foundation, I've only taken one mule deer. I spend the majority of my time training and teaching youngsters how to find, hunt and harvest mule deer through a program we call M.U.L.E.Y. (Mindful Understanding Legal Ethical Youth). This program started out introducing young people to shooting. Then we combined archery, rifle and other equipment that they might need to hunt mule deer, and some orientation skills on how to use a compass. In the beginning, this was a one-day session, but some of the members of the Mule Deer Foundation have taken this program farther. For instance, the chapter chair of the Mule Deer Foundation in Billings, Mon., has been taking underprivileged kids out for their first mule deer hunts. He contacted some landowners in southern Montana where there are a lot of mule deer. He takes these kids to private lands for a weekend and teaches them to hunt and tries to help them take their first mule deer. 

Day 1: Why Marshall Johnson Hunts Mule Deer

Tomorrow: What’s Marshall Johnson’s Favorite Hunting Memory

Why Marshall Johnson Hunts Mule Deer
For the last 6 years, Mossy Oak Pro Marshall Johnson of Billings, Montana, has been the regional director of the Mule Deer Foundation for Montana and North Dakota. He primarily hunts in Montana and North Dakota. But Johnson is not a one-trick pony. Besides mule deer, he also hunts whitetails, elk, antelopes, turkeys, pheasants, grouse and partridge. “If I ever draw a tag, I’ll hunt mountain goats, big horns, buffaloes and moose,” Johnson says.

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