Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak’s national Pro Staffer, Jim Shockey (www.jimshockey.com), officially began hunting when he was 2-years old. “I started off hunting bugs and collecting them,” Shockey says. Next he graduated to hunting mice, gophers, rabbits, squirrels and then coyotes. By the time he was 14, he’d started hunting whitetails and has been hunting them ever since. Shockey now travels the world hunting exotic game species on every continent. “According to my wife, Louisa, who keeps up with this kind of thing, I was on the road 305 days this past year.”
Question: Jim, any person who travels for a living knows you have to get road weary, since you’re on the road more than 300 days per year. How do you keep that same high level of excitement about hunting on your TV shows?
Shockey: I never ever tire of hunting. I don’t care whether I'm hunting a gopher rat or an elephant - I get just as excited about going hunting. I was in Zanzibar hunting the largest shrew, the black Elephant Shrew, in the world. I was as excited as I'd ever been on any hunt. I even got buck fever when the shrew showed up. This shrew was a beautiful black color, about the size of a rabbit, and had a long nose like an elephant. They hunch over and walk around like a miniature Tyrannosaurus Rex (dinosaur). The only place you can hunt these shrews is on the island of Zanzibar off the east coast of Africa. I never lose my excitement and thrill of hunting. Hunting is not what I do - it’s who I am. I love every minute of the hunt, and I don’t want my life to be any different than it is.
What most of us consider being road weary is the travel from where we’re hunting to the airport, waiting in the airport for the airplane, getting on the airplane and then the flight home. However, I've found a happy place in that part of the hunt. The instant I get to the airport. I go to my happy place. I put on my noise-canceling head phones. Then there’s no internet, cell phones or any other distractions. I can sleep, read or do whatever. The travel between the hunts provides a peaceful time for me to unwind and relax. I really enjoy that part of being on the road. The biggest thing is: when I'm on the airplane, I have no responsibilities at all. The pilot’s job is to take care of my safety. So, I really don’t mind the travel time required to get from one hunting destination to another. I would hunt 365 days per year, if I could. I don’t mind the travel at all. As a matter of fact, I look forward to the travel.
Question: I'm sure you're offered more hunting opportunities than you can do. How do you decide which hunts you'll take?
Shockey: I've been very fortunate to have a large number of generous people who have offered me the opportunity to hunt with them on their properties and hunt for all types of game. I can’t possibly go on every hunt that I have the opportunity to go on in four lifetimes. Now, the hunts I do go on are hunts in places and for animals that I feel are really special. Until this year, I never had had an opportunity to hunt the blackened elephant shrew in Zanzibar. That was the once-in-a-lifetime hunt that I couldn’t pass up. Since I only have one life to live, I try to focus on the animals I really want to hunt, and the goals I've set for myself.
Question: Jim, you’ve probably filled up the lifetime bucket list of 10 or more hunters. What animals are still left on your bucket list?
Shockey: The world is a big place with many hidden corners that hold animals that I would love to hunt. One of those animals is the Sulaiman Markhor that lives in a province of Pakistan and is named after the Emperor Suleiman. This animal is half goat and half sheep - kind of an evolutionary link between sheep and goats. People may recognize this animal from the movie “Jason and the Argonauts,” who were hunting the golden fleece.” The animal Jason was after was more than likely a Sulaiman Markhor, according to legend.
I’d also like to hunt the Zebra duiker and the giant pangolin that live in Liberia. These huge animals are only found in the jungles of Liberia, and that’s the only place you can hunt them. The pangolin looks like a dinosaur to some degree with giant scales the size of your hand. Too, I would love to hunt the Okapi. There are plenty of Okapi living in the jungles of the Congo, but currently, hunting isn’t permitted for them. The back half of an Okapi looks like a striped zebra, and the front half resembles a horse and a giraffe.