Editor’s Note: Mossy Oak’s national Pro Staffer, Jim Shockey, 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 you’ve put a lot of hard hunting and traveling miles on your body. How long do you think you can keep it up?
Shockey: You’re right. My knees aren’t as good as they used to be. I have to constantly work out physically just to be in shape for hunting. The one advantage I have is that individuals can hunt until they are 90-years old or more, and adventure is a relative term. For me at age 56, an adventure is the blackened Elephant Shrew, but this animal wasn’t an adventure for me when I was 38. I think our hunting goals evolve as we get older, and an adventure takes on a different meaning. When I'm 80, adventure may be hiking out to the back of our 40-acre ranch in Saskatchewan, Canada, and trying to take a big deer. My concept of adventure is that anytime you leave the asphalt, step into the woods, climb up the mountains and go down into the valleys of the wild lands, you're having an adventure. I hope I can go into those wild lands until the day I die.
My father hunted all the way up until the day he went to the hospital where he passed away. As the ambulance was taking him to the hospital, he made the ambulance driver stop and let him buy his hunting license for the next fall, and he was 86-years old. I know that I can hunt until the day I die. But as far as extreme adventures go, I don’t know that I’ll be able to do them, when my body tells me I can’t go. Right now, I can hike all day, and I'm still mobile in any type terrain. I don’t know if I can continue these extreme hunts for 5 or 10 more years. If I have one bad injury, I doubt if I’ll be able to do many more extreme mountain-hunting trips. So, maybe I’ll start doing extreme jungle hunts. But if I get bit by a bad snake in the jungle, I may have to re-evaluate if I want to do many more jungle hunts. My hope is that I can hunt until the day I die – but just maybe not as extreme as the hunts I'm doing now.
Question: From where does your love – this passion for adventure hunting – come?
Shockey: I'm pretty sure it’s innate. I think I have an explorer’s gene in my physical makeup. Many of us want to look over the next mountain and see what’s in the great beyond. We want to find the truth. I was born an explorer. Hundreds of years ago, I might have been able to discover America. But today, there are many other places in the world to explore, where you can hunt unusual animals. Today, the world is much more accessible than it was 200-years ago. The early explorers would explore in an area for 10 years. Today, I can explore much of that same area in 6 months, maybe less time than that.
My mother and father lived on a farm in Canada. Both of my grandparents on my mother’s side emigrated there from the Ukraine where they were dirt-poor peasants. With a great deal of risk, they packed up their belongings and left the world they knew to come to a country they never had seen before in North America and start a new life. That’s a huge step in the world of adventure. What I do as an adventure hunter pales in comparison to my grandparents leaving their world and crossing the ocean to a world about which they knew very little. I think many people who live in North America have this explorer gene within that perhaps doesn’t disappear in 10 generations.
Question: What’s in the future for Jim Shockey?
Shockey: My wife, Louisa, wants me to retire. I explained to her, “Yes, I can retire. Then, I’ll have more time to hunt.” She threw up her hands, shook her head and said, “Whatever, Jim.” I don’t want to ever become a mockery of what my entire life has been about, and I don’t want to be a pudgy 70-year old still trying to act like he's 30. At some point, I realize that climbing the mountains, penetrating into the jungles and walking the deep canyons will be more than I can handle physically.
When I can no longer physically do the adventure hunts, my dream is to return to my roots as an outdoor writer. I think I’d like to write books. If I have one talent, I really believe it’s the ability to write. I think I’d like to finish where I started this life’s journey – being a writer. I also love the outdoor industry, the people in the outdoor industry and the business aspect of the outdoor industry. I can see myself in my latter years being an executive manager for an outdoor company.
Hopefully, in the future, our children will produce grandchildren for us to enjoy, and Louisa and I will live happily ever after. Since my children are already so involved in the Jim Shockey outdoor business, someone has suggested that I may one day turn the company over to them and go to work for them. My answer is, “I think I'm unemployable.” I’ve told both of my children, “If you ever decide to hire me back into this business, you know what you’re going to be hiring, because I’ll still be Daddy.”