From Virginia to the San Diego Chargers Football Team Mossy Oak Pro John Phillips Has Continued to Hunt
Editor’s Note: John Phillips is a tight end for the San Diego Chargers. After graduation from the University of Virginia, he’s played in the NFL for 6 years. Being born and raised in Virginia, he can’t remember a time when he hasn’t hunted for black bears, grey squirrels and all animals in-between.
I’ve been hunting all my life. And, in the NFL, I’ve been able to find people who want to go hunting. I’m always sending my agent pictures of the animals I’ve taken and the hunts I’ve attended. So, when he met Tim Anderson from Mossy Oak, he put the two of us together. I’m really excited about being a Mossy Oak Pro Staff member. I think I’ve been hunting ever since I first learned to walk. I was probably only 5- or 6-years old when I first started hunting deer. I grew up in the mountains of Virginia, so I’m a born and bred mountain boy. Back then, hunting and fishing weren’t recreational sports. We caught fish and took game to eat. The big animals we hunted were white-tailed deer, turkeys and black bears. Because I grew up hunting squirrels, one of my favorite dishes is squirrel dumplings. We also hunted predators, but not to eat. We hunted bobcats and coyotes, and we coon hunted at night. All the boys around my house hunted squirrels.
I started playing football in high school, so my afternoons were tied-up with football. However, in the mornings before school, my dad and I often would go deer hunting. There were quite a few mornings that I went to class dressed in camouflage, after just field dressing a deer. Where I went to high school, I wasn’t the odd duck, because I came to class dressed in camo. Quite a few boys in our high school and on the football team came to school dressed in camo, in the fall of the year. Back then wearing camo wasn’t a fashion statement like it is today. It was the badge of a hunter.
When I went to the University of Virginia, I was only able to hunt when we didn’t have games on the weekends. I also got to hunt during school breaks at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Since the university was only 1 hour and 20 minutes from my home, if we didn’t have to practice one day, I could get in my car, drive home and hunt that night or get up the next morning and hunt before I had to be back at college. Sometimes we’d hunt bears at night with dogs. We’d ride around in trucks listening for the dogs to tree a bear. Our family has taken numbers of really-big black bears, but we haven’t weighed any of them. Back then, bear hunting was one of my favorite things to do, because a gang of boys could get together, turn loose the dogs and chase the hounds.
I guess there hasn’t been a time in my life when I haven’t hunted. However, the deeper I got into football, my hunting time became more limited. But I always seemed to find a place and a group of people to hunt with, wherever I played football.