One of the primary reasons avid outdoorsmen and women take part in hunting, fishing and shooting is the challenge. Regardless of whether you’re trying to beat an old buck in the chess match we call deer hunting, or hoping to land a lunker largemouth, the reward is sweeter because the road to success isn’t easy.
A man who knows a thing or two about challenges is Brian Tisdale (below). As a self-described little person, Brian has found ways to pursue his passion for the outdoors by modifying gear when necessary, and keeping a positive attitude. We recently caught up with Brian to talk about some of the unique roadblocks he faces in the field.
Important note: At the end of this interview is the first episode of CarbonTV’s “A Little Bit Country,” which stars Brian and his family. This is the FIRST outdoor series to feature a little person. Don’t miss it!
Dave: Many outdoorsmen – me included – credit their father for starting them hunting, fishing and shooting. Is that true for you? Is your dad a little person, too?
Brian: Yes, absolutely! My daddy started me shooting a gun at a young age, but no one else in my family is a little person.
DM: It looks like you modified your ATV so it fits you perfectly. What did you do?
Brian: The first thing is I made sure to buy an electric-shift four-wheeler. Then got a platform welded to raise the foot rest so my feet don’t dangle when I’m riding.
DM: What have you done to modify other gear so it works better for you in the field? I assume you must use youth-model rifles and shotguns, or shorten the butt stocks on those guns?
Brian: I have a youth-model shotgun that I didn’t have to change. I also have a 7mm-08 that a gunsmith modified by shortening the butt stock 3-4 inches. I actually cut down the stock of my .22 rifle myself. Obviously, I can’t modify my .380 handgun, so I just have to stretch a bit to pull the trigger on that one. (Small hand problems!)
Dave: Finding high-quality outdoor clothing and footwear must be a challenge. Are you wearing mostly youth-sized apparel? Does is last through many years of hard use?
Brian: You are right – it is tough to find quality youth-sized apparel. I typically stick to Drake YXL for clothes and coats. About 6 or 7 years ago, I was looking to purchase a leaf suit and contacted Bug Tamer directly to check on sizing. By the time the phone call was over, I was giving them exact measurements of my waist, arms, legs, etc. and they custom-made a leaf suit for me! I still have and use it to this day.
Dave: Do hunt private or public land? Favorite rifle caliber for whitetails?
Brian: Both, but mostly our private family farm land. It’s about 15 minutes away from my house and is close to 300 acres of land. There is some government land about 45 minutes from where I live that my daddy and I hunt sometimes. My preference is 7mm-08.
Dave: Most hunters love to fish, and vice versa. What’s your favorite fish?
Brian: Yes, I definitely like to fish, even though I don’t get to do it as much as I would like. I’m still trying to talk my wife into a fishing boat! I’m not fond of fishing on the pontoon we already have. Haha! My favorite saltwater fish is flounder, and No. 1 freshwater fish is catfish.
Dave: How did you meet your wife Amanda?
Brian: We met via social media, Facebook. I saw some pictures of Amanda (below, center) at an LPA (Little People of America) event and knew right then I had to have her. Of course, she didn’t make it easy at first, but persistence pays off! We lived about 3 hours apart and commuted back and forth.
Dave: Do you have an 8-5 (or longer) job? And what does Amanda do for work?
Brian: Longer – I am a stay-at-home dad. I was classified as disabled about 5 years ago. I started welding in high school and was later certified as a robotic operator. The demands of the job eventually took its toll on my body, and I could no longer keep up with my job on a daily basis. I’ve had 17-plus surgeries, including both hips replaced in 2005 at the ripe age of 28. What bothers me most is the chronic arthritis, so I have to pace myself with physical activities to keep from wearing out too quickly. Luckily for me, my lovely wife is able to float the boat. She works from home as a human resources software consultant for one of the largest payroll companies in the world. It’s an arrangement that works well for us.
Dave: Will your daughter be of average height? Does she like to hunt and fish?
Brian: Both my daughter and my 16-year-old step-son (who I consider mine) are of average height. My son LOVES to hunt and fish – with or without me – although we do a lot of hunting together. My daughter isn’t into hunting yet; she’s not too fond of loud noises. We’ll see though . . .
Dave: Final question – If you could take part in only one more outdoor adventure, where would you go, what would you do, and who would join you?
Brian: I would most likely go down to Louisiana and go on one of those guided duck hunting adventures. That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I would want my daddy and son to come along for the ride.