While the hunting, shooting and fishing industry is filled with many great people, I’ve come up with a list – my list – of the top five inspirational outdoor personalities. Chances are good that you’ll recognize four of the five people highlighted here. One, I’m sure, will be new to you.
You might have different ideas, and that’s just fine with me. As the saying goes, “We can agree to disagree.”
Drumroll please . . .
#5: Eva Shockey
Eva Shockey is a role model to all outdoorswomen, and in many ways, she’s the face of women hunting. She encourages the young and old to enjoy the outdoors, as well as fight for our rights to hunt and shoot. She just released a book, co-hosts on a popular award-winning hunting show with her father, Jim, and she was the first female to appear on the front cover of Field & Stream magazine in more than 30 years. She has really changed the hunting landscape for all women.
#4: Steven Rinella
Steven Rinella loves all things outdoors, and he hosts the popular program, “MeatEater.” He has also written several books regarding hunting skills, cooking skills, and hunting rights. Steven is not only an awesome hunter, but he’s also a spokesperson. He teaches and educates the outdoors with enjoyment and fluency. He is also kind to those who hate him. He debates those who disagree with him on the topics of hunting in a civil and kind manner.
#3: Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent is an outdoor legend. He walks the talk. He loves the hunting pursuit to his core. He is a patriot for not only us hunters, but also for our country. He is always fighting for the right to bear arms and the right to hunt. He simply corrects the haters, and fights for what he knows is right. He has been insulated by all parties – vegans, anti-hunters, liberals, and even by hunters themselves. Ted said in a video that he receives complaints from hunters for baiting deer. He first addresses what baiting deer really is, and then says hunters shouldn’t be fighting against ourselves, but fight the real enemy, vegans and anti-hunters. I truly love that statement! Ted will fight with every breath his has to continue the fighting for our Second Amendment.
#2: Julie McQueen
Julie McQueen is a co-host on “Till Death Do Us Part,” and she’s affiliated with many conservation organizations. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Julie McQueen on many interviews and projects. She is, with no doubt, the most inspiring and kind huntress I know. She is unbelievable encouraging to me and everyone she meets. She appeared on my The Outdoorsman’s Art Radio Show, and said that her favorite part about working in the outdoor industry is to meet and help other outdoorspersons. When you watch Julie on TV or meet her in person, you can tell that her goal is to encourage and inspire you to continue loving the outdoors.
#1: Eli Gourdin
In my opinion, Eli Gourdin is the most inspirational outdoorsman ever. Eli has inspired me in ways unlike anyone else. The outdoors has always been a part of Eli’s life, and it has helped him through many trials. Eli began pursuing the outdoors as a young child with his father and family members.
Let me explain in detail why I’ve chosen Eli as the most inspirational outdoorsman ever. At 19, Eli was married to his first wife, Jennifer. She and Eli had three children, and his two oldest where enjoying the outdoors at a very young age. Eli raised them right, but then Eli got himself into trouble, even spending some time in prison. During this period, his wife left him and took their children as well.
Through a series of serious events that I won’t explain here, the children were ultimately returned to Eli. He was overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation, and often went to the woods for relief. As time passed, Eli got remarried to Katie, and the couple had a child. Katie had two children already, too, so now Eli had six children under his wing. During all of this, Katie was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, which was obviously devastating to Eli and his family. Nevertheless, Eli didn’t lose hope and continued pursuing his passion in the outdoors. Then the Lord intervened and Katie became cancer free.
Again, however, Eli endured more tribulation. In 2015, his mother passed away. But Eli continued loving the outdoors, and continued teaching his children.
Eli experienced a ray of sunshine when he became a pro staff member with BowTech Archery in 2016. Later that year, Eli and daughter Aryanna went to South Africa on a hunting trip. There, Aryanna successfully tagged a giraffe and a few other animals. Aryanna snapped a few pictures of her successful hunt and then posted them on Facebook. She woke up the next morning with outrage from anti’s and vegans. She and Eli received more than 75,000 hate comments, and many of those where death threats. They appeared all over mainstream media for this incident. Many liberal publications harassed Eli for his harsh life and his personal trials. This brought more frustration on Eli, but he never stopped hunting and keeping his chin up.
A few months later, I asked Eli and Aryanna to co-host my radio show. They accepted my offer, and I’ve started working with Eli on hunting rights and other efforts.
As I have gotten to know Eli, I have only begun to become more fond of him and his love for the outdoors. Even though Eli has walked through heck, he continues to pursue, teach, and share the wonder of God’s creation. Eli has inspired me to love and pursue the outdoors more, too. He encourages me to fight for the right to hunt through all the hate of today’s world. Eli is truly the most encouraging outdoorsman in all the world, and I am proud to work with him and call him my friend.