What do a passionate hunter from Spearfish, South Dakota, a barber, Ali G, and the late great Fred Bear have in common? More than you might expect actually. A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Mundt for my upcoming book, which is being released in the spring of 2014 on hunting and business. Nick, who has become a close friend, is a relationship guru, a great guy, and an absolute bad ass with a bow, gun, and fishing rod–you name it. He combines the authenticity of a true sportsman with the on-screen talent of Sasha Baron Cohen and the passion of Fred Bear. He is all about building real relationships, constant entertainment, and hardcore hunting along the trail he blazes. Nick is a definite glue factor on the Bone Collector team, which he is a co-host of along with Michael Waddell and Travis “T-bone” Turner.
Mundt’s approach to life is held strong by coast-to-coast trust-based relationships. With movie star looks, incredible musical talent, and a lovable spirit, Mundt’s status as one of the most respected and recognizable hunters in the world shouldn’t be a surprise and is well deserved.
Despite Mundt’s status in the outdoor industry, there is not a greedy bone in his body. How can Mundt be a world-famous hunter and yet be humble, and not focused on greed? Well, either you are going to have to take my word for it or keep reading and then maybe meet him yourself someday.
Much of what has fundamentally developed his work ethic and ease of building authentic relationships happened in his initial career at the local barbershop in Spearfish, South Dakota. “The boss was a real stickler for rules and he demanded that I never missed work, was never late, and I treated his barbershop and the customers with total respect without exception,” Nick explained to me. “At times I was bummed that he never seemed to understand or support my dream to hunt professionally someday. However, looking back I know that was silly, because the work ethic and knack for relationships and making people feel good about themselves that I developed by his side in the barbershop have played a huge role in my success in the hunting industry.
“When you fix a guy up with a haircut, it’s all about helping him feel good about himself and making him comfortable while he’s in your chair,” Nick added. “Whether it’s guiding, running the camera for someone, or building relationships with advertisers that help support us at Bone Collector, it’s really all about trust-based relationships and taking care of people the way you would want to be taken care of. I know these traits have served me well.”
Mundt has worked hard to achieve what he has today and the path took a while to clearly reveal itself to him, but he always believed that if he put all he had into becoming the best hunter, guide, entertainer, friend, and trust-based relationship builder in and out of the outdoors, it would serve him well in the long run. As Mundt puts it, “I have almost never missed a morning hunt in my life and I don’t care how early we are leaving, I show up ready to hunt. Hunting is my life, my love–it’s everything really. Well, that and building meaningful relationships are what define me.
“I have known I wanted to hunt professionally for as long as I can remember,” he continued. “I always believed if I gave hunting everything I had, always showed up to guide, begged to simply run the camera, help with odds and ends at camps–you know, paid my dues–that one day I would get my day to shine and I would be ready when it came. Then I met Michael Waddell and it changed my life. Realtree had given me my shot at guiding and running the camera some, and when I met Waddell we really hit it off. I love that guy, he is the man and I am good with that and happy to be a part of what he and Travis have built and love that I add so much value to the brotherhood. I mean seriously dude, think about how cool my job is! Are you kidding me, man?”
“What’s it like to work with Michael and T-bone?” I asked.
“Farbz you know how we are, we’re brothers, they are my extended family and vice versa,” he replied. Nick is right–I do know how tight they are and I don’t want to be all shrink/rocket scientist on you, but it sounds a lot like “relationships” and relationship glue is the key. There is no better relationship glue factor for a team than a Nick Mundt. If Mundt was an NBA player, he’d be like Dwayne Wade: accepting of his role as a team player and focusing first on winning and second on himself.
Nick’s breakthrough moment came when he joined Waddell on a Realtree Road Trips hunt. Road Trips was the first break out reality TV-style hunting show and Waddell’s first show that he hosted for Realtree Outdoors. Waddell saw immediate chemistry with Nick and pushed hard for Nick to get camera time on the show. Not too long after that, Waddell was ready to create Bone Collector and he knew Nick was a key player to have on his team.
As Michael related it to me, “Man it was a natural relationship from the very beginning. Nick was like family right away and I loved our chemistry.” Waddell, who has been mentored by industry icon Bill Jordan and hunting in front of the camera since adolescence, has developed a brilliant eye for spotting talent or what it takes to make it big in the outdoor industry. These skills have made Michael one of the outdoors most successful people and I know that whenever I have a question as to where the industry will come out on an issue or what will work or won’t work in hunting, Michael is one of my first calls.
So how big might Mundt and Bone Collector become? Well, they have all the right talent, a world-class brand, and the glue factor of Nick Mundt. They also have world-class management representation with Jim Schiefelbein, who joined the team a couple of years ago to help lead them through growth. I don’t know about you, but I’m betting long on Nick Mundt and Bone Collector as they are the real deal!
Images courtesy Nick Mundt