From working in an office to hunting ibex in Spain, Larysa Switlyk is fast making a name for herself in the world of outdoor television. With Larysa Unleashed and Larysa Unleashed: Gone Fishin’ premiering on NBC Sports in July 2013, this maverick outdoorswoman managed to find time to appear in Animal Planet’s reality fishing show Top Hooker as well. It’s a busy time for Larysa, but with three years of work at last bearing fruit, she couldn’t be happier. It all began with a leap of faith.
Larysa grew up with three older brothers and parents who weren’t very interested in the outdoors. Nonetheless, they encouraged her to try new things and to take opportunities as they came. It was only in her college years that Larysa began traveling extensively and exploring more of what America’s wilds had to offer. When she left school with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting, she found that the confines of an office was not what she wanted after all. Larysa then decided to take a chance on what she loved and dived headlong into the outdoors.
We were lucky to squeeze an interview with Larysa out of her busy schedule and get some insight on this rising star.
OutdoorHub: Not growing up in hunting culture, how did you first get interested in hunting and angling?
Larysa: My parents and brothers didn’t hunt or fish. My parents were probably the least outdoorsy people I have ever met. When I was younger I really enjoyed being outdoors with nature and I remember trying to make that happen as much as possible. During college is when I started traveling more and going on hikes. I’ve previously never camped a day in my life and then I went to Australia to do exactly that in the outback. I fell in love with it. I always thought I was a city girl and I had dreams of moving to New York City. It was only after I got my degree in accounting and scored a job in New York that I realized I wanted to be outdoors more.
I found out I had a natural talent for shooting and hunting came easily to me. I wanted to learn everything and anything about hunting and fishing.
Watch Larysa hunt ibex in Spain:
Where did you pick up these skills from?
I’m not an expert. There is so much that goes into the outdoors and you can only learn a limited amount from books. I started reading up on the game I wanted to go hunt or the fish I would try to catch, but the best teacher is experience. Being out on the field is where you learn best and I would go with guides and hire outfitters that would teach me these basic skills. I would a learn a little bit from every hunt and figure out what works and what doesn’t. I remember I wanted to learn how to fly fish so I would take these fly fishing classes and learn how to cast. Same with long range shooting or anything else, just learn from knowledgeable people.
How did you transition from being a CPA and real estate agent to being a sportswoman full-time?
I worked hard in both fields but it came down to this: I like accounting but I love hunting, fishing, and traveling. It’s hard to work in an office when you stare out a window and say to yourself “I want to be outside.”
As I got into the outdoors, I gradually did less accounting work and got my real estate license. Now I had the freedom to travel and pursue more outdoor activities. It got to the point where I would take months off and spend all my money this way. I just kind of got into the show-making aspect of it and I had to learn a lot about the industry. I went to SHOT Show four years ago and I said to myself, “I want to learn everything there is to know about this business.” I had mentors along the way along with trials and errors. Its been three years in the making for my show, even though I don’t have a background in filming or editing. Now I’m in a position where I’m editing and writing the script and planning all these trips. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m working harder now than ever.
Larysa aims for large Texas coyotes:
What was your most memorable adventure?
New Zealand. It was my first hunt and such a great experience. I look back and I say that’s where it all started. It was also my first big game harvest and I’m considering going back to relive the experience.
What can you tell us about your new fishing show?
My fishing show is more of a lifestyle show where we take you to exotic places and cultures. I want the audience to learn with me as we go on these adventures, like going to catch wels catfish in Spain or tarpon off Florida. Top Hooker was a competition but my show is all about exploring new things.
You can watch the trailer for Larysa Unleashed: Gone Fishin’ below:
Whats in store for you now?
Of course I’ll be working towards building my brand, trying to promote the outdoor lifestyle and get people away from the computer, Facebook, and videogames. I would love to get more children involved in the outdoors. I’m also a part of Florida’s Hunt of a Lifetime, bringing children and wounded warriors out for fishing trips or hunting trips. Its not always about me, the most important part now is sharing my passion.
We’d like to thank Larysa for giving us the time to interview her and you can find more of Larysa Unleashed on her YouTube channel.
Editor’s note: This interview is part of a series with OutdoorHub’s featured video partners. Click here to read our interview with industry insider and Hunt Channel President Merrill Sport, and click here to read our interview with firearm guru Eric Blandford of Iraqveteran8888 .
Image courtesy Larysa Switlyk