Ep. 94: Turning Feral With Zach HansonLike many people, Zachary Hanson was tired of the day to day grind. Feeling disillusioned with his life trajectory as an artificial intelligence expert, and yearning for a deeper connection with the natural environment Zach dove head first into simplifying his life. Moving to a remote town in Idaho, population 35, Zach learned to hunt, trap and has written the book Turning Feral which documents his journey.
If you have ever fantasized what it would be like to live a more self reliant life in harmony with nature, tune in to this podcast with the extremely engaging and refreshingly open Zach Hanson.
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[00:00:00] Travis Bader: I am Travis Badder, and this is the Silvercore Podcast. Silvercore has been providing its members with the skills and knowledge necessary to be confident and proficient in the outdoors for over 20 years, and we make it easier for people to deepen their connection to the natural world. If you enjoy the positive and educational content we provide, please let others know by sharing, commenting, and following so that you can join in on everything that Silvercore stands for.
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[00:00:52] An expert in the field of artificial intelligence. Today's guest helped architect such things as infinite sprawling, like functionality, add optimization and other attention diverting AI features, feeling something was deeply missing from his life as city dweller uprooted his life to live in the mountains, to learn to hunt and trap, and has written the book, turning Ferrell, which documents his journey, broadcasting remotely from the base of the Saw, youth Mountains in the small town of Atlanta, Idaho.
[00:01:21] Population 35. Welcome to the Silvercore podcast, Zach Hanson.
[00:01:26] Zach Hanson: Wow. Thank you, Travis. That was quite the introduction, but, uh, hearing you, uh, read off those things that I've been a part of it, I can't help but feel a little guilty as I think about people scrolling through their phones and stuck in, uh, social media loopholes, ,
[00:01:41] Travis Bader: you know, I remember reading a book a long time ago, I think it was called, um, Addictive habits.
[00:01:47] I think that's what the book was called. Uh, or programming addiction, something along those lines, but addictive traits anyways. Oh, the psychology of building like infinite scrolling and like functionally there's a lot that goes into keeping people hooked on their electronic devices and, uh, basically indoors and uh, and numb looking for that next dopamine hit.
[00:02:09] Zach Hanson: Yep, that's exactly it. It's one of those weird things where that psychology and technology merge, uh, in a non-positive way, uh, as we found out over the years, uh mm-hmm . But it's interesting for me cuz I'm a new father. I have two young kids, one's two, the other's four months. You know, just seeing how easily my two-year-old daughter can interact with an iPhone or an iPad is mind blowing to me and it's scary at the same time and makes me feel tick of regret.
[00:02:47] Travis Bader: Well, I, you know, you're an expert in the field of artificial intelligence and I think about how, like you say, how easy it is for a youngster to be able to handle an iPhone or an iPad. Um, really, like if you look at us as humans, and let's say we had a bunch of dogs that we had to take care of, we could pretty easily whip him into shape, have 'em trained up and you know, do doing what we want to do because.
[00:03:15] we're smarter than dogs. Artificial intelligence, that's an interesting thing. I mean, I'm looking at, uh, Open AI, chat GPT, all of this stuff. Mm-hmm. , and I'm thinking of the mass amount of information that's out there and the idea that people think they have unique thought, but really how much of what we do is, is unique.
[00:03:34] How much of it is just us running an autopilot based on things that we've kinda learned? I gotta, I gotta wonder, as cool as this whole artificial intelligence thing is that we're on the sort of the cusp of, it's also pretty scary in some ways too. I don't know. What, what's your take on this whole AI thing from a person with a background?
[00:03:55] Zach Hanson: Uh, there's a reason I live at the end of an 80 mile dirt road in a town of 35 people. , , you know, in, in reality, right? It, it's not from a fear-mongering standpoint, like, you know, the robots are gonna take over the world, but, you know, it's so easy to be manipulated by technology and, you know, Being so entrenched in it myself, I wanted to personally get away and, you know, introduce as much non-technical aspects into my everyday life as I possibly could, because there's no way you get away from it.
[00:04:27] Mm-hmm. , I mean, you and I are mm-hmm. able to have this conversation because of really cool technology. You know, Elon Musk has some low orbit satellites that are beaming signals up and down so that you and I can talk right now. Sure. And that's pretty, pretty freaking cool in my opinion. Yeah. But you know, when you get through the social aspects, that's where like, I wanted buffers and I chose to live where we're living now.
[00:04:50] So, you know, when I am done with work, when my laptop is off, when my cell phone's not in my hand, or I go two feet out of my driveway, I'm disconnected. Right. And, uh, yep. I, I loved your metaphor at the beginning though, as far as the dog training. Mm. Um, the only thing that I would disagree with you there, Travis, Is, as you read my book, I don't know if that's a great reference because there are so many canines, at least wild ones that are way smarter than me,
[00:05:19] Travis Bader: yeah, no, I, that was a recurring theme as I read through the book. I love the humility, I love the honesty in your book. Um, yeah, I was gonna say monkeys, I don't know. Dogs essentially just a mass aggregate of information out there that when, when you just, uh, when you, when you take all of that, it's pretty easy to spot patterns, particularly if for a program to do it.
[00:05:44] Like I was using the artificial intelligence, I'd upload whole books and I'd say, explain it to me like I'm five years old. And then for fun, oh, make it into a poem, turn it into a haiku, and it would do it. Uh, the amount that you can upload now, I think as of a week or two ago has been limited, but, um, I'm sure they'll charge for that feature.
[00:06:02] Yeah. But you know, another one, like, I wrote a article before and I thought, you know, just for fun, I'll give it a one sentence parameter. On this, uh, it was about five or six pages typed article that I put together, write an article on, and I put it out there. And if it didn't come pretty close to what I spent a few days writing within a couple of seconds.
[00:06:23] I mean, it's amazing what it can do. And I thought I had all this unique thought in there.
[00:06:28] Zach Hanson: Yeah, I mean, I think that's what's interesting is where ai, especially when you're talking about chat, G p T and um, other things that are trained on large corpuses of data, um, you know, data that is an aggregate of many people who are not as unique as we think we are.
[00:06:47] We all think we're super unique, you know, individuals sure that when you look at it in aggregate, we're not really, so when you look at the ingestion of articles, the ingestion of books, and you do that across a wide array of individuals, when you put a prompt in, you're gonna get something back that's pretty close to you, but, You know, to put a little feather of optimism here, like the amount of data it would take to have 1000% uniqueness in, you know, writing and art would be nearly impossible.
[00:07:23] There's always gonna be this percentage and ability for humans to, you know, not necessarily outperform because that's defined by the metrics you're measuring it. But from a uniqueness perspective, there's optimism there. I mean, you're gonna get really close and it's gonna be fuzzy lines where you're like, was that like a machine that, you know, wrote that or painted that?
[00:07:44] but you know, humans are humans and we do some pretty unique shit. So I, I think we're always gonna have the edge there slightly.
[00:07:52] Travis Bader: Yeah. I guess the only scary thing about that whole AI is what you mentioned earlier, and that's the ability to manipulate. And we've seen manipulation at large scale, particularly over the last few years, whether for good or for bad or best intenses or whatever it might be.
[00:08:08] But you take the job of manipulation and you look at that mass aggregate and you take a look at, uh, what would be the most effective way to do so, it'll spit back solutions in seconds. What would usually take experts a fair bit of time to come up with a plan. So that's, uh, that's the scary thing.
[00:08:27] Zach Hanson: Yeah.
[00:08:27] Well, like I said, you know, you get big mass groups of people, you know, with proctored information, you. Good or bad, you're gonna have fallout. And again, that's maybe why I live in a town at the end of a road that happened to be in the sixties, a really popular place for nuclear bug out, uh, individuals because of the way the trade winds blow.
[00:08:49] So, you know, we've got some caves, we've got all sort of stuff, natural water, hot springs, so, you know, come out to the Atlanta, Idaho when, uh, the AI robots take over and we can all hide out and fight back. .
[00:09:02] Travis Bader: Well, you're doing something that a lot of people fantasize about, a lot of people dream about, but not many people have the courage to actually actuate.
[00:09:10] and you know, particularly since Covid hit the idea of being more self-sufficient, self-reliant, uh, uh, where does my food come from? How, how can I survive if things go sideways? Um, you started that prior to Covid when the world really started becoming awake to that. Uh, can you tell me a little bit about what life was like prior to wanting to hunt and trap and move out in the bush and kind of what drove you to this?
[00:09:42] Zach Hanson: Yeah. There's a lot of factors, right? Um, you know, first and foremost, you know, the life that I was living with my ex-wife at the time was, was very nice. It was very Kush. Mm-hmm. , right? You know, I was working in artificial intelligence. My ex-wife was an F b I special agent, so we were, you know, living in Louisiana.
[00:10:01] not my, uh, favorite state in the world, but you know, it was good. We had a nice big house. We had the cars, we had dogs, we went on vacations every year. You know, we were really doing, and I mentioned in the book, keeping up with the Jones's, right? It's like, you know, what was the American dream for us? You know, white picket fence, big house, all of that.
[00:10:22] Um, and I felt hollow, just to be frank. Like I didn't know what the feeling was. It's not like I woke up in a depression, but I just constantly felt like there was something missing. And you know, my ex-wife was an athlete. I was an athlete. We both did, you know, really high level juujitsu. She was a jujitsu world champion.
[00:10:39] And so we were traveling for competition, but we, and I did some ultra running, but I was always focused on fitness. And part of fitness is nutrition. You know, I'd been a wrestler all through high school, college, the whole lot. So it was something that was just a big part of our lives, especially since we didn't have kids.
[00:10:55] It was, you know, wake up, train, work, repeat, and you know, that brought some joy, you know, brought community and camaraderie and you know, our gym. But as we kind of got down that path more and more of like, okay, what can we optimize? What can we optimize? You know, you start looking at the foods you eat, you know, we were counting our macros, doing all this stuff that makes you miserable, in my opinion.
[00:11:18] Hindsight being what it is, . Um, you know, and the meats we were consuming were okay, but to get like decent quality, we were having to go to real high-end grass-fed beef, grass-fed bison. And that led us down the path of like, okay, well what about wild game? And this was also the same time that I think, you know, and my wife, as I mentioned in the book, was very much into social media.
[00:11:41] Even I was to a degree with Instagram. So, you know, you followed the Joe Rogans, the campaigns and they're like, yeah, I eat elk meat. And like, well, what, what is that? Mm-hmm. . And that really started the, yeah, I guess the snowball for me it was just a, a curiosity and I happened to have. , you know, in-laws. My wife's family were hunters.
[00:12:02] They're from Middle Tennessee and Right. You know, we started talking about it at family get togethers and my, you know, we were talking about like, we should really get in, you know, we were using all the really, you know, cringey language, like we should harvest our own meat and, you know, all this really dumb shit.
[00:12:20] And my father-in-law just, you know, good old boy looks at me, he's like, you know, I've got a freezer full of, you know, deer from like the past six years that I go get every year. And you're not harvesting shit. Yeah, shooting it. And it's right there, . Um, so, you know, immediately brought down a peg, but it's like, oh.
[00:12:37] So he gave us some ground venison and, you know, we tried, if we were eating it, delicious food, you know, did we see like a performance gain from switching from, you know, grass fed beef to, you know, wild game? I don't know. Uh, probably not, but it was good. It was a mental thing. and that prompted me to buy a bow.
[00:13:00] You know, like, I don't know why, uh, I had no interest in rifle hunting at the time, so got a hand me down bow and just kind of started the journey. Yeah.
[00:13:09] Travis Bader: You started hard. I mean, you're gonna start with the bow and say, oh, I, I want to be a hunter. Okay, let's get a bow. I've seen people on social media do this.
[00:13:17] I've seen others. Looks easy enough. But I mean, from reading your book, , the uh, uh, maybe not as easy as, uh, as the social media influencers might make it sound. So tell me about that journey. You got your bow, you got a buddy who's, he said, let's go practice with this and let's, let's be hunters. What were people laughing at?
[00:13:40] Zach Hanson: Uh, my ex-wife included. Yeah. It was one of those things. Cause. I grew up in South Carolina, rural area, but you know, I was surrounded by people who would hunt, but I never went hunting, you know? So I, at this time, I think I was like 28, 29 years old. So, you know, getting up close to my thirties and I never hunted.
[00:13:59] All of a sudden I'm like, I want to hunt and I wanna hunt with a bow and I'm gonna get a hand-me-down bow from a buddy who's a little shorter than me and I'm just gonna make it work. Um, so in the book I chronicle like some of the setting up a range and hucking arrows into my neighbors, you know, roofs, things like that.
[00:14:15] All this stuff you don't wanna be honest about, but happened, you know, couldn't even pull my bow back, dry, fired it the whole lot and, you know, learned the hard way, but, you know, for all the bad that comes outta social media. Like seeing those influencers was a, you know, to be cheesy, an influence on me. It gave me some confidence.
[00:14:37] Like, Hey, this person can do it. I can figure it out. Um, I'm hardheaded enough to, and there's plenty of YouTube videos. And going back to technology, the, one of the amazing things is just the readily available amount of information, whether that's YouTube, whether that's, you know, a social media platform.
[00:14:57] Like if you do wanna learn, there's available resources that are easy to consume. Cuz when I grew up, my granddad always pushed me. He's like, you wanna learn something, read a book. And that's what I was raised on. Mm-hmm. . So I love it. And that's one of the reasons I like to write books, but you know, now you don't have to even do that.
[00:15:13] You can go and watch a two minute video on how to pull a bow back and then just hope that you, you know, figure it out. And that's what I did. .
[00:15:20] Travis Bader: Well, you know, you talk about the mass amount of information that's out there, free. YouTube's obviously a big one, and I think that's the whole reason why we have an air brackets for those who aren't watching and they're listening influencers.
[00:15:32] And some people hate the name, some people love the name, but essentially there's so much information out there that these people become information concierges and you say, well, I like that person, or, I like what they're doing. Um, maybe that'll shortcut me from having to sift through everything that's out there and I'll just, I'll just follow their steps.
[00:15:51] A, B, C, and, and that's why I think the, uh, the whole influencer trend kind of came about. And you're right. Is it good? Is it bad? I don't know. Depends on what you're looking at. It depends on how you want to use it, but clearly, uh, it turned out for the best for you if it got you outside and it, and it got you hunting.
[00:16:09] Yeah. Um, yeah. So. When you first started out, I know you write in the book, you figured, okay, I, I learned how to do this. I'm gonna be out and, uh, I'll get myself a deer. I just gotta sit up in a tree, stand a deer. I'll walk by and I'll take this thing. Maybe I gotta wait a little bit, but it's gonna happen.
[00:16:27] That wasn't quite the story, was it?
[00:16:29] Zach Hanson: Nope. It, it, it went probably, and one of the things that I hope, and I've gotten feedback on the book is, you know, people who've even hunted their whole lives kind of appreciate, you know, these overlooked aspects. Like, uh, I mentioned as I thought about pig hunting and deer hunting for the first time, you know, I had every scenario painted in my head.
[00:16:49] By this time, I'd shot thousands of arrows. I could do it with confidence, never shot in an animal. You know, we got our ex-wives, f b i agents to heckle us. Why we shot to kind of, you know, we knew we were gonna get buck fever, so we wanted to do that. And, and to this day, I've never had buck fever, I think thanks to that section or session.
[00:17:07] So you, that was a, you know, good investment on our part, but you know, , I had every potential outcome mapped out in my head except for the one that was most likely to happen, which was nothing. And that's what I talk about the book. Mm-hmm. . So I would sit for like two days in this tree where a deer I was told would walk by, you know, I'd be able to put my pin on his vitals and, you know, that's it.
[00:17:31] That's, that's the story. But all I saw were squirrels, so, right. You know, you, you're never prepared fully for what the experience is gonna be like. And honestly, like a lot of hunting is really boring, you know, it's a lot of time for self-reflection and, you know, battling with your own ego and realizing that you're not really hot shit.
[00:17:51] And, you know, nature really owned you at all times of the day. So
[00:17:57] Travis Bader: can you talk about battling with your ego when you're out there? Because I know when I'm out hunting or I'm in the mountains, or I'm hiking and I'm out in the water, surfing, whatever it is, I'm, I'm isolated. I'm out there inevitably. Yep. The brain starts going and things start coming up.
[00:18:16] You're having fights are, are reoccurring for me anyways. And it takes a few days for the brain to kind of shut off and to kind of move to a more positive area. What's it like for you, and when you say battling the ego, what do you mean?
[00:18:31] Zach Hanson: Well, I have been very fortunate, Travis, in that I have, I grew up in combat sports where your ego gets decimated, um, constantly.
[00:18:46] And I'll give a poignant example, and this might make a few people laugh. So my, uh, my first year of high school I was on the wrestling team, um, never wrestled before, just got a whim I wanted to wrestle and started doing it was not terrible, but I was on like the junior team, right? So not the varsity team.
[00:19:06] We go to our first match against our rival school who was like, you know, state champions, blah, blah, blah. Well, the 135 pound wrestler on the varsity team got sick that day. So this is the first time that both of my parents, my sister girlfriend, are coming to watch me do jv. But I get bumped up to varsity because this guy is sick.
[00:19:30] The opponent I'm going against is a two-time state champion. So my first real wrestling experience, I go out and I go to the little board to sign in. My parents, everybody's there watching. They're like, oh, it's Zack. I have this ridiculous headgear. Cause I wasn't cool yet. I didn't know all the cool gear.
[00:19:48] So I looked like a dork . I sign it at the table, Travis. I turn around to go into the mat to go actually wrestle this guy who's inevitably gonna beat my ass. Trip over the mat, land on my face. Bust my nose. I get blood time before the match starts , I get a tampon shoved out my nose, , and then in a singlet in a cold gym, I get like mercy killed by this guy in like 20 seconds.
[00:20:20] So, you know. Oh man.
[00:20:21] Travis Bader: With all your family
[00:20:22] Zach Hanson: and friends watching. Exactly. You know, so that was like my first experience was like really just crushing your ego and realizing it doesn't exist. But what I meant with the conversation about battling your ego, for me, I've always had comparison issues. I think a lot of people do influencers and social media propagated that at the beginning of my hunting journey.
[00:20:42] So like seeing the campaign, seeing the Joe Rogan, seeing the, you know, John Dudleys of the world out there just killing it, you know? You know, post is about this great kill, you know, I had built up in myself like, I should be able to do that. Like that is the experience I'm gonna have. That is what hunting is like.
[00:20:59] Mm-hmm. . And so when I was out there and I wasn't experiencing those things, I wasn't having those successes. I was running into things that maybe they didn't talk about or, you know, not by them intentionally leaving it out, but they've been doing it for so long, you know, you kind of forget the steps along the way.
[00:21:17] Mm-hmm. , that was causing me to have these battles with my ego. Like, what is wrong with me? Like, why am I not being able to have these experiences like these guys are, and that's the ego battle I'd have, like sitting in a tree stand, like, what am I doing wrong? Like, you know, I should be able to have the same thing they are.
[00:21:32] And the answer is no. I would put my ego aside, you know, I'm new. I, I don't know what I'm doing. I, I am on my own journey and running my own race, but I let some of those things sneak in and that's what. You know, that's my ego trap personally, and I get caught in that sometimes, and I have to check my cell phone.
[00:21:53] Travis Bader: well, I guess the algorithm doesn't really support people sitting in a tree stand freezing cold and, uh, going home and yeah, posting that over and over again. I mean, that's, they, so it can build an unreal expectation for new hunters out there based on what people are posting. You know, oftentimes we're seen with some of these influencers, um, it's not always their animal that they're standing beside, and they might not say it's their animal, but they're standing beside an animal.
[00:22:23] And people will look at this and be like, how is this person always going out and always successful? And maybe they're not taking to account the fact that they'll hunt in groups and one person in a group of however many was successful and everyone had their picture taken there. So it's, um, how, how would you, how would you describe hunting with your experience now to somebody who's looking to get into it?
[00:22:44] Zach Hanson: Yeah. And I think that's kind of part of, you know, was my mission with this book because as I talk to people, you know, just like anybody else, like I feel like , you know, you start CrossFit or you meet somebody who just started CrossFit, you know, they're never gonna shut the fuck up. It's CrossFit this, CrossFit that, you know.
[00:23:03] And same with like juujitsu, same with hunting. And I'm not opposed to that. So when I first started hunting and I took my first animal, everybody within a 300 foot radius of me at any time of the day, was hearing about hunting and the benefits and how you're gonna be healthier and connect with nature and all this shit.
[00:23:22] Um, but to answer that question about like, what I would say to people is I have been getting a lot of feedback that there are people out there like me who are adult onset hunters or. people who are curious about learning to hunt as an adult, but the barriers of entry, including like influencers who are posting these, you know, trophy shots.
[00:23:44] Again, I'm not opposed to that, but you know, these kind of Sure. Success measures. You know, I think there's a little bit of an intimidation factor and what I wanted to do was like, it's right to be intimidated because it is an intimidating thing, but to let people know that unless you're going out with tons of guides and paying top dollar, which is also okay, and I did some of that too, to beat down the learning curve.
[00:24:14] Mm-hmm. , you're gonna fail, you're gonna be met with morally compromising decisions to make that you might not have expected getting into hunting. Mm-hmm. , you're gonna have to get legitimately elbow deep in an animal at some point or another, and. Learn as you go and maybe waste meat, even though, you know, most people getting in are like the, you know, wanton waste.
[00:24:35] Like, I want to harvest everything of the animal, which is great, and I do that too, but along the way you're gonna mess up and you're gonna, you know, disrespect an animal in your own eyes if that's the mentality you have. And I want people to know that you have to go through that. You know, it is part of the journey is that you're gonna have to learn and push your boundaries, you know, morally, physically, in a lot of instances, and not to be afraid of that and recognize that it's not going to necessarily match probably what got you interested, which are the influencers or the people who are, you know, celebrity hunters and things of that nature.
[00:25:17] Travis Bader: Well, when I'm looking at some of the pictures that you have in the book there, I see, uh, vortex optics, um, Bino pouch, uh, bench made knife, uh, and I'm seeing a little bit of a trend. I think I saw some first light gear in there, and it looks like some of your purchasing decisions may have been influenced by a very popular, uh, Netflix show.
[00:25:35] Mer. Would that be a fair
[00:25:36] Zach Hanson: assessment? Yeah, of course it is. I mean, it's, uh, it's part and parcel and I'm sure like they have doubled down and they're making a great killing on people who are getting curious about it. But yeah, I mean, that is mm-hmm. purchasing power. So one of the things I do in my role now is ad monetization algorithms, right?
[00:25:56] So, okay. Of course, you know, you're paying for ad space, you're paying for eyeballs of people who have similar interests as you. And of course, I was fed from the beginning of my journey, you know, Steve Ronella. Vortex stuff. I mean, I've got a vortex optic up there, you know, I've got freaking knock on releases the whole lot.
[00:26:19] Yeah. So it, yeah. Yeah. It's, it goes with the territory and I'm not ashamed of that, you know, and you get dogs for it too. Like, I wear Sitka, right. I started hunting at a time where I was able to afford, you know, nice camo and, you know, all the people that I followed were Sitka. I was like, well, monkey c monkey do, um, I'm gonna buy this.
[00:26:38] So of course you get raed by people along the way. But yeah, it's,
[00:26:44] Travis Bader: I'm not ashamed. It's part parcel. You know, , uh, talking about, uh, guides. Now, I've never hunted with a guide. I'm fortunate enough to have a Ballard, good friend of mine, who's, uh, quite accomplished in hunting that I can, uh, typically lean on for, uh, for advice and, uh, assistance.
[00:27:05] Uh, but going the guide route is I think a fantastic way to shortcut a, uh, the learning experience. And when you look at, like, for example, on Sitka advertising, uh, there's quite often acknowledgements to the guides who have taken their pro hunters out hunting. So e even the pros are out there doing that if they want to be getting that trophy animal or have a success rate, that's gonna be something they can blog about or Instagram about.
[00:27:34] But you went out with in your book with some guides, and I had a very couple of humbling experiences, and if you are willing to talk about that outside of the book here, I'd love to chat about that. .
[00:27:46] Zach Hanson: Yeah. So, uh, you know, guides are not something that I had on my agenda, right? Like for me when I started, like it was my in-laws who quote guided me out of the gate, right?
[00:27:59] So these are the guys in touching back on the Sitka and the stuff I had, like when I started hunting and the first time I went deer hunting on my in-laws, uh, hunting lease, you know, it got muted chuckles because my buddy and I showed up in brand new sit ca camo. Meanwhile, you know, we've never killed an animal and my father-in-law who's probably killed more deer than I ever will in my life, you know, sitting there in Walmart, camo like, okay, Walmart camo and jeans.
[00:28:29] He's like, I don't get it, but you know, you guys do you spend the money on what you wanna spend your money on ? Um, but he was in, for all intents and purposes, my first guide. So I can't say that I never did guided hunting, and I feel like most people do unless you go the full DIY solo route and good on you.
[00:28:46] But when I moved out to Idaho and, you know, little foreshadowing for people, I've talked about my ex-wife, um, a little bit after my journey, we ended up getting a divorce. Pretty amicable, but I was left at this crossroads where I was like, what do I want to do? Where can I go? We, I had no children. The, the opportunities were endless.
[00:29:04] And I had visited Idaho and I knew I wanted to hunt elk, I wanted to hunt antelope, I wanted to learn to trap. So I was like, well, you know, this unexpected event happened in my life, so I'm just gonna pack up my car and drive to Idaho, which is exactly what I did. Um, mm-hmm. got out there, found a place in the, in the mountains.
[00:29:22] Way, way back, you know, our place opens up to 3000 acres of national forest land and. . I was like, how am I gonna learn to hunt elk? You know, like I've only sat in a tree stand for some pigs and deer. I can't bugle. I can now pretty good too, if I might add. Yeah. But I couldn't bugle. I, I, I didn't know how to do anything outside of hiking and that.
[00:29:45] I sucked at that pretty good when I got up to elevation. It turns out, um, and, you know, I decided, you know, I had the means that I wanted to go with a guide to take me on my first archery Alcon. So I, yeah. So also another foreshadowing that I have a new company that is launching at the Western Hunt Expo called the outfitter.guide.
[00:30:07] Um, but it's kind of based on my own personal experience, which was I went to Google, I got dumped in the lap of a bunch of, you know, top of the funnel companies like book your hunt.com, all of which do a great job where you can pick like an animal species, state, whatever, and they'll give you a list of guides, but that's where they cut off.
[00:30:25] And with that I found a guide in Stanley, Idaho. He's like, yep, I've got a one-on-one archery opening in, you know, eight months for September. You know, send me half of the deposit or send me half of the whole price of the hunt, which was expensive. You know, it's close to six grand for a seven day. Yeah. You know, horseback in wall, tent hunt.
[00:30:47] Mm-hmm. to my PO box in a state, three states away in Arizona and I'll see you in eight months. . So. Right. You know, I thought I was getting scammed. I'm like, well, fuck it. Like, let's, let's do this. So I sent the check. Yeah. It cleared. And for those eight months I was just kind of left scratching my head.
[00:31:03] Like, I'd email occasionally and he'd be like, I'm sorry, I'm on my combine. Fuck off. Um, you know, I want to be doing these other things. Typical, important. Yeah. Typical guide. Mm-hmm. Right. They wanna be doing other stuff. customer management. Right. Meanwhile, I was talking to my now wife and I'm like, man, I don't even know if I'm gonna get fed.
[00:31:22] And so when the time of the hunt came around eight months later, I was praying that the 10 cliff bars she packed me, you know, would last me the seven days if I didn't get food . But, you know, I ended up going out there, you know, my asses sore from riding a horse for the first time in 10 years into the back country.
[00:31:39] And that experience with a guide just beat down that learning curve. Like I was like that annoying kid. I'm sure they hated me. I was like, why did we do this? Why did we stop here, , what does that, you know, all of that stuff. And ultimately didn't harvest an animal the first year. You know, I missed twice. So go figure.
[00:31:56] And, uh, you know, it is what it is and you're devastated and you go through those normal emotions, but it helped, so, you know. Mm. That experience with guiding. Speed down that learning curve so sharply and I did it again the next year, um, with the same guy went to a slightly different area, um, but same story, you know, didn't end up harvesting an animal, you know, weather and everything else.
[00:32:20] And then this past year I went and did my own d i y up in West Yellowstone, you know, was calling elk in myself, doing the whole lot. So, you know, it was, you know, from start to finish on my elk hunting journey with archery, you know, two years with a guide to now doing two years d i y with some success.
[00:32:36] It's, it was worth
[00:32:38] Travis Bader: it, right? Yeah. The, the range of emotions that go through on a miss, I mean, at least was a clean mess, right? Yeah. But those reigns of emotions that go through are. , uh, or something to behold. And there's a mental management process that a person has to work through in order to get themselves up.
[00:32:59] And there's a feeling of possible humiliation of what are other people gonna think of me? And, uh, man, I spent all of this money and the pressure is on and I totally jammed and all, all of these other feelings, I'm sure , that you must have been going through your head. H how did you deal with that?
[00:33:16] Zach Hanson: Yeah.
[00:33:17] Well, it's funny you say that. Like, you know, I didn't have an Instagram, you know, I wasn't like active on social media, so I didn't have that added pressure to be like, Hey guys, I'm going on this guided hunt, you know, look at me, do this. Oh, I miss. So I, I, I feel for people who are very active there or like put it out to the universe like they're going to do this thing.
[00:33:38] But you know, even in my close bubble, you know, that I did put it out there. So my family's like, what? You're spending what to go where to do what? Mm. And then I come back, you know, they, people who don't hunt. , you know, a lot of times have this mentality like, oh, you just go out and you shoot an animal. You know that it is not this big involved thing that takes patience, skill, and, you know, name all the other adjectives you want to mm-hmm.
[00:34:04] and you know that the likelihood of, you know, missing an animal is way higher than success. Like, I think the area we were in for archery had like a 13% success rate. You know, so you're paying money, uh, to learn more than you're paying money to successfully harvest an animal. That was my viewpoint, but other people didn't see that way.
[00:34:24] So I did have those emotions after missing that elk of. You know, embarrassment, right? Yeah, sure. I dreaded going home to my, you know, now wife to be like, oh, hey honey, you know all that money we spent, uh, and I promise you I was gonna make you this beautiful elk steak dinner. Yeah. That's not gonna happen.
[00:34:42] Um, you know, my family, the ones who were already thinking I was, you know, loony for spending that amount of money, they're like, well, you're still loony. You still have some screws loose. That's confirmed . And you know, of course if you have a good friend group, which I do have a very close, tight knit group of friends, some who want, some who don't, I'm still getting ribbed to this day.
[00:35:01] So, you know, it is, well, that's what friends do, right? Yeah. Well, you know, it's funny, I'm in a group chat with some buddies, um, who don't necessarily hunt, but you know, it goes without fail like once a week. It's like, oh, Zach, are you out observing elk again? Or, you know, something to that effect. so lives to this day.
[00:35:20] But, you know, it helps like that kind of humor that, you know, self depreciation. And for me it was coming to terms with. It is a lifelong pursuit. And yes, I'm making up for lost time because I didn't start as a young kid, but it's a journey and it's not one after you have a few experiences that you can expect to just master, like it is time out in the woods, it's, you know, those missed shots, that morality bending.
[00:35:46] I talked about like when I got into trapping, like when you get into situations where you have to make tough decisions, those don't come from a book or YouTube. It comes from time in the field. And yes, there are shortcuts, guides, you know, mentors, things like that. But ultimately it's being out there and that's what I had to come to terms with and coach myself up on to get over those, you know, really emotional misses and, you know, failures and disappointments.
[00:36:11] Travis Bader: You know, I guess, and you call it a failure. Well, a few things you brought up. When you talk with the social media people and the pressure that they must feel advertising to go on a hunt, I think a lot of them just advertise afterwards if they're successful. And they'll just post a little bit after, Hey, going on this hunt and here's this, and hey, great success.
[00:36:28] And if it, but, um, then, you know, people say, oh, my, my hunt was a failure. Well, how come? Well, I didn't get an animal. Well, maybe from somebody starting out into hunting, and that's looked at the ultimate result there. I wouldn't say that that's, that's a failure Personally. How, how would you define success for yourself on a hunt?
[00:36:51] Zach Hanson: Yeah. I mean, you're a hundred percent right and you know, all of those hunts, let me put it this way. Every hunt I've been on, which a lot of them have been failures. Failures in the sense of not harvesting an animal. Um, sure. But every single one of them, I have learned an absurd amount, either about myself, about the animal, or about what not to do, , which that I can apply for the next hunt on, you know, what to try not to replicate, um mm-hmm.
[00:37:20] So, you know, failure,
[00:37:26] failure might not be the right word because I did learn, I just failed in harvesting an animal. Um, right. Which, you know, is ultimately the goal. But I don't sit and beat myself up saying, Hey, Zach, you failed. You suck, blah, blah, blah. But I did fail at harvesting an animal, and I'm pretty damn good at that
[00:37:43] Uh, so I'm just trying to get used to saying those words. .
[00:37:49] Travis Bader: Well, one piece that I'm really curious about be, and I think a lot of other people would be, is that little bit of a piece in between city life and living out in the woods. And I, you've discussed there's a little, perhaps some of the impetus was, um, the life-changing event of the separation from your, from your ex-wife.
[00:38:11] And, but it seems like to me anyways, when I read through the book that that wasn't the piece that pushed you to want to go out and write a book and live in the bush. It seems like there's something that was always kind of sitting in the back of your head, maybe dormant for a while, and something happened in you that made you decide to jump in head first.
[00:38:31] And I think a lot of people are fearful of doing what you've, what you've successfully done. So I'm curious about that little piece there. .
[00:38:38] Zach Hanson: Yeah. It, it is funny. We, so when I wrote this book, I worked with, uh, a company called Scribe Media down in Austin. Uh, it was co-founded by Tucker Max. I don't know if you know who he is.
[00:38:49] He's a New York Times bestselling author. He wrote the books, I hope they serve beer in hell. Kind of like the misogynistic, uh, yeah. Stories of his time in law school. He's changed a lot, but he's very much on the sustainability track now. He has a farm, kids, you know, harvesting his own bison and, you know, gr like raising bees, all sorts of stuff.
[00:39:07] But he is an amazing writer. So when I went down and was working with them, kind of on the synopsis of the book, talking about the intros, you know, part of the exercise, like, who are you writing this for? You know, what, what is the persona of the person that you're writing it for? And when it gets down to it, I wrote out this persona and I realized that when I wrote.
[00:39:30] that it was me, which makes total sense, right? It was me. Yep. You know, five, six years ago. But it was like for that middle management man or woman, right, who is working a corporate job droning away and they start to daydream occasionally and obviously bolster through the pandemic about, you know, okay, let's just hypothetically say everything breaks down.
[00:39:53] Or, you know, I can't go by toilet paper. There's no meat on the shelves. What would happen? And you know, it was one of those things where in the persona I talked about it and this was me. I always came up with excuses, like, oh, I'd figure it out. Oh, I'd do this. But the reality is, if you take away that ego, these are the readers who would sit there and be like, oh shit, my kids would.
[00:40:19] Yeah, I literally don't know how to process an animal. Like even if I hit a deer with my car, I'd be throwing it whole on a fire and hoping there'd be something to salvage, you know, to, to nibble on and Right. That's the reality. And that's the reality I was living in between those stages. Like I had this dormant ember, right?
[00:40:39] That, um, I always loved mountain man's stories. As a kid I always thought about living out in the woods. Um, I talk about in the book, like before the divorce happened, my wife and I happened to take a chance trip to Idaho, um, on one of our vacations. And it hooked me. I saw all these animals and I was looking at her, this was pre hunting, and I was like, we're moving here one day.
[00:40:59] And she's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, maybe 20 years when we retire, we'll buy a cabin or whatever. And I was like, no, you don't understand. Like, I feel physically called here. Um, because I saw the opportunity to learn and that experience coupled with the true feelings I had underlying. knowing that if something broke, and I didn't have kids at the time, and that's more personal to me now with two kids, but Right.
[00:41:24] I, I wouldn't have been able to support my wife. I wouldn't have been able to support kids had I had 'em, like we literally would've starved to death eventually, or, you know, had to join some, you know, walking Dead type commune and hope for the best and hope that people who are, you know, a little bit more in tune with Earth would be able to help provide us food or teach us.
[00:41:42] But you know, that time, you know, the time to learn is not when you know shit hits the fan. It's to take that proactive, that's what, you know, push me over the edge to start before the divorce. And then, like you said, that catalytic event in my life just happened to be the point where I just went all in.
[00:42:01] Travis Bader: Were you nervous about that? Like, what if I go out there and. I'm making a terrible decision. Like I'm, I'm escaping away. Like, did, did you have a large friend group in, uh, Louisiana where you're from a bunch of people that you would interact on a daily basis and were concerned about a population of 35 and in Atlanta, Idaho there was, were these things kind of in your head
[00:42:25] Zach Hanson: a little bit?
[00:42:26] You know, we had a really tight group with our Jiujitsu gym. Right. I mean, those were the people we did everything with. We were traveling all the time, so, you know, yeah, there was concern there and I was definitely gonna miss those folks. But there was also a little bit of, you know, If anyone's been through a divorce, you'll know this feeling like I did just want to get away.
[00:42:45] I didn't want people to be giving me advice like, oh, Zach, you know, it's okay. You did. I just wanted to tell people to f off. Like I just wanted to go. Right. You know, people wanna say like, I just wanna go hide in the woods. So I did mm-hmm. . So yeah, I didn't have have that fear at the outset. Um, but when I got out there and I realized I had no idea what the hell I was doing, and I talk about it in the book, like, I didn't know how to start a fire in my wood burning stove, and it gets down to like ne Yeah.
[00:43:11] You know, we'll get down to like negative 18 sometimes. So, you know, I'm sitting there jack hammering, freezing in my room, wondering why my fire's not working and I just don't have the flu open. Right. Yeah. So it was when I got there that I was learning all those hard lessons. Like, like did I get in over my head?
[00:43:28] Like, did I make this impulse decision to just change everything in my life? And, you know, thankfully I had to stick with it , um, for a lot of different reasons. And, you know, Obviously came out on the other end, learning a lot and still learning a lot,
[00:43:42] Travis Bader: but nope, no kidding. Well, Idaho sounds like a great place.
[00:43:46] Good friend of mine, Carl Fox. He's, uh, from Idaho, lives up here in Canada and he's always going on about it. And, uh, you know, I think maybe in the next month or so, I'm probably gonna head down there and just check it out just so I get a bitter idea of what this is all about. Uh, Brad Brookfields or Galley?
[00:44:03] What's that?
[00:44:04] Zach Hanson: Whereabouts. Whereabouts in Idaho?
[00:44:06] Travis Bader: Boise. So probably very different from where
[00:44:08] Zach Hanson: you're at. Well, no. So, you know, it's funny. We actually have a place in Boise now. So it's funny about, um, you know, we live full-time up in Atlanta, Idaho, which is the town of 35 people. But you know, we're kind of on this arc, right?
[00:44:23] Like my wife and I and our two kids, we've been living the mountain life, but you know, with two infants, right? We're having more and more doctor's appointments. So we ended up getting a place in Boise for, you know, a small place just so we could have a landing spot when the roads avalanche in, or rock slid in, uh, which happens quite a bit and happened last week.
[00:44:42] So, you know, Boise's our low, our closest metropolitan area, so mm-hmm. . Uh, the reason I say that is if you're in Boise, We're just a cool three hour four-wheel drive, uh, ride up the road. So if you want to come stop by and check out Atlanta, Idaho, you totally should. Cause it's best. It,
[00:44:58] Travis Bader: it's three hours and 40 minutes.
[00:45:00] I think it was three hours and 40 minutes. Cause I actually checked it out. I, um, okay. I might actually come out to the, uh, to the area just so I have an understanding of where it is that you're from and, uh,
[00:45:09] Zach Hanson: okay. Well we do not follow Google Maps. Talk to me first because Google Maps will lead you astray.
[00:45:14] Uh, which it did for me the first time that I went out to look for the hou at the house that I ended up buying in winter. It took me about 280 miles the wrong way to a road that was a avalanche in. I had to turn around and make the six hour journey back just to, uh, go check it out. So,
[00:45:32] Travis Bader: yeah. Yeah, it's always fun watching those maps.
[00:45:34] I remember we were in Greece and we had a place there and. Spent a couple months over in Sco Pelos and uh, the maps would take everybody down, some old abandoned road and we're like, okay, let's see how far these people get, because it just gets narrower and narrower on super steep cliff sides. And yeah, having the wherewithal to question technology such as Google or artificial intelligence, I think is a, uh, a good life skill for people
[00:45:59] Zach Hanson: to have
[00:46:00] Yeah, when we all need to continue to, uh, refine. Yeah.
[00:46:05] Travis Bader: Well, I, I really like the fact that, you know, that you just figured it out. I was having dinner with a friend a couple weeks ago and uh, he's got a sailboat and I said, oh, he picked up a sail. I didn't know you knew how to sail. He's like, Travis, it's a sheet and it catches a wind.
[00:46:22] Anybody can sail. Right? I said, huh? He said, I mean, there's, I'm sure a lot more to it, but I mean, you just keep zigzagging yourself over if you gotta go into the wind. But, you know, anyone can sail a boat at the base level of it. And so now that's something that we use in our household. Uh, Jason, if you're, listen, anyone can sail a boat.
[00:46:42] I like it. Anyone can purchase a compound bow and go hunting. Yes, there's a lot to it. But you didn't let that dissuade you. Uh, what, out of the different ventures, cuz you talk about hunting and trapping, which ones presented the biggest challenge for you? ,
[00:47:02] Zach Hanson: um, without a doubt trapping. You know, it's, yeah, I, I would say that it's the thing that I've taken the most to, but it's also the thing that's been the most difficult, um, you know, for anybody who's ever set a foothold trap as an adult for the first time with a little.
[00:47:19] So for people who don't know, think about a regular trap, two metal jaws, really tight coil springs of steel. You crank 'em down, get 'em flat, and there's this little pan that you set under a little lip of metal and you're playing with this thing that is meant to hold a very angry animal. And, you know, when you set it, it's nerve-wracking because inevitably you will trap yourself.
[00:47:43] And I did have many times over. Um, obviously they're non-lethal. They hurt in a lot of cases. Mm. Uh, but you know, that barrier of entry to do that. And then the. , the amount of study and the amount of intricacy that goes into trapping any animal, especially canines. I've found out, like I said, they're way smarter than me.
[00:48:05] Uh, is difficult, but actually pursuing, trapping, you know, learning to actually talk about leveraging the whole animal, you know, taking the fur, um, for beaver, like lettering the tail, pulling out the glands because you want to use 'em again in other lores and bates that you might be using. It is an exercise in using the whole animal when you do get one.
[00:48:30] Mm-hmm. And you become way better at like, taping stuff out and, you know, butchering because you get to do it a lot, you get a lot more reps in. But I think that it's made me a better, like archery hunter just because of the study that goes into it. And, you know, that includes Beaver Otter, Martin. There's just so many different animals that you get a really, you get like a PhD more quickly or an N B A.
[00:48:52] an animal husbandry, just because you're out there all the time and you get to see tracks, you get to understand what they're doing in different scenarios. Like if you walk in a different way, what are they gonna react if you don't dissent your traps well enough, are they gonna do something and pee on your pan and embarrass you?
[00:49:09] Travis Bader: like, like what happened with the fox, right? I think. Exactly. Yeah.
[00:49:13] Zach Hanson: Yeah, it was, yeah. And uh, it's happened with wolves and coyotes too. They're, they're, they're smart animals. But yep, that's been the hardest learning curve for me, but also the most rewarding. And again, what I have found myself to be truly most drawn to, like, I, I'm going archery, mule deer hunting and have Alina hunting next week in Arizona.
[00:49:33] I'm very excited about that. But I'd, I'd be a liar if I weren't excited to already get back to my trap lines to go check for Beaver Otter. Like yesterday I found the new dam upstream from us with a lodge that I had missed in the summer. So it's a, it's an exciting thing. Very
[00:49:50] Travis Bader: cool. You know, my, my trapping experience basically boils down to trying to get rid of raccoons in the backyard and got some raccoons, got some skunks, um, uh, mostly live trapping.
[00:50:03] Uh, conna bear tried that actually for raccoons, I've found. They climb, they don't dig, and they're shock sensitive. So for a real cheap on Amazon, you can buy a, uh, a cattle guard and, uh, electric fence. Put it at the top of your, uh, your wood fence. Never had a raccoon problem since. Why I, why I went that route?
[00:50:23] Did you know that raccoons used a communal latrine?
[00:50:27] Zach Hanson: I did not know that.
[00:50:28] Travis Bader: Look at that. I didn't know. I didn't, yeah, I didn't know this either until, uh, we bought our, our, well, our current house that we're in. and there was great big piles of raccoon crap right in the middle of our yard. And I started looking into it and it turns out they will all come to the same spot and they'll use a, a communal latrine to go to the washroom.
[00:50:49] And so I was out there with sling shots and pellet guns and trying to do everything, not paprika, hot sauce. So all the things that the internet says is good and uh, nothing was successful. Pellet guns, they just kind of shrug a little bit if you snap 'em with that. So started doing the trapping and man, there's so many, the electric fence solved it, gone, never had a problem since.
[00:51:11] And skunks, have you ever trapped a skunk? What's
[00:51:14] Zach Hanson: that? I have. I have. Okay. And, uh, my wife is still, I'm say how to put it, you know, going back to wanting to use the whole animal, like, you know, trying to extract skunk essence is, uh, right. An art, uh, not so much a science, uh, . So, . Yeah, I'll leave it at that. But yeah, I have, uh, very interesting animals make beautiful pelts.
[00:51:40] Um, we have 'em up there, so trap 'em. Okay. If they, in a, they step in one, I'm not really targeting them, but have caught 'em before.
[00:51:48] Travis Bader: Yeah. Okay. Well, I, I've been fortunate enough to never have gotten any stink on me, but, uh, uh, live trap them, relocated them, cardboard shield, home brew, whatever, as I'm trying to, uh, to, to let them out.
[00:52:01] But, um, I actually, after reading your book, I thought, you know what? I should learn more about trapping and I've reached out to the local, uh, British Columbia Trapping Association. They've got a three day course, so I, I gotta check that out and, and see what it's about. But you did a course as well in trapping, didn't you?
[00:52:22] Yeah. Uh,
[00:52:22] Zach Hanson: well, with Idaho right. You have to have a trapper's license, so, right. I went and did that and, and that was okay. You know, it was very basic like, Hey, here are some basic traps. You know, I didn't learn as much as I thought, but. . I had my heart set on wolf trapping. That's a big thing out here in Idaho.
[00:52:38] You know, I was getting to see firsthand how some of the, you know, wolf populations around where I live. Cause you can hear 'em, you can see 'em, you know, decimating elk and deer all around us. Right. You know, focus on that. And they have to have in Idaho a wolf trapper's license. You know, that allows me to take up to like 15 wolves every season.
[00:52:59] Right. That's where I learned a lot. Um, the, the teacher there was a really great wolf trapper. You know, he actually went into kind of the, the science and the art behind it and talked about what you should shouldn't do, like how you should go through these different processes. It was a mentorship thing for me.
[00:53:16] Uh, and that was helpful. You know, I still haven't trapped a wolf successfully to this date. I mean, they're super smart, but it helped me with all my other canine trapping. And since then, you know, I've gone to, um, a bunch of different courses on it, just out of my own curiosity cuz there's so much to learn.
[00:53:31] And in fact, I'm going down to the Idaho Trapper's Association, uh, first sale in two or three weeks here in Glen's Ferry, Idaho. And gonna be there signing books. But I'm planning to take a lot of the courses they have, they'll have, you know, , different beaver type of approaches you can do for different scenarios.
[00:53:50] Mm-hmm. , the list is endless on, you know, people who have experienced and had success doing things people other people haven't, you know, and vice versa. So the community I have found with trapping has been way more welcoming for a newbie than the hunting community. That's not to say that I did really. I have um, okay, nice.
[00:54:10] And I think it's nice. It's partially because it's a little more accessible maybe, you know? Mm-hmm. It's odd to get props. So Clay Newcomb with meat eater, I reached out to him totally to read my chapter on Bear, where I mentioned him as kind of a little bit of an inspiration. He took the time to read it and said, Hey, this looks good.
[00:54:28] You're allowed to use my name. I said, okay. But when I talked to Tom Miranda, who's, you know, a famous bow hunter, but you know, cut his teeth, trapping very, you know, involved in the National Trapper's Association, and then Rusty Kramer, who's the Idaho Trapper Association. Those guys didn't just like say, okay, hey new guy.
[00:54:46] Like, you know, uh, yeah, I'll read your stupid little chapter and give you a thumbs up . Like, you know, they said this is awesome. Like, we're very glad you're here. What can we do to help you? And it was really kind. Yeah. It was an effusive, like, I think because it's a little bit more on the periphery and it's a lot often under a lot more scrutiny.
[00:55:09] Uh hmm. The things that go around it are, are a lot more tight knit and they want more people in, they want people who are, you know, educated and can articulate the experience in a way that is honest, but also, you know, positive and talk about the benefits of it. And you know, a guy, the Montana Trappers Association President Chris Morgan, you know, he's been fantastic giving me all sorts of stuff.
[00:55:32] And you know, one of the things that my wife is equal parts happy and equal parts, you know, Tired of it is since the books come out, I've had more trappers send me boxes of their homemade lores and, you know, cat urine and other stuff, . So without fail, like at least once or twice a month, my wife will come in with like a soggy u s box that I think this one's for you and hand it over.
[00:56:01] So it's just been super welc welcoming is really what it boils down to. That is so
[00:56:05] Travis Bader: cool. Yeah. You know, I always, I always like talking to people who've got a fair bit of experience in a certain field and asking them like, what have you learned that might surprise someone? Like I, I asked a Randy's a firefighter and I said, you know, I know about fire, I like fire.
[00:56:22] What, what can you teach me about fire? What did you learn in your, uh, in your training? , uh, it might surprise people and he says, oh, everything burns in a gases state. Well, I guess nearly everything, nothing burns in a solid state. You heat it up hot enough gas, it'll gas off. And that's what burns I'm like, huh, I like that.
[00:56:40] And I use that for when teaching fire making. That's if someone just keeps sat in the back of their head, okay, I can't just jump to a big piece of wood cuz it's gotta get hot enough to gas off and that's what is going to actually make the fire for trapping. What have you learned that maybe surprised you that you wouldn't have thought of prior to getting into it?
[00:57:01] Zach Hanson: Oh man. Um, that's gonna be hard to boil down to just one. So let me think about like, what is the most beneficial and probably painful lesson that I've ever learned in trapping? Um,
[00:57:20] let me think about a way to get something that's succinct. able to be taken away. I mean, other than animals are just way smarter than me. Um, it would be
[00:57:36] river otters. And again, this is not gonna be like a piece of advice you'll be able to take away like your friend. So I apologize for that Sure. In the first place. But river otters are hell of a swimmer, man. They Yeah. Are fast. Oh yeah. I mean, you might see it in the zoo, so it might not be a lot of new stuff, but I actually have one of the coolest experiences of my life, um, about a month ago, right at the start of OT or at Otter season here in Idaho, I was out trapping Bieber and uh, I got out with my headlamp and I was about to get in the water to set some kind of bears and foothold traps.
[00:58:09] And I saw a beaver. Yeah. And I was like, oh, cool. Um, Normally when you see a beaver, they, they scurry right? And it dipped in the water. Sure. I went over there and I was shining down with my headlight and this beaver is just hauling through the water. I'm like, what is this thing doing and why is it not afraid of me?
[00:58:26] And it kind of came up in the dark on the mound. I was standing on near the side of the road. I was like, well that's weird. So I clapped my hands and it disappeared and went into the den, got in the water, you know, chest high, waiters, you know, deep water. This beaver comes out and starts swimming circles around me.
[00:58:42] I'm like, this is like the coolest thing ever. And I really hope I don't get attacked by a beaver, cuz a buddy of mine had just sent me some cheesy horror flick called Zombie is where like the end of the world and everything. Seen it. Yep. So you know what I'm talking about. Yep. Seen it. Yeah. So I was afraid that was gonna be the scenario, but you know, it went away.
[00:59:02] Set my trap. came back the next day and I had this beautiful, huge otter on a drowning wire. And what I realized is, you know, we had torn out that dam we being the highway district, which I was the chairman of at the time for the rural area. And that empty den had been taken over by Otter. So it was an otter that was swimming around me.
[00:59:22] You know, beaver aren't that fast in the water. Right, right. Okay. Uh, but that makes sense. It was pretty cool. And you know, hindsight being what it is, you know, they call otters river wolves for a lot of different reasons cuz they can be pretty cranky little curious things and eat all our trout. So, uh, I was glad that I did not get attacked by an otter, but the coolest thing I've learned trapping is that otter really fast and really cool swimmers and cool thing to have a little interaction.
[00:59:49] Travis Bader: That's pretty neat. I've never, I've seen them kind of going under the dock. One of the cabins I've, I'll see them as, they kind of like just slink down into the river and then disappear. Never had the experience to watch 'em just zip around like that. That'd be pretty neat. Yeah.
[01:00:05] Zach Hanson: And I guess the only other thing to take away, if you start trapping, a lot of animals have baula, you know, penis bones, and Right.
[01:00:12] When you trap a lot of of animals and you wanna get into, you know, using everything, you know, you'll have an endless supply of Christmas gifts if you get into trapping . Uh, so this muzzle stick for you? . Exactly. So yeah, save money on Christmas. Start trapping.
[01:00:27] Travis Bader: Actually, a guy was killed by a beaver. I remember, uh, uh, reading about that a number of years ago.
[01:00:32] I guess a thing came at him and bit him in his leg. And then he got his femoral, apparently, if I recall correctly, he was actually killed by a beaver. The other weird one about, yeah. ,
[01:00:44] Zach Hanson: you know, seeing what's that, their teeth like when you see their teeth and you like pull back their lipstick and you, you know, cape out their heads, their teeth are huge and they're like steel.
[01:00:53] So it's one of those things like, I could see that, uh, yeah, totally happen,
[01:00:58] Travis Bader: but what a bad way to go. As a kidding. Oh, it'd be terrible. Everyone would be laughing about that forever. I know. Killed by a beaver. Are you kidding me? Yeah. I remember as a kid I had a beaver skull that had found and uh, it's got these kind of yellow teeth that are coming out, but you could pull the teeth and just keep on coming and coming and coming and current.
[01:01:16] All the white stuff, the, the teeth grow real far back into their head, which was something that was kind of an interesting one. Yeah, I guess they always have to chew because their teeth are, they're always growing.
[01:01:26] Zach Hanson: Right. That's my understanding. So yeah, they're, uh, constantly chewing and knocking trees over our road, so they're always at work.
[01:01:34] I know that's for sure.
[01:01:36] Travis Bader: Here's another one that a lot of people raised as an eyebrow. When I mention it, I don't know if it's been your experience, if you've ever seen this, but driving through the tunnel, highway 99, we turn into Ladner. I look up on the right, I'm like, what the hell is that thing up in a tree there?
[01:01:52] It looks like a beaver. Did you know that beavers can climb trees?
[01:01:56] Zach Hanson: Yep. I did not know that. That's another, that's the second factor hitting with me was something that I feel like I should know. But no, I'm gonna start. I didn't
[01:02:03] Travis Bader: know. Yeah. How the heck did this beaver get up in the tree? I've never, in a million years is what I thought that there'd be a beaver.
[01:02:10] I, I pulled over and I'm looking at 'em. That's a beaver up there in the tree Anyways. Yeah,
[01:02:14] Zach Hanson: the beaver facts are, are endless. Like one of the cool things in Idaho, like in the Frank Church wilderness, I think it was in the twenties, thirties, I might have the dates wrong, but you know, there had been, uh, a dearth of population and they needed some deforesting efforts.
[01:02:28] So they parachuted in a bunch of beavers and anticipation of, uh, You know, trying to defor it and there's like, there's like a commemorative coin in Idaho or something like of a parachuting beaver and you know, all sorts of weird stuff like that. So then it's a rich history and that's what has kind of drawn me to beaver, you know, like this one on my wall.
[01:02:47] And you know, it for us, you know, Canada, the us you know, the Canadian fur trade and the American fur trade, like that's what our countries were founded on. That's where, you know, we all started, was in the rivers trapping beaver and feeling that connection today, like as cheesy as it sounds, and you'd asked about like, what I've taken to like being in the water, in the snow in the winter with a trap on my back.
[01:03:13] You know, trying to target an animal that people have been doing for hundreds of years is one of the coolest freaking things that I've ever done. And it just, it makes me happy every time I do it, regardless of success rate.
[01:03:28] Travis Bader: That is awesome. Are you typically using the compound bow? Because I saw one of the pictures I look like in, uh, the bottom corner.
[01:03:36] There's a fluted barrel with a muzzle break on a, uh, a rifle. But reading how you write and you write very well, um, it doesn't seem like you really come from a gun background though. Uh, no.
[01:03:49] Zach Hanson: Um, that, you know, I've done pistol shooting, so like my ex-wife, you know, f fbi, special agent, like, we would go shoot all the time.
[01:03:54] Like, I'm not unfamiliar with weapons. I grew up with weapons in the household, you know, shooting with uncles, like rifles, stuff like that. But, um, that rifle you see is my 300 prc. Uh, it was gifted to me by, uh, a buddy of mine who is a hunter, a rifle hunter. Uh, and he and I owned a company together in one year.
[01:04:16] We weren't doing so great, so he was like, I'm gonna build his custom rifles. I'm like, all right, that's fine. Better than taking a check. So he built this beautiful 300 prc, put a great optic on it. He is like, this is gonna be great, blah, blah, blah. You know, it sat in my closet for a year just because, you know, for me, I shot thousands of arrows before I even went and sat in my tree stand for the first time and never saw a deer, you know?
[01:04:38] Mm-hmm. , it, it's a level of comfort for me to be able to go out and attempt to take an animal with something. So I did actually in this past year, I ended up doing a course here in Boise, Idaho. It was a long range shooting course, so, you know, they taught me how to take that gun out to a thousand yards, you know, a little over a thousand yards.
[01:04:58] Um, but since then, you know, I set up some steel behind her house in Atlanta, and I've shot it maybe three or four times. So it's one of those things where, you know, I wouldn't, if you get said, Hey, Zach, you can go on a doll sheep hunt tomorrow, but it's gonna be rifle, you know, unless I'm 200 yards, which maybe we could do where it's zeroed.
[01:05:20] I'm probably not gonna take a shot just cause I'm not comfortable. That doesn't mean that that's not on my docket. Like I would love to be proficient at rifle hunting like, but what I've learned, you know, my false assumption coming into hunting was that archery is this, you know, again, this was my pretension and ego speaking like this is, we're romantic.
[01:05:41] Yeah, exactly. It's this, I'm gonna be close and have this experience with animal, um, rifle hunting in the mountain west in Canada, in the us I don't care if you're with a stick, a knife, a bow, a gun, it is hard no matter what you do. Mm-hmm. and especially like a rifle seasons, you know, like for elk don't tend to be when they're as vocal.
[01:06:03] So you know, you have to be a little bit further away and you know, I have an appreciation for that now. Just bow hunting that. . There's half the time that I've seen animals that I don't even know if I'd be able to take with a rifle. Um, and there's just a good chance that I woo a shot with a rifle as they do with a bow, you know, given practice
[01:06:20] So, yeah, it's something I want to do and I have the equipment now. It's just a matter of making it a prioritization and it just hasn't bubbled up to the top for me yet. But anybody who wants to come take me rifle hunting in Idaho and teach me the ropes and uh, you know, please come out and let's go.
[01:06:38] Travis Bader: Well, let's put that out there for anyone in Idaho.
[01:06:40] I'd say come up to bc, but for anything big game here, you gotta be with a guide. Hey, I can take you out for waterfall. But you can do that pretty easily where you are too. Yeah. And in fact, back in Louisiana, some, some great water fouling down there.
[01:06:54] Zach Hanson: Yeah, I, I was, and bummed. You know, it was one of those things that catch 22, like the, the what ifs, you know, not growing up hunting.
[01:06:59] I think about all the missed opportunities and places that I have lived, like, um, you know, , obviously South Carolina, Tennessee, good deer hunting, young Louisiana. I missed out on waterfowl and upland type birds. I lived overseas for a long time, so I lived in Kurgastan where they have some amazing, like, you know, IEX and other hunting opportunities.
[01:07:21] Uh, you know, I lived in the caucuses mountains in Georgia and Russia, you know, awesome hunting opportunities, so I missed out on all those, is what I'm saying. Uh, by not getting into it younger,
[01:07:34] Travis Bader: hey, you're into it now. That's all that matters, right? Yep. When you're putting this book together, did you start out on your journey thinking, I'm gonna document along the way, this is gonna be a book, or did you at some, at what point did you decide that this was
[01:07:47] Zach Hanson: gonna be a book?
[01:07:49] Yeah, I, I didn't have it planned out. Like I've always written, I've written one other book, um, you know, it was kind of about. , artificial intelligence ish stuff. Um, okay. I've always liked to write, I've always journaled. I've always done these things. I've blogged, I've, I've always liked long form writing because for me, I have such like a monkey mind, like to get a clear thought out, I need to spend time putting it on paper, digital or otherwise.
[01:08:17] Mm. Um, and that's just my medium for getting like my own thoughts across. Like, if I'm frustrated with my wife, I will say, Hey, let's not talk right now because I'm gonna have word vomit that's just gonna piss you off more. So let me go away , you know, put it down on paper and then we can talk about it in a little while.
[01:08:36] And that's worked well for me. Um, but when I went through that divorce, like my ex-wife and I, despite the kind of unexpected nature of it, we were really kind to each other. And that was like my mantra from the second that I heard about it is like, I am not gonna react to this in anger. And that took a lot from me.
[01:08:57] to not react in anger about the situation that I happened to find myself in. And so I actually went and was thinking, you know, after a few months I'd been in Idaho, I was like, you know, she and I were still friends, we were being very kind to each other. I'm like, I should write a book about like, you know, how to get through divorce ego free, and still come out with some version of a friendship, right?
[01:09:22] Mm-hmm. , you know, if, if that's what you wanted. So, sure, that was kind of my initial thought for a book. But then as I kind of meditated on it in the woods, you know, I was like, that's not the book that I'm, I'm writing like this. This is a real true just journey. Like the divorce is part of that. And like the way I reacted is, you know, good and maybe I could write that book one day.
[01:09:44] But you know, for me it was this just transformative experience. And as I was journaling, just as I always did, I started seeing these stories come together and, you know, . I thought in my head like, there's no way I could write a hunting or trapping book because all I'm doing is failing in, in my mind the way we defined it earlier.
[01:10:01] Right. I'm not harvesting animals. Sure. I'm making a lot of mistakes along the way and like who, who would wanna read that? Right. But as I thought about it more and I talk to more people and I like tried to be honest cuz when I went through this divorce, I'm like, you know what? I wanna just be honest as much as I can the rest of my life.
[01:10:21] Like I just want to be open, even if it's embarrassing. Mm-hmm. . So I'd have conversations with people and hunters and they'd be like, oh dude, I went through that too. And I'm like, you did, but like you seem like you got your shit together. Like, no, no, I went through that too, man. And those kind of started to compound and I.
[01:10:37] Going back to how we discussed about writing for that persona, I'm like, there's gotta be so many more people out there that are just like me. Cuz I am not some unique snowflake. I am, you know, a Joe Blow who happened to be in, you know, the corporate world. You know, a million other people just like me who have these thoughts but you know, have some many barrier.
[01:10:56] So that was why and how it came about, but it started with a completely different idea.
[01:11:03] Travis Bader: Interesting. Uh, and you mentioned meditating out in the woods. Is that something you do often?
[01:11:10] Zach Hanson: Hmm. You know, I talk about it with my wife. My wife now it's very religious. Um, I grew up in the south religious household, but I never took to religion so much.
[01:11:20] Like I explored the world. Sure. I was lived overseas for a long time. I lived in Saudi Arabia, so I studied Islam, you know, I studied Orthodox Christianity and Russia and these other areas. It was always of interest when I would travel like. You know, there's a lot of common threads I've found. Like if you put aside like the religious organizations, you know, do good to your neighbor be kind, blah, blah, blah.
[01:11:41] Sure. But my wife's very religious. You know, we go to church, we do these different things and I enjoy it now as an adult. But I told her from the beginning, like, I feel religious when I happen to be out in the woods. And I started to notice that as an adult, when I would actually, when I started to learn to hunt, you know, when I'm sitting in this tree stand, despite being bored, I had this appreciation for these things around me.
[01:12:05] You know, I wasn't intentionally meditating on it, but I found myself in that state. And especially like when you're in a place like Idaho or Montana, like where you can't help but feel small every time you walk outta your doorstep. And that reminder of being small, when you do it every day and you actually, you know, at least acknowledge it and don't just let it kind of slide by and become the norm.
[01:12:30] For me, that just like beat me down in a positive way to where like I was having religious experiences out there, standing in the water, trying to trap for beaver, no matter the outcome. When I hear an elk bugle, I'm like, you know, that's as close to God as I'm getting on this earth. You know, in my mind.
[01:12:47] And those things compounded too. And you know, for me that's my religious experience. You know, an organized religious experience is just getting out in the woods and it's something you can't describe to people who don't go do it themselves.
[01:13:04] Travis Bader: I would have to agree with that. You know, there, there is just this, like you say, a religious, there's a cleansing.
[01:13:12] There's this calming a oneness sort of experience about just being out in the woods or if you're a Canadian being out in the bush. Yep. Um, and people will laugh at us. Oh, that bush, that bush right there. Which bush are you talking about? Right. But really, you, you get up in the mountains, you get out in a little bit of isolation and, and you know, I've had a past podcast guest, uh, Nikki, Nick Vandel.
[01:13:35] She was on alone, which is, uh, TV show where they put you out in the woods and you gotta survive. And she did phenomenally well. And she's like, you can do it in your backyard. You, you can go to a park and do it. You don't have to be like right out in the middle of nowhere. You don't have to be doing something extreme like what Zach is doing.
[01:13:52] You can still have those experiences. I, I just find it, I find it really interesting how it seems with ai, with computers and everything else that, uh, technology, the way that we're, we're working, um, We're trying so hard to make everybody so connected, but yet how there's this fundamental thread of being disconnected that seems to be running through most people that I talk to, that I encounter.
[01:14:22] And I don't know if that's just because I'm in an echo chamber or I'm surrounded by people of similar kind of interests, or if there is a higher level of disconnectedness from the fact that people just aren't experiencing the outdoors in the same way. I don't know. Yeah. What are your thoughts
[01:14:37] Zach Hanson: on that?
[01:14:38] Yeah. My perspective is, you know, writing this book, so obviously my big social media is LinkedIn, right? It is goofy as that sound, you know, professional networking site. But, you know, this past year, um, as I wrote the book, I'd have pe you know, it was funny, I worked for a huge company, you know, publicly traded.
[01:15:01] You know, I'm on calls with vendors from Google, from wherever, and. , I just decided I, I don't care. Like I'm gonna be me, you know, even if I get fired. So I'm showing up to these calls with, you know, animals behind me in various states of undress. If I, like, I got blood on my hands in the morning and I'm on a call.
[01:15:20] And what's funny is it sparks a conversation and I, I was afraid, to be honest, I was afraid that I was gonna get fired. You know, there's a lot of woke cultures, things like that, you know, so I tried to be like cautious and I'm not showing it off, you know, if it happens to be in the background, that happens to be in the background.
[01:15:37] Yeah. But the amount of people in the tech industry that I, you know, work with on a daily basis, they might see it and not say anything. But without fail, I have gotten so many messages from people saying, do you mind if we talk? And yeah, it's been amazing to get on the call with these people, you know, who live in San Francisco, live in New York, live in Austin, and you know, might not be getting.
[01:16:05] that dose of, I'm gonna call it reality. I don't mean like reality and you know, like, uh, the way most people use it, like real outdoor experiences, like what the earth and world really just is, which is, you know, violence and meanness in the outdoor world. And Sure. They
[01:16:23] Travis Bader: become, there is no, there is no mean, there is no nice here.
[01:16:26] This is,
[01:16:27] Zach Hanson: yeah, exactly. And a lot of times that's violent and, you know, sure. A lot of times it's beautiful and charming too, but, you know, there's, there's extremes and people started to say, how are you doing that? Like, you know why, like, I, I'm very curious, you know, there's a lot of curious people coming to me saying like, I kind of have these feelings too.
[01:16:46] Like, I've been stuck in lockdown for two years in my, you know, studio apartment in New York City with crack heads running around, stabbing people outside, like. , is there a better place? I'm like, well, you know, probably . Uh, yeah. But there's a lot of people out there that are having these kind of innate, like you said, there's this common thread of disconnectedness that people, Hmm.
[01:17:10] I believe, and again, I could be wrong. I always reserve the right to be wrong, but you know, I believe that there is an innate feeling in all of us to have a connectedness to nature. And like you said, technology, our society is pushing us in a different direction. And I think with technology, people were becoming a little hip to that, you know, even though they're being sucked in and addictive features to the things we leveraging, there really is this opportunity where there is information out there if you pull the thread a little bit.
[01:17:44] Um, mm. You know, there, uh, I don't know if you've had the chance to read it, but I'm gonna go on this little diatribe because I think it's really important. Okay. At the end of the book, um, I mentioned this short story. I think that it's written by Em Forester. This story was written in 1907. You can Google it.
[01:18:02] It's called, uh, the Machine Stops, I Believe. Or when the Machine Stops, you'll, you'll have to fact check me there, but you can look it up. You see Berkeley has like the 27 pages. This story was written in 1907, and this guy writes this story and paints this picture where the whole world has kind of migrated to the core of the earth and everybody has assigned their own rooms.
[01:18:25] They've betrayed the earth. You know, they don't want oxygen, they want this to machine, to provide for 'em. All they care about is higher education and philosophy. So essentially all these people are. and then they're taken to their own room, which might be on the other side of the earth from their parents.
[01:18:42] They're provided for, they can FaceTime this guy, predicted FaceTime with people across the world. You know, all they're trying to do is just become more educated. But the story goes, this mother is in this thing and she's irritated by her son calling her from across the world. He is like, I need you to come see me.
[01:18:58] And it was very rare for people to actually go and see them. So this writer also predicted air travel. So the mother gets on this plane, leaves like the underground colony and flies over. And part of the story is her kind of sitting in this plane looking down at the beautiful, you know, bear Himalayas just disgusted that, you know, how could people have ever wanted to be in that like violent, you know, barren place of, you know, trouble and struggle and everything else, and then lands.
[01:19:30] And you know, her son is like, I found a way out like this. There's something better out there. And the mom's like, no, you're crazy. . And you know, the story ends with the sun kind of like climbing up through this thing. As the machine breaks down and people start dying underground because, you know, they're reliant on this apparatus and the sun is the one who kind of kinda climbs up through the rafters and makes it to the earth and finds other people who had escaped too.
[01:19:55] And they're like, you know, this is, you know, he was afraid to breathe air for the first time, but then he did. He, oh my God, this is it. So that story is so apropo for what we're talking about, which is there's this innate need, like, it, it feels so good to be provided for. It feels so good to have creature comforts, but there's a beauty and struggle, and there's no better place to find struggle than in nature.
[01:20:19] And to kind of get back in touch with that innate feeling, I believe,
[01:20:24] Travis Bader: I like that. I, I'm right on side with you. You can't be happy if you've had everything given to you. That struggle is. That learning process, those difficulties, that overcoming the building, that's happiness is a byproduct of all of that.
[01:20:42] If you try and shortcut all of that, if you Cooper responsibility of your food gathering in your harvesting air quotes here of animals to the butcher, to the grocery store, to Costco delivery, you are doing away with that struggle and your struggles. Now. People are still gonna have struggles. They're just gonna be different struggles.
[01:21:04] Oh, my Costco delivery was an hour late instead of when I was, that means I missed my appointment. Right. And I, and I think that's where the, um, I don't know the reality of, of living starts to. go askew. Like what, what's important to a person? What is important is like, to me, what's important to me, well, I wanna make sure that I'm healthy.
[01:21:27] I wanna make sure I'm healthy so I can look after my family and that they're healthy. Um mm-hmm. , and then my friend network. And I wanna make sure that I have time to be able to allot the appropriate amount of time for my family, my friends, myself, um, works pretty far down there on the list. It's an important thing that needs to be done so that we can, we can live, we can do our things, but push comes to shove.
[01:21:49] I mean, what is, what's that saying? A rich man has many wants. A sick man has only one. Right. Um, what is it that makes you happy?
[01:22:00] Zach Hanson: Yeah. Yeah. Well, nothing's been cooler. No trapping, no animal, like hands down, being a dad is the coolest fricking thing in the world. And part of that whole idea of being a dad for me is like, I'm now getting to share some of these things that, you know, are, Still a new exciting thing for me.
[01:22:20] Trapping and hunting. Like, I took my daughter in a sled out to check the trap lines the other day in the snow. She had a blast. You know, she was, you know, petting the dead beaver and trying to give it a hug. I'm like, all right, well let's, let's not do that. But, you know, sure, being a dad truly makes me happy.
[01:22:34] So family, I is the nutshell, like family is important to me. You know, clearly becoming more connected with nature. And, you know, I do wanna say for people listening too, like we've talked about my all in approach, right? That was right for me, and I happened to have the right time and opportunity to do that.
[01:22:54] But kinda like you said, you know, you don't have to do that to start introducing little bits of wildness to kind of get reconnected with that common thread. We all have. You know, it might be going to do a, a pig butchering class where you would normally get your meat anyways. It might be taking a walk outside the, you know, Opportunity is truly endless.
[01:23:17] And there's a spectrum, and I'm on one end of that spectrum, and that's worked for me. And anybody who wants to do it, good on you. It you'll learn a lot. But there's, you know, stepping stones you can take along the way to kind of beat that down and, you know, beat the monotony and, you know, I'm not immune to falling back into some of my old habits.
[01:23:35] You know, like I said, we ended up buying a place in Boise, so we had a place to land. And when we're here mm-hmm. , we do DoorDash, we do, uh, , you know. Yeah. You know, our delivery and those creature comforts are still nice. It's not like I'm, you know, fully out in the woods all the time when my pitch fork, you know, telling people to stay away.
[01:23:55] But it's, well, I figured out what works for me to kind of keep that level that I need. And, you know, for me, like when I am in Boise, a city of 200,000 people, it feels like when I used to live in Moscow or Riyad Saudi Arabia, like it feels like a million person city and I can only take so much before I'm like, You know, once you're free, you can't really go back kind of situation.
[01:24:18] Like once you've tasted the marrow, uh, you know, real Yeah. Like the solitude,
[01:24:24] Travis Bader: like the chapter title of one of your, well, in your book, one of the chapter titles, tasting the Marrow. Um, yeah. You know, I remember reading a study once about road rage and there was a correlation on road rage incidents and population size.
[01:24:40] And they said essentially, and I mean it makes sense, but essentially under a certain population side, the preponderance of road rage was next to nothing. But once you reach a certain threshold, and I forget what it is, all of a sudden the people in your community don't become people in your mind anymore.
[01:24:59] For most people it's just, it's just a car or someone or something just cut me off and I'm, I'm, I'm upset in a small enough, uh, metric small community. And it's like, ah, there's, there's Bob again. He's probably drunk. Or there's Janice, you know, she's pretty old. And you just, you just kinda let it go. But there's a dehumanization process that happens in people's minds over a certain population size.
[01:25:24] And yeah.
[01:25:25] Zach Hanson: Yeah. That's beautiful. And not beautiful in the fact that, you know, that happens, but it's true. And that, that happened to me. And I, I, I lived that, right? I was living in these big cities before I went to, you know, Idaho, of a town of 35 people. And in the book I talk about, like, I had no interest in being a part of that community when I went there.
[01:25:45] Like, I was there to like isolate, learn to hunt and trap, you know, neighbors fine. But I got sucked in, um, you know, by hooker, by book, you know, like, you know, Neighbor had to help me learn how to open a flu. And then I'm like, oh yeah, I'm Zack, by the way. You're like, oh yeah, you're the new guy. I'm like, no, that's me,
[01:26:03] Um, but it, it happened that way. And there was that dehumanization of, you know, I had been so burned by these big cities and this tiredness that I felt and that, you know, dehumanization like, yeah. Someone driving down the street, that asshole, you know, they're cutting me off. Like, oh, what I would do to them.
[01:26:20] But now you're right. Like, it doesn't mean people don't piss you off, cuz they do, but you know who it is and you know more about their life experience, what they're going through in any given time, or you might be the one more understanding. Yeah, yeah. It goes both ways, but it's, uh, that was a big learning experience for me too.
[01:26:38] It almost, you know, I took the hunting and trapping is great, but it also just re-grounded me as a human and made me appreciate, like, despite the bs, despite the polarization, despite the, you know, Pressure from social media one way or the other, an algorithm pushing certain things down your throat. Like we're all humans.
[01:26:57] We all have stories to tell. Some of us are innately bad, I'm sure, but you know, for the most part people are great. You know, I learned that yeah, a long time ago and forgot it. Like I lived in Russia, I lived in Saudi Arabia. You think of like all the kind of bad actor states in a lot of our minds, like the people I met, they're on the ground.
[01:27:14] Some of the most amazing, beautiful human beings I've ever had the privilege of talking with and conversing with and breaking bread with. And you know, my journey back in the States ironically kind of broke that down in me. And when we were living in these big cities, like you said, money.
[01:27:30] Travis Bader: So you, you took that conversation to the next place where I was gonna take it.
[01:27:34] Awesome segue on your part. But that was an, that was something that I picked up on in reading your book and maybe I'm reading too far into it, maybe I'm not, you'll let me know, but I got the sense. That you wanted to be away from everybody, only to find at the end that it is a people around you that really kind of made you feel whole.
[01:27:54] Yep. Uh, is, is that an accurate reading of your book?
[01:27:58] Zach Hanson: Yeah. And we've touched on it a little bit, right? Like a hundred percent. Yeah. You know, I went out there to defy everybody. I was feeding my own ego in that moment to say, I don't need my ex-wife, I don't need anybody. Like, I can go and I will learn to survive.
[01:28:13] And I didn't, you know, I screwed, you know, left to my own devices. I would've been like, had a handful of traps, a bow, and been even skinnier than I already am now. Um, begging someone for food and even going to the trapping community, right? Like, I wasn't expecting to be immersed in that, but they welcomed me with open arms.
[01:28:33] Um, you know, it's, there's just been a welcoming community overall. And when I kind of. , it wasn't my own doing that made me break down that barrier. It was nature doing it for me in a lot of respects. So I'm appreciative of that. But it got me there and now I'm very appreciative of my community. I, you know, am back to appreciating it in a much better light and realizing that, you know, yeah, there might be some people who could go out there and do it by themselves, but I'm not that guy is the point.
[01:29:03] You know, there are people like that, but it's not me and I don't think it's a lot of people.
[01:29:07] Travis Bader: Yeah, I think a lot of people have this imagination that it could be them or it is them, but the reality of it, I think we need each other and we need to figure a way to be able to communicate with each other and get along.
[01:29:18] And, you know, being out in the woods, being out in a smaller population allows you the ability to, uh, maybe do that a bit. So I know you're not really on social media. Um, we did put some questions out to the Silvercore Club members and as well on social media. We got a couple of questions and I got one just, you know, from a personal interest.
[01:29:39] It'll probably segue really well back into something that, that you said earlier when we were talking. But a couple questions that we got, uh, one person says, uh, what techniques and methods did you learn that could assist someone else looking to write their own book?
[01:29:56] Zach Hanson: So, is there anything? Yeah, yeah, a hundred percent.
[01:29:59] Um, I have a golden rule and I had written a book before self-published, didn't go with a publisher. Um, I worked with a publisher. I worked with Tucker Max and that crew down there, and he taught me genuinely how to write. Um, you know, I knew how to. , but I was always in this vein of, you know, again, ego. I would write something, you know, write a couple paragraphs and I'd be like, oh yeah, Zack, that's, that's pretty damn good.
[01:30:25] And then I'd immediately go back and start editing it, you know, like just tweaking it and focusing on this. And then I never really got that far. So one of the things that they taught for me and writing a book is this idea of a vomit draft. So genuinely, if you have an idea for a book, create an outline and do not stop writing.
[01:30:45] Meaning from chapter one to chapter 40, whatever it is, start at chapter one and just write. And then when you get to a stopping point, you do not go back and reread what you wrote. And there's techniques for that. Like, I actually ended up like blacking out with a highlighter what was before it. So when I came back the next day, I might leave like a half a sentence so I could understand where I left off.
[01:31:07] Mm-hmm. and I'd pick up. And that way you actually get words on paper. Now that makes the editing process that much more of a bear. . Mm-hmm. . But you already have this turb to polish, right? So you gotta get that on paper, right. . Um, that's, you know, that's changed my approach. So like, now I actually have another book coming out next week.
[01:31:28] You'll be able to check it on Amazon. It's my first foray into fiction, historical fiction, uh, okay. The Western genre from the 1860s. Um, and I just got in the mode of writing, so I write every day. So I wrote a whole nother book, shopped it around to a publisher, and now I have a three book contract deal for a Western series, um, halfway through the second book in that series.
[01:31:49] And I'm on the hook for another one by the end of the year. But it's all taking that vomit draft, so. Very good. Get it on paper. Yep. Get it on paper is the key. Uh, then go back and edit it. Just do not, whatever you do, do not edit as you go. Just.
[01:32:07] Travis Bader: Good advice. Okay. This next question is, and it's one that I actually will struggle with, uh, is both switching gears.
[01:32:14] Is it difficult to jump back and forth between the off-grid life and then being the tech guy? Is it hard for you to switch gears?
[01:32:23] Zach Hanson: Um, it's, it was when I kept them separate. Mm-hmm. meaning like, it was difficult when I put on my full facade of shirt and tie Zach, you know, at the office blurring my background and, you know, being the stuffy asshole that we all are in our corporate lives.
[01:32:46] Um, what made it easier is when, you know, I really just decided like, you know, why, why am I bothering? Like, if people are who I think they are, which they have turned out to be, they're gonna be accepting. And as long as I'm not being gaudy with like, again, a dead. Animal behind me that's half skinned. You know, that's me being an asshole.
[01:33:06] But if I'm just being me and presenting myself as who I am and being open to talk to people about it, or someone asked me about my weekend not being afraid to say, yeah, I was out on my trap line, um, you know, that has helped me bridge that gap is just being authentic. Mm-hmm. , now I get not everybody is in that position to be able to do that.
[01:33:26] Um, but that was a commitment I made to myself and it's actually, I would say helped me more in my professional life because I've actually built more relationships with people, even people who don't hunter trap, but are just curious and, you know, building an actual personal relationship with them. Um, but again, I, that's how I bridge the gap again, realizing that's not.
[01:33:50] Not everybody in a job is probably in a position to do that without fear of losing their job. So that's not my advice to go just be willy-nilly about it. .
[01:34:02] Travis Bader: Yeah. But hey, find, find what's true to you and it makes it easier, essentially. Yeah. Um, for sure. So another person says, is this something that you see yourself doing in your old age or is it a young person's game?
[01:34:18] Zach Hanson: Um, I'm gonna take that question as like hunting or, and trapping. That's,
[01:34:21] Travis Bader: that's kind of how I figured it. Yeah. Or living in a remote community.
[01:34:25] Zach Hanson: Yeah. It's funny. Um, we have some hardy, hardy people in Atlanta, Idaho. Um, when someone asked me that, there's a woman there, a single woman, she's a little hunchback, trouble walking.
[01:34:40] Her name is Sandy. She lives in our community by herself with a blue healer dog. She's 85 years old. Lives by herself. I mean, she relies on the community. Like a lot of us will help like go chop some wood, take it to her house. But this woman is free. She's the sweetest woman. She's had an interesting life.
[01:34:59] But you know, now kids, grandkids grown, gone, husband gone and she is proud and lives this off-grid tough lifestyle. She's gotta build fires every day. She's gotta cook for herself. You know, she's out walking with a little stick all the time. She's snowshoeing in the winter. Like that's my idol. So the answer is yes.
[01:35:22] Wow. I sure hope so. Like as long as I can physically do it and you know, if my wife and I are still around, you know, when we're in that old of an age, I sure hope that I can live that hardy lifestyle. Cause I think she's getting longevity from it. Um, that's my observation. Yeah. And I hope I'm in the same boat.
[01:35:40] God willing. Very
[01:35:42] Travis Bader: cool. Um, next one last question that we uh, cuz we. Had a few in there, but we've already kind of gone over some of the questions that have been asked. So I've just been, uh, calling through has been going. Uh, what, what conveniences do you miss, if any, when living in a remote community? Yeah.
[01:36:01] Zach Hanson: Well, so we have no grocery store. We have no gas station, and we have one bar restaurant. And I love the owners. They're, they're great, but you know, the menu diversity is not very wide , you know, it's like grilled cheeseburger. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Precisely. And, you know, yeah, it's great cuz we do our own meal prepping up there.
[01:36:27] We eat a lot of the wild game, we do all that, but boy do we miss sushi. So like, there is, when we do come down to like Boise, you know, we have a hit list, you know, we're like doing sushi one night, we're doing, you know, takeout Chinese the other, and you know, for that like couple days or weeks, like by the time we leave Boise, , you know, we are like sick.
[01:36:47] We're like, we don't want to eat out again. . And we do it every time. So we don't learn our lesson. But uh, yeah. Yeah, I think just like some of the food, right. You know, like I said, yeah, I could see that we love eating wild game, all that stuff, but man, we're still humans. We're not like super athletes now, like all performance based.
[01:37:04] So we like our creature comfort. So food is definitely the, the hardest for us. And you know, there's the electricity issues right off grid, but you know, we kinda lean into that because the best thing, and I hope my employer's not listening, but when you don't have cell phone service and you know, your generator's out of gas or whatever else, and you know, the power goes out for a few days, do you kinda get like a three or four day like impromptu vacation?
[01:37:31] And that can be stressful in some situations if there's important stuff. And that might force you to drive down to the city. But if you can lean into it a little bit, even if it's for a day, like, it's so nice to just like surprise be jolted back into the 18 hundreds and you're like, well, here we are.
[01:37:48] Travis Bader: That sounds amazing. Yeah. I I do like it whenever, you know, whenever, even in the urban area where I live, um, power goes out, things are down. I always embrace it. I love it because it's so hard to turn it off. Otherwise it's, uh, well, I gotta be there for work. Well, I gotta do whatever it might be. Now you gotta, you have an excuse and may be really what I should be doing.
[01:38:11] It's just making that excuse for myself.
[01:38:14] Zach Hanson: Well, it's funny, I'm, uh, I, I talk about it a little bit in the book, but I'll expand briefly here. Like, when I first got out there and we'd have these frequent power issues and the internet would go down, we have no cell reception, so when the power's out, you're disconnected.
[01:38:27] Mm-hmm. . So I had a little garment spot, and I talk about in the book, like at first, for the first several months, like every time that would go out and I'd be in a meeting or have meetings scheduled. , I'd literally have stomach pains because I felt like I was missing out and all this stuff. I'd get on my garment and I'd like message my boss and they'd be like, well, okay, you're off grid, so why are you messaging me?
[01:38:46] I'm like, . Um, but I learned that I'm not that damn important. Like, you know, we also mm-hmm bloat our calendars and work a lot with meetings that are also meant to feed our ego. Like previously, my whole sense of worth at my job was like, how many calendar invites do I have in a day? Because if people are wanting to request meetings with me, I must be producing something.
[01:39:08] And that taught me that that's not the case. And like, it made me better at asynchronous communication. Like, you know, that meeting that I had posted, I could probably do that in an email or a Slack message. And I started adopting that more and I saw, you know, calendar invites fall off my calendar and it was beautiful, but it came at that pain of forced into it and being extremely nervous that I was gonna be fired at any minute.
[01:39:32] Travis Bader: And you're saying that you realized that you just weren't as important as you, I guess, thought you were still important enough for the business to keep you employed and your productivity level increased, if I remember correctly, you became better at your job. I don't know. There's a lot to be learned.
[01:39:52] Yeah, there's a lot to be learned there. Okay. Here's my question to you, which kind of segues back into this new business that you're putting together? All righty. As a tech guy working in ai, working in the tech industry, realizing that it's not all bad, it's not all good, it's kind of how we use it and how we wanna, uh, uh, what we choose to direct our attention at.
[01:40:16] How can we use technology to help strengthen people's relationship with the natural world? Oh
[01:40:24] Zach Hanson: man, this is a, a fun one. So one of the cool things that's come about the book, you know, come about my. exposing what my life is like on a professional networking site like LinkedIn. Mm. Is that I've made a lot of cool connections of people who ride that line similar to me of like technology and the outdoors.
[01:40:44] So I've been able to converse with like, I've become buddies with one of the guys from Mountain Tough Fitness. So people who don't know what Mountain Tough is, you know, it's an application. They do a lot of great workouts that are geared towards back country hunting. It's amazing. Um, it got me ready for my elk hunts.
[01:40:59] That's an opportunity in the outdoor space to implement technology. The guys that go wild in Kentucky, it's a social media application all about hunting, outdoors, trapping, hiking, um, another cool application. It's like Instagram for the outdoor space, essentially. Mm-hmm. , um, you know, there's a lot. things, even from a data science perspective, which is more MySpace, the, the C E O of Hunt score, uh, you know, where you can use their application to start to figure out hunting units that have like higher percentage, you know, opportunities, um, for out-of-state hunters or in-state hunters.
[01:41:37] Ah, really cool. Yeah, it's awesome. Um, so there are these things that are coming up and you know, for me, being a tech guy, having gone through some guided hunts myself and saw the, uh, the gap in customer management, I've worked with three buddies and we are launching the outfitter.guide, www.theoutfitter.guide, uh, in February at the Western HUN Expo.
[01:42:02] So we'll have a booth down there. We somehow magically were able to get into that. That was a lot of luck and stars aligning, um, . But essentially it's gonna be a business or a B2 B2C company where we will be selling our software to outfitters. Outfitters will sign up with us and they can kind of, you know, onboard their hunters seamlessly, let 'em sign contracts.
[01:42:25] We can take over the payments digitally so you're not sending a check to some PO box in Arizona. Mm-hmm. And you know, from that time that you sign up, then we as the outfitter guy, take over the customer management. So you're not gonna be dealing necessarily directly with the outfitter unless you need to, but we're gonna be taking that gap period from the time you sign up to the time you're in the field preparing you, which means we'll be sending you notifications saying, Hey, you know, John, you're in South Carolina at sea level, you're about to hunt doll sheep in Alaska at 11,000 feet.
[01:42:53] Have you done your lunges? No. Well, here's a discount code or a free year of Mountain tough fitness. Get to it. You know, have you zeroed your rifle? You know, well, you know, according to your location there's four rifle ranges around you, or here's a discount code for a long range course. You know, doing that along the way so you're not questioning and when you're going on a hunt that already has a low probability.
[01:43:16] chance of success, we're gonna increase that. At least that's our hypothesis. So that way when you do get out in the field, you're not worried about if you're gonna get fed. And if you need to pack more cliff bars, you'll know that upfront easily. And you're gonna be most prepared and you're gonna feel better about this large money investment you're making along the way as well, which hopefully will give outfitters more repeat customers, give them other opportunities to monetize as well so they can up and build their own businesses in a more, you know, deliberate fashion as well.
[01:43:47] So that's it in a nutshell. But yeah, technology and outdoors, there's a lot of opportunity here and a lot more younger folks like me who have tech experience getting into the space, I imagine and expect to see of some more really cool things. Were the two things, you know, meld together in a way that's not too obtrusive.
[01:44:05] Travis Bader: Zach, you're one smart dude. I like that. Um, is there anything that, We've been talking for a bit now, but is there anything that we haven't talked about that you feel we should before we kind of wrap things up here?
[01:44:17] Zach Hanson: No, I don't think so. I think we've covered quite a bit, which is awesome. Um, yeah, yeah, it, it is been a blast, Travis.
[01:44:23] I've really enjoyed getting to chat and talk, you know, a little bit more in depth about some of the, the underlying currents of the book and or society or at large. So I hope a lot of people take something away from it.
[01:44:35] Travis Bader: Zach, thank you very much for being on the podcast.