A lifelong Virginian, 22 year-old Chris Lacativa cut his teeth hunting with his dad and was first introduced to Safari Club International at age 10. He’s now their digital marketing specialist. Our conversation spins around hunting in Virginia, how a young person became involved with the preeminent First For Hunters organization in America, and its importance to all hunters of all ages–or damned well should be.

Hide Article

The Mission of SCI

We represent hunting rights, your freedom to hunt, not just here in the US, but all around the world. 

Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, where today I am in booth 536 at SCI, the show is over, you missed it if you’re listening to it and you wasn’t here to see me, man, I love this time of year and they moved to mean that I started going out there to Nashville, Tennessee. I started going to out there to SCI wherever we’re out in Nevada and it was good, it was great show, we got a lot of California engagement, a lot of West Coast engagement, it opened up my world, it opened up my eyes to the world of hunting, to the world of preserving the hunting tradition, legislatively and that kind of stuff. But coming to Nashville is like coming home. You all take a listen this episode today because I’ve got a good buddy in here who is the digital marketing specialist for SCI, but he’s a young man and most importantly, he’s a duck hunter, which is how we connected. Chris, how the heck are you, man?

Chris Lacativa: I’m doing well, man, I’m trying to hold in here. It’s been crazy.

Ramsey Russell: You got to be running 20 hours a days right now.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah, I mean, I’m getting up at 5:30AM and I was out till 11:00PM last night.

Ramsey Russell: Kind of like duck season. Yeah, I get it. What are you busy doing right now? First off, SCI convention, I want to talk about this. I knew that coming to Nashville was going to be a good move. What were attendance and ticket sales and all that good stuff. What’s the public response been to you all’s convention?

Chris Lacativa: Well, it’s been great. I think the second that we announced that we were going to Nashville, the second registration was open up, people were booking. And hotels, our block rate, all that kind of stuff, sold out so quickly to the point to where we’re having to find more hotels within the city. One of the best ways I could explain it, from how the public reacted, at least here the Nashville area, we were running radio ads and Lee Bryce was entertainment for Friday night. And his team called our team and said, can you please stop running the radio ad because we’re getting way too many phone calls to attend the SCI show.

Ramsey Russell: That’s a good sign.

Chris Lacativa: It’s a very good sign. And you see that’s walk up, too. Maybe people that aren’t because our folks that are coming to convention, they’re dedicated, they’re going to be there. And yeah, the reaction has been great. If you just go through social media, it’s a breath of fresh air, is how a lot of people are explaining it.

Ramsey Russell: It really is. It’s a breath of fresh air and it’s one of the 4 or 5 days. Look, man, Mexico Duck Hunting is in full swing right now, I’m leaving here and going there and I wish I was there right now, but I do not miss this show. I don’t know how many square feet it is, but I’m going to guess it’s a 10 acre convention room. How many exhibitors would you say there are?

Chris Lacativa: It’s definitely over 800.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I’m going to say it’s 1000.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah, 1000. I think I heard a 1000. I don’t have the count.

Ramsey Russell: And when I walked down the aisle I see Scotland, I see everything. I’m selling the world of waterfowl, my neighbor’s selling garfish hunting, I’ve seen beagle rabbits, I’ve seen markhor, I’ve seen bighorn, everything. Anything in the world a man could want to hunt or fish is right here.

Chris Lacativa: Right here.

Ramsey Russell: And I told somebody at dinner last night, I went and had dinner with some new friends, Black Goose Outfitters and through a mutual friend of ours and they’d never been here before, they were new to it all. And I just told them, I said, you’re among, your people here. People are coming from around the country, they’re all hunters, they’re all excited about hunting, they’ve all grown up hunting and just enjoy it, just make contact and enjoy it for what it is, because this really is. But I told them this story last night, I said, I always kind of grew up thinking SCI was just a show and when I first came here, I thought it was just a show. But I went to a lunch one time, got invited to and in that moment realized, number one, I met 3 of my congressmen who were there and I watched people get up and pledge significant sums of money and it was going into one of SCI’s branches of how they lobby to get hunter friendly politicians in office nationwide and at a time that we need it. And that’s when I said, okay, wait a minute, this is like the NRA of hunting, this isn’t just a bunch of old guys going out and shooting stuff, this is real deal. What is the mission of SCI?

Chris Lacativa: First for hunters, that’s the simple way to put it. We represent hunting rights, your freedom to hunt, not just here in the US, but all around the world. So we have a European liaison, we have people helping us in South America, we have people helping us in Africa, but it all flows through our DC office on Capitol Hill and that’s where I work out of. So my title digital Marketing specialist, I do a lot within social media and marketing on the business side of SCI, but a really big part of my role is the everyday communications and marketing that comes with government affairs and that’s communicating now, when there’s a bill somewhere that is against hunters, against wildlife, against conservation –

Ramsey Russell: It’s almost daily now.

Chris Lacativa: Yes, it’s communicating that bill out to our membership and to the hunting community so that they can engage, be educated and hopefully join us in a fight and then maybe become a member.

Ramsey Russell: Well, as a member, Chris, one of the most relevant things are your emails. Because you all have a legislative staff, you’ve got like a legal staff, you’ve got all these experts in different fields out here and I became aware of a lot of need to know things as a hunter in America that I would have been completely otherwise unaware of had I not been on you all’s email list, such as the time that Obama, I know it’s been a while, but Obama came up with some form protection animal, but it was like an iconic species protection, which was just their administration’s way of throwing millions of dollars into US Fish & Wildlife Service budget strictly to hasten or slow down the import of wildlife. It was a pure political move, because if I can’t go to pick a country and bring home my antlers, I probably ain’t going there to hunt them. And it was a ploy for that, SCI was on the cusp.

Chris Lacativa: That’s still going on.

Ramsey Russell: One of the past directors of Fish & Wildlife cut a deal with Humane Society that they were going to release all of the wildlife import documents to Humane Society. I’m like, what does the most radical anti-hunting group on earth need with wildlife import documents? And I became aware of that and of course wrote a letter, gosh, but you all have got your hands in that. Most of us right here just hunting and making a living and it’s information, we need to know what’s going on at that level sometimes.

Chris Lacativa: And you get that in our email blast or social media. The thing that it doesn’t frustrate me, but you can only reach so many people through an email, through social media and trying to communicate out to the masses every little thing that’s going on, it’s very hard to do. And that’s why it’s so great to have partners in this line of work that are working on the same thing, all the other great organizations that are doing it too. But you’re right. The one thing that I had an introduction to SCI probably younger than most people, coming from a family that worked in the political sphere world. So I got introduced to SCI real young when I was on a pheasant hunt.

Ramsey Russell: How young?

Chris Lacativa: 10.

Ramsey Russell: Because you’re a young man, now how old are you?

Chris Lacativa: 22.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. You’re very young.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah. Only 12 years ago.

Ramsey Russell: Fresh out of college?

Chris Lacativa: Yes. Virginia Tech last year. But I was probably about 10, I went on a pheasant hunt and had some SCI lobbyists, board members and my father, who had a connection at the time. They took a photo of me, put me in I think it was safari times and at the time when I was 10, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. But growing up, I would watch hunting shows, do all this stuff and you would see SCI on Shocky or other big game TV shows, right? So I always assumed too, that it was Africa big game and it wasn’t until probably like a year before I joined SCI. And I joined SCI when I was still in college working part time for them and it wasn’t until about that time frame that I realized what we really do. And it doesn’t matter, you could be a deer hunter in Virginia or someone that is chasing the most wild, extravagant game somewhere in the Amazon, not the Amazon because you can’t hunt in there. Well, no, you can, you can’t duck hunt?

Ramsey Russell: No, I wish.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah. But somewhere in Africa and SCI is working in all those fields. Like this year, we did Sunday hunting on public land in Virginia, that was a big thing we did. We put a lot of time into it.

Ramsey Russell: What you’re saying is SCI was active in lobbying in the political machine to make that happen, that’s a big deal.

Chris Lacativa: Just for public hunting. Sunday hunting on public land in Virginia.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Chris Lacativa: And at the very same time, we’re fighting stuff in the Parliament over in Europe, out of the same office in DC.

Demographics of the American Hunting Culture Today

I see a lot of us old geezers and not enough young people.

Ramsey Russell: It’s a real misconception, I think just the whole Safari Club, but it’s a misconception that it’s just a bunch of Marlin Perkins looking guys out shooting animals that most of us don’t and that could be further the truth. And what I’ve learned being here with this booth selling duck hunts is, and believe it or not, probably half the traffic that comes through is asking me for domestic know on our US huntlist, they may go and hunt elephants or tigers or whatever you hunt, they duck hunt. Because they grew up little boys with their daddies hunting something local and a hunter is a hunter. Some of us just hunt more critters and some of us specialize, but a hunter is a hunter. I want to back up and talk about you a little bit now, Chris, because I was thinking on the way to the booth this morning, I think we met in 2019 or maybe it was 2020, around that era, you were a very young man, you was a kid, still are a kid in my book, but you were a very young man, but you were still in college and were running their social media, their digital marketing. How did that come to be? And I remember telling you, I’m like, thank the Lord, because when you’re sitting out here in these halls, when you’re out there going to dinners, when you’re seeing folks around, let’s face it, I think that Safari Club, the people I see predominating, especially yesterday and today, the demographic I see, I think, reflects American hunting culture as it is and that it’s an older demographic. I’m 50 something years old, I’m getting to be an old man, I’m in that old geezer club, I see a lot of us old geezers and not enough young people. And us old guys aren’t as hip and chic on the digital world as you younger guys are. And at a time that we need to recruit more hunters, at a time that we need to spread the gospel, man, they had the foresight to hire a young guy like yourself to come on and say, hey, help us figure out this social media stuff and you did. It was a big injection, but how did that come to be?

Chris Lacativa: Yeah, so if we back up a little and I started doing my own little social media hunting videography stuff, Sportsman’s Culture.

Ramsey Russell: Sportsman’s Culture. I follow you on Instagram.

Chris Lacativa: Little media brand that I have that I just do my own little, that’s me hunting in Virginia. The one time I go out west to hunt a year, you might see some stuff, but a lot of it is deer hunting, turkey hunting, duck hunting in Virginia, a lot around the Chesapeake Bay, that area, doing my own little photography videography social media. So I attended Virginia Tech into the Pamplin School of Business and ended up getting a degree in Digital Marketing Strategy. So very specialized in this field. But as I was looking for stuff to do, I circled back on that connection that I had at SCI and at the same time, I saw that someone I knew, now Cyrus Baird, who was Director of Government Affairs at Delta Waterfowl, he was at SCI at the time and he had posted something and said, hey, we’re looking for interns. So I shot him a message, I said, hey, I’d love to look into this. And I went through a little process and it’s about a month later after I had applied going into the spring of my junior year of college. So I was still 20, maybe 19 or 20 when I was applying for that internship.

Ramsey Russell: When you went to school initially to study digital marketing strategy, did you have ambition to work in the hunting world?

Chris Lacativa: I did.

Ramsey Russell: Okay.

Chris Lacativa: I think it would have been if I didn’t do an internship through SCI, it definitely would have been a little harder to get that first connection. Yes, I have my own personal phone, everyone’s got something like that nowadays, it seems like, on social media. I think it was just really right place, kind of right time, kind of deal to where when I applied an SCI needed someone to help with social media. So I initially came in looking into the government affairs side of the world as an intern, just because coming from a political family that I knew I had an interest in it, I knew I could make good connections working in DC as a government affairs intern for SCI and knowing that it was in the hunting field. But that quickly turned into, hey, you’re going to do social media and then the things that we see in our contract that we kind of joke about is other duties as assigned. So I definitely started out doing the social media part, helping on the marketing communications of government affairs, which plays into our social media, our email blast, all that stuff. We have our Hunter Advocacy Action Center or HAAC and that’s where people can write into their Congressmen to oppose a bill, support a bill, something like that. So we use that system communicated on social media. So that was a big part of my job, was helping push out these campaigns on social media, going into convention, helping out a little on the convention marketing stuff. And then going into my senior year ending – by the time convention was ending last year, I was finishing up my internship and just sat down, had a discussion with SCI, I said, I would love to come on full time and keep doing this. And at the time, we did not have a single employee in the company that actually had a marketing term. So my boss talked to me and he was like, yeah, we’d love to hire you. And I was actually employed as the Digital Marketing Specialist before I even graduated college.

Ramsey Russell: With a heavy emphasis on ODAA, other duties as assigned.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah, I am learning that this convention. Because I could be a retail specialist after this one.

Ramsey Russell: I would describe other duties as assigned as my first and foremost job description, that’s just life, but I like it, keeps life interesting.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah, it’s fun because it’s like, I get a taste into the government affair side and going in and out of DC, I don’t work every day in DC, I’ll go up to DC once, twice a week, I’m still in Richmond that area, I get a good taste of government affairs. And then once you start to get the craziness of politics, you can fall back on doing the hunting marketing side too. So it’s a real cool mix job that I get to do everything from marketing in the hunting industry, working with our different ambassadors and that kind of stuff and doing everyday social media, the digital marketing. We’ve really ramped up our digital efforts and then also being able to work in the government affairs side too.

Ramsey Russell: Government affairs is not my strong suit.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: And I don’t think it’s many people’s strong suit, I’m speaking from my listeners, I don’t think most of us are involved or really understand the process and everything else. But I had this question for you along that line is, all of your client base are hunters and I’m sure you’ve got a lot of demographic data. How would you describe hunters as their political involvement or especially as the need? And how important is, “government affairs” to the continuation of our hand me down tradition? Understand, I’m just a normal guy, I hunt, I work, I watch the news sometimes if I want to be propagandized. But I’m a fish out of water when we start talking government affairs, but somehow I got his idea, it’s pretty important.

The Call to Engage in Governmental Hunting Affairs: Preserve Hunting Habitats

 I wish more hunters were active.

Chris Lacativa: It’s very important.

Ramsey Russell: Are we hunters more active or less active?

Chris Lacativa: I wish more hunters were active.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Chris Lacativa: And I can just tell you that from seeing how people engage – this goes back to what I said earlier, you can only reach out to so many people on social media, email blasts, you only get to communicate to so many people and at the end of the day, it just takes money, takes money to reach everyone. But it is so important, hunters, we all care so much about our tradition, our hunting tradition, so you would think more people would want to engage through these systems to reach out to Congressmen and we’re getting better at it. I mean, you see all the organizations pushing it out and at the end of the day, that’s what it takes. It takes everyone pushing their petitions, their letters, that kind of stuff, the more the better, but it’s still a very small group of people. If you look at the numbers, I mean, I don’t have the numbers off of my head. You look at how many hunting licenses are in a state and then how many people are actually engaging on, it’s very small.

Ramsey Russell: I think the latest numbers I read is that 6% of Americans hunt. It doesn’t seem like it on public land down south during duck season, but we’re a very small minority among our constituents. And it speaks to me because it’s like, I’ve had this conversation and this thought, man, we are losing habitat, I don’t care what species you’re talking about, I’m a duck guy, but we are losing so much habitat just to urban sprawl and civilization and wind farms and solar panels and all this mess going on, modern agriculture, the list goes on and on and we hunters are the only ones really, 6% of America is really putting their time and their money where their heart is. We’re not the evil incarnate because we’re out there killing stuff, what scares me is that 94% is completely indifferent because they don’t hunt, because they’re not engaged with deer and ducks and turkeys or whatever the case may be, they’re completely indifferent to the habitat loss. They drive down the road and they just don’t see it and they don’t see the loss, they don’t feel the loss and I don’t see how 6% of us can – I mean, we’ve lost so much habitat in the last 20 years, since I was your age, well, hell, that’s been 30 years. But we’ve lost so much habitat, I don’t see how 6% of us can reconcile it, we can’t. We’ve done good just to hold the loss like it is. But we get into politics and for me, Chris, being a member of SCI, working towards a life membership is a way that I know, I can put some of my disposable income to ensuring the future of hunting because I want my kids and grandkids to have the opportunities I had. That’d be a pretty good role for SCI, that’s a reasonable expectation. That’s a good way for me to put my money to ensure hunting is with SCI, put in your wheelhouse and let you all specialists that deal with governmental affairs and stuff like that deal with it.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah. I would say, now I was not in this job 10 years ago, but it seems like now more than ever, we’re seeing more harmful legislation against hunting than we have seen in the past. Per election cycle, it depends. So right now we have a federal government that is nominated, many positions are nominated by the left and there’s anti-hunting groups lobbying to get those people in certain positions where they’re at. So it goes through different cycles per the administration and I’m talking on the federal level. But if you just look at the state level too, Oregon, Washington, all these places that have different commissioners and people that are anti-hunting, it’s affecting it just as much at the state level it is at the federal. But it just seems like right now we’re seeing more attacks on things like large carnivores, mountain lions, bears in many different states. And then the whole threat – that’s just state and federal, there’s so much going on there. But then internationally, they’re doing the same thing in Europe with trophy and poaching and same thing. And even like somewhere like New York, we’re seeing right now they’re trying to ban the import of African trophy products just into New York. But they know how much of a hub that is for hunters that are maybe from New York.

Ramsey Russell: Or flying through New York.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah, they know what they’re doing.

Ramsey Russell: That’s where a lot of my stuff – if I have to use a broker to bring some of these birds and stuff back, that’s where it comes, right there in New York.

Chris Lacativa: Now, we defeated that bill last year and it’s back up now, I think it’s moving through the New York Senate now. But we talked to the outfitters, the communities, the people in Africa who that truly affects. Something as small as trophy import of 5 different animals in New York, how much that could affect the livelihood of one village or whatever it may be in different countries in Africa.

Ramsey Russell: Exactly.

Chris Lacativa: People don’t understand the full effect that that has. So where does SCI play a role in that? We’re representing the wildlife, we’re representing the hunter and we’re lobbying against it.

Ramsey Russell: And it’s bigger than just Africa, it’s bigger than just mountain lions, I see as somebody that travels around, I see Australia. First and foremost, I’m going to throw them on it because their anti-hunters are winning and I’m beginning to sense now, look, man, my Aussie buddies are some tough, roll up your sleeves, get after it, they’ve had to for decades to fight for what they’ve got. But I’m starting to smell just a scent of defeat. And last year I called you, I was down in Argentina and I called you and said, have you heard of this? Never mind 1000%, 1500%, inflation and economy about to become third world and everything else, Argentina is beginning, they’ve got an anti-hunters and they’re beginning to do away with wanting. And what I’ve seen in both those cases, Chris, it’s going to bring us back to me and you are ducks. Because even in Argentina, you have hunters in Argentina for red stag and big game, very few people bird hunt, Australia, very few people bird hunt. And to the average that 80% or 96% or 94% here in America that doesn’t hunt, what a little flashpoint emotional is this beautiful little duck, this little green winged teal and mean old Ramsay’s out there killing him, it’s a way to rally up this emotional support to get rid of hunting from which they can platform and leverage to get rid of all hunting.

Chris Lacativa: It’s the same thing they do with, elephant, lion even mountain lion, bears. It’s amazing how much the anti-hunting groups just adore the meanest, most large carnivore animals in the world.

Ramsey Russell: Well, they’re iconic. I mean, a grizzly bear, he’ll bite your head off. But at the same time, it really is a very emblematic type species of wild America. And a mountain lion will shred you to pieces, they’re already attacking joggers out in California where they’ve closed it, but nonetheless, it evokes this wildness and that’s where they can really toe hold to the average guy walking down the pavement, that’s never out in the woods anyway, they can really toe hold some emotion from which they can leverage stuff, same as ducks. Go ahead.

Chris Lacativa: Well, one point I was going to say, we bring up large carnivores, I’m not pointing names, but I just say the left, how people and maybe different anti-hunting groups or how they obsess over these animals and how they lobby state wildlife commissions, elective officials to take action whether it’s close a hunting season or just make a small restriction. So we saw that last year, Governor Murphy in New Jersey, they pretty much shut they did, they shut down all black bear hunting. And in New Jersey is per capita or acreage or whatever the statistic is, it’s the most black bears in the country. And see, it’s the most conflict, human wildlife conflict. Within the last year they closed it and I think the number we read was “Human Wildlife Conflict with Black Bears Rose 800%” some statistic like that within one year of court getting in people’s trash. In Connecticut, they had a situation where a boy was dragged in his backyard like a 6 year old boy by a bear because they’re moving out, there’s so many things that are going on, forestry, all these loss of habitat. Bears and wildlife naturally move into areas where they can easily find food and for a bear, that’s a neighborhood because there’s trash cans, there’s critters running around, it’s more accessible for them. But it was great because this year Governor Murphy came out and he made a statement, he said we have to have a hunting season because this is getting out of control. And for us, it was like a huge victory. It’s like, well, we just got a democrat governor that shut down bear hunting to come out and say that we are right, of course he didn’t say we are right and did not acknowledge any hunting group at all.

Ramsey Russell: I bet his wife or girlfriend’s, little fufu dog got drugged off by bears or what happened?

Chris Lacativa: Yeah, probably. But it was cool to see that. But they rushed the bear season and they wanted to harvest like, 20% of their bear season this year in like 5 days. Of course, that’s not going to happen because this all happened very last minute and I think it happened after a spike of human wildlife conflict with bears in New Jersey. So now it’s going through the process again, through the commission to have a bear season next year and we’ll see if there is one.

Waiting on Ducks to Fly South

Anyways, so I shot my first greenhead when I was 8 with a single shot, Rossi 410 behind our house. And since that day, I’ve been hooked. 

Ramsey Russell: Talk about yourself a little bit, Chris, because you’re a hunter. Now, when I met you in this booth, you knew who I was because you’re a duck hunter and it blows my mind, I’m humbled and startled at the same time when young people like yourself engage me or follow me or aware of who I am because of an Instagram account. Because, like, one of my buddies from Mississippi said, he said, you’re kind of old for Instagram, he goes, well, Mr. Russell, you’re my daddy’s age and Instagram is for like, 30 year olds. But it’s worked for us and as a digital marketing expert, you found us, you knew who I was and that’s where we hit it off, because we’re duck hunters. But I don’t want to talk about me, I want to talk about you, I want to talk about your duck hunting background. I know you’re a duck hunter, so in some point of time, I’m going to get through Virginia and get to come hunting with you.

Chris Lacativa: I know you need to. I started duck hunting when I was 8 with my father, shot my first duck, it was a greenhead behind our house, so we’re lucky, where we live in central Virginia, we have 8 acres, my parents have 8 acres and there’s a little creek that floods, so I was very lucky, I can literally walk a hundred yards behind my parent’s house and shoot wood ducks and every now and then mallards, so I had very easy access to get into duck hunting. And my father, he’d only been duck hunting probably about 5 years, by the time I was 8, he was newer into hunting and he came out of the Marine Corps and got into politics and then needed something, a hobby and naturally picked up hunting by, I think he was going to NWTF conventions, picked up hunting, yada, yada. Anyways, so I shot my first greenhead when I was 8 with a single shot, Rossi 410 behind our house. And since that day, I’ve been hooked. And Virginia is a tough state.

Ramsey Russell: Why is it tough to hunt?

Chris Lacativa: Well, blind laws, you have that. But then again, people that have blinds put a lot of work into them, so I’m not going to say anything bad against it, but it does make hard for hunting access. Hunting pressure, of course, we see all around the country hunting pressure going up. It just seems like in the South, Virginia down to whether it’s Arkansas, every little pond, every little creek, every little swamp, it’s locked up, someone’s hunting it. So most of my access has been through friends and family throughout the years and I’ll go back on what I said. I’ve been very lucky to have something on our family property that I could always fall back on and hunt and just shoot a couple of wood ducks or anything. But that’s how I started duck hunting, like a lot of people in the south. My duck hunting experience was wood ducks at first light, one, two, or three, kind of coming through the trees, whistling and that’s how I got into it. And then I started as I got into high school, college, started meeting buddies, started hunting on big goose feeds in Virginia or small ponds where geese were loafing on with farm pond mallards and just recently in the last couple of years, I’m really getting into the whole diver hunting on the Chesapeake Bay, that’s what I really love. Because I’m starting to find that if I can set up and shoot 10 buffleheads, I’m having just as much fun as I’m shooting 3 wood ducks. And the Atlantic Flyway last couple of years, it’s just been rough, no matter where you go, I feel like anyone I talk to, whether they’re north of us or south of us, the birds didn’t show up this year, you feel like you hear that every year, right? Oh, it’s not cold enough.

Ramsey Russell: I wish my grandfather was still around, because I’d love to ask him about that. I wonder if duck hunters have been talking about that for generations.

Chris Lacativa: And I think about it to hear it so much –

Ramsey Russell: But at the same time, I believe duck hunters, since the dawn of time been waiting on ducks to fly south.

What is the Duck Hunting Experience All About?

Chris Lacativa: Exactly. So you hear it so much, it’s like, now, I will say I feel like when I was younger, at least in our personal swamp or ponds that we would hunt, I feel like there were more ducks at least compared to this year. I know this year there was, like, nothing, it was obvious. But I do wonder how much of it is just people talking, oh, they’re not here. And then you’ll have a good shoot and then maybe you’re not satisfied with it and I think that’s a real issue. But I’ve gotten to the point in Virginia where I just kill a couple of ducks and I’m happy? The whole pile thing, you can’t do that in Virginia. You can’t go out and kill a limit every day, that’s just not something you’re going to do. But if I can go out into the Chesapeake Bay and kill a bufflehead, a couple buffleheads and then scratch off a redhead, a couple of bluebills, maybe a canvasback, that is a hell of a hunt.

Ramsey Russell: Sure, it is.

Chris Lacativa: And I love it all. I mean, when we’re out there at 4:00 AM in the cold, throwing out whether it’s long lines or sometimes we’re just throwing out free weighted 6, 15 dozen of them canvas decoys, I love it, I love it all. And then getting to watch –

Ramsey Russell: It’s the whole process. Duck hunting is not just a trigger pull, it’s the whole process, interacting with the habitat, interacting with the resource, interacting with ducks, the whole tradition, your friends, the dogs, it’s the whole drama is what the duck hunting experience is about.

Chris Lacativa: And I think about being able to grow up and now hunting, there’s so much history in the Chesapeake Bay that it’s kind of got a different feeling. If you ever drive onto the Eastern Shore, you feel like you’re in a place where a lot of duck hunters have been in the past and there’s so much history there and it’s almost like you feel it, maybe that’s funny, me saying that, I know that some people don’t feel that way, they’re just going out to shoot ducks. But when I’m getting into the mood and I’m out there on the Chesapeake, I feel like it’s almost like a bigger picture, if that makes sense. Because I know that there’s been in years past, hundreds, if not thousands of other duck hunters in the same water on the Chesapeake Bay, I feel lucky that I can –

Ramsey Russell: Chesapeake Bay is kind of like holy ground now, I mean, it really is. The American duck hunting goes all the way back to it.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah. And everyone talks about Arkansas and I get it.

Ramsey Russell: Have you hunted Arkansas, yet?

Chris Lacativa: I’ve not.

Ramsey Russell: Well, you need to come on down and hunt with us, Chris. I want to come hunt Virginia because I want to scratch Virginia off my list, I don’t care if it’s swan, black duck, that’s what I want. Somebody said yesterday we’re talking about black duck and I said, I will go hunting just for 2 black duck, I’ll go hunting for one black duck, because it’s okay.

Chris Lacativa: And we have plenty of them. This year on the eastern shore, I mean, we kind of messed up just because our hide wasn’t the best and it turned into a real bluebird day, then we had black ducks working us, like I’m talking groups of 100 black ducks circling us, flaring. So we were scratching off a few and we ended up shooting that one morning we killed 3 black ducks and a gadwall, but they shot 4 ducks. But it was beautiful watching all these black ducks work us. I mean, I’m talking from first light, hell, 5 minutes before first light, we had nothing but green wing just all over us and it was hurting me that I couldn’t pull the trigger because these green wing were doing it dirty. And second the sun came up, green wing were gone. And this is on the eastern shore, we were hunting the seaside of the eastern shore. So closer to Chincoteague area, everyone knows Chincoteague. But just being able to watch that many black ducks, it’s not something you get to see in other parts of the country. And I talked to people, you had Colin Mulligan –

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, he come by yesterday, he was super guy.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah. And when he saw the black ducks I killed, he’s like, dude, I’m like, you’re over there killing – I would like a greenhead this year, I haven’t even –

Ramsey Russell: Let me tell you, you need to go hunt with Colin on the South Platte River, I’m going to tell you what, him and his brother and he’s got a hunting hole of epic proportion. And you all got a lot of similarities. He’s a real serious hunter that’s as much about the experience as the bag –

Chris Lacativa: And a young member of SCI as well. And that’s kind of how last year we met at that convention or right after convention, but it was like, we just hit it off immediately. He was like, there’s not many people like you and I with an SCI, I was like, oh, yeah.

Introducing Hunting to the Next Generations

It encourages me, Chris to know people like you that are active at so many levels in the hunting process and this organization to see young blood coming back up, it gives me, it bolsters my confidence in the future of hunting.

Ramsey Russell: But that’s the whole reason I wanted a young guy like yourself that works for SCI, that has been with SCI since you were 8 years old to come on board is, I think of all the organizations out here in America that SCI really needs and demands young hunters attention. It opens up your world to what we got going on, it opens up your experience level, it gets you as involved in the legislative process as you want to be, trust me, it’s just SCI needs and deserves a good shot of young hunters. It encourages me, Chris to know people like you that are active at so many levels in the hunting process and this organization to see young blood coming back up, it gives me, it bolsters my confidence in the future of hunting.

Chris Lacativa: And I’ll be honest with you, I just see through membership, social media, our followers, the people that are engaging with SCI, there is a lot of young people and it’s not just here in the US, it’s internationally too.

Ramsey Russell: Absolutely.

Chris Lacativa: And whether it’s in Spain or South America, there’s kids that are being introduced to SCI as well. And I think that’s a really cool feeling – being an SCI member, you’re more than just -nothing against any other organization, but it’s more than just ducks, it’s more than just turkeys, it’s ducks, it’s turkeys, it’s African game, it’s European game, it’s South American game and it’s all the culture, all the history, all the family ties within all those different members and chapters, it’s in all these –

Ramsey Russell: It’s birds of a feather flock together. And in this organization, you find your tribe, at dinners, at events and it’s a resource. I learned so much, I’m sitting here selling duck hunts, but I learned so much engaging the guys that walk by, I learned every day, I learned about all kinds of stuff, have great conversation because these are my people and it’s a big world. I want to swap gears real quick before we wrap up and I want to ask you, tell me more about Sportsman’s Culture. What is Sportsman’s Culture? What does it mean to you? How does it fit in this whole narrative?

Chris Lacativa: Yes, Sportsman’s Culture –

Ramsey Russell: That’s your social media, your personal social media page.

Chris Lacativa: We’re a media brand, that’s how I like to tell people, it’s media, sell a little bit of apparel and stuff like that. But when I was 16 it’s when I started that, when I was in high school doing kind of photography videography for small companies. But my whole thing is, Sportsman’s Culture is what we say, kind of dedicated to the telling stories about the lifestyle of a sportsman through hunting and fishing.

Ramsey Russell: And you’ve also got a podcast I’ve seen. What is your podcast called?

Chris Lacativa: It’s called The Sportsman’s Culture Podcast. It’s pretty simple, straight up, same name.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, that’s pretty simple. But how would you describe the theme and the purpose of that podcast? Because I think it reflects who you are.

Chris Lacativa: Yeah, it’s to educate sportsmanship through hunting and fishing, that’s what we’ve always said. I get that sounds simple, but we have different guests that come on and kind of talk about their individual stories, but then looping back on what does it mean to be a sportsman to you? That’s kind of the question I ended, that’s kind of the whole base of that podcast. It’s really all about what does it mean to be a sportsman to you? And I think it’s something that –

What It Means to be a Sportsman

 40, 50 years from now, what if they’re taking a little bit every year, by the time I’m your age, it could be very little if we’re not actively engaging and really defending our lifestyle of hunting and fishing.

Ramsey Russell: I’m going to end it on this question. What does being a sportsman mean to Christopher Lacativa?

Chris Lacativa: It’s everything to me. I mean, it’s in my blood, when I was 8 years old to now it’s my life. I don’t know, I think it’s my personality, the way I hold myself, it’s everything. For me, I can preach all this stuff, but when I’m out in the field, hunting, fishing, I try to be as on the book as possible with everything I do.

Ramsey Russell: You’re 22 years old, do you ever worry about what hunting culture in America might be when you’re my age? When you’re 2 or 3 times of your age now?

Chris Lacativa: And I’ve talked to my father about it. Because he didn’t start hunting until he was probably 30, but in his lifetime, he feels like it hasn’t changed too much in the last 20 years. But you just kind of see the way that things are going on the news with different topics unrelated to hunting. And like you said, how does 6%, how do we grow within that 94% of people that don’t hunt? It’s kind of a scary thought.

Ramsey Russell: I asked myself how we get them on the hook to conserve habitat and conserve wildlife, that’s what I asked myself. Look, okay, you don’t like me hunting, fine, put your time and your money where mine is and help me conserve what’s left of this habitat, because we’re losing it, man, left and right. And I worry I’m an old guy, I’m not going to fall off that rabbit hole right now, but I worry about future generations of hunting opportunity in America, which is why I so ardently support organizations like Safari Club International.

Chris Lacativa: A loss of access is one of the biggest looming threats that we have as hunters and conservationists.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Chris Lacativa: The more that they start restricting our access on could be a small waterfowl refuge or it could be a large piece of public land out in California, Arizona, every little bit, they just take and take but it adds up and so it does worry me. 40, 50 years from now, what if they’re taking a little bit every year, by the time I’m your age, it could be very little if we’re not actively engaging and really defending our lifestyle of hunting and fishing.

Ramsey Russell: Amen. Folks, you all been listening to my buddy Chris Lacativa. Did I say last Lacativa?

Chris Lacativa: Too many syllables.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I got you in my phone as Chris.

Chris Lacativa: That’s what a lot of people do.

Ramsey Russell: You all been listening to my buddy Chris Lacativa, who is Safari Club International, Digital Marketing Specialist, 22 years old, the wave of the future, I know a lot of you guys are young, too. We’re all in this lifeboat together, we love what we do. What can we do to protect what we do? How can we ensure that it’s going to be around forever? I think that joining NGOs like Safari Club International, also Delta Waterfowl, also Ducks Unlimited, yada yada, that’s a small way we can do it.

Chris Lacativa: I agree.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, we’ll see you next time.


Podcast Sponsors:

GetDucks.com, your proven source for the very best waterfowl hunting adventures. Argentina, Mexico, 6 whole continents worth. For two decades, we’ve delivered real duck hunts for real duck hunters.

USHuntList.com because the next great hunt is closer than you think. Search our database of proven US and Canadian outfits. Contact them directly with confidence.

Benelli USA Shotguns. Trust is earned. By the numbers, I’ve bagged 121 waterfowl subspecies bagged on 6 continents, 20 countries, 36 US states and growing. I spend up to 225 days per year chasing ducks, geese and swans worldwide, and I don’t use shotgun for the brand name or the cool factor. Y’all know me way better than that. I’ve shot, Benelli Shotguns for over two decades. I continue shooting Benelli shotguns for their simplicity, utter reliability and superior performance. Whether hunting near home or halfway across the world, that’s the stuff that matters.

HuntProof, the premier mobile waterfowl app, is an absolute game changer. Quickly and easily attribute each hunt or scouting report to include automatic weather and pinpoint mapping; summarize waterfowl harvest by season, goose and duck species; share with friends within your network; type a hunt narrative and add photos. Migrational predictor algorithms estimate bird activity and, based on past hunt data will use weather conditions and hunt history to even suggest which blind will likely be most productive!

Inukshuk Professional Dog Food Our beloved retrievers are high-performing athletes that live to recover downed birds regardless of conditions. That’s why Char Dawg is powered by Inukshuk. With up to 720 kcals/ cup, Inukshuk Professional Dog Food is the highest-energy, highest-quality dog food available. Highly digestible, calorie-dense formulas reduce meal size and waste. Loaded with essential omega fatty acids, Inuk-nuk keeps coats shining, joints moving, noses on point. Produced in New Brunswick, Canada, using only best-of-best ingredients, Inukshuk is sold directly to consumers. I’ll feed nothing but Inukshuk. It’s like rocket fuel. The proof is in Char Dawg’s performance.

Tetra Hearing Delivers premium technology that’s specifically calibrated for the users own hearing and is comfortable, giving hunters a natural hearing experience, while still protecting their hearing. Using patent-pending Specialized Target Optimization™ (STO), the world’s first hearing technology designed optimize hearing for hunters in their specific hunting environments. TETRA gives hunters an edge and gives them their edge back. Can you hear me now?! Dang straight I can. Thanks to Tetra Hearing!

Voormi Wool-based technology is engineered to perform. Wool is nature’s miracle fiber. It’s light, wicks moisture, is inherently warm even when wet. It’s comfortable over a wide temperature gradient, naturally anti-microbial, remaining odor free. But Voormi is not your ordinary wool. It’s new breed of proprietary thermal wool takes it next level–it doesn’t itch, is surface-hardened to bead water from shaking duck dogs, and is available in your favorite earth tones and a couple unique concealment patterns. With wool-based solutions at the yarn level, Voormi eliminates the unwordly glow that’s common during low light while wearing synthetics. The high-e hoodie and base layers are personal favorites that I wear worldwide. Voormi’s growing line of innovative of performance products is authenticity with humility. It’s the practical hunting gear that we real duck hunters deserve.

Mojo Outdoors, most recognized name brand decoy number one maker of motion and spinning wing decoys in the world. More than just the best spinning wing decoys on the market, their ever growing product line includes all kinds of cool stuff. Magnetic Pick Stick, Scoot and Shoot Turkey Decoys much, much more. And don’t forget my personal favorite, yes sir, they also make the one – the only – world-famous Spoonzilla. When I pranked Terry Denman in Mexico with a “smiling mallard” nobody ever dreamed it would become the most talked about decoy of the century. I’ve used Mojo decoys worldwide, everywhere I’ve ever duck hunted from Azerbaijan to Argentina. I absolutely never leave home without one. Mojo Outdoors, forever changing the way you hunt ducks.

BOSS Shotshells copper-plated bismuth-tin alloy is the good ol’ days again. Steel shot’s come a long way in the past 30 years, but we’ll never, ever perform like good old fashioned lead. Say goodbye to all that gimmicky high recoil compensation science hype, and hello to superior performance. Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills. That is the BOSS Way. The good old days are now.

Tom Beckbe The Tom Beckbe lifestyle is timeless, harkening an American era that hunting gear lasted generations. Classic design and rugged materials withstand the elements. The Tensas Jacket is like the one my grandfather wore. Like the one I still wear. Because high-quality Tom Beckbe gear lasts. Forever. For the hunt.

Flashback Decoy by Duck Creek Decoy Works. It almost pains me to tell y’all about Duck Creek Decoy Work’s new Flashback Decoy because in  the words of Flashback Decoy inventor Tyler Baskfield, duck hunting gear really is “an arms race.” At my Mississippi camp, his flashback decoy has been a top-secret weapon among my personal bag of tricks. It behaves exactly like a feeding mallard, making slick-as-glass water roil to life. And now that my secret’s out I’ll tell y’all something else: I’ve got 3 of them.

Ducks Unlimited takes a continental, landscape approach to wetland conservation. Since 1937, DU has conserved almost 15 million acres of waterfowl habitat across North America. While DU works in all 50 states, the organization focuses its efforts and resources on the habitats most beneficial to waterfowl.

It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at ramsey@getducks.com. And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks