It’s all about hunting values. It’s a cold January morning preceding Dallas Safari Club. Blood Origins producer Robbie Kroger breaks for coffee with Ramsey Russell before interviewing Weatherby Award winners. In a time that sport hunting is increasingly marginalized, that trophy hunting is said to be evil, Robbie’s Blood Origins project has given an authentic, selfless voice to hunting. Why it’s “in the blood” speaks importantly to the non-hunting majority and to hunters themselves. What’s your why?
Blood Origins and Hunting Values: Robbie Kroger, It’s in the Blood
The definition of hunting is search, chase, seek. Inherent in those three values is failure. There’s no finality of purpose of hunting, otherwise it would be called killing. – Robbie Kroger
Are “Trophy Hunters” Bad?
Ramsey Russell: It’s mid-January. I’m in Dallas, at Dallas Safari Club. This morning’s guest is Robbie Kroger, Blood Origins. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. We’re sharing a cup of coffee. He has set up in a small, little convention room where he is going to record, today, a whole series of Weatherby Award recipients. Which, listen, if you’re a hunter in the big game world, that is sort of a big, big deal. Robbie, how are you this morning?
Robbie Kroger: I’m good, man. I’m good. It’s interesting, you say the Weatherby Award is a big deal, but there’s a controversy around Weatherby.
Ramsey Russell: Let’s hear it.
Robbie Kroger: In that the prize is for the most animals killed.
Ramsey Russell: The most animals killed, species-wise.
Robbie Kroger: Yeah. Four hundred plus species around the world.
Ramsey Russell: So these are the guys that collect antelope, different species of antelopes, and zebras—
Robbie Kroger: They are. You used the right term. They are collectors. I think that there’s a stigma associated with the tagline of being a collector. You’re a collector. A collector of, as we’re about to show in your episode, a collector of experiences. That comes with the collection of a species. It’s tied together.
Ramsey Russell: It’s crazy how a word like “collector” is stigmatized negatively. And you really want to have an inflammatory word: ”trophy.” That just blows my mind. In a day and era that every little child that shows up and chews bubble gum in the bleacher in a Little League field gets a trophy, that we adults have a trophy ambition— Like I said in my recording with you: these Weatherby recipient guys, they’re knocking off species. They’re collecting experiences. When I meet with these people on the floor, they talk about the animals, but, my gosh, the depth they can go into talking about the places they’ve been in and the people they’ve met
Robbie Kroger: No, that’s 100% correct. That’s why we’re here. We’re here to film their “why,” essentially. We want to understand the heart of a Weatherby Award winner. Because the stigma on the Weatherby Award is, “Oh, these guys are just killers.” Nobody’s ever taken the time to sit them down and say, “Why don’t you just tell us, really, about why you hunt? And the experiences you get from it, and the people that you meet, and the relationships, and the conservation.” Can you imagine the amount of money that has been pumped into conservation because of these guys?
Hunting Values in Conservation
Ramsey Russell: Well, because of any hunter. I agree entirely. It’s hard for me, even, to explain to myself, let alone to somebody in the Walgreens line, if asked. One time, I was in Uruguay, and we were wearing camouflage, waiting in an airline line to board a plane. This nice lady from Uruguay who I’d have guessed was a college professor—I later found out she was—asked us what we were doing in her country and why we were there. I would have said, “I’m just touring. I’m just here visiting.” But my buddy jumped in, “Oh, yeah, we’re hunting.” She got sensitive about it. I’ve often thought about that conversation because when you’re duck hunting, you’re not managing populations. You’re not controlling populations. We’re out there hunting animals, and our hunting gives that resource a monetary commodity value which, in turn, becomes conservation. I struggle with how I explain to somebody that I’m a conservationist, that I love the resource, but, at the end of the day, I’m out there purely for recreational value, killing it.
Robbie Kroger: Well, I would tell you that I think you’re wrong when you say that you’re not in the population management game. You are certainly in the population management game. That is what hunting does. Hunting operates— Remember that hunting is a wildlife management tool. Regardless of how you see it, regardless of if you’re going to go and see it as a purely recreational endeavor. Because that is your motivation, right? We can wax philosophical right now about the difference between motivation and consequence, and that’s where your thought pattern was laying right now.
The motivation, for you, is recreation. You want to go and have fun and laugh and slap somebody on the back and say “good job” and kill something. Yes, that is a motivation. I think what we have to get around, and away from, is the stigma associated with that motivation. That is where the “trophy” lives. Well, let’s talk about the consequence. Let’s forget about the motivation, for a second. Let’s talk about the consequence. Let’s talk about population management, right? North American Wildlife Model. The fact that South Africa has 22 million head of wildlife today versus 500,000 head of wildlife in the middle of the 1970’s. Yeah, people go to South Africa to trophy hunt, but the consequence of trophy hunting has been the expansion and proliferation of wildlife on the landscape. Same thing with duck hunting. When you look at migratory waterfowl numbers across the United States through time, there is a direct correlation between that and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, legislation, regulation, population management through regulation, and the recreational duck hunter.
Ramsey Russell: All right. But I still go back to recreational value, commodity value. In other words, sheerly for our own personal recreation, we pay quarterbacks and football players—people that can chunk a ball—millions of dollars so that I can purely enjoy that for my own recreational pastime. Now, we’re talking wildlife—whether we’re talking African elephants or mallard ducks. I love to eat duck, many of the people I share a camp with around the world love to eat duck, but nobody is duck hunting just to eat ducks. It is no longer a meat sport. It is purely a connection to the resource.
Robbie Kroger: But that’s okay.
Ramsey Russell: It is okay. I agree.
Robbie Kroger: So it’s multi-faceted, in terms of purpose. Let’s not shy away from the fact that some people’s purpose to duck hunt is purely to kill ducks, but there’s many of us that have multiple purposes. They want to see exotic places. They want to kill ducks. They want to eat the duck. Some people—that’s a meat source for them. Maybe not the primary meat source, any longer, because of the society that we live in today. It’s about people. It’s about relationships.
What are Other Hunting Values and Benefits?
Ramsey Russell: It’s about relationships among people and about my relationship connecting to that resource and to that habitat. That is so important to me. I talked about it with you previously. It’s having a conversation with that duck. It’s an interaction. Whether you’re tracking Kudu across the Kalahari Desert or anything else, it’s the same thing. It’s a connection to that wild resource.
Robbie Kroger: Well, you’re touching on something that is tangible. It’s the idea of the difference between a tourist and a hunter. Let me capture it in a way that I think will resonate with you. I went to Australia to hunt a buffalo. Took me three days to get there. Cost me who-knows-how-much money. We then backpacked four days into the middle of freaking nowhere. That probably no white man has ever stepped foot. And I did it because, as a purpose, I wanted to kill that buffalo. If I didn’t have that purpose—that was to hunt, that was to kill—there is no way that anyone in the world would do what I just did. To go sit under a tree in the middle of nowhere. The difference between sitting under the tree and hunting that buffalo and what you just articulated, was you interacting with Mother Nature herself, right? It’s you talking to that duck. Imitating Mother Nature. And you’ve done the same thing. You’ve gone into the middle of freaking nowhere, Argentina, that nobody would go, in their right mind, just to go sit in the middle of the swamp and go, “Ooh, this is beautiful. Okay, all right, I’ve checked the box. I’m gone. I’m going to do something else.” You don’t do that. You do that because you want to have that intimate connection with Mother Nature.
Ramsey Russell: That’s right. Speaking of Africa and this whole topic of commodity value conservation, because that’s what I’m beating at— My recreational interest transfers commodity value to this wildlife resource, which gives it a political relevance by which that species continues to perpetuate. If there’s no value on a substance on earth, nobody cares about it. There’s all kinds of endangered species, that have no commodity value, that are disappearing because nobody places a commodity or recreational value on it.
Like, one interesting statistic: up until the mid-70’s, you could shoot African elephants in Kenya. They banned it in 1976. There are now 4% the number of elephants because, with no commodity value, you just got this great, big, hulking animal destroying acacia plantations and walking through villages and eating watermelon patches. They say, “Hey, there’s no commodity value on this thing. He’s worth nothing. Kill him and make room for cattle.” I see the same thing happening elsewhere.
Last year, we were in Zululand, up on a high mountain, going to chase these little African pygmy geese on the other side of this valley, and the outfitter pointed to this majestic valley, as far as the human eye could see, mountainous and thorn bushes and everything. He was like, “Ramsey, that right there is the highest density of leopards in Zululand.” I said, “You’re kidding. That’s amazing.” He goes, “Yeah, but they’re being shot with reckless abandon because Zulu land has now prohibited the harvest and commercial sale of leopards.” So now when that little farmer sees that leopard, he no longer sees a source of income by which the school that his children go to and the grocery and the village and everybody thrives. All he sees now is a predatory animal on his calf, and he’s shot and left in the field to die. Just, boom. That is amazing stuff to me. Because here’s the deal, it doesn’t matter whether you hunt leopards or ducks or elephants or not. We, the world—we, society at large—benefit from the perpetuation of that species.
There’s a lot of anti-hunters. There’s a lot of people that either are anti-hunting or don’t agree with my hunting. I was in Utah, and they were laying out that these clubs—many, many clubs have protected, in perpetuity, and managed, intensively, these waterfowl habitats. They go out for sixty days a year and shoot ducks, but society, at large, benefits from that habitat being managed. The guy at the local park, the guy that goes out on the birdwatching trails—all of these people benefit from that hunter’s activities the rest of the year.
How Did Blood Origins Originate?
Ramsey Russell: Robbie, one of the reasons it was important to me to have this conversation with you is because I do like what your project is. This Blood Origins work. It is viceral. It is important. Every episode I watch, I feel something, because I’m listening to people like myself, that think like me, as hunters, sharing their “why.” How, or why, did this project start for you? Because the thing that strikes me about this—and Robbie and I were talking about this pre-show—is how different his format is than Bill Dance, or than a lot of these other media projects going on out here. This is very important to me, as a hunter, this method. But how did this originate within you?
Robbie Kroger: Well, I think there’s two ways I can answer that. One is, hunting—I’ve got a steeped hunting heritage in my blood, essentially. My grandfather was a hunter from when he was four, living in northeast Russia. Lived the heyday of Russian, northern China, type hunting. He’s the only guy that I know that’s pheasant hunted in Tibet, white-eared pheasant. Then lived the heyday of African hunting in the 50’s and 60’s, before revolution hit in the 70’s. He pretty much did it all, and he was a prolific storyteller. So he wrote all these stories down, literally typewrote them all down, and I have them all. I’ve read them all, and—growing up as a kid in South Africa, in Johannesburg, eight and a half million people, and then going to Mozambique as a kid for holidays—there’s not much left, right? It’s all been gone. It’s all been taken when I was growing up, 80’s, 90’s, early 2000’s. So hunting was never available to me. I never hunted. All I got was the trophies on the wall and the stories that he wrote for me, but other than that, that was it.
So when I came to the States and started experiencing this thing that was, essentially, in my blood—that’s in your blood, that’s in all of our blood—then it was like this realization. I was like, “Oh, okay, this is what hunting is.” Now that I’ve got two small boys, I want them to understand, truly, what hunting is. So then I turned to, “Well, where do they get that information of what truly hunting is?” Well, Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel on social media. When you look at those, I got a little disenfranchised in that I was like, “Wow, this doesn’t look real.” That was number one. This wasn’t authentic.
There’s very few shows that are authentic. Like Jim’s, and, I think, Steven Rinella‘s. I think there’s a couple there that just do a very good job of being very, very authentic. The other thing that struck me—which I’ll now transition into why we started the Blood Origins project. We started the Blood Origins project, obviously, for the purpose of bridging that gap between hunters and non-hunters, and explaining why hunters do what they do. No doubt. But I also recognized that there’s not a project in the hunting outdoor space that’s not about self. So Blood Origins is not about Robbie Kroger. You may hear my voice, and that’s great. If I walk around this convention hall, nobody knows who I am because they’ve never seen me. Because it’s not about us. It’s not about me. It’s not about Robbie Kroger. Robbie Kroger is the narrator, but Robby Kroger is the narrator of us. So this project is about us. This project is about you. It’s about us. Our community. It’s not about Robbie Kroger. If it was about Robbie Kroger, every episode would be on me and my adventures.
Ramsey Russell: What strikes me, Robbie, is when you say “us,” “the community,” you’re not talking about the community in the United States. One thing that strikes me about Blood Origins is how you have taken this initiative of yours global. We hunters—it’s not just the hunters in Mississippi, the hunters in Arkansas, the hunters in the United States. “We hunters” is global. That’s a very important distinction that I noticed immediately about your Blood Origins project. The global scope of it.
Robbie Kroger: Well, we’re just starting. We’ve got our initial footprints, and we’ve been going for about three and a half years now. This year is going to be just as good as 2019, if not better, in terms of where we’re going and the stories we get to tell. But I’ll say, the other distinguishing characteristic that I noticed about the outdoor space was the authenticity. So I was like, “How do I film someone in such a way that makes it authentic?” So, one, we had to develop an interview style, that you’ve experienced, that is more monologue-ish, versus the question-and-answer that is an interview. Develop an interview space that makes the individual a little bit uncomfortable. You’ve experienced that. I didn’t put this in the episode, but the first thing I actually watched on your episode was like, “Man, that camera is really close to my face, Robbie.” But that’s purposely so, because the uncomfortableness—the discomfort, making you sit there and think and ponder about things that we want to hear about—should be a little uncomfortable. Even in a one-on-one, even in a conversation between me and you, it’s uncomfortable. When it becomes a monologue, even more so. Which becomes more authentic.
Ramsey Russell: And when we start having that monologue, that conversation, about that topic—about the heartbeat of why the individual does what he does hunting—we’re talking about something that is a little uncomfortable to talk about. We’re talking about something we may not speak about in a public conversation or in a booth. It’s very personal. I see now where you did move that camera very close, and it did kind of get into my personal space, and it became very personal.
Robbie Kroger: Yeah. So the filming is very straight on. It’s not interview-style, quarter-turned. It makes that connectivity to the person on the other side of the camera that much more intimate, and that is purposeful. I want somebody to look at it. You’re in discomfort, you’re uncomfortable, but, when somebody watches it, they’re also a little bit uncomfortable. Because they’re like, “Whoa, that’s super close.” But, at the same time, your psyche and your subconscious is saying, “Man, I don’t want to tear my eyes away from that.”
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, you are exactly right. You just hit the nail on the head of how I feel, emotionally, when I watch some of your Blood Origins episodes. It’s dead on. It feels personal. It’s a personal connection, as a listener; it’s a personal connection, as a talker, on that particular program.
Creating Authentic Hunting Values Narrative
As a daddy that raised children—trying to teach them to deer hunt—a whole different mindset where they sort of expected to go out everyday and shoot a 150-inch whitetail buck. They don’t understand that weeks or months went into that 22 minutes of programming they just watched on TV.
Ramsey Russell: Hey, change of subject. Tell me this—because I agree entirely—can you articulate some of the inauthenticity, the inauthentic things you see or recognize?
Robbie Kroger: Scripted narrative. False narratives. If you miss the shot—camera-wise—the recreation of the shot. Why do you have to recreate it if you missed it? Just get what you get.
Ramsey Russell: That’s part of it. I’ve asked the question of some people I’ve worked with in the past. We travel several hours across the United States, we set up shop, we’re at the right place. The ducks are stale, the ducks are nocturnal, the ducks aren’t cooperating. The geese don’t want to play, they’re indifferent.
Robbie Kroger: Why don’t you tell that narrative?
Ramsey Russell: If somebody hunts up to two hundred days a year—there’s great days and there’s really, really don’t-fire-a-shot days, but most days are just those average days. That’s part of my experience. Why can’t that be a show? Why can’t we tell a story with a real hunt? I think it goes back to vanity, ego, self. “Because my ego won’t let me go out there and miss a duck, or miss a shot, or not come out with six ducks or seven ducks on my strap.” And that’s a false narrative. I see it going all the way back to the old deer hunting shows, and I see, as a daddy that raised children—trying to teach them to deer hunt—a whole different mindset where they sort of expected to go out everyday and shoot a 150-inch whitetail buck. They don’t understand that weeks or months went into that 22 minutes of programming they just watched on TV.
Robbie Kroger: Yeah, it’s almost a pervasive problem, unfortunately, I believe, and it’s difficult to explain that hunting— I’ll start here. The definition of hunting is search, chase, seek. Inherent in those three values is failure. There’s no finality of purpose of hunting, otherwise it would be called killing.
Ramsey Russell: You may fail to harvest an animal, but you didn’t fail to go hunting.
Robbie Kroger: Correct. No, you failed to harvest that animal. That’s the point, right? Because the purpose of hunting is to kill.
Ramsey Russell: If I load a shotgun and whistle up my dog and go duck hunting— I may not have shot a limit, I may not have shot a bunch of birds, but I didn’t fail to go hunting. Mission accomplished.
Robbie Kroger: You went hunting. No, not mission accomplished, because you went out there to kill a duck. And if you didn’t kill the duck, you didn’t get the finality of the purpose of why you went. There are other indirect benefits, like we’ve talked about. So that is inherent in a hunt failure. It’s not killing. We are not just killers because, if we were, then you would go and do something that you would get your satisfaction and rocks off by killing. Go down to the local abattoir and volunteer.
Ramsey Russell: We’re not out there just to watch the sunrise.
Robbie Kroger: No, you’re not. So if you get into the outdoor space that you become this “hunter that’s on TV,” then you would expect that that individual would know what they’re doing. They should be a good hunter, and, more often than not, they should be killing animals because they’re on television.
Social media—now you’re getting into a gray zone, right, where people always, or feel like they need to always, put a best foot forward. So we’re not going to show failure on social media, we’re always going to show how good we are. So then the social media space for hunting now emulates what the TV space is supposed to represent. I.e., these very good professional hunters that have shows, social media now is emulating that space. So now when you show failure in the social media space, you get chastised. You get this hunter-on-hunter hate wherein everyone is failing but nobody is willing to put their hand up and go, “Yeah, I failed this morning.” Or, “Hey, it sucked. Hunting sucked this morning.”
Ramsey Russell: Are you alluding to the guy that goes out and kills a small buck, or a young buck? Because I see the same thing happening.
Robbie Kroger: No, I’d love to see— And, here, we filmed Travis T-Bone Turner, and he said it perfectly. He was like, “We have built this level, this standard, of what hunting is supposed to be. That you’re supposed to kill this 160-inch whitetail deer every year.” Wherein, a blue-collar mechanic gets four days off a year, and he uses those four days to hunt, and a spike steps out, and he shoots it. And he is so elated because he shot that buck, yet he is petrified to put it on social media because he’s going to get chastised.
Ramsey Russell: You know, I had this talk a few weeks ago, somebody was asking me— They said, “Well, I’m shocked that you’re not a trophy hunter when it comes to whitetail or big animals, because you shoot all these rare and assorted waterfowl species around the world.” I’m like, “Well, here’s the difference: I can go shoot a red-crested pochard, or a bar-headed goose, and the first one I pick up is a trophy. The second and tenth and the hundredth are just like the first one.” That helped me transition more into a collector of experiences instead of trophies, instead of big animals. I think this duck hunting thing, even though it’s exotic or far-flung or remote, it’s still— The whole trophy thing, “mine’s bigger than yours,” that just eludes me. That just doesn’t enter into my equation at all.
But why somebody hunts—if that is why somebody hunts, is to shoot the absolute biggest—I’m fine with that. If somebody goes out and shoots a spike, I’m fine with that. Having traveled around the world and seen hunting in the context of six continents, what I realize is, we’re all in the life raft together. Why somebody hunts is beside the point. They hunt. So they’re part of my team, and that’s what’s important to me. That’s kind of part of this hunting narrative I’m trying to create.
Common Denominator of Hunting
Ramsey Russell: I grew up hunting in Mississippi and, I’m going to say in my early teens, it became a very contentious issue: the still hunter versus the dog hunter. And running deer with beagle hounds and walkers is about as old and traditional and venerable in the South as it comes. Now the land has become too fractionalized, there’s not enough land to really do that anymore, but it became a very politically contentious issue. Now, on social media, it’s the traditional archer versus the modern archer versus the rifle hunter versus the trophy hunter versus the meat hunter. I’m like, “Wait a minute, guys. We all hunt. That’s all that matters.”
Robbie Kroger: No, you’re right, man. There’s a common denominator between all those types.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a common denominator.
Robbie Kroger: Traditional, compound, long-range, muzzleloader, dog, coon, squirrel, duck, deer, elk—with the common denominator behind all of those being, hunter.
Ramsey Russell: Right. We are hunters. Our hunting values are similar.
Robbie Kroger: Yep. I think the hunter-on-hunter hate is where we, as a community, need to really, really work on. Essentially, when you start thinking broader, the hunter-on-hunter hate is doing the job of the anti’s, for the anti’s, without them having to do anything. If these hunter-on-hunter hate people realized—”yeah, it’s a laugh, ha, ha, ha”—but when you take a step back and see the broader impact for my kids one day, and my grandkids one day, because of this “just getting a laugh” today. Hopefully, they can see why people are like, “Eugh.”
What does Robbie Kroger hope to accomplish for hunting with Blood Origins project?
It’s the two hundred million American block [of non-hunters] in the middle that are the most important to our lifestyle. They decide whether we have hunting, or we don’t. That block…based on a US Fish and Wildlife statistics survey of hunter approvals, is actually increasing. Hunter approvals have gone from 76% to about 82% in the last five to six years. That’s where we want to keep it.
Ramsey Russell: What do you hope to accomplish with the Blood Origins project? Is there a stopping place? Let me ask you that. Is there a stopping place? Because, if there’s a stopping place, that means you have a finite goal.
Robbie Kroger: No. No stopping place.
Ramsey Russell: So what do you hope to accomplish? Tell me when Robbie Kroger says, “Blood Origin has hit home. It hit its mark.”
Robbie Kroger: It’s hitting its mark right now.
Ramsey Russell: It is? Why so?
Robbie Kroger: Yeah. The reason so is that I’ve had—not a lot, I’m not going to lie. We’ve had maybe a couple of dozen non-hunters— Even last night, we were sitting at dinner with a non-hunter and she was like, “Man, I love your stuff.” I was like, “There we go. End of story. That’s it. That’s the point.” Just to be able to communicate to a non-hunter. Just one. Check that box. Two, great. Three, four, hundred, two hundred—just like, great, amazing. Keep going, keep going, keep going. That’s the perception.
Because here’s the impactal thing. There’s 4% of the hunting community. Of that 4% is, I would say less than 1%, that are the radical Right that, you know, beat their chests and whatnot. Then if you go to the other end of the spectrum, there’s probably another 5% that are anti-hunters that you’ll never convince otherwise. But it’s the two hundred block in the middle, two hundred million American block in the middle, that are the most important to our lifestyle. They decide whether we have it, or we don’t. That block, right now, based on a US Fish and Wildlife statistics survey of hunter approvals, is actually increasing. Hunter approvals have gone from 76% to about 82% in the last five to six years. That’s where we want to keep it.
So how do we make sure that we keep it that way? Well, we make sure by putting out narratives around hunting that will keep them in that approval rating block. That’s the purpose of Blood Origins, to make sure that block, that approval rating, keeps going in the right direction or stays in that upper echelon of, “Yes, we approve of hunting.” So most of that two hundred million will say, “I don’t have an opinion about hunting.” You want that to be that way. You don’t want them to get a negative opinion about hunting. So I’d rather flood their Facebook and their Instagrams and whatnots with things around hunting that showcase who we are.
Ramsey Russell: Right. You know, so much of pro-hunting rhetoric is the preacher talking to the choir. It’s us hunters talking to each other. We’re wasting our breath talking to anti-hunters. There’s no converting them. It is the middle ground. And I’ve heard a lot of negative stuff in duck hunting about Duck Commander and Duck Dynasty. “It’s their fault.” What’s their fault? For bringing something like hunting into a New York City apartment and making that hunting lifestyle acceptable to that middle ground? No, if anything, they did a very good job of positively portraying us, I felt like. Not to me, not to the local public—to everybody.
Robbie Kroger: The only thing I would say is that obviously—you can’t help it, especially with TV shows and whatnot—people associate a certain perception, or a certain stigma, around hunters. So Duck Commanders, a bunch of guys are Louisiana, bunch of Cajuns, bunch of rednecks. Okay. Not all hunters are like that, so that would be the only— But you can’t help that. The fact that they are hunting, they do it in a very respectful way, they broadcast a Christian message through their TV show. Hey, can’t fault that.
How might Hunting Industry Promote Hunting Values?
Ramsey Russell: Just getting off into a different subject, what do you think that the current role of industry is in hunting? What role do they play, and what role might they play differently? What could they do differently? Because I hear an opinion, strictly an opinion, that, “Well, all the monetization and selling product is what’s wrong with hunting nowadays, and the way we’re doing this thing and the demand.” And well, on the one hand—like we started off the show saying—that commodity value of wildlife. Selling products, selling gear, selling guns, selling bullets, selling camo. That gives it, to me, a political relevance. But is it all just about the selling of products? You know what I’m saying? What do you see, maybe, that hunting or industry could do differently, or do better, along the lines of conservation or promoting hunting, not just selling product? Is there anything? Are they doing a great job, do you think? I know it’s a personal opinion.
Robbie Kroger: I think that it’s a business, and we’re not going to get away from business. Nor should we. So that’s opinion number one. Opinion number two would be that I think that industry has an inherent role and an obligation to tell the right story. They have an obligation to perpetuate industry. They want to perpetuate hunting. If hunting is slowly, slowly decreasing; well, what narrative should we be promoting? Beyond the selling—I’m separating the two, right now. That is a promotion of our heritage. So I think that there is an obligation there. I think them stepping up and getting involved with very cool, on-the-ground conservation projects.
Ramsey Russell: Pro-hunting projects?
Robbie Kroger: Yeah, pro-hunting projects. That’s obviously an opinion of mine. The outdoor industry is probably like most huge conglomerates. It’s a big oil tanker, right, and you can’t turn an oil tanker 90º in a matter of minutes. It’s a slow turn. And the narrative is changing, you’ve noticed it yourself. Slowly but surely, you’re getting more and more people that are changing their narrative around hunting, and that’s just part of that slow ship turning.
Ramsey Russell: I see the narrative among hunters themselves changing. I’ve seen it in the last twenty years. Good and bad, but mostly good, I believe. Robbie, I appreciate your having shared your time. I know you’ve got a very busy morning.
Robbie Kroger: I appreciate you, man. We look forward to dropping your episode.
Ramsey Russell: This won’t be the only time we talk, because our schedules meet back up. I keep up with your Blood Origins project. Folks, you guys listening, it’s in your blood, too. That’s why you’re listening to two hunters talk about Blood Origins, or talk about ideas. So I know it’s in your blood. Y’all can keep up with me @RamseyRussellGetDucks on social media, and with Blood Origins at @bloodorigins. Check out this Blood Origins project. I really think—if you’ve not yet seen it, I can’t imagine that you have not—but if you’ve not yet seen it, please check out Blood Origins. I think that the message that Robbie Kroger is sending is landing in the right place. It’s creating a very positive narrative about why I hunt, about why you hunt, and about why people should hunt. About why non-hunters should value our hunting efforts, us putting our time and our money into hunting. Thank y’all for listening.