Life’s Short Get Wisdom: Part 1

Life's Short Get Ducks Ramsey Russell Podcast

In this edition of The End Of The Line podcast, Rocky Leflore is joined by Ramsey Russell for another episode of Life’s Short, Get Ducks. You probably notice the title is wrong in the picture, but today it is about wisdom. What few business etiquettes does it take in life to be successful? What man changed Ramsey’s future and why? What made so many old school guys successful in business and life that so many today are missing? What man changed Ramsey’s future and why? Ramsey starts that story today.

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The Joys and Trials of Working with Your Spouse

If you can communicate well, you’re going to be successful in marriage and in business partnership together.

Rocky Leflore: Welcome to The End of The Line podcast, I’m Rocky Leflore in the Duck South Studios in Oxford, Mississippi. Good to have you back Double R, missed last week.

Ramsey Russell: I know, but I got a lot done last week, so there’s that.

Rocky Leflore: But you’re out on the road today, where you headed to?

Ramsey Russell: Me and Miss Anita are heading to Houston, Texas. Just getting a little vacation for a day or so and just putting us out on the road. Great thing about me and her, we can work while we’re traveling. She’s got her laptop beaming up to a satellite or something and I’m driving and talking on the phone so it’s good. 

Rocky Leflore: It is. Until you work together as a husband and wife – I will say this, sometimes it’s hard to – I know for Roane and I, and I’m not going to sit here and say that we’re perfect in working together, but it works and it works well.

Ramsey Russell: Man, when I left federal government our biggest fear was there’s going to be too much of each other. we work right across the desk when I’m actually sitting in the office and that can be tough. Even though we’re opposite, she’s the brains and I’m the good looks, it can still be tough. But I’ll tell you, I guess we’re 8 or 9 years into it now and it’s been the best thing for our work and our relationship, we really yin and yang good together. You said it the other day, Rocky, talking about you and Roane’s project, everybody should be lucky enough to have a life partner like this.

Rocky Leflore: I’ll tell you this, I try to be as transparent of a person there is, just like last week, my wife, when it comes to talking about things that are controversial sometimes or she needs help on something. Sometimes she finds it hard to say, “Hey, help me out,” and I have to keep saying, “Tell me if you need something help-wise outside of my scope. I’m there.”  If you can communicate well, you’re going to be successful in marriage and in business partnership together. You’ve got to communicate.

Differences in Communication: Men and Women

Ramsey Russell: That’s right. Speaking of communication, we do communicate a tad differently and I think it’s just a “he and she” issue. Women communicate differently than men. I’ve just noticed, Rocky, if I got a problem or something needs to be addressed, I just like, blurt it out. “The kitchen’s on fire.”

Rocky Leflore: That’s me.

Ramsey Russell: But women don’t do that. They go, “Uh” oh or they say something, it puts a pit in your stomach, but they don’t finish. Within a text message or WhatsApp communications, you’re like well, spit it out, woman, let’s deal with this. They’re a little more subtle and coming into it and I don’t know the kitchen’s on fire and it needs to be put out.

Rocky Leflore: That is me.

Ramsey Russell: They start talking about, “I haven’t back in the house in a while, and something else is going on, and do you smell smoke?” I don’t take subtlety at all. I’m terrible at that.

The Good Ole’ Days of Customer Service…Gone Forever?

What I’m starting to see is that people don’t even expect it anymore like they used to.

Rocky Leflore: I’ll tell you this one Ramsey. The other day, a client came in to pick up an animal. For me, being in the restaurant business, if somebody’s walking out with it to-go, I’m holding the door open for him. If we’re not real busy, I’m going to the car and I’m going to open the door that they’re going to put the food in. The other day, I will admit I handled it a little rough, but I’m like, “Let’s get this done.” So, I called everybody involved, we want to set ourselves apart from everybody else in town, that’s how everybody else in town is operating. We want to go one step further and be different. We want to communicate with the patients as they come in. We want to help when they come in, we want to hold the door open for them and tell them thank you when they’re walking out. Because when they go to these other offices, they’re not being told thank you, they’re not having a door held open for them. That’s going to bring you more business.

 Ramsey Russell: Boy, you ain’t lying. That’s the thing about it is, you all are in the service industry, I’m in the service industry, a lot of us are – you’ve got to build relationships with people. Answering the phone when people call, returning phone calls, having good and bad discussions, that’s just a part of a relationship. Opening the door is just a courtesy, especially down here in the South. “Yes ma’am, no ma’am” and it’s all about building relationships with people. I think that’s a great policy. I don’t get this whole new – I worry about my kids and grandkids. I checked myself out at Walmart, I checked myself out at Home Depot. I mean it’s not that going into Walmart and talking to the lady that used to check you out was such a big deal, it wasn’t. She just works there, she’s just drawing a pay check. She don’t care if you shop there, come to her, she don’t care, that’s always been a problem. But don’t you kind of miss, back in the old days, going to a restaurant and the guy pouring the coffee knew you? Or going to the little mom and pop hardware store that carried everything in stock 24/7, 365, not seasonally stocked like Walmart or somebody. I mean that was a nice thing. You go in and say, man, I don’t really know what I need and here I’m looking at this and that and they can put their hands right on it, just go through all them little screws and tack drawers and pull something out. I miss that. Service has gone to the devil. Customer service has just gone to the devil in this day and age. What I’m starting to see is that people don’t even expect it anymore like they used to. I’ve hand written letters to people. If somebody calls up, our catalogue is online, in PDF form. We hand it out, we mail them out, and we do different things, but every now and again an old guy, that doesn’t really do much on computer will call and ask for a mailed copy. I don’t just stick a brochure and in envelope, lick the stamp and go. I’ll write a little note, “Hey, thank you very much, looking forward to working with you.” I get phone calls now, they say, “Son, it’s been 10-15 whatever years since I last saw a handwritten note and I appreciate you doing that.” I mean, it’s kind of scary on both sides that, one, we don’t get it anymore. Two, that, people don’t expect it anymore. We do expect it, we should expect it. Man, if I’m going to go lay $40, $50, $60 or $100 at a restaurant, I hate to say it man, I don’t care what the rule of thumb tip is, I’m not that guy. I’m not going to give you a tip just because that’s what the normal is. I don’t care what you make an hour. I better feel like I’m being waited on, like you care about my business, like you care about my feet under your table. That’s just how I am dude. I feel like I tip fairly generously when the service is good and polite and good customer service. There’s a restaurant there in Flowood we eat at a little bit and I’m not just crazy about the food, I’m a hole in the wall kind of guy. I never will forget, we went in a couple of years ago at Mother’s Day and they were slammed. I mean they were slammed and I didn’t really think it took too terribly long. I mean, we got sat at the table when we did and they brought our drinks out, but I’d say probably 25 to 30 minutes, before order time and we got served. We were having such a great conversation, me and my mom, and my wife and my kids. We weren’t in a hurry to go anywhere, we didn’t have anything else to do, but the whole purpose was to sit down and visit as a family. Anyway, but I tell you this, that manager walked out himself and said, I’d like to bring you all desserts – if you feel like it. I’m like, “Sir, we’re fine. It just means a lot that you cared enough about the reputation of your restaurant to step out and have this conversation because it really did.” I mean, think about that Rocky, I mean, the man was hectic, he was just slammed, he was coming by on some of these tables that had taken a little time for the order to turn around back in the kitchen and apologize. Comping and doing things, man, that’s just unheard of. I don’t know how your household is, but sometimes we might plan on eating at 06:00 PM, but we don’t get around down until 06:30 PM because life happens. Sometimes that happens in restaurants too but what I don’t like is when you go in there and it’s almost like they’re offended. I had a client the other day, he went to New Zealand, not with me, just kind of went on his own. I see him at SCI a lot, he’s more of a big game hunter than a bird hunter but he went to New Zealand. When he landed in Customs coming back home to the US – he’s been to this beautiful country with great hospitality and the hospitality service  – and of course he got his animals. He just had this wonderful time in this enchanting country, and he lands in Houston, Texas. He said between the time they embarked off the plane and got to where they showed their passport, he counted 20 something airport employees sitting in rocking chairs, playing on their phone, doing nothing. Just sitting there, no help, no nothing, drawing a pay check. He and I had that conversation. I said, well, service isn’t expected anymore, especially in that industry. Service and hospitality is not expected anymore and I think that any of us that are in business for ourselves, whether it’s veterinary or air conditioning or travel or whatever, service is everything. I think people still feel it but I do wonder (and then I’ll shut up about it), how far along it’s going to be my kids, my grandkids, before they’re not expecting service. They’re so used to checking yourself out at Home Depot, having shopped for yourself, and trying to find where they moved everything, when are you going to just quit expecting service?

The Service Industry – How Customer Service Matters

They’re going to come to your door because of how you make them feel.

Rocky Leflore: Man, at the end of the day – you brought up Walmart and Home Depot. I will not, unless I am super in a hurry and I don’t have but one little small item a couple of bucks to pay for that one item, I will not go through a self-checkout. At the end of the day, at the self-checkout, all you’re doing is putting somebody out of a job.

Ramsey Russell: Well, and look at Amazon. I mean, really and truly, one click, boom. Tell me one thing that you need, that you can’t get at amazon, just one click away, boom. There’s no customer service, no human interaction, no nothing. Just pick out your phone, Google it, boom, bing, bam, it’s going to be at your door in two days. No human act, no service, no customer, and boom, comes to you fully automated. That’s the way of the world. Except that, I guess if you’re selling something that people buy on Amazon, that’s one thing. But if you’re in our business Rocky, service is everything. To get a pet groomed, to get a dog looked at, to get heartworm pills, to buy duck hunts, you can do that anywhere. They’re going to come to your door because of how you make them feel.

Rocky Leflore: Exactly.

Ramsey Russell: That’s a big deal.

Rocky Leflore: Well, here’s the deal, it used to be in the old school way of doing things in the veterinary business was very hands on. You walked into an exam room, you were there with the doctor, and the vet tech while they were doing service. Now doctors have gotten to the point they don’t want to deal with people. They want their techs and their receptionists dealing with the people. I think that it means the world to people to be able to communicate with their doctor when it when it pertains to things.

Ramsey Russell: I can guarantee you. Or themselves. Rocky, I’ve got another client who’s become a very good friend. He’s a surgeon and a couple of years ago he did an Instagram page and started becoming a little more active in social media. I think he’s got a very interesting page, I follow him. He ain’t got a massive following but he’s got a good following. They put up some real cheeky content and pretty in line with what he does. I was on the phone with him one day he said, “Do you get like text messages and inboxes and stuff asking you?” I said, “Yeah, all the time.” He said, “I don’t know, I’m just not used to it I guess. I’m really starting to reconsider this whole social media experiment because here I am eating dinner with my family at a nice restaurant and I’m getting inboxes asking me technical questions that normally, historically they come in to my door and they’re sitting in my clinic before we have that conversation.” I said, “That’s the whole point. The medical field is so much – we’re talking about people – not pets, but still. The medical field is so much, if I didn’t know you personally, I’d then have to talk to 5 or 10 people before I see you in 3 weeks.”

Rocky Leflore: That’s right.

Social Media: A Blessing and a Curse

This guy didn’t live within 3 states of me, but he knew me, you see?

Ramsey Russell: The whole beautiful thing is that by taking a moment here, a moment there out of your time to talk to these people, you’re setting yourself apart and you’re making yourself accessible. Maybe more accessible than what you’re comfortable with right now, than what you used to, but that’s the whole point. It’s transparent, it’s building relationships. I mean this whole social media thing is real weird to a guy like me that didn’t really learn how turn on a computer till his early 20s. I remember Forrest playing Roger Rabbit computer program. He was two years old, he could come in and throw in a floppy and turn on the computer and play the little game. Man, I was a grown man, a few years away from being married before I even turned on a computer. I remember my palms sweating when I did that. Only because the professor made me do it and I would have still been hand writing term papers had he not. But this whole social media… On the one hand, I feel like a little winded up monkey in a vest clapping cymbals for cheap entertainment. On the other hand, by communicating things of interest, things of knowledge, importance, whatever, you’re putting yourself out there in a transparent way where people know you more than they would if you were just on television or something like that. They can interact with you if they choose to. They can write you emails or phone calls if they go to your web page. That’s a whole new frontier. It freaked me out one time, I was in Dallas Safari club about 6 or 7 years ago and a young man came up, I say young, he’s 22-23 and was asking me about my kids and talking about a hunt I’ve been on. He was real sorry that my dog had died a few months prior to that. I’m sitting there the whole time wondering who this guy is. I said, excuse me, “Remind me your name again?” He says, “I’m so-and-so – we’re Facebook friends.” I’m like, wow. This guy didn’t live within 3 states of me, but he knew me, you see?

Rocky Leflore: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: That’s kind of a good thing. There in Brandon, there’s a smart guy – I use this vet – actually before I knew him and I had another one of his vets there in the office, waiting with me on some things. Eventually I got to know him, we hit it off and I get texts from him, I get emails. When you’re taking a dog out of the country it’s kind of a big deal. Going to Mexico, it’s a stack of papers of all kinds of forms that’s got to be filled out just right. This guy, he’ll run over to USDA sometimes and get something, and explain it all to me, so I don’t act like an idiot coming through. Then when I bring my dogs in, I’ll tell you, it reminds me of back in the 1970s when my grandfather would take his dogs to Dr. Royal there in Greenville. I mean they were family friends and there’s a lot to be said for that, I think. I find myself banking, insurance or just anything I do, medicine, buying T-shirts, coats, I really find myself gravitating – I want a relationship with the people I do business with. And you know what Rocky? Buying a car, I’ll pay a little bit more, not crazy money more, but I’m willing to pay a little bit more buying it from somebody I know and have a trusted relationship with than just Joe-blow the stranger to save $100. My uncle, he was a pretty successful businessman. I don’t bank a lot in terms of borrowing capital and things like that but that’s just what I did back when we were buying houses and building families, and all that kind of stuff when you’re young. I’ll never forget it, he told me, “Build a good relationship with your banker. Who cares if it’s another percent or two? Who cares if it’s a point or two higher on a loan? Have a good relationship with that guy and it’ll pay off.”  You know, it did pay off. You find a deal of a lifetime on the truck on a Saturday and you call him at home and he says, “Just go ahead and buy it and come by on Monday. We’ll get it all figured out.” I mean, there’s a lot to be said for that. That’s just personal relationship for so much. Boy, I’ll tell you quickly, this whole Internet experience is changing the world, changing the way people think.

How the Internet is Changing the World & the Outdoor Industry

Rocky Leflore: I hate to do this today, but our conversation is going there. This conversation you and I had yesterday or two days ago. I received a call Monday night and it’s an introduction by Jake Latendresse. He said, “Look, I know I’ve been busy, I’ve haven’t been on the podcast much, but I got a couple of ideas for people that you need to bring on when you finish up with the stories that you have right now.” I said, “Who do you have in mind, Jake?” And one of them was Lee Kjos, who is to our generation, one of the most known photographers and I’m not going to say he’s controversial.

Ramsey Russell: No, he’s iconic. The long list of truly iconic photos that Lee has taken during his career is nothing short of utterly amazing. I follow him on Instagram, I keep up with him, I know him.

Rocky Leflore: Jeff Foiles said that he made him. Jeff Foiles admitted it on the podcast.

Ramsey Russell: When I heard Jeff say that, I knew exactly which photo he was talking about too. He was talking about a photo I remember: stormy sky, cloudy sky and I don’t even know what they were advertising but I’ll never forget the picture. Jeff had his classic face paint on, but his yellow lab had face paint on too. That was just a cool photo and that was just Lee Kjos right there. Lee’s work for all the industry leaders – if you get to know him and talk to him – he’s just a wealth of been there, done that wisdom. I’d love to hear him on your podcast, I mean, how things have changed in the industry. I asked Lee Kjos what you asked me a month or so ago about finding a career in the outdoor industry. I asked him about all these guys that are buying these $2000, $3000, $4000, $5000, $6000 setups and slinging lenses, who want to be the hottest thing since sliced bread in the outdoor world. I asked Lee what things he’s seen change. Lee’s a very serious and interesting guy. I saw him in Dallas. Go ahead.

Life is All About Friendships…and Hunting 

Rocky Leflore:  No, I was just going to say that, Lee and I communicated there through text a couple of times but the one that really threw me for loop is a good friend of yours. Monday night, as I sat there and recorded with Brian Warden, I got this phone call from a 214 number. I was like this is nothing but a scam call to pay your IRS bill or get an auto warranty, bla-blah. When I got off the phone, I noticed there was a voicemail and it was from John Lomonaco. He’s a good friend of yours Ramsey and he had been introduced earlier in the day through text from Jake. Him and Jake are best friends and he is from the old school of thought. He could sit there and text with me all day long. He wanted to know me, he wanted to talk to me, he wanted to feel me, like it was done in the old days. There’s nothing but appreciation and respect for somebody like that.

Ramsey Russell: John is an old class gentleman and I do consider him a friend.

Rocky Leflore: Please tell the podcast audience the interaction of how it all started between you and about John. John had hunted everywhere and had killed anything that you can imagine.

Ramsey Russell: Oh man, that guy has hunted countries. I don’t know because you can’t hunt anymore. His lifetime achievements in the big game world and the animals that you just had never even heard of. A lot of those Ibex and Markhors, and he’s been on the cover of all those magazines at least four times. Being on the covers of all those magazines, if you’re a sheep hunter, it’s a big deal. Four times? I know, he’s told me how old Mr. John is, he’s in his 80s. I can tell you this, he, Jake and I, and Forrest hunted in Wyoming, in Nebraska and his mind is as sharp as a college kid. I mean, just sharp as a tack, his wits intact. Golly, I hope I’m in that kind of shape when I’m him because his reflexes are quick as a snake. I mean, those birds come in and Forrest and I don’t have any advantage over John, I’m telling you. He can shoot because despite all those big game accomplishments, bird hunting, duck hunting is his thing. It’s like a lot of guys I’ve known, that have hunted big game and done those things, his heartbeat is waterfowl. Some of the places that he has owned and hunted – and I’m not going to steal his thunder – it’s a story you all need to hear; nothing short of astounding. He’s like the true modern day Nash Buckingham of epic proportions. I’ll tell you how I met John.

Rocky Leflore: Let me preface this real quick, Ramsey. What you’re about to hear from Ramsey is how the world’s supposed to work. 

Ramsey Russell: That’s exactly right.

Rocky Leflore: We live in a day and age where people do things for other people because it may advance them. It’s about them at the end of the day. It’s from a selfish standpoint. What Ramsey is about to tell you is how the old days used to work and it’s an amazing story of how him and John came together and became friends.

The Start of a Lifelong Friendship – Meeting Hunting Legend John Lomonaco

We had camp to ourselves and we hit it off, John had never met a stranger.

Ramsey Russell: You’ve heard me say a lot of times that, I love to hunt, I love the whole thing about it, but increasingly people. I love people and John’s that kind of guy you meet that just throws steroids on that notion. I’m friends with John, I revere him as a friend, but really and truly, he’s more than that. Unwillingly, not intentionally, he’s a mentor. Several times has he done or said things that really and truly impacted my life forever. He’s a hero. I mean, he really, truly is. Just the way he is. John is that guy that smiles when he talks, he smiles when he talks and his eyes sparkle. He’s a happy guy. Very successful guy because of his people skills. When I met John, I didn’t know all this. I was down in Argentina 7 or 8 years ago, 9 or 10 years ago – I think it was around 2009 or 2010. I was down in Argentina and I’ve been down there a while. I was jumping around, meeting a few outfitters and trying to piece together the perfect offerings. Little bit of this, a little bit of that. I had the perfect partner to work with down there and I had gone up to the province of Santa Fe, San Javier right up against the river. It was ducks in the morning, ducks in the evening, blah-blah but it was just real cookie cutter. At that camp was a real dandy guy. The guy was a powerful international attorney from somewhere up north and he was going to be in camp while I was in camp. The outfitter introduced us while we were both in BA and we were going to eat lunch. Just to make conversation in the cab, I said, “So what do you do?” The guy took a long breath through his nose, he breathed like that and gave it a lot of thought and he goes, “Well, Ramsey only poor people do.” I’m like, good Lord, I got to spend 3 days with this guy? That’s what I said to myself. I went up there on the hunt with him and it was okay. We shot ducks in the morning, ducks in the evening, and we ate steak, and we did this and did that. I guess if you’ve never been to Argentina, it was better than hunting in Warren County, Mississippi in the year 2019, but having been to Argentina, around South America, it just wasn’t that big of a deal. It didn’t impress me at all. After 3 days, I won over this guy and we were friends. He told me some politically incorrect jokes, looked over both his shoulders to make sure nobody else was listening, but with my accent, I get to hear those jokes. There weren’t any jokes I hadn’t heard before. He shared a Cuban cigar and we were out there smoking cigars and drinking wine. He said, “Man, what a great hunt.” Now, let me back up. This is important because the first morning we’re going out to hunt and I got my gun, my 20 gauge shotgun I borrowed from the outfitter and something’s going on behind the truck, on the tailgate of the truck. I can’t figure out why we’re not stepping down the trail already because I can see that orange in the sky to the east – we need to be out there getting ready to shoot ducks. Well, this guy is putting together a 28 gauge Perazzi shotgun, a $40,000 shotgun. He’s putting it together in the dark. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, now I really don’t like this guy. Who brings a $40,000 shotgun? A 28 gauge, are you kidding me? To a duck hole like this?” Let me tell you what, the minute I started seeing 50 yards wide up with that 28 gauge, I realize this guy can shoot. So he gets his gun assembled, we crossed the fence and when we get there, the guide indicates in Spanish, there’s supposed to be a foot bridge going across it, but the water is a little higher and it’s floated it off, so take a big step because there’s no bridge. It’s deep there. I go, “How big of a step?” Big. I mean, you can’t see nothing but just muddy water. Is it 2ft, 5ft, 10ft wide? I mean, I got to jump. I need to run up and sprint and kind of pole vault over this thing. He just said, “Mucho.” I gave it all I had, hit dry ground on the other side, started going down the trail. I get about 5 yards and I hear, my partner there from the big city that didn’t do. When I looked back with my headlight on him, all I saw was a wristwatch and the hand holding that Perrazi shotgun, the rest of him was underwater making bubbles. The bird boys have bailed off into the ditch and tried to get him out, but he was dead weight. He wouldn’t move, he wasn’t letting that gun get in the water and they couldn’t understand. I’m thinking, my god, he’s going to drown. I went back over and reached out as far as I could and I took his gun. The minute that gun was safe, well now he started helping himself get out of the water. He was soaking wet and I swear he was making 50 yarders with that 28 gauge. I was highly impressed. He told me, he’d been shooting 28 gauge since he was 8 years old and 12 gauges had become antiquated in the Eisenhower administration. That was just him, the guy he was. So we kind of clicked along – this is not John Lomonaco – I’m leading up to that. That last night, smoking cigars, his cigars, talking, he invited me to come eat dinner at a restaurant that I always eat at, an Italian restaurant in town. I said, great. I’ll meet you at such and such a clock. He says, you do have a sport coat, don’t you? I said, no. I didn’t have a sport coat since I was a frat rat. And he said, well, you got to have a sport coat to get in this restaurant. I said, I ain’t got a sport coat, I ain’t going to buy a sport coat, all that restaurant sees is my money. He wouldn’t go to that restaurant with me. So, we went to another restaurant and he bought, and that’s fine, but we got to talking that evening and he says, isn’t this a great hunt? When are you coming back? What do you think? Are you going to sell it? How many you think you’re selling? I said, I’ll never be back here. He goes, what? I said, no. He said, well, we shot our ducks. I said yeah, we shot our ducks. We’re the only people they’ve had in a month, they could have salted any hole out here and had those numbers of ducks we shot. But besides that it’s all about the details. I said, first and foremost, the footbridge that you dang near drowned over, that should never happen to a client. People fall in, don’t get me wrong, but not because of that. Nobody should ever have to do that. The owner’s son who’s an artist, hell he went into great detail when you asked him what he did about being an artist. He’s an artist. I said, did you not ever notice that it was beneath him to hand you ammo. I said, and what about this and this? No, I’m not interested in representing this hunt. It’s just a mediocre cookie cutter hunt down here, I could care less. When we ate dinner that night in town he said, Ramsey I didn’t see all that until you named it. He was there several days after me. He said, but I quit enjoying the hunt because that’s all I could see was those items you had said, that I hadn’t noticed. He said, me and Nacho there had words the last day because of his attitude. I shrugged and said, well, I do this for a living, right? So break, back on story with John Lomonaco. The same outfitter had a hunt down in Córdoba and he had invited me to come over and sit in the lodge with him for a few days and hunt, join some guest he had. We stopped somewhere along the way, I flew into Córdoba and drove back – I don’t know, 2 hours north to the new roost, North of Macha. I met a guy, he had to stop and talk to a guy that was coming out, and it was a real prominent outfitter from Asia that specializes in Markhor’s and Argali sheep and Ibex. I mean, this guy has the prime real estate. It’s like in the city of Manhattan, this guy’s business is the World Trade Center. You follow what I’m saying? This is big. I’m like, wow. How are you doing? Glad to meet you. We talked a little bit, and it took me a while to put two and two together, and that’s what I’m leading up to in this story. We went on up to the lodge and there I met a husband and his wife. John Lomonaco and his beautiful wife, Robin. We had camp to ourselves and we hit it off, John had never met a stranger. He’s never met a bad guy. He’s just that guy, you just hit it off with him, and we hit it off. We enjoyed a few mornings and afternoons of dove hunting and I got to know him. I never will forget, one night I was showing him my book, my little show book I carried around to show people. The pictures in my little hardbound book that I made to carry to conventions, and he loved it. Then he broke out his book – his first book – and started showing me and telling me stories. I don’t remember what he was hunting, that’s beside the point. He was up in the mountains, he was in Pakistan and he looked Pakistani. I mean, the way he was dressed and the way he had his head wrapped. I said, man, weren’t you a little scared of sticking out to a marine sniper? He said, not as scared as I was standing out to the Taliban. He said, when in Rome, Ramsey. He got to tell me the story about that particular guide he was with in this picture, about how they had been on some epic hunts and spent just dozens of nights, many nights in different parts of the country chasing different species. How even though they didn’t speak the same language, they had just bonded and formed friendships. How after you kill that animal, the guy was moping a little bit, and just with hand gestures, indicated to John it was sad. He knew John would never come back, that he was done and that he would never see John again. As John was telling me this story, a tear rolled down his cheek because he obviously cared about this guy a lot. He’s a very sincere person. So we left and parted ways, shook hands, and swapped telephone numbers. I had to leave, go somewhere else to scout. The following fall, I was at the Jackson show, there at the little extravaganza, and there was another person from Hinds County who became a client – we ended up becoming friends. The first couple of times he kind of came by the booth and made rounds at that show, he was a little standoffish. This man was very competent in his own self. He shot 3 or 4 dozen cape buffalos and lions and elephants. I mean, this man was a very accomplished big game hunter. Had an incredibly impressive game room right there in Hinds County. The first couple of times, he would just kind of stand out there, about 20 to 30ft. I was a nobody, he didn’t know me and he didn’t want to get a sell on his pitch. I had a bar built for my booth at that time. I put everything in it, it was on wheels and I could roll it out to the truck. When we made this big bar contraption, my buddy Milhouse said, well how tall do you want it? About the height of a table? I said, no. I said, hang on a second. I walked out to my driveway and I measured to the top of my tailgate of my truck, whatever that was, 43 inches or 50 inches or whatever. He goes, my goodness Ramsey. He said, that’s as tall as the back of a truck. I said, well, that’s what I just measured. He says, why do you want it that tall? I said, it’ll hold more stuff so it’s practical but if I can get people to come and stand there and put their elbow up we can have a talk, they ain’t going nowhere. When my buddy came by that I wasn’t friends with quite yet, I had a game plan for this year. When he came by, I knew he’d stop and talk to me, but from a distance, and I had a plan for how I was going to get him into conversational level and win him over. He came up, we were talking about Africa, favorite place he’d ever hunted, but it had an uncomfortable distance for me. I mean, he must have been 10 to 15ft away, wouldn’t get no closer. So, I reached in my pocket and I pulled out John Lomonaco’s business card. On his business card, he had a picture of himself holding a straight horned Markhor and he had his head wrapped up and all that good stuff in the picture. I said, well you’ve traveled all over the world, what kind of animal is this? And there from 10 to 15ft he saw that Markhor, closed the distance and said, well that’s a Markhor from such and such range and he knew all about it. He said, you know this guy? I said, yes, we hunted down in Argentina. He ended up putting his elbow on my bar. Like laying up against the pickup truck, and we sat there and had about a 30 minute conversation. Just got to know each other a little bit and turns out we all have some common friends from Hinds County. He became a client, then a friend, and in many ways a mentor. He told me at the end of that conversation, he said, Ramsey, I’ve heard things about you, do you go to Dallas Safari Club? I go, no sir. Should I? He goes, yeah, you really need to, that’s the market you need to be in if you’re going to be successful in this business.

Rocky Leflore: Well Ramsey, next week.

Ramsey Russell: All right.

What Life is All About…Building Relationships and Helping Others

What you really leave behind is how you impact people’s lives.

Rocky Leflore: I want to further this because this is when the story really gets good and it goes back to the principle that I was talking about when I preface this. While life is about friendships, relationships, I think the story of a man’s life is not about how well he can be there for somebody that’s in a higher position for him, but it’s being there for the people that don’t expect anything in return. For somebody that’s, maybe, just starting out in life, starting out in business.

Ramsey Russell: You’re right. We all know we can’t take it with us and if we leave a bunch of money, that just means our kids are going to fly first class everywhere they go. What you really leave behind is how you impact people’s lives. This is the story of John Lomonaco, but I’m just giving you a lot of perspective on it. This is my story, my relationship and how this man – that relationship with him – has given me pieces of advice that have made me a better person and certainly made me better at what I do or chose to do for a living. 

Rocky Leflore: And expected nothing in return from you.

Ramsey Russell: No, absolutely nothing. Nothing at all.

Rocky Leflore: Hey, before I let you go though, I got to ask you about this because next week you’re really going to enjoy this part of the story. You don’t listen to any other podcasts that Ramsey and I do, listen to next week. There’s a valuable life lesson in what Ramsey’s going to tell next week. Hey, I want to ask you this though: conversation with Forrest yesterday morning. How did that go?

Ramsey Russell: Well, I knew when he called and went into a long drawn out step-by-step story that he did not kill that turkey. It was about a 20 minute, 30 minute version of a story and then he got quiet. I mean, it wasn’t like he made it out to be in Facebook like, this bird stepped up and he pulled the trigger twice. He figured the bird out and he got where the bird wanted to be and he called that bird in. He had to come over a little ridge where he was hunting. So, he couldn’t see it while it was gobbling, coming to him. When it did, it came down the trail about 25 yards to his right which is very hard for a right hand shooter to manipulate. He got behind a tree and he moved, and it started putting out. The story started with the fact that he washed his clothes the night before and forgot to grab his gloves and his face mask but he was heartbroken. It left a mark and I didn’t even mess with him too bad. I didn’t mess with him bad until last night. Then I sent him that old meme, you see, not all Indians were hunters. Some of them had to collect firewood. I told him, hey, run a landscape business. It’s a good thing, you got a chainsaw on hand, you won’t get too bad of blisters on your hand collecting firewood. He didn’t respond to that. But he did that. He went and packed all this stuff at school and got moved out of his apartment, and woke up this morning in Kansas. It didn’t tear him one bit man, he’s in Kansas somewhere right now. Him and his buddies are chasing turkeys. When it all lines up just right, he’s going to make them pay rent.

Rocky Leflore: Listen, I can’t brag enough about Forrest man. He is an unbelievable gentleman. He’s a great outdoorsman. Like I said, when I’ve taken younger people, turkey hunters – I’m not anywhere even halfway a good turkey Hunter – but you see it. He’s got it, he’s got the outdoorsman. Just a good respectful guy. Man, he’s a good guy.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Rocky Leflore: So Ramsey, listen, I know what’s coming next week. It should be an awesome podcast. You all make sure that you tune in for next week’s podcast of the Dallas Safari Club and how that all came about, and how John was a part of that. Ramsey, be careful on the rest of the way.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you, Rocky.

Rocky Leflore: Be careful the rest of the way to Houston. Tell Miss Anita we all said hello. Thank you again, bud. We want to thank all of you that listened to this edition of The End of The Line podcast powered by