When I was young, my dad was a carpenter by trade. Being a carpenter is a tough way to make a living, especially during the winter in Utah. Each year as the temperatures dropped and snow started falling, my dad’s work would slow down and he’d get laid off for a few months, usually to be rehired as spring approached and the weather warmed up again. The slow months made for a difficult time financially. One of the ways my dad would make up for the loss of income during the winter was to go hunting and stock up on meat in the fall. Hunting became a necessity in our lives. I remember a few times when we weren’t fortunate enough to harvest an animal. The look in my dad’s eyes said it all. He was worried—unsure how to feed his family of eight without the extra food hunting provided.

These experiences had a lasting effect on me and have given me a strong respect and appreciation for hunting and what it means. Many people probably wouldn’t consider me much of a hunter, but I do love to hunt. I was raised hunting with my dad—his little sidekick until I was old enough to carry a gun, then his hunting buddy up until I started playing football in high school. Since then, school, a church mission, marriage, kids, and trying to make a living has cut into my hunting time. Recently however, with the direction and stability my career has provided, I’ve been fortunate enough to find more time to spend on the mountain where I feel like I belong.

Hunting has also taught me to love the amazing and majestic animals we pursue. I’ve always had a talent for art and I really enjoy drawing. When I was young, one of my dreams was to grow up and become a wildlife artist. I guess you could say that dream came true, though not exactly in the way I expected.

My first job as an artist was working for a clothing company. Because this company had stores in Alaska, I was often tasked with drawing wildlife to incorporate in tee shirt designs. After learning as much as I could there, I decided to go solo as a freelance designer. Going out on my own was a scary thing, but I did it successfully for almost a decade. During that time, a majority of my clients were in the hunting industry. I continued drawing wildlife for apparel while also learning other skills of my trade.

After nearly a decade of freelancing, I realized that I’d reached the limits of what I could do on my own. I wanted to continue to learn and expand my knowledge and experience, so I started looking for the opportunity to do so. It was then that I met the Harbertson brothers and we decided to start a marketing firm called Zulu Six. This led to the amazing experience of being one of the co-founders of Mtn Ops. After three years helping Mtn Ops get off the ground, I decided to step away and pursue other opportunities, leading me to join the SOLO HNTR team.

Each step in my career has been a blessing and an incredible learning experience. Being a part of the SOLO HNTR team has been one of the most rewarding so far. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

[mgl_instagram_user number=”12″ cols=”4″ skin=”dark” cache=”3600″ direct_link=”true” cut_text=”80″ username=”joelpilch” user_id=”joelpilch”]