Understanding the Badlands Passion
August 22, 2013

Understanding the Badlands Passion

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I came from the world of fly-fishing. Growing up in Utah and being around people who hunted and fished, I knew that Badlands Hunting Gear and William Joseph Fly Fishing Gear were related but I never imagined I would end up working there. I began fly fishing in my early teens with my father and older brother and quickly became very passionate about the sport. That passion continues now as I enter my 30s.  It wasn’t until I began working for Badlands and William Joseph that I discovered just how passionate and dedicated hunters are about their sport.

Badlands tattoo
Badlands tattoo…yes it’s real


Hunting is very much a sport that seems to be passed on from father to son or other close relationships. My father never really hunted therefore I was never exposed to the sport. We have spent I don’t know how many hundreds or thousands of hours together in rivers across the country but we’ve never logged time together hunting.

I noticed two things when I started working for Vortex Outdoors (Badlands Packs and William Joseph) in the Summer of 2013.

  1. Hunters are as passionate about their sport as anything I have ever encountered
  2. Badlands fans are as passionate about their gear as anything I’ve ever seen

Immediately after starting my new position I was exposed to and encompassed in a world that I knew existed but had never experienced. My first phone call not 5 minutes into my first day was from a young ambitious man from Iowa who lives to hunt whitetail deer and capture the excitement on film. I could literally feel his passion coming through the phone receiver. He talked about hunting whitetail like a man would talk about his passion for his own family. It wasn’t long before I had encountered people from all over the state of Utah and all over the country that shared the same passion as the Iowan whitetail hunter. No matter what kind of hunting the person was passionate about, it was obvious that they lived for the sport and they depended on their gear to help them get the job done.

picture of me, my two brothers and my father on Madison River in Montana
Myself (left), my two brothers and my father on Madison River in Montana

Since working here I’ve learned a lot about the hunting and pack industry. I’ve learned which packs are ideal for all different types of hunting and all different situations. I’ve learned what a “meat-shelf” is and watched videos on how to field dress and pack out an animal. I’ve learned that there are 1,000 different camo patterns and they all claim to be the best. I’ve learned that quality, innovation and peace of mind are tops in what hunters are looking for in their gear. I’ve seen people come in and literally spend hours trying on packs attempting to get the exact fit that will keep them going out in the field when things get tough. I’ve heard countless stories of how one piece of gear was all the difference in a successful hunt versus a disastrous one. I can’t explain how rewarding it is to help someone find a piece of gear that will literally last them a lifetime and perform under the greatest of pressures.

child in Badlands pack

Another funny thing has happened in the few months that I’ve been with Badlands Hunting Gear…I’ve caught a bug. A good portion of Badlands fans are into archery. I get this question more than any other, “How do I attach my bow to the Badlands packs?” The archery crowd is obviously crazy about what they do. I have attended 3D shoots and seen first hand just how seriously archers take their craft and trust me, it is a craft. I suppose archery has really started appealing to me because of the gear (I am a gear junky afterall), the precision, the practice required and the nerves and resolve it must take to get out there and get so close to what you are hunting that you can see the whites of their eyes before the shot. I see the parallels that drew me into fly fishing and the bug is only getting deeper and deeper into my brain. I now have a bow (something I never would have thought would happen 2 years ago), I own some camouflage (another thing I didn’t think would happen) and I can’t wait to start shooting and get consistent enough to take it to the next level.

Bowcast @ The Bird 3D Shoot 2013
Bowcast @ The Bird 3D Shoot 2013

How can you not love an industry that is so passionate about what they do? I get to see, day in and day out, the level of committment that goes into producing the best products possible because Badlands understands how much love hunters have for what they do. I look forward to getting to a point where I can call myself part of the hunting crowd. I know it takes time and it takes committment. I’m willing to work to become part of the club as I know it must take years of practice an dedication to reach the level of skill I see as I interact with people everyday. Until that day however, I will keep plugging along, learning more about the sport, fine-tuning my shot and just enjoying the wild and crazy crowd of hunters that I’m growing to love more and more each day.

Blake VanTussenbrook


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