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A Conversation with Hunting Legend Jim Shockey

"Hunting isn't what I do, it's who I am." Shockey discusses new book, the love of his life, and the field-to-table lifestyle.

A Conversation with Hunting Legend Jim Shockey

Courtesy of Jim Shockey

Jim Shockey is a man who needs no introduction to many American hunters. Award-winning television host and producer, worldwide traveler, guide and outfitter in British Columbia and the Yukon, museum founder and curator, conservationist, hunter, and now author of "Call Me Hunter," a new novel released recently. In the midst of a cross-country book promotion tour, I sat down with Jim for an interview in Scottsdale, Ariz.

  • Martins: Jim Shockey, the man, the hunting icon, the novelist and hopefully a soon-to-be best-selling author! They are keeping you really busy on this book tour for your new fiction thriller "Call Me Hunter," so it’s nice to catch up with you. How is the tour going?

Shockey: Thanks for having me for the interview. It’s been great! We’ve kind of changed out the norm for book tours. The publishers in New York City didn’t even think of having a book signing at Cabelas’ or Bass Pro Shops, it’s so off-the-wall for them, outside the box. And then, there have been interviews and podcasts. Sometimes I do 10 radio interviews in a day. And additional appearances at book stores. The big events are these book signings, bringing our outdoors industry together at Cabelas’ and Bass Pro. They have never sold novels, ever! And now, they are going like hotcakes.

  • Martins: So, you are continuing to open new doors That’s fantastic!

Shockey: I don’t know if it’s opening new doors, or it’s bridging gaps. We outdoor people read too, so why don’t we cater to these people who live the field-to-table lifestyle? In New York City, they don’t think like that. But readers are readers. Opening doors? No, I think it’s more like bridging gaps so we can have a dialog.

  • Martins: You said in the book’s Acknowledgements that you started your first novel at the age of 10. I think I was still playing in the dirt, catching bugs and lizards at that age. What prompted you to do something like that at that age?

Shockey: You know, I couldn’t read when I was in school. It was hard. And then, very similar to the character in "Call Me Hunter," my teacher said to my parents, “Take your child to a psychiatrist” to see what’s wrong with this kid. What the psychiatrist found out was, your son is not interested in what they are teaching. He doesn’t want to read those books. Take him to the library, to the wildlife section or the adventure section, and let him read what he wants. “Tarka the Otter” (a novel by Henry Williamson), I could read that. See Dick & Jane run, see Spot jump. Not interested in that.

So, by the time I was 10, I was reading at a high level. J.A. Hunter (safari hunter and author of the book “Hunter”), I read it three times in Grade 5 at the age of 10. I spent more time in detention reading J.A. Hunter, because I wasn’t doing the required reading, and I knew that I would be a novelist at that point, although his was a non-fiction book. So, I started writing. I kept the pages behind a brick in our planter. I got about eight or 10 pages and realized I didn’t have the skills to write. I hadn’t lived life enough. I didn’t have a story to tell. There are two ways you can do it—academically by going to school, study, sit down and write stories from your imagination or, more likely rewrite stories that are already written, or you can live life first and then write. I decided to live life and it took a long time. I penned the first words, the first page of "Call Me Hunter" in 1990, but when I got into the first chapter, I realized that I hadn’t lived life enough to have a really, truly compelling story.

  • Martins: So, you wrote the first lines more than 30 years ago: “Zhivago is dead. I hunted him down and I killed him.” Did you know where you were going with this story at that time?

Shockey: 100 percent, I knew. I just didn’t have enough life experiences yet, enough details, to meld them into the actual story of "Call Me Hunter." I had done some interesting things, but the most interesting aspect of the story is how much of it is real, and what percent is fiction. I like to say that 80 percent of it is true, and the 20 percent that would put anybody in jail – that’s the fiction part! It’s really up to readers to decide.

  • Martins: I assume there was no single individual who inspired the evil Zhivago character, or was there?

Shockey: There’s no individual person. But what Zhivago is, he’s a symbol of people who are idealogues. They live under an ideology that closes every door. They don’t let new ideas in, holding their own ideas among their own little group. So, what you end up with is an evil, metastasizing within, because they don’t believe there could possibly be another way to look at a situation. Cognitive dissonance. They close all the doors, they live by their ideology alone, without accepting the possibility that other intelligent people might have a different perspective.

multiple photos of Jim Shockey
Jim Shockey interview. (Photos by Tony Martins)
  • Martins: So his character is essentially a metaphor?

Shockey: That’s exactly what it is; for idealogues that are so immersed in their own vainglorious assumptions. So that’s what it is. It’s taking that type of person and turning it into a character in a book. Zhivago represents people with these ideologies. It’s a terrible vice. It should be one of the seven deadly sins. Get rid of gluttony—that’s just marketing nowadays for fast-food places—and put in virtue signaling. That’s who Zhivago is.

  • Martins: You described in the book how Nyala was named by her parents, after the most beautiful of the African antelope. How did you pick the name “Hunter” for the book’s title character?

Shockey: (chuckling) Probably because that’s what I always wanted to be called. I got stuck with Jim. As I said, the book “Hunter” by J.A. Hunter was hugely impactful in sending me in a certain direction in my own life. So, the word hunter to me is many things: hunting treasures; hunter, the searcher, the seeker. So there are many reasons Hunter was the only name I could have called that character. It doesn’t matter whether you are hunting for fine art, idiosyncratic art, ethnocentric art, or even for an animal, you are on a hunt. Hunting is so innate in all of us. People in the cities, the urban centers, they are hunters. They just don’t see it as hunting. There are people who hunt dollars. Or people in ivory towers who hunt—their quarry, their prey, are wealthy people whose money has its favorites. They too are hunters, 100 percent.




  • Martins: Was there someone who inspired the original Our World Leader character in the book?

Shockey: I purposely didn’t give him much more than a two-dimensional sense, because he represents the evil that is controlling so many of the decisions that are being made around the world today. He’s not a real person, so that’s why I didn’t want to flesh him out, other than he’s so autocratic and so righteous in his decisions and his decision-making, and he’s so powerful that he’s corrupted absolutely. Well, who is he? He represents Russia? No. He represents China? No. He represents everything that’s evil in big organizations. You don’t have to look very far nowadays to see those seven deadly sins … pride, wrath, lust, greed … these are all motivations for these big organizations.

  • Martins: For those of us who are not connoisseurs of fiction and its various forms, how is "Call Me Hunter" categorized among fictional works?

Shockey: They have to put the book into a category, because it has to sit on a shelf somewhere. It’s not science fiction, it’s not political, and it’s technically not a thriller per se, as often described, because those are fairly formulaic. If you had to select a sub-genre, it would be an autobiographical, abstract, fictional thriller. Abstract is a lot like cubism. You know what you’re looking at, like a human form, but it’s pieces stuck together, where a true thriller doesn’t have that abstraction in it, and thrillers are not typically autobiographical. This book actually could have been classified under the bigger umbrella, literature. I originally wanted it published as a literary work, but the 10 publishers that I sent the manuscript to all sent it back! They never even read it! They Googled me and all said the same thing: “He’s too much of a celebrity. Impossible that he could write literature. We’re not going to read it.” I took that to mean he’s not a depressed, down-and-out professor of literature working at a tiny college when they’d rather be at Harvard. No offense to anybody who fits that description! They suggested that I put it in commercial fiction, but they didn’t read it, so how could they know if it’s literature, or not? Personally, I still think there could be arguments made, but that will come over the next decade as the academics start digging into it, and analyzing it. So, we’ll see if it stands the test of time. Then it’s literature.

  • Martins: Hunting is an underlying theme in the book. I saw a quote where you said that the book "will change the perception of hunting and hunters, and that’s why I wrote it." Can you explain?

Shockey: Yes. I flipped the stereotypes, so the villain is an animal-rights extremist, and I delve into how this is orchestrated by certain organizations, certain people, and not necessarily for the good of the wildlife, but for the promulgation of their ideologies. By flipping the stereotypes, if you are against hunting and consequently, you like this character for that reason, you eventually learn that this person is the most evil, horrible creature; not even a human being, he’s inhuman. So I flipped it. And, the person I made the anti-hero is not a hunter. He doesn’t start out as a hunter, but he slowly becomes one and starts to understand that hunting is the spirituality of being in the wildlands—the geese flying overhead, the coyote winds in the early morning, the dew, the mountain vistas. This is what hunting is about, the spirituality. And, the young lady in the story has a sense of wildlife as well. When she’s in a park walking, the animals don’t run from her. Why is that? Because she’s one with nature. She is a hunter. That’s what hunters are. We are not plodding Neanderthals walking through the forest, spitting on the floor. We actually are a part of nature, playing a fundamental role. Life begets death begets life begets death. We’re not voyeurs watching from the outside through a camera lens. We’re actually there, and a part of nature. Eighty percent of the people don’t hunt, and 10 percent have ideologies that prevent you from ever reaching through to them. But I think that if we give that larger group of people another perspective on what hunting is and what hunters are about, I think it will act as a catalyst so there will be more of these types of books put out there. At least maybe we will start getting a fair shake in the media.

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  • Martins: It opens up discourse for some interchange.

Shockey: Exactly! That’s exactly right, we’re communicating now. There’s dialogue between us, and that’s a beginning to bridging the gap between the two parts where never the twain shall meet. So, I’m hoping that "Call Me Hunter," even by the title, will bring these two disparate entities together where we start to talk, which we need to do nowadays. Tolerance.

  • Martins: One of my editors is interested in learning how much your hunting background contributed to the foundation of the storyline. I’d say it’s inseparable. It was the foundation. Your thoughts?

Shockey: Of course. It’s the field-to-table lifestyle, it’s living. Hunting isn’t what I do, it’s who I am. The entire book is that lifestyle, that way of looking at nature and that perspective on life. We’re not above nature, we’re not a cosmic event, we are a part of nature. And we can say this is happening, that is happening, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. The world is not ending! Talk to me in 10,000 years. Talk to me in 100,000 years. We cannot even fathom talking to me a million years from now. The world is not going anywhere, and trying to put it back to what it was is absurd. Nature is maximum entropy. Nature cannot tolerate when things are together, in the shape of this chair for example. This chair won’t be here in 1,000 years, it will be dust. These things around us will be gone, gone, everything gone. It changes. Nature doesn’t allow things to stay in such a formula, where things are stacked neatly, one on top of another. No, nature wants that to fall over. Nature wants mountains to erode, wants oceans to make air, wants ice to form and then to melt and create great rivers and canyons. That’s what nature does. And, it’s done over a time period that we just cannot fathom in our self-centered, vainglorious perspective as human beings. The world revolves around us; no it doesn’t! No, we are part of nature.

  • Martins: This one might get a little deep here, but what do you hope people will get from reading "Call Me Hunter?"

Shockey: You know, people that are already part of the outdoor lifestyle, the field-to-table lifestyle, they get it. But I’m hoping that the mainstream will change perspective, or at least allow the possibility that we’re not all louts with higher sensibilities because we like to know what we put in our pie hole, this temple that is our body. Because we want to know from beginning ‘till end, how it’s going in, and we want to be part of the accomplishment of sustaining our life. So, I’m hoping for tolerance. I truly believe in this world today, 8 billion of us, that we had better start embracing tolerance, and not saying that we’re tolerant—so long as everybody has our point of view. That’s not tolerance! That’s intolerance.

  • Martins: And we have seen, particularly in the past few years, that things are going in the opposite direction.

Shockey: Yes, going in the opposite direction, and we’ve seen it through history. Going back in time, you can see this problem happening over, and over, and over again. When there’s intolerance, the result is never good. And then the world comes to a figurative end for X amount of years, and whatever war it happens to be, the dark ages, whatever needs to be, and then we settle in again, and start the whole process over. It’s absurd that we can’t, in this day and age with knowledge of history, look back and see what’s happening right now, again! It’s intolerance.

  • Martins: Let’s switch gears here with a specific reference to content in the book. When I read Hunter’s narrative at the end of Chapter 47, where you shared some of Zhivago’s repulsive behavior in Cameroon, I wondered if the typical narrator could read this aloud for the audiobook version and pronounce all the names and places correctly. You insisted on reading Hunter’s part yourself in the audiobook version. What was that like for you?

Shockey: Well, I didn’t read Hunter’s part. I read the second person perspectives. So, in the book, it’s in italics. All the sections in the book in italics that Nyala is reading for the first time, in second person, I read those parts. Whenever it’s the manuscript, or Nyala researching back into the manuscript to review what she read, from the second person perspective, that was all Scott Brick. So, what you’re asking me is: “How come I read the easy parts and he got all the hard parts?” (laughter) It’s because Scott Brick is truly a professional.

They originally gave me 21 names and voice samples, and they wanted me to pick seven characters that were going to play the various parts in the novel. I listened to the voices, and there was none. You know, these people called Hunter, Icarus, Tsau-z Man of Sores, Joan of Arc, these people have lived life on the very edge, beyond the pale of how I describe it. And, those voices were millennial voice actors that were probably ordering caffé lattes from Starbucks that morning. That’s not what Joan of Arc does. No one can speak a voice that hasn’t lived from the beginning, this kind of a life. Scott Brick, I believe, has read something like 800 novels, including all five of (James Howard) Kunstler’s books, and I think Michael Crichton’s books as well, so Scott Brick is a professional. Back to your question, I did the easy parts, but there were some, like when you get into the First Nations dialects, that when I get into the spellings, I had to literally look at it as a symbol. Reading it, I see a symbol that I know. I know what it means. But when you have to enunciate that, how do you enunciate with a First Nations inflection on a language that none of us have ever heard? We just know the word means “that.” So, this was the hardest part, and I’m sure the audiobook people will hear me say something like, “I was walking down the road of forest that they called enewip, and then I went ewlhh,” because I couldn’t pronounce it. And they tried, but I don’t hear well enough to really pick up nuances and inflections, so it was really difficult for me. But it was way more difficult for Scott Brick, I promise.

Interviewer’s Note: Jim’s wife, Louise, his beloved soulmate, passed away this fall after an heroic two-year fight with cancer.

  • Martins: After 25 years of research and development and grind-it-out hard work, can you describe what it was like reading the very first hardbound copy of "Call Me Hunter" to your wife, Louise?

Shockey: Yeah, you know, I read it to her twice. I read it in the manuscript form, and then I read the final version to her before she passed on … and it was beautiful. We recognized the soul that went into the work and the situations. I’d have tears running down my cheeks as I was reading it, and I’d get choked up on parts where we knew what those parts represented in our lives. And, it was beautiful that publishers Simon & Schuster overnighted the first book off the presses to Louise. Just days before she passed on, I handed her the hardcopy finished version of "Call Me Hunter." She was in bed at that point, and I posted a picture on social media of her holding it.

gaf-shockeybooklead
Jim Shockey's debut novel went on sale Oct. 17.
  • Martins: I had the great privilege of meeting and getting to know Louise, truly one of the most beautiful people, inside and out, that I have ever met. It’s an unfathomable loss. How are you and the family doing?

Shockey: You know, I did everything in my power to try and prevent that inevitable ending; everything I could possibly do, and it made no difference. I couldn’t change the course of events so that Louise could be here with us today. We had two years; a year and 11 months after the diagnosis. They gave her three months to live, but we had a year and 11 months, and I think she held on that long to ease the massive sorrow, the depths of sorrow that are unimaginable because imagination cannot exist at those depths where that blackness lives. I think she stayed that long to be able to slowly ease us into the reality that the world was going to go on, and our lives were going to go on without her. And now, it’s been a month, I can throw a tantrum, I can kick and scream, I can feel sorry for myself and be depressed, and it’s not going to bring Louise back. All it would do is dishonor that 39 years, 113 days, 14-1/2 hours that I had with an angel. She came from heaven. She had to, because when you say she was beautiful inside and out, I was with her for those four decades, and there was never one crack in that. That’s who she was. Never said a bad word about anybody, never looked at the negative, always looked at the positive, always smiled to the last minutes of her life, and smiled with benevolence, and at the joy of love and family and devotion and honor and integrity, chivalry—all the things that are good in this world. Louise was an angel. She came from heaven and picked me, a scruffer, and then the time came for her to go back to heaven. So, I won’t dishonor that memory, that joy that we had for four decades together—39 years, 113 days, 14-1/2 hours literally, that’s straight to the second. And, I won’t dishonor that by not moving forward and onward in life, because that’s what she wanted, and what she prepared our family for.

  • Martins: Louise was not a hunter, in fact wasn’t she also a vegetarian when you two got together. How did you deal with that issue?

Shockey: You know, it’s opposites that attract. Beauty and beast, lady and tramp. She was a vegetarian, but she also was very pragmatic. She was the most common-sensed person that I ever met. Fiercely independent. You didn’t tell Louise; she always knew what was right. And, she didn’t want to raise our children as vegetarians. It wouldn’t be healthy, and not good for them. Again, that’s putting her ideas on the children. She did eat meat before. Her dad was a hunter. It was her brother that kicked her off on that path of being a vegetarian. A fox ran across a field and he grabbed a gun, and she stopped him. He said, “What do you mean, I’m going to kill that fox” and she said, “You don’t kill animals!” And then he said, “So what do you think we just had for dinner? That was an animal.” So, Louisey said, “OK, then I won’t have that for dinner.” But, when we met (chuckles) if she would have told me to stop hunting, I would have stopped hunting. If she would have told me to stop breathing, I would have done my best to stop breathing. That’s true love. When you have respect for the person so great, you would never tell them to stop breathing, or to stop doing what they love. You accept them for what they are, and then you support them in that. So yeah, it was a fairy tale. We lived a fairy tale for 39 years, 113 days, 14-1/2 hours.

  • Martins: Most people know Jim Shockey the hunter, but you prefer “Naturalist” over “Hunter.” Explain this preference.

Shockey: I think hunter is a tiny part of what all of us do. We hunt, but I think naturalist is a greater umbrella that covers more of what hunters do. We are the original naturalists, explorers. In the beginning we were all theologians, musicians, artists. We were academics, and we were all hunters. And then, we started dividing up our interests, with never the twain shall meet. The academics will never talk to the artists, and the theologians will never talk to the scientists, and I just think whenever you start dividing and trying to slot someone into a tiny little part of what they really are, it does a disservice to who they are. I think every hunter is a naturalist. Tell me one hunter, who if he sees a bluebird flutter by and doesn’t look at it, and care about it—genuinely care. Tell me one hunter who doesn’t pick up a shed deer antler on the ground and look at it. There’s not one single hunter who wouldn’t pick that up. Same thing for seeing an owl or a squirrel. We are naturalists. Watching the seasons change; why do we care about that? Why do we want to know about the mast crops that are forming in the spring? Because we are naturalists. What are they eating? Because we’re naturalists, not because we’re hunters. Hunting is part of being a naturalist, but the over-compassing descriptor would be naturalist as opposed to hunter. I think that touch is just too fine, too restrictive. Nowadays, too, the term has been hijacked to a degree, like the term “trophy” has been hijacked. Why fight that? Just naturalist.

  • Martins: Among the most impressive citations on your lengthy resume is “Founder and Curator” of the “Hand of Man” Museum of Natural History, Cultural Arts and Conservation, in Maple Bay, British Columbia. This is something that was also started at a very early age. Tell our readers about this remarkable endeavor.

Shockey: Just like I knew that I’d be a novelist when I was 10, I also envisioned this museum. I didn’t have the name for it at that time, but I knew that it would be a natural history museum, and it would be filled with cultural art objects—totem poles, beaded gauntlets, masks from around the world, outfits, ethnographic pieces from around the world, projectile points. You know, the napped flint points, and mounted animals and skeletons. I knew that. I envisioned that. We had no money, but I could go to the library, I was old enough, and I could open-up National Geographic, and I decided I’m going to go there, and there, and there. I’m going to do this. I’m going to meet these people. And, I was going to document it all, and bring all these things together to have them all under one roof. So that was the beginning of the Hand of Man Museum of Natural History, Cultural Arts and Conservation. I gathered and I kept gathering. You could ask my poor mother; if you’re in heaven, you can ask her. You could ask Louisey, who was a minimalist when we met. I mean, her apartment had two cushions and a coffee table and a mirror because she didn’t want clutter. She was a dancer, and she wanted to do choreography. And, I lived just packed-in, like an archive in an ancient Victorian cabinet of curiosities museum. So, I kept gathering all these pieces together, not hoarding them, but certainly keeping them filed until the day that I would have a venue to be able to share all these wonderful pieces of art and natural history with the world.

We eventually bought the building—it was our kid’s old school actually—in Maple Bay on Vancouver Island, about an hour north of Victoria. 17,500 square feet. We renovated in 2015 and opened the doors in 2019. Last year we had over 26,000 visitors, and it’s donation-only—no cover charge—because when I was young we had no money. I grew up in a trailer park. So, I could not have gone in, even if there was just a $1 cover charge, and it will never have a cover charge. As long as I can reach back from the grave, it will all be donation-only. I hate to quote Karl Marx, but "from those according to their ability, to those according to their need." He got that one thing right. Louise and I started the process two years ago of creating a society, a foundation to donate the land, the building, the contents and give it an endowment to cover expenses for the next 40 years. So, we are just giving it away, donating it all. And that way, the government won’t get their hands on it, and we avoid people dictating—you know; which way is the wind blowing this week? “Oh, we can’t have this in there, we’ve got to cut that out. It’s not politically correct to have that.” And then you end up not with a museum, but with a sanitized version of history that does nobody a service, and teaches nobody anything worthwhile. So, this museum will stay just as it is for at least 40 years beyond my death. I’ll have the board of directors handcuffed so that they’ll have to follow the mandates that I’ll set out, that Louisey and I decided on, based on our beliefs. All these pieces, all these mounted animals, the skeletons, the dinosaurs, the wooly mammoths, cave bears. That all has to stay, just like it is, into the future.

  • Martins: Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment!

Shockey: Thank you.

  • Martins: On the topic of hunting, you drew a coveted non-resident whitetail tag in Saskatchewan for this season. What are your plans for the upcoming hunt?

Shockey: I’ll go after a buck that I know about on our land. We have 2,200 acres on our ranch just outside of Saskatoon. I’ve hunted there for 40 years. I have trail-camera pictures of this buck from when he was 3-1/2. He’s 7-1/2 now. He was a 4x4 last year with two little kicker points, and we have his sheds, so I know the buck. And, he’s at a good, ripe old age, so I’ll go after him this year, if he’s still alive when I get there. I have to complete the book tour before I can even think about going hunting though.

  • Martins: Sitting on stand for two, or even three weeks straight, hunting for a particular buck, takes unbelievable discipline. How do you do that?

Shockey: You know, it doesn’t. It takes desire. Willa Cather, famous American author said (paraphrasing) “desire is the magic element in creation. If you could invent an instrument by which to measure desire, you could predict achievement.” Willa Cather said that, and never a truer statement was made, because it doesn’t take discipline, it takes desire. The discipline is a by-product of the desire. So how do you do it? Well, you have the desire. If you don’t have the desire to do it—it’s cold today, I don’t want to get out of bed, the football game’s on, I don’t want to sit on my stand, he’s not going to come—you just don’t believe. Tug McGraw famously said, “you just gotta believe.” But it’s desire, it’s not just discipline.

  • Martins: So, when you are sitting dark-to-dark, day after day, what are your main, “must have” foods while sitting on stand?

Shockey: I would say Twizzlers, because I know you have some here (laughter, with crumpling noise from the package). Oh yeah. One of the major food groups! But Twizzlers freeze in Saskatchewan, and they’re not that much fun to try and eat on stand. Even your water bottle freezes when it’s late season in November. If I eat anything, it will be a can of sardines; something to get me through the rest of the day.

  • Martins: I grew up on a self-contained dairy farm and learned to hunt for food rather than for sport, truly a “field-to-table” lifestyle that has continued to this day. I believe that you were one of the first to popularize the term. You’ve discussed this some, earlier in the interview. Your thoughts for people who just don’t understand this concept.

Shockey: Yes. It’s very difficult for people who live in a 20-story building in New York City, in a penthouse suite, or just half way up in the building, wherever. How can they possibly even imagine that kind of lifestyle? What do they do? They go down and get the Starbucks coffee, they go down to the deli and get a toasted roast beef sandwich, or pulled pork, or a fancy corned beef sandwich. They cannot possibly equate that corned beef with an animal. How could they? The bread takes a field, now a monoculture, that was habitat for wildlife at one time—that’s their bread. Mustard, where does it come from? Mustard seeds, again a monoculture. So, it’s very difficult for someone who doesn’t live in an urban setting to grasp the concept of field-to-table living. And, fair enough. “How can you go kill a rabbit? You killed it? And then, you cut open its stomach, and you pulled its skin off?” By that point in the conversation, they are already turning green and running to the bathroom to throw up. They are just not exposed to it. Fair enough.

We have urbanized for 80 years now, and I think we will start to see de-urbanization. We got a shot across the bow about what can happen if a true pandemic, not Covid, but a true pandemic hit. Suddenly, that 10th story apartment that you worked so hard for, and pay $12,000 a month for, and you have four roommates to pay for it; now it’s a prison. And what happens if it gets bad enough is that it becomes a tomb. Covid was an awakening for many people, and more of them are now looking for alternatives. It’s easy to go back to the same old, same old, because they don’t want to think about it; you know, out of sight, out of mind. But I think there was a bit of an awakening and an interest. “What? You grow your vegetables? You pull a carrot out of the ground? What do you do with the dirt?” Wash it off, and eat it! A spoonfull of dirt everyday is good for you, anyway. The field-to-table lifestyle is a beautiful, green, healthy way to live. Your body is your temple; what you put into it.

Deep fried is great. French fries are great! I don’t say that you have to be a monk about living the field-to-table lifestyle, but it sure is healthy. And, I think people are starting to realize that you get one life, so why would you waste it sitting in a 10th floor apartment with a view of the building across the way, and not out in the fresh air exercising and working to provide the food that you are consuming that gives you life? Why wouldn’t you be out there in the countryside? And, if we all did that, there’s a lot of space out there for people. We could grow a lot more food than what we are growing now, if we were intensively farming a lot of these areas, and it would probably be better for habitat for the wildlife in a lot of ways too, as opposed to the big, giant monoculture factory ships that are the farmland nowadays. Field-to-table to me is the only way to live.

  • Martins: You have allowed the public to share in your personal as well as your professional life, can you share something that the typical fan may not know about Jim Shockey?

Shockey: I’m a helluva golfer! (laughter) Let me rephrase that. I’m a helluva wannabe golfer! (more laughter). We live in the public eye. This is fourth generation now in the public eye. The grandparents are gone now, and we have grandchildren. Louisey is gone. So, what you see is what you get. I’m trying to think if there’s some big, dark secret. I can’t even make one up! We live with “joie de vivre”— joy of life—and that doesn’t mean that you live so disciplined that you take all the fun away! To me, that’s not a life either.

  • Martins: Any chance that you might throw your iconic black cowboy hat into the political arena in your homeland?

Shockey: I’ve considered that, and the reason I’ve considered it is because: A) They can’t hurt me anymore. What are they going to do to me? I’ve suffered the deepest sorrow anybody could ever suffer. So, what? Are you going to send me home? Call me names? Please! That’s what keeps a lot of good people out of politics. They know they’re going to get lambasted by inaccuracies, lies, jealousies and envy. So who needs it? But you end up with good people not putting their hat—you know, the black hat—into the mix. B) I think we have a responsibility, if we can, we should. And I can, maybe, depends on how the novel does. If I continue doing book tours like this one, I sure can’t be sitting in a legislature building discussing some inane law. I’ve been asked by a couple of parties over the years, and I’ve thought about it, but I don’t know that I can make more of a difference doing what I’m doing with the writing, or in politics, so we’ll see. If the novel doesn’t do well, then I’ll go into politics. That’s what happens. I think that’s what politicians are. They’ve failed at everything, so they end up by default being politicians.

  • Martins: Other than finishing up the book tour and the whitetail hunt later this fall, and working on that sequel to "Call Me Hunter," what’s next for Jim Shockey?

Shockey: Boy, I’ve been living day-to-day for two years now, and it’s hard to get into a week-to-week mindset after living day-to-day. Every day is precious. But I don’t know. I really don’t know. I have to write, I have grandchildren, we have Branlin our son and Eva our daughter, there are houses; so that’s all important. I’ve pretty well lived out on the edge for so long that I probably still live out on the edge, somewhere. Too far away to say exactly where I will be a year from now. If all that I wrote about in "Call Me Hunter" is true, then Our World is going to be really pissed at me. So if something untoward happens to me, you heard it here! Oh, so maybe there is more truth to it.

  • Martins: Ahh, so maybe it’s not totally fiction.

Shockey: I guarantee you, it’s not totally fiction!

  • Martins: Great success with the book, and thank you.

Shockey: Yeah, thanks Tony, so much. It’s been my pleasure.

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