Hunting and the outdoor activities that we enjoy contribute to the quality of our lives. Hunters tend to look for gear that contributes to this quality, such as more comfortable and technical clothing, highly effective ammo and brighter, clearer optics, just to name a few. These tools enhance our times in the field.
And that brings me to coffee… So, what does coffee have to do with hunting?
Coffee’s place in the outdoors
I love hunting, backpacking… and coffee. And, I go to great lengths to make certain I’ve got great tasting coffee with me in all my outings. It takes some thought and preparedness, but is important to me. I’ve talked to a lot of other outdoors people and they feel the same.
The reality is that coffee is one of those essential items found in every deer camp, in every camper, and in every pack.
In Pennsylvania, where I grew up, coffee was part of the tradition of “opening morning” deer hunting in our house. I can still hear my brother say, “first one up, put the coffee on!”
My uncle Owen, my hunting hero, was a coffee drinker as well. He had a cup in his hand all day long. He was a contractor and coffee was his “go juice” on the job. But, that transferred to the field as well.
In fact, as I’ve met and talked to many hunters over the years — elderly and young alike, they look to coffee to help them wake up and get out to the stand.
The same goes for many waterfowl hunters, turkey hunters and outfitters.
So, I make this bold proclamation: Coffee makes the hunting world go ’round!
With that being said, something still baffles me.
If coffee is such a “must have” item when it comes to the outdoors, why is there not more planning and thought put into it?
What is your coffee brand supporting?
Many of us just grab whatever the grocery store has or what’s in our cupboard and not give it another thought.
But… what if the coffee you were drinking on your trips afield was actually working to restrict your right to hunt?
What if profits from your coffee purchase were being donated to extreme left organizations that are flooding the courts with proposed legislation to ban hunting… or at least nibble around the edges of our freedoms? It is very possible and it is likely.
Hunter’s Blend Coffee | In the beginning…
At the publishing of this article, I have been in the specialty coffee trade for the past 17 years. I’ve seen the underbelly of coffee importers, brokers and west coast trendsetters in this industry. Most green coffee comes in through the west coast; cities like Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco. The shareholders of these coffee traders and roasting companies more than likely do not share our values and our hunting heritage.
I started roasting coffee in 2002 and have worked hard at becoming a licensed Q-Grader.
But, learning to taste coffee as well as identify and describe what is being tasted is only one part. The other has to do with manipulating the roasting process and rate of rise of bean temperature to get all the quality (sweetness, aroma) out of a coffee that it has to give.
It really is a blend of art and science.
Over the past 10 years I have seen the American palate change from “hot and black” to really desiring craft roasted coffee… even amongst our hunting ranks.
Until recently, there was no choice for these discerning coffee drinkers, other than buying coffee from suppliers that were not forthcoming in how the bean was sourced and what values they, as a company, embrace.
Now there is.
Two years ago, along with my two brother-in-laws (Mike Swartzentruber and Ken Beachy), we started Hunter’s Blend Coffee.
The reason for starting Hunter’s Blend was simple: We wanted to bring hunter-friendly coffee to the market, assuring that the complete chain-of-custody of coffee supported the hunting lifestyle.
Supporting Farmers And Communities
In order to do this, we import our green coffee directly from the coffee grower (farms like El Dorado, owned by coffee farmer Diego Chavarria, in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, and Pat in the mountains around Chang Rai, Thailand (Doi Chang Village). These coffees are expertly roasted and blended to create the Hunter’s Blend Coffee products.
By going directly to the farms, we can eliminate up to six middle buyers and pay these farmers literally twice the amount they would otherwise receive on the local market. This fair pay for a passionately grown, top quality product, enables these farmers to keep their employees working year-round. This create jobs, which in turn eliminates poverty and economically lifts entire communities.
Community growth via coffee
In northern Thailand, among the Ahka tribe, we have seen an entire community flourish. Where once was there extreme poverty, no schools and societal abuse, there is now a community that has totally changed… all because of coffee jobs.
Over 80 women hand sort our coffee each year, many whom were caught up in the sex trafficking industry. When they heard that there were jobs in their village, they made their way home. When you walk in the village these days, it is ringing with laughter of children and ladies singing… a thriving community.
Supporting your right to hunt
Hunter’s Blend Coffee also gives back to conservation groups within our industry.
The one that stands out to me is the Sportsman’s Alliance. SA is working in the legal battles of keeping our hunting heritage alive. The habitat and animal population oriented groups are doing great work, but what good is habitat and wildlife numbers if you can’t hunt!
SA in particular, watches for proposed legislation that attacks fringe activity, such as coyote hunting contests, which, on its face, is no big deal. Most of us don’t compete in these contests, so we tune it out. But once these restrictions pass, the activists become emboldened and immediately go for other battles against regional hunting practices such as hunting bears over bait, or using hounds to hunt mountain lions or bears, etc.
The activists approach is like a constrictor, with each battle won, increasing restriction over our hunting freedoms, with the ultimate goal of eliminating hunting all together.
No organization has done more to erode our freedoms than the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which is not the same as your local animal shelter.
HSUS raises funds by using the disguise of helping to end cat and dog cruelty, when in fact, less than 1% of their money goes to local animal shelters. The vast majority of HSUS money goes to fund nationwide legal battles to end hunting of all kinds.
I have no doubt that some of the earnings of coffee importers and roasters are funding HSUS, to our demise!
Hunter’s Blend Coffee is defending hunting, one cup at a time. It is coffee for hunters, by hunters.
As a bow hunter and rifleman myself, I know the joy of opening a thermos of coffee in my blind on a freezing cold, pre-dawn morning, while waiting for first light. The aroma and the warmth all combine into a lingering memory.
When it’s time to plan my next outing, there will be that desire to bring that “cup of joy” into the hunt again. And it will be coffee that is a part of my gear.
I listened intently as a popular outdoor podcaster explained, in great detail his disdain for rifle hunting – and rifle hunters. He pontificated for 30 minutes about its inherent lack of challenge and illegitimacy in the deer woods.
Promptly following his passionate albeit exhaustive diatribe, he said, “but that’s okay. Not everyone has to hunt the same way.”
His ending statement came too late – at least in my mind.
Days later, I listened to another show where several minutes of banter were dedicated to the lameness that is hunting with an outfitter. Here, you got the impression that, anything short of traversing public land with not much more than a bow and climbing sticks, was a “short cut”.
I’d never felt so lazy in my life (not really, I’ve got pretty thick skin). The negativity and chest puffing seemed to increase with the sound of each new cracking beer tab in the background.
Though these are guys that consistently provide a lot of entertaining and useful hunting information, they are like many other outdoorsmen – they’re not pro hunters…
It’s no secret that hunting numbers are down in North America. Indeed, it’s a pivotal time for our hunting heritage and future. Obviously, the anti-hunting sentiment plays a large role here for sure. However, it’s obvious that many members of the hunting contingent are intent on eating their young.
A recipe for disaster – outdoor future thwarted.
What is pro hunting? Yes, it has a lot to do with expertise, accomplishments, and positive contributions to habitat, and the like. However, in this vernacular, to be a pro hunter simply means to PROmote.
Promote the way you prefer to hunt, your weapons of choice, or other philosophies.
In my mind, problems arise when people become “con” hunters. So, what about this word con?
Definitions include “against” or “contrary.”
Maybe you’ve heard comments like, “I get irritated with guys that shoot the first buck they see – if I see one more photo of a guy posing with a young 8-pointer, I’m going to explode. They have no idea what they’re doing.”
Now there is a con I hear often. How about just promote hunting?
Cons can of course also be good if offered up in a non-confrontational or non-combative manner. After all, independent thought and respectful discussion and debate is healthy.
It’s a slippery slope though and some folks have a hard time maintaining a healthy balance.
“Slinging mud doesn’t get anyone anywhere. When we have problems with fellow hunters, hunting policies, or anything else, resolving issues the right way is a must,” says outdoor writer, Josh Honeycutt.
Arguably, mental wrestling matches regarding hunting issues are healthy. However, it’s a fact that, like in any community, the entire hunting collective doesn’t play nice.
So, perhaps it’s best to develop (or stick with) your pro hunter side (or at the very least, emphasize it). It can slow the momentum of the negative trends inherent in the current hunting and the outdoor culture.
Put differently, embrace the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it” mindset. Consider approaching social media channels and deer camp fire pits as a pro hunter.
Michael Waddell once said, “I don’t care if you hunt with a recurve, crossbow, rifle, or anything else as long as you’re safe and legal.”
A pro hunter statement if I ever heard one.
This may all sound trite and dramatic, but it’s worth thinking about. Perhaps it’s best to concentrate on our pros.
There are some whitetail hunting “methods” that have been passed down through the years. Many hunters have been told growing up, “these are the stands you’ll hunt.” Or, “pick a tree on a ridge or field edge,” whether it be near food or common bedding.
If you see a buck while using these hunting methods, great. But, if not, you just have to hope one will walk within range… next time.
While there is nothing wrong with this hunting methodology, it’s important to strive to become more effective and efficient in getting close encounters with big, mature bucks.
It seems over the last few years, using aggressive tactics on whitetail bucks has become more popular. Instead of using the “sitting and hoping” strategy, hunters are finding and hunting the fresh, hot buck sign.
It is of high importance to understand what exactly your target buck is doing and why he is doing it.
“If you are waiting for something to happen, you’re going to be waiting a long, long time.”
Remember, trail cameras only tell half of the story. If you really pay attention and read the sign, such as where the wind direction is, rub lines, track marks etc., you can find where your deer is bedding and moving during those daylight hours.
It’s not one single piece of evidence that paints the picture, but rather several different components being pieced together that will get you headed in the direction that you want to go.
Hunters such as Andrae D’Acquisto, and his son, Cody, from Lone Wolf Custom Gear, Dan Infalt, aka “Hunting Beast”, and another personal favorite Greg Litzinger, aka “Bowhunting Fiend,” have been perfecting this type of “run and gun” style for decades and have the deer on the wall to prove it.
I had the chance to message Greg Litzinger, who has been hunting for over 30 years, and he said, “I always use the [phrase], if you are waiting for something to happen, you’re going to be waiting a long, long time.”
“Sometimes, we have to move towards what we want and some call it ‘being aggressive,’ but it’s not really aggressive if you think about it. If you know where the buck is bedded, and you are calculated with your entry, cover, and your sound control, that’s not really aggressive. It’s just being smart.”
One thing that all the guys agreed on was that there is a large learning curve. Especially when it comes to hunting buck beds. It will take a while to really learn the behavior of mature deer.