The bonding nature of a hunt
A few months ago, John Piscione, the Senior Vice President of Sales at Riton optics, and I discussed an opportunity for a co-sponsored hunt with the internationally known rifle and shotgun manufacturer, Mossberg Firearms. Being our first co-sponsored hunt of this magnitude, we carefully contemplated the opportunity. We concluded that Mossberg’s long history in the marketplace and Riton’s fresh new perspective in the optics industry, created an ideal partnership.
The hunt was to take place on the Steinbeck Vineyard in Paso Robles, California. There were five tags allotted and we chose the hunters to take part in conjunction with Mossberg’s Director of Media Relations, Linda Powell. The tags were split into two hunting groups- each comprising of several days. Two of the tags were to be filled by world renowned hunter and author, Craig Boddington and his wife Donna Boddington, who is a well-known and inspirational hunter in her own right. The third vacancy was filled by Linda whose hunting knowledge and experience are some of the most respected in the industry. The final two tags would be filled by two of the most well-known hunting experts and authors, Andrew McKean and Bryce Towlsey.
As the Director of Marketing for Riton, I was asked to attend the second portion of the hunt with Andrew and Bryce. I accepted quickly and, while excited about the opportunity to be among this elite crowd, I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive as well. I have hunted all over my home state of Arizona but have not had the experience of hunting in an environment such as a California vineyard. Though I was not hunting to fill a tag, I felt slightly underprepared and unsure. To further intensify my uncertainty, I also know little about wine, nor do I drink much wine, and here I was headed to a vineyard where there would be many samplings of the product.
Talk about being out of my “normal” surroundings…
Little did I know that I would come back from a short week in California feeling like a “Sommelier” with some great new friends, several samples of fermented fruits and an experience that I will never forget.
The Steinbeck Vineyard is nothing short of amazing.
The Vineyard is in its sixth generation of family management with the seventh generation growing fast and learning every day. Every family member participates in some form or fashion. The Steinbeck family is one that makes you feel instantly at home and welcomed. From grandma Steinbeck’s homemade sweet potato pie to mom Steinbeck’s grand stories of the vineyard, there was not a single detail missed by this amazing family. Their winery walls were adorned with American flags, family pictures and beautiful mounts. Not to be forgotten was the delicious wine produced on site, and from Cabernet Sauvignons to Petite Sirahs, I enjoyed them all.
Our main host was a young gentleman named Ryan who, as a sixth-generation manager of the vineyard, also guides for each of the hunts. Beyond being immensely knowledgeable about the vineyard, Ryan spoke in detail about hunting and firearms, as well as his strategy for the blacktail population in the surrounding areas. His skills and knowledge made the hunt successful and his cooking and hospitality made it very enjoyable.
There’s nothing like the bonding nature of a hunt.
The days that I was there, I had the pleasure of getting to know Linda, Craig, Donna, Bryce, Andrew and the Steinbeck family on a level that became equal to that of good friends. We shared laughs and many of grandma Steinbeck’s lucky, deer cookies as we sat three to a row in a crew cab truck, searching row after row for the deer. As I listened to their grand stories of adventures and challenges, I realized that each one of them has an incredible passion for their country, their career and the outdoors. I felt truly honored to be among the this group.
By the end of the eight day trip, all five blacktail deer tags were filled. Donna and Linda tagged out in the first two days, both with incredible trophy bucks. Bryce also fulfilled his tag on one of the best scoring bucks to be harvested on the Steinbeck property, and Craig and Andrew were able to fulfill their tags with management bucks. All hunters carried their Mossberg rifles adorned with Riton Optics Mod 5 Scopes, each which performed flawlessly throughout the hunt.
I enjoyed every minute of my time at the Steinbeck Vineyard and came back with much more than expected, including: a taste for wine, a new knowledge of the diverse skill sets for hunting, a new group of friends and mentors, and a mind full of history and admiration. This hunt was truly an adventure I will never forget.