My name is Will. I was born in the middle of a very cold winter in the Sheridan Memorial Hospital in Sheridan, Wyoming. My dad was a cowboy working on the Little Horn Ranch on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana, just across the Wyoming border. At an early age, my dad got a new job on a ranch in the southeast corner of Wyoming, right by the Nebraska state line. This is where some of my earliest memories are from and this also is where I was introduced to hunting and fishing. Like most of us, the introduction to the outdoors is from our fathers and I was no different. As early as I can remember I began going to work with my dad on the ranch.
Will and Blue in Wyoming.
Being surrounded by nature was not only a part of my life, it was my whole life. I had no brothers or sisters, and we lived over 50 miles away from the nearest civilization. My friends and entertainment were my horse Blue and studying what was always happening around me in nature. My brain was a computer chip downloading everything I saw in the wild. Watching and studying everything around me: the animals, the weather, and how everything in nature worked.
One afternoon when I was out checking the cows with my dad, we witnessed hunting at its core. A baby antelope was running full speed with a coyote hot on his tail and the mother antelope hot on the coyote’s tail. Learning about the food chain in a real-life way that few rarely get to experience was amazing. One day, I saw one of the other cowboys that worked on the ranch fishing at the creek that ran through the ranch called Horse Creek. The creek was filled with mostly rainbow trout. Watching this inspired me to want to do this. So, the following afternoon my dad took me to the creek and it began.
Will with his rod reel and bobber ready to fish.
Catching these trout lit a fire in me to continue my pursuit of the outdoors as a sportsman. When I was 4 or 5, I got to go on my first hunt. My dad was going antelope hunting and I talked my way into tagging along. Being a part of an open plains antelope hunt at such an early age was incredible. From stalking across the wide open western plains, reading the weather, studying the animals, controlling your breathing before the kill shot to appreciating the food this animal will provide for us and skinning the animal and preparation of the meat; I was taught to respect the animal and to only hunt and kill what you eat. Don’t waste anything that the animal provides for you and be thankful for it. The next hunt I was introduced to was a Mule Deer hunt. Mule Deer to this day is still my all-time favorite hunt. My most memorable hunting memory is the first time I saw a big Mule Deer buck in person.
The buck from the first hunt Will went on with his dad.
Every big Mule Deer buck I see to this day still brings back that feeling of complete amazement and being in awe. The rule at my house was if I stay home from school then I had to work. That's exactly what I wanted and I didn’t attend much school. I wanted to be in nature, not in a classroom. I was absolutely loving my childhood in Wyoming spending my days hunting, fishing, riding my horse and working on the ranch.
Unfortunately, that was soon going to come to an end. My dad had a very bad horse wreck where he was bucked off and broke six ribs, punctured a lung, and lacerated his kidney. He was unable to ride or work for a long while and we had to move to Central California and live with my uncle. Now, I know the thought or sound of moving to California might sound awesome to some, but it wasn't for me. We had no money, lived in a single wide trailer, and were over 50 miles from any civilization in Wyoming. Days filled with ranch work, hunting or fishing, and no school; it was a country boys dream.
Will enjoying a country boy’s life.
Now, in California I had to go to school, my time to ride my horse, Blue, was cut down to almost nothing, and when or where was I going to hunt and fish? This was a culture shock to say the least. When my mom enrolled me into school in California they told her I had a "weird way of talking, it sounds like a country twang" that’s what they said about my voice and felt it was a speech impediment. I was put in a special education class to learn to speak. Now, if California can't get any worse, they think my country ways make me a special ed student.
The area of California we lived in was Pismo Beach. Not knowing anyone who fished or hunted, I was lost with what to do. One day, my mom took me to the beach and rented me a boogie board. I got my butt kicked in the ocean. That feeling of being in the ocean, connected to nature in a way was filling the void I had from missing Wyoming. That day would set me on a path I didn't even know existed at the time. Boogie boarding became my life; it became my focus and was my way to be connected to nature in my new environment.
None of my new friends in California hunted, fished, or rode horses and I had no idea where to do any of those things because we now lived in a city surrounded by people. Going into the ocean and riding waves became my passion. Being competitive by nature, I started to compete in contests and started beating people much older than me. I was in high school and thought maybe I wanted to do this for a living: I want to be a professional boogie boarder.
While traveling and competing, I met what would later become one of my closest friends: Raffi Meyer. We were the same age and competed against one another. He would always beat me and that didn't sit well with me, yet one day after a competition we started talking and I came to find out we were more alike than I would have ever thought. He was born in Idaho and grew up fishing and enjoying the wild of Idaho. He too got transplanted to California, yet he was in Southern California. Raffi too found comfort in the ocean, so our friendship began.
About a year later in the summer, I went to visit Raffi in Southern California to surf with him. Raffi asked if I wanted to go bass fishing which I had to ask,“What's a bass?”. You’ve got to realize I was a bit sheltered in Wyoming. We had 1 TV channel, and if it wasn't a fish in Horse Creek outside my house I had no idea what it was. There were no cell phones, google or YouTube for me to search anything either. So, Raffi gave me the full lowdown on bass and said it was the most fun freshwater fish to catch.
Raffi at one of his Southern California fishing holes.
We went to a local private golf course pond by his house, snuck in and went after the bass: it was insane! My first Largemouth Bass! It took me back to being in Wyoming and that first trout I ever caught; it gave me that feeling I craved for. From that point forward, Raffi and I spent just as much time fishing for bass as we did in the ocean riding waves.
Will with a bass in Southern California.
Raffi and I both went on to become professional boogie boarders and were fortunate enough to be able to travel the world riding waves.
Will in Hawaii.
As time passed Raffi and I always talked about having a career or doing something that had to do with hunting or fishing so we could be in nature more doing what we love, being who we are.
I had spent many years in the surf industry both as a professional rider and on the business side where I was the founder and created of one of the most popular brands in the sport with product in over 22 different countries. Even with all that I was ready for a change, I was ready to get back to my roots.
Skip ahead a few years and I met a couple guys that had a fishing product and needed help taking it to market. These two guys were very smart, yet they had no idea how to market or sell their product. And after looking over their product, I believed in it and believed I could sell it and I felt it was my opportunity to be a part of the outdoor industry as a career.
I was brought on to their company and I went to work. Within 6 months’ time, I was able to take them from working out of their garage to having a deal with one of the biggest big box retailers in the world. It was a huge deal for their company and for me because I told them I could do it and I delivered. A few months after the big deal I knew it was time to move on as I wanted to start and create my own brand with my own vision. I did what a country boy does, I got to work.
This is America and I believe in the American dream. Growing up hunting and fishing in Wyoming put me in some of the harshest elements known to any sportsman. Weather ranging from winters hitting -30 below one winter that left frostbite scars on my face to summer highs of 90 plus in the blazing heat. This wide range of weather left me either frozen or overheated. It left me wanting gear that was strong enough to face the toughest conditions and made for anything and everything that a sportsman experiences in the elements.
I wanted to bring my experience of growing up in Wyoming, combined with my knowledge of athletic performance in the water, to create the most progressive, innovative, and technically designed clothing for hunting and fishing on earth. I had a very empty bank account, no clothing knowledge or apparel industry know how what so ever. Fortunately though, I had a vast network of contacts I could ask for help to point me in the right direction. So, I started to network to figure out how am I going to piece this all together.
How am I going to go from idea to reality? I thought back to the way I was raised when I was 4 years old; I wanted to learn how to swim. I stood at the edge of the watering hole/pool we had on the ranch. I was looking at the water not knowing what to do. My dad said to me you'll either sink or swim. I looked at him not understanding what he meant. Next thing I knew, he had pushed me in. There was no help, no lifeguard, and no life vest. He stood there and said,“Sink or swim what is it going to be?!” I swung my arms, kicked my legs, and was moving with all my might to save my life. It wasn't pretty, but I learned how to swim and learned a valuable life lesson. I knew I could do this, I knew I could figure out who I needed to work with to design what I envisioned. I knew if a country boy from Wyoming could become a professional wave rider, I could figure this out.
After many phone calls and emails, I had the right place to start; now I needed a name. This lead me back to my roots. I was in my backyard listening to Alabama having a few beers and the song Dixie Land Delight was playing.
I thought to myself what do I want this company to be? I thought I love to hunt and fish, and what are my favorite things to hunt and fish for? The answer was a Big Buck and a Largemouth Bass. At that moment BUCK N’ BASS was born. I got a pen and paper out and drew up the logo from there.
From Will’s imagination to paper, BUCK N’ BASS.
I was then ready to make our first t-shirts and hats, which was all I could afford to make at that time. I knew one day BUCK N’ BASS was going to focus on outdoors athletes and their performance in the field, while making the most innovative and technically designed clothing for hunting and fishing on Earth! Yet, for the time being, I had to start somewhere. With overwhelming support from mostly our Instagram followers, I completely sold through all of my inventory; I sold out of every t-shirt and hat.
One of the first t-shirts Will created.
I was amazed, grateful and very thankful for that and the overwhelming positive response I got from the company name and logo. People loved the name and they loved the logo, some loved it so much that they even got it tattooed onto them only a few weeks after I released it to the public.
During this time, I knew in order for BUCK N’ BASS to be what I believed it could be, we had to have the right team around. We have built just that and more. Starting with athletes, like professional bass angler Bryant Smith, we have a design team armed with members holding a Masters in Engineering, an award-winning filmmaker and photographer, and a CFO possessing a Masters in Applied Finance. We have the best team in hunting and fishing ever assembled. Our team has begun to design and develop exactly what the BUCK N’ BASS vision was from day one: apparel focused on athletic performance in the field for outdoors athletes.
Will in between hunts.
There is no quitting, there is no giving up. I am relentless and winning is all that matters. I am bringing all of that drive, focus, and determination and Wyoming toughness into BUCK N’ BASS and we will be the first namein hunting and fishing. We will deliver revolutionary designed apparel so you can perform at your best in the field. Please signup for our email-subscribers list to stay updated with our progress, as we will be updating our blog once a week up through the time we launch. We look forward to taking this journey with you.
Will, BUCK N’ BASS founder