Growing up in a non-hunting family in the small town of Portsmouth, Ohio, now-26-year-old Sam Bowman was a “sports guy,” playing four sports a year. None of his family hunted, and in those early years Sam couldn’t have known that as an adult his passion would not be shooting hoops, but hunting. However, part of his family heritage was shooting arrows, and as Sam said, “I picked up the bow one day and it came naturally to me.”

So when Sam started working for Rocky Brands, Inc. — makers of some of the country’s most popular hunting boots and clothing — Sam knew he had to jump in and embrace the environment and pursue the passion of the company’s history of hunting.

Prior to joining the Rocky team Sam had done some tag-along spot-and-stalk hunting, as well as some squirrel hunting, but “once I was promoted to Marketing Manager, I knew I had to jump in and never look back,” he said.

Sam took his first whitetail hunt with a couple of buddies and co-workers, carrying a .30-30. “The camp was a hodgepodge and a man’s dream cabin, filled with bunk beds, trophy mounts and couches and a fireplace. All in all, we had a blast,” Bowman said. “One of the greatest parts of hunting is camp and the fellowship around it. Stories, meals and laughter make it so fun. It helped me realize that when you see a father and son in hunting pictures together, it truly is a bonding experience. This is something I will love to pass on to my kids.”

Sam’s first whitetail story mirrors those of many first-time deer hunters. “I started the first morning out in a box stand. Within the first hour I saw a nice fat doe come out. My heart was pounding once I saw her, and I knew I had to wait a minute to calm down so I could get a steady shot off. I made a good shot and she fell not 45 yards away,” he said.

“Later on that evening I went on to the second field and sat in a ground blind. The sun was starting to go down and I hadn’t seen or heard anything but a couple of squirrels behind me,” Bowman remembered. “I looked through my binos in all directions and saw nothing. I heard a little noise and I turned to look over my left shoulder, but nothing was there. So, I turned back around and saw three nice bucks at about 150 yards! I thought my heart had pounded hard earlier, but this was a completely different type of nervous. When the largest buck came about 10 yards closer, I took the shot, and he went right down. I waited about 15 minutes before I got up and walked over. Every step I took he kept getting bigger. He ended up being a nice size 8-pointer. It was the start to an awesome year.”

That it was. All told, that first year Sam took a dandy spring black bear with his bow in northwestern Alberta and a big alligator and wild hog in the summer in Florida hunting with Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo from Archer's Choice.

“One of the biggest things I learned from my first hunting seasons is that to be successful you have to have a lot of patience,” Bowman said. “After all, that is why it is called hunting and not shooting.

“My plans for the future are to hunt as much as possible,” he said. “Not only do I absolutely love it, but it also helps me be a better brand manager for Rocky. When I step into the woods, I am the consumer, so it helps me help us design and build the best clothing and footwear for the hunter that we can.”