Wednesday, January 4, 2012

20 Questions: Kirk Deeter

Kirk Deeter
Kirk Deeter is an adventurer, a lover of far-flung places and a tireless fly fisher. He has a passion for new water and good familiar whiskey sipped in unfamiliar locales. He's a writer with an explorer's heart.

You might know Kirk from his work at Field & Stream's Fly Talk blog, an endeavor he undertakes with Tim Romano. Deeter also edits and publishes Angling Trade, also with Romano. Or you might know him from some of his other works, including the recently published Little Red Book of Fly Fishing, a project he completed with his mentor (and one my lifelong heroes), the late Charlie Meyers.

I'm fortunate that I've gotten to know Kirk in recent years beyond his professional affiliations, albeit his profession is what came to define our relationship at first. I've always admired what Kirk has been able to do as a professional freelance journalist--this is a field with a short lifespan, a career choice that, especially these days in the world of blogs and online publications, chews writers up and spits them out with prejudice. It's not exactly a paying gig, at least not dependably. That Deeter has made a go of it is admirable. That he's risen to the top of his field says something of his resolve.

Deeter checks in with the family from Prince Albert, Sask.
Over the years, Kirk and I have traveled quite a bit together throughout the West. We've wandered the wilds of the Wyoming Range, and soaked our old bones in hot springs pools 100 miles from Mexico (ask him about the (oso verde caliente beverage we concocted while passing a floating tray of cheese and crackers back and forth across the hot pool). We shared a week together in Saskatchewan's far north, where we cast flies to surly northern pike, feminine Arctic grayling and hard-charging lake trout. We trudged to the depths of the canyons atop Colorado's Roan Plateau, and the next day gasped our way to the highest of lakes in the Holy Cross Wilderness.

Like me, he's a traveler. New country means something. New water has sex appeal. And fish that never see flies... that's where our lives intersect.

I'm proud to count Kirk among my very best friends, and I know I'm not alone, as many feel as I do about this man who is quick to laugh, easy to fish with and, most importantly, easy to be friends with. I love the guy... if you ever get the chance to meet him, you'll see what I mean. Until then, let these questions give you a little insight into his soul. Here we go:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Watching my son’s jaw drop when a 100-pound tarpon he just hooked jumps in front of him, as my wife hugs and kisses me, causing me to spill a Mojito.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I don’t know. The historical figure I’d relish an opportunity to meet in the hereafter, or go back in time and have dinner with? Benjamin Franklin. No question.

Which living person do you most admire?
A tie… my mother and my father.  I was blessed with incredibly great parents.  I don’t tell either of them that enough.  Same for my brother, Drew.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
A sharp temper. I lash out too often, too quickly at those who are closest to me. They’re on the receiving end too often, because they are there, not because they deserve it, when the root cause has nothing to do with them. I’m a diplomat on the outside, and a tempest on the inside.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Dishonesty. Don’t lie to me. Ever.

What is your favorite journey?
Parenthood. Watching my son grow. Watching my wife grow around him. All the places, the fish, the stories… that’s just work.

Which living person do you most despise?
I don’t despise anyone. I disagree with many. Serial killers, rapists, terrorists… well, yeah. But I don’t know any of them.

What is your greatest regret?
I was a good athlete once, and I let my body get away from me. I’m trying to get that back, but chronology is against me now.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My wife Sarah. Married 22 years. My son Paul. All of my family and friends.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could play piano really well. And I wish I were a scratch golfer.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
I’d do the same thing again, or close to it. Failing that, I’d be a great white shark.

What is your most treasured possession?
My most treasured “possessions” are the things one cannot “possess.”  Wild rivers, oceans, mountains… the Northern Lights… those things.

Where would you like to live?
Where I live now. In Pine, Colorado. I wouldn’t mind a beach house in Kona for when the snow piles up.

How would you like to die?
Not at all.

What’s on your iPod?
Everything from Oscar Peterson to the Dropkick Murphys. Jazz, rock, country… all good, depending on the mood.

What’s the title of your autobiography?
Kirk Deeter.  If that’s not enough, it isn’t worth writing, and it isn’t worth printing.

What was the most significant moment in your life?
Being handed a baby boy in Guatemala City, and hearing, “This is your son.”  My wife and I never planned it that way, but in retrospect, we wouldn’t trade that for anything.  It changed us, and our families, for the better.

What’s your favorite film?
“Little Big Man” with Dustin Hoffman. I’ve been through many life phases myself. And I like the lessons, the connection with the West, and the understanding of being a “Human Being.”

Where would you want your loved ones to spread your ashes?
I want dribs and drabs to go everywhere, as I live my life… a spoonful in the Atlantic, some in the Pacific, some in the mountains, a heaping portion in Lake Michigan, some on the flats, some in Alaska, and some ground right into the sidewalks of New York City.

BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite car of all the cars you’ve owned?
Lexus RX 350.  It’s so not me, but so fun to drive.


  1. Kirk sounds like a cool guy! I named my two month old son Ben after Ben Franklin. I enjoyed this post.

  2. Thanks Andy... Kirk's a great guy. We're trying to get him up here this spring for carp and collared doves... you should join us!

  3. Coincidentally, I was reading through his "Little Red Book of Fly Fishing" last night. Great stuff...and great interview! Good series, Chris...keep it up!

  4. Another great interview, but I'm left wanting more and so I pose a 21st Question for today's guest: Mr. Deeter, how often do people call you Kurt?

  5. Chris, thanks for letting us get to know Kirk a little better. He sounds like a kindred soul, now if I could just figure out how to pull off that free-lance thing.

  6. As always, the 20 questions keeps us coming back. Great stuff Chris. Loved the Dropkick Murphys insert.

    Thanks for sharing, Kirk, and really, a great white shark? I'm sure Freud would have a field day with that one.

  7. Love the F&S column. Thx for the great interviews. Drop Kick Murphy's move him up a few notches.

  8. Sorry for the lag in response Kurt... er, Kirt... er Curt... okay, Kirk! If I had a nickel for every time someone called me Kurt, I wouldn't be writing in the first place. On the other hand, you might be the first person who ever addressed me as "Mr." Thanks, and thanks for all your good work! KD

    1. It feels strangely self-indulgent to call you "Kirk", thus the formal address– sorry if that made you feel uncomfortable. When someone addresses me as "Mr." I always look over my should, expecting to see my dad. Keep up the good work! Kurt

  9. I'm guilty of the Kurt goof... but know that I know two Kirks... I'm catching on.