Tuesday, May 8, 2012

20 Questions: Bruce Smithhammer

Bruce Smithhammer is one of those guys we all want to be when we grow up. He's a fly fishing guide. He works in a fly shop. His fly cast is maddeningly flawless. He can row a drift boat, hit a sharpie on the wing over a good dog and skewer an elk in heavy timber with a bow.

And he lives within walking distance of a brewery.

He's like the real-life version of Hank Williams Jr.'s "Country Boy Can Survive," only with some civility, sophistication and clean underwear. Which isn't to say he doesn't slum now and then--he can tell a raunchy joke as well as anyone (sometime, over a beer, ask me about the Angry Seagull), and I've seen him drink PBR straight from the can in the Moose Bar in Dillon, Mont. Just venturing into the Moose means you're likely due at least one tetanus shot, and it's wise, on the way home, to choose the full-body radiation scan at the airport (and I'd recommend the cavity search, just to be safe). At the very least, you should go have a set of dental x-rays done. The Moose, shall we say ... persists.

And, thankfully, for those of us who care about the future of outdoor pursuits, so does Smithhammer. 

You've likely stumbled upon his stuff in the pages of The Drake, or online at Buster Wants to Fish. He also writes about upland game-bird hunting at Mouthful of Feathers. He's well-read and, as a result, a fine writer who is able to boil down the complex issues surrounding conservation into digestible chunks and present them to readers--no matter the venue--in a way that makes sense and inspires some action.

He doesn't just write about conservation, but, like any good outdoor writer these days, he's drawn to it because so many threats against our fishing and hunting heritage exist that ignoring those threats amounts to condoning them.

Get the book
Bruce's most recent work is actually a collaboration--he's one of the guys behind the recently published e-book, "Pulp Fly," a collection of quality writing from both new and established outdoor writers. The book, in my opinion, represents the future of outdoor writing, not only given the quality of the contributors, but the avenue in which it's delivered. Leave it guys like Smithhammer to channel the next era in outdoor writing into a book that's delivered directly to readers in digital form, where it can be quickly consumed at a price that's fair.

The book is a wonderful read--if you haven't picked it up, you're missing out. Not only will you get the chance to read Smithhammer's work--it's a great introduction to his writing if you haven't already made that acquaintance--but there's work in it from a host of quality authors that keep the experience fresh and lively. Trust me... it's that good.

Above all, Smithhammer's a great friend. If you got to know him, I'm betting you'd think so, too. Here's your chance. On with the questions:

Tools of the trade
What is your idea of perfect happiness? 
Being alone, in the mountains behind my home in the fall, with a longbow in my hand and elk bugling all around me.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? 
Edward R. Murrow

What is your favorite journey? 
It started four decades ago, and hopefully I'm less than halfway there.

Which living person do you most despise? 
Every greedy, lying, self-interested politician who betrays the public trust and acts like royalty.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 
I probably use the word “douchebag” a little too much. Or so some douchebag once told me.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? 
My better half, Kat. And my amazing family. With Hank, my shorthair pointer, being a close third.

Which talent would you most like to have? 
Being reasonably competent with a stringed instrument. I've tried and tried. The results are consistently embarrassing. But my 'air banjo' has come a long way.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 
Getting up in the morning. Nothing else happens without that.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be? 
Hopefully a raven.

What is your most treasured possession? 
A juniper and cocobolo wood recurve bow made by Dick Robertson in Montana.

Who are your favorite writers? 
Elmore Leonard, Neil Gaiman, Matt Dunn, Charles Bukowski, David Petersen

Who are your heroes? 
There are plenty of people I respect, and even admire (including you, you handsome bastard), but I'm not really into 'heroes.' (You're clearly deluded... and a little blind. -ed)

What’s on your iPod? 
Scott Biram, Todd Snider, The Devil Makes Three, Junior Kimbrough, White Buffalo, Dead Man Winter, William Elliot Whitmore, Dave Alvin, Ryan Bingham, The Random Canyon Growlers, John Doe and the Sadies

If you were a pet, what would your name be? 

What would your profession be if you couldn’t do what you do now? 
I'd probably own a taco truck.

In three words, how would your closest friends describe you? 
“Overuses random segues.” (verbatim from my wife).

If there is a Heaven, and you go to Heaven, what would God say to you upon your arrival? 
“Did you bring the Woodford?” 

Which actor/actress would play you in the movie about your life, and why? 
If I had a choice, it would be Lee Marvin. He doesn't (didn't) look anything like me, but he was cool as hell.

What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying? 
I once decided that dancing on the railing of a second story balcony was a good idea. I still have six screws in my leg from that misadventure (and it was the last time I touched Jameson's), but if I'd landed a little differently, it could have been much, much worse. Not to mention a really dumb way to go, but there you have it.

If you could go back in time, what year would you visit first? 
1491. And I'd convince Columbus that going west to the Indies is idiotic.

BONUS QUESTION: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure? 
Hmm....I was going to say “ice cream,” but honestly, it would have to be masturbation. (I can hear him now ... "Wonder if that handsome bastard will actually leave this one in there..." Answer: Oh, hell, yeah. And remember ... you only have a gallon. -ed)


  1. I got a good, belly-roll laugh on this one: "He's like the real-life version of Hank Williams Jr.'s 'Country Boy Can Survive,' only with some civility, sophistication and clean underwear." Classic! Glad to know that Bruce keeps em clean. Great post!


  2. Thanks Andy... you and Bruce have a lot in common... clean underwear included!

  3. Ahh...the Angry Seagull....good stuff!


  4. Unfortunately, I was informed that Bruce's mother read this post and called him first thing today to scold him for his brutal honesty... I don't think she's heard the Angry Seagull... and I doubt she ever will.

  5. Thanks for letting me and Kath crash in your driveway...it sure saved us havin to hunt around 'till 11 pm lookin for a spot on the side of the road...hope I can return the favor sometime...
    Yer old friend