I was fortunate enough to meet Brian in an after-school program for kids in the community where we attended college. We both served as mentors for these kids, it was a complete blast! We would trade stories of our adventures and like-mindedness about the great outdoors. We are both avid outdoorsmen and love anything in the wild, always surrounding ourselves in nature. Brian leads his life in a way that makes people proud, and sets a good example for all that meet him. Happy to call him a friend, and I am so excited to share his words. Take it away, buddy!
Instagram: Brian Young
I was born and raised on a fifth generation family farm in Monroe County, West Virginia. I grew up hunting and fishing anything I could get my hands on. Warterfowl hunting consumes most of my thoughts and I am now in the process of training a beautiful black lab. I recently graduated from West Virginia University in May with a major in Agriculture Extension Education. Recently, I discovered a passion for photography. I love being able to share my experiences to others through pictures.
What do you do for a living, how did you end up in that field?
I am a field representative for Fellowship of Christian Athletes in southern West Virginia. Fellowship of Christian Athletes, FCA, is a sports ministry that focus on the hearts of athletes and coaches. On top of leading devotions and discipling coaches and athletes, another one of my roles is to introduce FCA Outdoors to West Virginia. This is a new side of FCA that focuses on ministering to the students who are passionate about shooting sports and outdoors.
I actually never planned on coming on staff with FCA. In fact, I turned this position down multiple times throughout college. At that time, no one knew about FCA Outdoors and I personally did not feel qualified to lead a sports ministry since I did not compete on a division one level. During my junior year of college, I felt like this was something God was calling me to but still did not understand why. A few months later I was invited to attend an FCA Outdoors staff meeting in Mansfield, Georgia. I honestly did not know what to expect. I remember walking in the room and seeing a bunch of guys with beards telling stories about their greatest trophies. I realized in that moment how incredible this opportunity was. My two greatest passions have always been Jesus and the outdoors and through this ministry, now I get to combine the two!
When did you first start enjoying the outdoors?
A love for the outdoors runs in my blood. My family has been dedicated farmers and avid outdoorsman for generations. I was hunting with my dad before I could walk. There is literally pictures of me in camouflage baby clothes. But I do remember the moment when my love for the outdoors went from a small flame to a raging wildfire that consumed my thoughts year-round. I was five years old and my dad finally allowed me to carry my camouflage Daisey BB gun on a deer hunt. Sure, a BB gun was not about to take down a deer but in my five-year-old mind, I was ready to take on a grizzly bear!
I remember being tucked up in a cedar thicket along the edge of a field. After what felt like hours of waiting, a doe stepped out in the field around 200 yards away and my heart began to race. Now at this point in my life, I had watched many hunting shows and was prepared to stalk if I needed to. After watching the deer for a while, my dad gave me the green light to begin my stalk. I immediately went to belly crawling straight to this doe. As I got closer and closer, my nerves got so bad that I was shaking uncontrollably. I got within 20 yards of her and then raised up and took my shot. Greatest moment of my life! Of course, my little BB gun did not faze the deer and probably felt more like a fly landing on her back, but in my mind, I conquered the world. I have been hooked since and to be honest, I still get those same nerves every time.
What is your favorite place to explore?
Oddly enough, the waterways of West Virginia have become my favorite places to explore. My heart (and wallet) has been overtaken with the desire to hunt waterfowl. In order to be successful, we have to know every square inch of the water and know where the best locations to set up at. You never know what lays around the next bend of the river or creek. When I am not chasing ducks, I am searching for the right place to cast a fly rod. So the waterways has become my home.
How many of the 50 United States have you visited? Favorite?
I have been to 25 states and my favorite so far has been California. I didn’t care for the big cities but the back country left me speechless. My mind was blown as I wondered through the giant sequoias and redwoods. It was like I was on a different planet! I longed for a fly rod as I walked by the creeks and rivers in Yosemite National Park. The pacific coast offers so many amazing opportunities for backpacking and fly fishing. I will make it back soon.
I have to admit that Colorado is an extremely close second though. There is nothing quite like experiencing the Great Rocky Mountains first hand. It will actually leave you at a loss for words. One of my favorite places is the small town of Westcliffe which snuggles up against the base of the beautiful of Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. Elk, mule deer, pheasants, trout, ducks… everything a man needs!
How many countries, where?
Israel is the only country I have ever visited. I spent three weeks there doing basketball and football camps with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It was an incredible trip and brought the Bible to life for me!
Best hike you have ever had?
My favorite hike so far was to the Lake of the Clouds in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range near Westcliffe, Colorado. It was absolutely beautiful and worth every step up the steep trail. Once we made it to the top, we set up camp between three glacier formed lakes that were full of cut-throat trout. One of my favorite moments of that trip was the evening we seen a large herd of elk. There were a few solid bulls in the mix. We also had a mule deer take a stroll through camp one night after dinner. Such an incredible trip and plan to be back this summer!
Essential items for summer hikes/winter hikes in your opinion.
What I love the most about the outdoors is you never know what you will encounter. Everything from wildlife to weather conditions, you just have to be ready. Obviously, my essential items depend on the length of the hike and location but a few things I will not leave home without is my trusty hunting knife, a water container and a notebook. I can face the world with just those three things. Oh yeah, also duct tape. That should be common knowledge. Never leave home without duct tape.
Most comical hike/adventure story?
One of my favorite stories to share was my first official camping trip when I was eight. I had just got my first two-person tent and was pumped! I immediately called my cousin, who was two years older than me and planned a camping trip that night. We set up camp next to the farm pond around 100 yards away from the house. Important note to remember, the pond had an electric fence around it.
We spent the night eating smores and cooking crawfish in a chili can. We were having a blast. Around 1:00, we decided it was time to start catching frogs. We were both in the pond when suddenly we heard what sounded like a mountain lion coming crashing out of the woods behind us. We immediately went into panic mode! My eight-year-old mind told me to dive into the tent and start yelling for help. My cousin decided he was would leave me and make the run for the house. Amongst all of the chaos, I heard my cousin let out a scream and I just knew he was attacked. After a few moments, I left the tent and made the run to the house where I found my cousin waiting for me on the porch. He explained that he ran into the electric fence and was shocked a few times. We were both just happy to be alive and decided we would just sleep on the couch for the remainder of the night.
The next morning, we went to investigate and soon realized that our imagination has gotten the best of us. To our embarrassment, he massive mountain lion ended up being a limb from a pine tree that fell and slid down the bank. We also found out that the electric fence was turned off so my cousin imagined the whole thing.
We share this story almost every time we get together. Our camping trip are not quite as exciting these days, but we learned a lot that night. One of the most important is how to tell the difference in a limb and a mountain lion. We all have to learn that at some point, right?
Scariest hike/adventure story?
One of the scariest adventures I have experienced was a wild boar hunt in eastern Georgia. It was late June and dangerously hot. We decided to fish during the day and hunt wild boar in the evenings and nights. It was around 5:00 and we were on our way to get dinner. As we were pulling into the parking lot, we got an alert saying we were in a tornado warning. We laughed it off as we stared up at a clear blue sky. The alerts continued to come, and we just continued to ignore them. Keep in mind we are from southern West Virginia and we have had plenty of warnings but never experienced anything more than a bad wind storm. We head to hunt a blind in a pine tree grove on the edge of a 100-acre field. The alerts continued to come throughout the evening. Before long, the sky began to darken but we figured it would just blow by. Within 30 minutes, the heavens opened up and the rain began to fall. It rained so hard we couldn’t see five yards in front of us. At the same time, lighting was striking so close you could feel it hitting the ground. As the rain died down, the hail began. The tall Georgia pines began to bend like twigs. We decided to make a run to the car which was parked 500 yards across the field, hoping to escape if we needed to. After sprinting through the hail, wind and lighting, we made it to find that our car had been struck by lightning which killed the battery. We were stranded.
Luckily, the tornado touched down a few miles east of us but it was far from over. We ended up crossing paths with two more tornados in Charlotte the next day on the way home. We watched trees get ripped from the ground and blown across the interstate. It was the craziest thing I have ever experienced. God protected us! All we had was a few scratches from a some limbs and dents from the hail. We most definitely learned a valuable lesson though, man has very little power amongst mother nature.
Upcoming trips planned?
We have a several trips planned for the spring and summer. We are headed to the Cranberry Glades several times during March and April to fly fish the Cranberry River if water levels allow. We are also working on a salt water fishing trip off the coast of Georgia for June which I am very excited about. That will be my first salt water trip which will be a blast! The Lake of the Clouds is definitely on the calendar as well if the schedule allows.
Favorite outdoors gear/lifestyle companies? Any local?
When looking at backpacking gear, I love my ENO hammock. Hammocks are just so much lighter and works great in my scenarios. However, you must have the right sleeping bag system to stay warm through the night. I recently tried Outdoor Vitals StormLight 15 Degree mummy bag and I loved it! The sleeping bag actually goes around the hammock and serves as an under quilt. It was perfect for the cold night of Colorado in late summer.
When discussing hunting gear, I love Drake Waterfowl. They are a top notch company that puts a lot of thought into the design of their gear. I put their new breathable wader to the test this past season and was not a huge fan. Breathable waders do not have the durability to handle the brushy terrain of West Virginia. But you cannot go wrong with their neoprene waders and Guardian Elite jacket systems. I have also become a huge fan Kent Ammunition this past season! They are a local West Virginia company who makes an incredibly clean and consistent shot.
What does conservation mean to you?
Conservation means protecting the land and wildlife that we have been blessed to experience. One of the greatest examples of conservation has been the comeback of the wild turkey. In the early 1900s, there was only 30,000 wild turkey across the nation. Thanks to conservationist and avid turkey hunters who wanted their children to have the opportunity to hunt these incredibly smart birds, the turkey population is stronger than ever. Today, there is 6 million wild turkeys across the country!
What can we do to make sure our parks and wild lands stay clean and pure forever?
I honestly believe the greatest thing we can do to keep our parks and wild lands clean and pure is for us to passion our love and passion to the next generation. We can already see how things have improved since our grandparents passed the passion down to us. Now it’s in our hands to continue the progress and pass it to the next generation. Besides, we all can agree that something special happens inside us all of us once we find ourselves lost God’s beautiful creation. It just continues to shout His glory.
Brian, thank you so much for taking your time to allow me to interview you. Your well thought out answers and photography skills made it a pleasant read! Wish you the best, and looking forward to future adventures throughout our great state and far away lands.