The True Hunter Leaves Things Better Than They Found Them: Going Deep with Bill Jordan, Founder and CEO of Realtree Outdoors

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Whether managing a piece of property and its timber, cutting in trails, or doing big business deals, it is best to think of tomorrow. In a society that is obsessed with instant gratification and an “I need to have it all today” mentality, true long-term thinkers who care about preservation have become rare commodities. At SHOT Show I had the privilege to sit with and interview the hunting industry icon and my friend, Bill Jordan, a man who lives for preservation and for a better tomorrow. Since my younger days in Betamax and VCR format, I have watched Jordan and his Realtree Monster Buck videos. I have donned Realtree camo in the woods for as long as I can remember. In case it isn’t obvious, I am a pretty big Bill Jordan and Realtree fan.

I interviewed Bill for my upcoming book and he was generous enough with his time to meet in between some major deals Realtree was negotiating at the show, but that is the kind of guy Jordan is. The interview inspired me enough to blog about it as well as feature a chapter around his story in my upcoming book. Above being a brilliant, powerful visionary, and a true industry leader, the coolest thing about Jordan and what he himself is most proud of is what has spawned from his Realtree empire for others that got their start with him. He glows when talking about how proud he is of all of the people that today have become industry leaders and have succeeded in their own right. I asked Jordan if he ever takes time to drive his Chevy pickup truck out to a quiet spot on his hunting property to sit and think about the empire he has created.

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“What I am most proud of is all of the great talent that has come from Realtree and that today enjoys great individual success. Seeing people like Michael Waddell, Nick Mundt, Travis T Bone Turner, Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, and so many others that started with Realtree succeed and help grow the industry is what makes me proudest. I guess I don’t think so much about my success; I really think about all of the great talent that Realtree helped to cultivate. That is my proudest accomplishment I suppose. Well, that and building a business that my son Tyler can step into and follow in my footsteps, if that is what he chooses to do long-term,” Jordan explained.

What really strikes me as I type away on my Delta flight home is the genuine Southern tone in Bill’s voice, the softer humble side of Bill Jordan. It occurs to me that Bill does not really know just how great he is or just how powerful he has become. When you get deep with Jordan, it is clear that he is basically the same humble, energy-infused kid loaded with a deep passion for the sport of hunting and for creating a product that is second to none. Nearly three decades ago he was at his first SHOT Show, where he got his breakthrough moment in business when he cracked the code on how to enter the licensing market and changed the landscape of the camouflage industry.

What I find most special about Bill Jordan beyond his incredible vision, intense focus, competitive spirit, and inspirational personality, is his focus and care about what he is doing today: creating a better tomorrow and what his personal success has spawned for others.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>