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About RedKettle

Is RedKettle right for you?

To answer that question, I'd like to explain my approach to hunting.

Because it forms the basis of how we do things. From running the company. To the way, we obsess about every single detail on a piece of gear.

By the way, I'm Christian Saugmann, and I started RedKettle.

In addition to being an introduction, I hope this page will also give you food for thought on how you approach hunting.

I'll have to warn you. I'll take some detours into areas you won't associate with hunting. And you might think some of my ideas are crazy. That I'm a little mad. But rest assured. There's a method to the madness.

And ultimately, my goal is to help you be more successful as a hunter.

Oh, and by the way, this is a long page. Come back if you're short on time right now. And bring a coffee or another beverage of your choice. Take your time.

Still with me. Cool. Let's get started. Here are a few questions for you.

  • Do you obsess about minute hunting gear details?
  • Do you treasure the silence of the woods or the hills?
  • Do you get excited like a hound, when the hunt is on?
  • Do you long for the big and small adventures hunting gives you?
  • Do you enjoy wild meat you've hunted and cooked yourself?

I do.

To me, hunting is fun, exciting, emotional and rewarding.

But there's also a bigger picture.

I believe hunting is a force of good in nature. When done right.

I think that's an important story to share with the world. Because it will help secure hunting as a lifestyle for you and me. And generations to come.

And it will help us make the right choices when hunting.

Here's the challenge.

Here's the challenge.

Hunting is so much more than hunting.

There are thousands of exciting details we can obsess about.

I'm not sure about you, but I've certainly struggled to explain hunting to non-hunters.

I've also (occasionally) gone down the gear rabbit hole.

Obsessed about details that probably didn't make much of a difference in the bigger scheme of things (that's ok, as long as it's fun, but keeping our purpose in mind is critical for success).

So, how can we sum up all the little details that represent hunting?

How can we explain hunting to non-hunters?

How can we help ourselves stay on the right path as hunters?

My solution is an aspirational identity I call the "steward of nature".

It's the kind of hunter I strive to be. And it helps me sum up things when I talk about hunting.

And as I mentioned above, it's also the character that steers us at RedKettle, as a company.

With RedKettle, I want to inspire hunters to become stewards of nature. So future generations can continue to hunt and eat wild food.

Everything we do is based on this vision.

But what is a steward of nature?

I define a steward of nature as having four roles.

A steward of nature is:

  • A hunter… who acts with a clear purpose and seeks efficiency in all actions.
  • A conservationist… who knows nature is borrowed from their "children."
  • An outdoorsman… who enjoy adventures and take pride in their skills.
  • A cook… who finds beauty in wild food and shares the fruit of their labour.

I'm a sucker for frameworks and processes.

It was something I first got my eyes up for when certifying as a LEAN Six Sigma Greenbelt at General Electrics. And I've taken it with me ever since.

Here's the framework for how the four "steward of nature" roles fit together.

Of the four roles, I see the outdoorsman, hunter and cook as the overall process for hunting. And the conservationist adds the long term perspective. And acts as a kind of moral compass.

This diagram is just scratching the surface.

I've got more processes, principles and crazy ideas for you. But also a very clear opinion on what hunting is and what it isn't.

Let's look at the four roles in more detail.

The purposeful hunter

I enjoy the reward of hunting and killing an animal so I can put food on the table.

Let's take that again. The reward. Not the killing.

I take pride in the result. Just like I do when I catch a fish. Or the time when I planted carrots and could share the meagre harvest with my wife and kids.

When hunting, I might get the meat. Or it might get sold. Either way, it's food.

That's why hunting is not a sport. Not to me at least.

It's a craft. It's about a job well done.

And that's why the specific act of hunting is something I want to do efficiently.

That's why I think of the ideal hunter as the purposeful hunter.

Purposeful as in single-minded, obsessive, driven and uncompromising.

And the purposeful hunter is the foundation for how we build gear.

Purpose-built hunting gear.

But probably not the way you think.

To us, purpose-built is not gear designed for mountain hunting, deer hunting, western hunting, safari, driven hunting etc.

That's how I used to think about hunting. And how I used to build gear.

But I realised that's all wrong.

Of course, those things are relevant, but at best they're the wrong place to start. At worst, they're just mindlessly applied labels.

So what should we do instead?

How do we approach hunting if we're single-minded, obsessive and uncompromising in our pursuit for a "job well done"?

The light clicked for me when I re-read Stephen Covey's "The 7 habits of highly effective people". It's a book about goal definition and alignment that has sold 25 million copies.

Lots' of good stuff in that book, but two things made me reconsider the way I look at hunting (and building hunting gear).

Firstly, it's the idea we should be guided by principles (the habits in Covey's book). Because principles are timeless and apply to many situations - known and unknown.

By the way, that's incredibly helpful if you hunt abroad or on new ground. No matter the situation or conditions, you have principles to guide you.

And secondly, the 2nd habit turned things on their head for me (with great effect): "Start with the end in mind."

But how do we translate that to hunting?

For hunting, "the end" is a field processed animal, ready for transport and butchering.

So far, so good. But to me, that was difficult to operationalise.

So, surprise surprise, I reverted to processes to help me find answers.

And I came up with the concept of "the window of opportunity".

Does that sound a little far out? Stay with me.

When we hunt, we look for an animal. We shoot it. And we field process it. To make sure as much of the meat as possible ends up on a dining table.

The "looking for" part is about creating an opportunity to shoot the animal. And the "shooting" and "processing" parts are about successfully shooting the animal and putting it into the food chain. Maximising the window of opportunity.

Here's a summary.

Together, the hunting process and the window of opportunity give me a goal I can operationalise (create and maximise).

They have helped me define the five principles I use when hunting.

Everything I do as a hunter must tie back to a principle. Each piece of gear we make at RedKettle must link back to a principle.

They help us focus on the essential. And cut away all waste.

I'm not sure if you have spelt out a process for hunting like this. But I bet you follow similar steps intuitively.

But, if you've ever had a gear decision where the pieces didn't really fit together, you might have stepped away from your process and principles. And used the wrong labels or framework to guide you.

Next time you need to decide on a piece of gear, don't think "safari", "mountain" or "western". Don't just judge by "lightweight", "durable" or "quiet". Think process instead.

Think about the next step.

Ask yourself what you need do to successfully move from one step in the process to the next step.

Wow, that was a big mouthful. And we haven't even gotten started talking about the purposeful hunter and the guiding principles.

If you're interested in hearing about the principles, I'll send you in the right direction in the postscript (PS) below.

Let's talk about the conservationist.

The conservationist

I've got two boys. And I want them to have the opportunity to hunt wild food when they're old enough.

On a rational level, I've always understood the need for conservation and sustainability. But it took a particular quote before I realised that hunting is also about heritage.

I read it in a book called The Unforeseen Wilderness: An Essay on Kentucky's Red River Gorge (1971), by Wendell Berry.

I love this quote for the way it shifts perspective.

Let's see if you agree. Wendell Berry talks about conservation, and here's what he says:

"We can learn about it from exceptional people of our own culture, and from other cultures less destructive than ours.

I am speaking of the life of a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children."

I don't know what you say, but I think it's beautiful.

And it informs the way we do things at RedKettle.

We aim for optimal solutions. We look for the best materials. But that can't be at the cost of nature.

We're not perfect, but we keep improving. And Wendell Berry's quote helps us steer in the right direction.

By the way, I'll talk more below about how I think "the cook" has a big say when it comes to conservation. In a practical way. More on that later.

Let's talk about the outdoorsman.

The outdoorsman

The outdoorsman has two sides: adventure and logistics.

In some ways, I like to see the outdoorsman as the hunter's crazy cousin.

It's my excuse for having fun and for enjoying big and small adventures.

It's my excuse for turning time back to "Christian 10 years".

A time when stepping around the old apple tree was like stepping into the jungle. When lighting a fire was pure magic. And when my most treasured possession was a survival knife with a hollow grip and a small survival capsule.

It's also about the little more thoughtful perspective on nature.

Enjoying the stars at night, the smell of pine damp pine forest or the sound of rain on my cookware as I sit in my tent.

It's when you learn that being a little cold or a little wet or a bit tired, makes food taste a little better. Well, a lot better.

But, it's also about taking pride in the skills and knowledge that allow you to travel into the wilderness, sustain you and get you back home safely again.

The cook

I love food.

And as I said, for me, hunting is ultimately about producing food.

I firmly believe we should take pride in our ability to cook the wild food we harvest.

To me, the ability to field dress, butcher and cook are as essential skills as stalking quietly and making a well-placed shot.

Cooking might not be as glamourous as being a great marksman. But without the skill as a cook, the shot is pointless at best. And at worst, a waste.

Let me be clear. I'm not a butcher. And I'm not a chef.

But, I can shoot an animal. Decide if it's fit to enter the food chain. Skin and butcher it. And turn it into a meal that makes my kids ask for second servings. And that's all we need. That's what it's all about.

We don't have to be able to butcher at lightning speeds. Or to turn cooking into an artform (we can if we so desire). But it's a skill we have to value and develop.

I talked about the conservationist. About preserving for the future. but in some ways, it's the cook who has taught me the most about sustainability and moderation.

And I think of all the roles, it's the cook who can teach us the most valuable lessons.

What do I mean by that?

Pulling the trigger is easy. But the real job, well the real job starts when you have to skin, butcher and pack up a deer.

Every time I do that, I reflect on how casual I can be when buying meat in the supermarket or at the butchers.

Add to that a couple of hours in the kitchen. To turn some of that venison into a meal. That teaches appreciation for food.

Sure, it helps to have a bottle of good red wine to keep you company. But it doesn't change the fact that the whole process takes a lot of work. Enough to treasure every single bite of food.

That's an important lesson.

Striving to be the steward

That's the steward of nature.

It's the type of hunter I strive to be.

And it guides the way we do things at RedKettle.

I hope this gave you food for thought. Maybe a new perspective or help to explain hunting to folks who don't hunt. So they understand it's a force of good in nature.

Happy hunting.


All the best,

Christian Saugmann

PS. I only scratched the surface of the purposeful hunter. I didn’t even list the five principles. I am working on a more in-dept explanation of the principles. Plus lot's of ideas on how you can implement them when hunting. If you'd like to hear more about the principles click here to join our list. We'll email you when I have something to share.