The brand trying to end deer shaming
Okayest Hunter has been called the most recognizable brand in deer hunting. It is also referred to as the deer hunting stamp that distributes participation trophies. Regardless of the label, Okayest Hunter is committed to ending buckshaming.
Co-founders Eric Clark and Tyler Mieden started a movement to normalize the average hunter into what they called the “okayest” hunter. They believe that hunting is about having fun and creating lasting memories, not bragging about it or bagging the biggest trophy. In other words, it’s about appreciating the process and not focusing on the implications of the grip and grin outcome.
Clark compares it to golf. Not all golfers are elite golfers at the professional level. Most people who love golf are average people who do it simply because they enjoy it. So it is with hunting and all kinds of outdoor activities.
“At the end of the day, most of us are pretty average,” said co-founder Eric Clark. “We want to be relatable. We want everyone to be okay with hunting the way they hunt, as long as it’s ethical and legal.”
It started with an experience Clark went through that is unfortunately all too common these days. He bagged his first bowshot – a fawn – and posted it online. It was a special moment for him and he was looking forward to sharing it. But that quickly turned sour when people online started ripping him apart for shooting a small deer. They abused him and blatantly shamed him. Clark, a marketing specialist by trade, was immediately enthusiastic. The gears started turning in his head and the idea for Okayest Hunter was born.
He teamed up with co-founder Tyler Mieden and launched the brand in 2020, which includes a blog, podcast, and merch like clothing, stickers, decals, and koozies.
More than a marketplace, Okayest Hunter has become the most vocal leader pushing for a change of perspective away from the selfish, elitist hunter persona that permeated much of the outdoor community’s social media presence.
“There’s no shame in the people who get big deer,” Clark said. “It means recognizing that everyone is in a different place on their hunting journey and that everyone’s circumstances are different too.”
Podcast co-hosts Greg Tubbs and Derek Malcore round out the crew with the brand’s Okayest Hunter podcast. Each week they host a live deer hunting show with an audience that is broadcast over Facebook and YouTube. They delve into a variety of hunt-centric topics while staying true to the down-to-earth, humility-based approach that anchors the Okayest Hunter name.
The podcast was well received by listeners, who called it “awkwardly good” and “a fresh perspective.” That’s what we need in the hunting field right now.”
After launching Okayest Hunter, they received several private messages from hunters who shared their photos of deer harvests, which they felt were unshareable for social media.
“What we found out along the way was that these people had never shared these deer photos anywhere on social media,” Clark said. “These photos had never seen the light of day. In a way, we gave space space. It didn’t happen before because people were afraid of being ridiculed, including me.”
Part of the Okayest Hunter message is that everyone defines a shooter buck differently because everyone’s experience is different. Okayest Hunter intentionally provides a platform for hunters to share their failures and successes, support other hunters, and normalize the average hunting experience on social media. And all with a healthy sense of humor, as it should be.
They have a few guiding principles that encapsulate the Okayest Hunter philosophy, which are playfully called the Ten Commandments of an Okayest Hunter. They are as follows:
- Don’t take yourself too seriously
- Remember where you started
- Never fail to create memories
- A marksman is in the eye of the beholder
- Congratulate people you don’t know
- Bring a buddy
- Always learn/love the process
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself
- Keep in mind the hunting trip and that everyone is different
- Never waste time outdoors/hunting with family
- Celebrate Failure (They included an 11th since the Okayest Hunter crew loves stinghorn rams aka 11-pointers)
“The most important thing in all of this as an okayest hunter is to stay humble, enjoy the hunt, become an okayest hunter, and have fun,” Clark said. “If you ever stop learning or having fun as a deer hunter, you might as well quit your bow and pick up a new hobby.”