BACK IN JANUARY 2013, while covering the SHOT show out in Las Vegas, we were approached by a young man whose physical size—well over six and a half feet tall—was impressive enough. But what impressed us more was the way he carried himself while making what could have been interpreted as an intrusion into an already harried schedule on a busy trade show floor. But with an instantly engaging sincerity, he was able to quickly gain our attention and interest.
That young man, Dustin Vaughn Warncke, was eager to find an opportunity—any opportunity—to further his lifelong dream of establishing a career in outdoor media. Up to that point, while holding down a full time day job in sales in another industry, he had already built a resumé of notable accomplishments on the side, designing websites, writing and publishing articles and e-books, and producing videos and podcasts covering a wide range of outdoor topics. He was at the SHOT show on his own, after passing the strict approval process for media credentials—not an easy thing for an independent player—and at his own expense, which was not cheap.
Dustin—a fellow Texan and subscriber—genuinely appeared to be a big TF&G fan. Meanwhile, he deftly worked around to inquiring about any jobs with the magazine for which he might apply.
We get approached on a regular basis with that question. There are apparently quite a few people out there, frustrated with whatever they do for a living, who think, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a job at a fishing and hunting magazine… get to fish and hunt while getting paid?”
With apologies to anyone with those notions, consider that bubble burst. Atomized, in fact.
Jobs in conventional outdoor media have always been challenging. Current economic and cultural conditions have made the challenges even more daunting. Not only is it tough to make a decent living (and virtually impossible to get rich) working full time for an outdoor publication, TV show or even in the newer forms of media, the work itself makes it just as challenging to actually get on the other side of the camera or computer to enjoy the sports we cover. So it takes a particularly imaginative and driven individual to accomplish such a dream. Turns out Mr. Warncke was, and is, in possession of such imaginative qualities and drive. He regularly balances a heavy work schedule with time devoted to his outdoor passions—bow fishing and deer hunting topping the list for him and his young son.
He impressed us so much right there on the spot at that SHOT Show that we felt like we needed to give him a… shot. At first, we assigned him to contribute Freshwater Hotspot reports. Then, as he kept pressing for more editorial assignments, we gave him freelance work doing product reviews and a few feature articles.
Along the way, his experience in sales—which became more and more evident as he continued to “sell” us on his editorial value—opened up a whole new avenue of opportunity, for him and for us. We started by turning over a few advertising accounts to him, and his professionalism and relentless work ethic, along with a natural desire to go above and beyond for his clients, produced solid results.
When fate took away his day job in the unrelated industry, it was a no-brainer to put Dustin on our masthead as a full-time sales rep. At the same time, he continued to contribute editorial content.
The scope of abilities Dustin brought to TF&G was ideal for the modern media age. In his various roles, he has demonstrated talents for creating and producing content while also commanding the persuasive skills needed to generate ad sales, the fuel of this business. In short, he is publisher material.
And so, knowing when we’ve found a good thing, we have elevated Dustin’s role here. He is now TF&G’s Associate Publisher. Dustin will take a more active role in managing client relationships in print and digital advertising, and will support Editor-In-Chief Chester Moore in planning and creating content for print as well as our digital platforms. With his experience building websites and his other digital endeavors, we’re expecting Dustin to lead us more confidently into the future of publishing.
We’re proud of this move, and lucky to have Dustin on our team.