Skip to main content

10 So-Called Dream Jobs vs. Harsh Reality

From the outside, any career in the outdoor industry looks like a dream job. However, the reality is often something closer to a nightmare.

All of the jobs listed here can be awesome, but each comes with a downside that's not apparent until you spend a few days doing them. Here's a look at what you can expect.

jobs-in-the-outdoor-industry

Game Warden/Conservation Officer

What kid didn't dream of becoming a game warden? Unfortunately, the shine wears off the badge quickly. Sure, the outdoors is your office, but you'll spend every opening day of your career behind the windshield of your truck, driving from camp to camp, checking licenses. You do get to carry a gun, but the only time you'll use it is in dispatching roadkill or defending yourself. Still, busting poachers and protecting wildlife is a valiant pursuit, and most officers will tell you the rewards are worth the long hours away from the family.


Hunting Guide

Getting paid to scout during the off season and hunt all fall long sounds awesome, until you realize you don't get to carry a gun. Or if you do, you'll only use it to back up your "sport" after he misses a wounded buck for the third time. Follow that with the nasty job of field dressing yet another gut-shot deer and you'll realize being a guide ain't all it's cracked up to be. Soon, you'll be getting your guilty pleasures by death-marching Delta Bravo clients just so you don't have to hear them drone on about how much better their last trip was. The payoff comes in the form of wide smiles (and, hopefully, a healthy tip) when you guide a hunter to that trophy of a lifetime.


Lodge Owner

This job requires you to be equal parts promoter, circus ringmaster, and babysitter as you manage an ever-rotating cast of hunters, guides, and staff, all of whom have issues. Not only do you have to promise the moon, but you also have to deliver it with a B&C rack attached. Lock up the liquor cabinet or the bad clients will drink you out of booze the first night. It's their vacation after all, and you're expected to entertain them as such. The job does come with a built-in excuse, but after a while it gets difficult saying, "You should have been here last week" without smirking.

work-in-the-outdoors

Videographer

Travel the world, stay at the nicest lodges, and film the next Sportsman Channel star. Sure, there is a certain satisfaction in capturing the shot…until you don't because the camera batteries went dead at the wrong time or the "talent" didn't listen to you when you told him it was too dark. Get ready to hump a hundred pounds of gear over the mountain, too. There is one good thing about being behind the camera: You're not the tool wearing sparkly jeans and painting your face like the Ultimate Warrior.

Alaskan Packer

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, but that part of the Constitution doesn't necessarily apply in the Alaskan bush. Make no bones about it, you're an indentured servant who spends every waking moment wrangling stock, hauling feed, and shoveling manure. You'll have the opportunity to lay your hands on some amazing trophies, but don't plan on ever getting to hunt for anything other than a stray horse. You do get to spend more time outdoors than anyone else on the hunt. However, even the aurora borealis gets old after the 23rd night in a row riding to camp in the dark. Plan on blowing your meager pay on booze and boobs at The Great Alaskan Bush Company when you finally get back to civilization at the end of the season.




Butcher

Playing with sausage is fun at first, but fall is when meat-cutters make their nut. Don't plan on taking a day off from the opener until two weeks after the last day of the late-season. By then, you'll be sick of the smell of blood and guts. Each hunter thinks his deer should yield 200 pounds of prime cuts, so plan on giving animal anatomy lessons over the phone to every angry customer that calls in to bitch. Keep plenty of bandages on hand, for those long nights slicing steaks are apt to lead to more than a few cut fingers. Like high school shop teachers, rare is the butcher who isn't missing a digit.

outdoor-industry

Gun Store Employee

Talking about guns is great. Until you have to discuss them every day with the general public. We'll leave it up to you to decide which group — the noobs or the know-it-alls — is worse, but both will get on your nerves within your first week behind the counter. The bonus is getting the inside intel on new-gun introductions before your buddies, but when the manufacturer fails to deliver or, worse, sells a lemon, you get the brunt of the complaints from irate customers. The deep discount on guns is a perk, but be careful or all of your meager salary will go back to the house, because, frankly, who can resist the temptation?


Camp Cook

I hope you like the nickname "Cookie," because that's what everyone will call you, whether you're a Michelin-star chef or, more likely, a dishwasher who got promoted when the last "Cookie" quit. Be ready to please two masters: the outfitter trying to scrimp on food costs and the client who nowadays is likely to be allergic to gluten. Your only interaction with animals will come from running a trapline to catch all the mice that will invade the cook tent within the first week. On the upside, you'll only have to master six recipes…which you get to repeat with each new group that arrives.

Bush Pilot

From the cockpit of a bush plane, you get an aerial view of the country's most amazing scenery and wildlife. The downside? You're a glorified taxi driver who'll spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning up vomit from airsick passengers. Even experienced pilots lose their nerve after a lifetime threading tight mountain passes and touching down on choppy tundra. Life expectancy is short and the odds of developing a nervous twitch are high. The money can be good, but it all goes back into airplane fuel, replacement parts, and life insurance.

Catalog Copywriter

If you write for one of the big outdoor retailers, your work will be seen by more readers than Stephen King's latest opus. Of course, you won't get any of the credit — or even a fraction of his pay. And everyone will read your stuff while they're on the crapper. Cool new gear will cross your desk on a daily basis, but you won't be allowed to take it out of the building. Nor will you have time to hunt anyway. The work is seasonal, so while your friends are in the field, you'll be working overtime writing women's clothing copy for the spring catalogs.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New for 2021: 6.8 Western Rifle Cartridge

New for 2021: 6.8 Western Rifle Cartridge

The 6.8 Western features a .277-caliber bullet loaded into a case that's been optimized to fit longer, heavier bullets. Consider it a .270 on steroids, or more accurately, an improved version of the .270 Winchester Short Magnum, which never gained enough traction to make it mainstream.

New for 2021: Kershaw & Zero Tolerance Knives

New for 2021: Kershaw & Zero Tolerance Knives

Get your first look at the new Kershaw Launch 13, Brace, and Lucha-Blackwash, as well as the Zero Tolerance 0762 and 0357.

New for 2021: Browning X-Bolt Pro McMillan & Recoil Hawg

New for 2021: Browning X-Bolt Pro McMillan & Recoil Hawg

Browning's X-Bolt Pro family has grown in 2021 with the addition of the Pro McMillan. An innovative muzzle break — the Recoil Hawg — also joins the line.

New for 2021: Burris Oracle X Range-Finding Crossbow Scope

New for 2021: Burris Oracle X Range-Finding Crossbow Scope

The Burris Oracle X is the first and most advanced range-finding crossbow scope on the market, building on the company's long successes with range-finding optics like the Eliminator riflescope.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd? Conservation

Do Coyotes Really Affect the Whitetail Herd?

Jeff Johnston

Are predators really to blame for declining deer numbers? The answer might surprise you.

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. How to Properly Grill Venison Steak Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

Crossbow technology, accuracy and power continue to advance with demand, and this year's crop is the most impressive yet; here's a look at the top five that caught our eye.Ranking the 5 Best Crossbows for 2020 Bowhunting

Ranking the 5 Best Crossbows for 2020

Chris Larsen - September 21, 2020

Crossbow technology, accuracy and power continue to advance with demand, and this year's crop...

Hunters may not have as much influence on buck movement and behavior as we think. Deciphering New Deer Data for Rut Success Whitetail

Deciphering New Deer Data for Rut Success

Jeff Johnston

Hunters may not have as much influence on buck movement and behavior as we think.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

If there's one word that describes us rednecks, it's innovative. If one of our favorite pastimesThe Redneck Pontoon Picnic Table Stories

The Redneck Pontoon Picnic Table

Awesome Rednecks - July 25, 2013

If there's one word that describes us rednecks, it's innovative. If one of our favorite...

Seth O'Hara Bellamy's skull art isn't created using lasers or advanced machinery. It's much simplerCarved in Bone: A Look Inside S.O.B. Skulls Stories

Carved in Bone: A Look Inside S.O.B. Skulls

Ben OBrien - November 20, 2014

Seth O'Hara Bellamy's skull art isn't created using lasers or advanced machinery. It's much...

Go Long While hunting skill is paramount to the sport 'in order to gain a shot opportunity in theVersus: Is Long-Range Hunting Ethical? Stories

Versus: Is Long-Range Hunting Ethical?

Joseph von Benedikt & Mike Schoby - October 14, 2014

Go Long While hunting skill is paramount to the sport 'in order to gain a shot opportunity in...

I Went Hunting With a Girl Stories

I Went Hunting With a Girl

David Faubion - July 30, 2016

"It won't be easy," I told her. "In fact, you'll be cold, hot, tired, dirty and sweaty. Your

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Petersen's Hunting App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now