Jim Shockey Is An Open Book

The World Hunter Talks About A New Book, Family and His Work to Unite All British Columbians. 

By John Geiger, Safari Magazine Managing Editor

Originally published in the 2023 July-August issue of SAFARI Magazine.

In the early 1980s, Jim Shockey was known more for his antique stores than in his hunting stories. One day, a customer who knew he was a hunter stepped inside “Folkart Interiors” and handed him the latest issue of a publication called SAFARI Magazine. He had never seen it before but was fascinated. The 21-year-old Shockey picked up on the mission immediately, joined that day and began a 40-year relationship with SCI that’s still as strong as ever. 

The 6-foot, 2-inch-tall Western Canadian hunter is known for his backwoods look, long hair and signature red bandana. He’s written hundreds of articles about world travels, earned an armful of TV-industry awards, entered nearly 600 animals into the SCI Record Book, won the C.J. McElroy Award in 2009 and eight major SCI hunting awards. 

“I hunt because that’s who I am,” said Shockey, talking from his home in Duncan, B.C. “It’s like breathing. It’s genetic, spiritual and necessary.” 

Yukon, the neighboring province to the north of his B.C., tops the list of Shockey’s favorite places in the world. Omo Valley in Ethiopia is a close second.

Most hunters are quite familiar with the wide-eyed Shockey from his TV shows, like “Uncharted” and “Hunting Adventures.” His lust for life and appreciation for the people and places is telegenic. But there’s much more to Shockey’s world than pulling a trigger on camera. 

Most recently, Shockey has been reviewing the final proof of his new book that seeks to bridge the gap between hunters and the non-hunting world. He’s also curating an amazing collection of indigenous world culture in his Hand of Man Museum, and he is leading the effort to find common ground on the divisive topic of wildlife management among First Nations, British Columbia residents and hunters. 

World hunter. Media guru. Hardcore SCI ambassador. Grandfather. Shockey is an open book of advice and experience that seems to be lacking in this modern world. 

“Really, we are all living the field-to-table lifestyle but somewhere along the line, people tried to remove the killing part. Maybe they think they are above it. But we are all part of nature. Some of us just admit it and embrace it.”



“Zhivago is dead. 

I hunted him down and I killed him.” 

Those are the first lines of Shockey’s first book, “Call Me Hunter,” a semi-autobiographical, fictional thriller that has not yet been released to the public. It’s expected to make quite a splash this fall with a book tour, promotion and wide distribution by Simon & Schuster. It’s made the rounds among top authors, and there is no lack of praise. 

“If you think you know Jim Shockey from his award-winning shows on television, think again,” wrote best-selling author Jack Carr recently. “‘Call Me Hunter’ is astoundingly original, relentlessly paced and purely authentic in a way that only Jim could deliver.” 

Shockey has been writing this story since 2019, but it’s been in his head since 1990. It’s a two-book deal, so there will be a sequel. 

“I want to change the perception of hunting with this book,” said Shockey, who is working with Emily Bestler, a rock star in the book-editing world. “If this novel does well, it’s going to create a buzz, a stir because the stereotypes are reversed. It’ll give us a voice in mainstream media like we haven’t had since Ruark or Hemingway. And it can open the door for more of this type of writing.” 

The novelist said he is confident that “Call Me Hunter” will show who and what we are as hunters, rather than the narrative being controlled by mainstream media. 

“It will change the perception of hunting and hunters, and that’s why I wrote it,” Shockey said. 

Shockey wants to convince the world that hunting makes sense for all of society, for humane animal management and a healthy family lifestyle. He uses the words “hunting” and “field-to-table” synonymously. 

“We have to be careful what fight we will take on, what windmills we choose to tilt at,” he said. “The term ‘trophy hunter’ makes sense, but the words have been hijacked by mainstream media. I still call us trophy hunters, but I also use the words field-to-table or naturalist to describe us as well. Hunters were the first naturalists after all.”  

 “Really, all people, whether in cities or backcountry, we are all living the field-to-table lifestyle. But somewhere along the line, some people tried to remove the killing part. Maybe they think they are above it. But we are all part of nature. Some of us just admit it and embrace it.” 

Shockey is determined to help British Columbia close the gaps between non-hunters, hunters, First People Nations and urban residents of his province. Sometimes segments of the population seem to live in different worlds. The most poignant example is the province’s 2017 ban on grizzly bear hunting. The province minister of forests and lands did not say the grizzly hunt was banned because of harm to the grizzly population based on science and study of the population, but “the grizzly hunt is not in line with their values,” that is, the values of the people of B.C. 

Jim Shockey is joined on stage by his daughter, Eva, at the 2023 SCI Convention in Nashville. The gun he holds was a gift to the family. Shockey’s father, Hal, who passed nine years ago, had a favorite rifle that had been stolen. Gunmaker Andy Larson re-created it in appreciation for the family’s contribution to hunting and conservation.

The government estimates there are between 14,000 and 16,000 grizzlies in B.C. That estimate has not changed for more than 20 years. The government has allowed First Nations to continue to hunt grizzlies. 

“So, managing grizzly bears with hunting is not socially acceptable? Actually, it is the best thing for grizzlies. Managing animal populations with science and with hunting is best for all animal populations in B.C. and everywhere. The facts bear it out and we have to keep people at the table until we can explain it so all understand and they see this truth. Let’s find solutions.” 

“We have to find the common ground,” continued Shockey. “We have to ask, ‘What’s best for the wildlife?’ not just what do I want.” 

Shockey is absorbed with the Native American community in western Canada. He feels the spiritual tug from the land, the animals and people who inhabit it now and in the past. His Hand of Man Museum is full of fascinating artifacts from native communities along the Pacific Coast. He does not charge admission, and he’s transferring ownership to a foundation for future generations. 

Recently, he had elders from a local tribe accompany young schoolchildren for a tour. The older people explained the artifacts — the tools, the art — of their people and the young people sat around them as they told stories about the culture. 

“The elders cried, they were so pleased to see their culture honored in this way, and I was glad to give them this forum to talk with the young people,” said Shockey, who was also moved by the exchange. 

A mammoth skeleton is a centerpiece at The Hand of Man Museum in Duncan, B.C., on Vancouver Island. The 17,000-square-foot collection houses a treasury of artifacts, natural history, cultural arts and conservation. Shockey does not charge admission and is generously handing it over the to a foundation so it will be open for future generations

Shockey is using his extensive media experience to produce several national shows such as “Yukon Harvest” and another upcoming production called “Coastal Carvers” that explore native cultures and pay respect to their traditions and the lifestyle they are trying to bring back. Shockey and his crew work behind the scenes to produce it, but the First Nations People do everything else for the shows. 

Shockey will never be far from the land. He doesn’t guide much anymore but does run Rogue River Outfitters in Yukon and Pacific Rim Outfitters in B.C. 

He recognizes that he doesn’t have the eyesight, reflexes or strength he used to. But that doesn’t mean he can’t help people. In fact, when asked, he said he would not rule out getting deeper into a different kind of guiding: politics. 

It’s his duty to stand up for what he thinks is right in a world that is getting right and wrong mixed up, he said. It would not be a surprise to see Shockey as a member of the B.C. Legislative Assembly or as an MP in Ottawa someday soon. 

“People with common sense need to stand up and offer their perspective,” he said. “Yes, they will get lambasted. This can be an ugly world. But if we all avoid it, then we cannot complain about it. We need to try to bring back common sense to the provincial government and the federal parliament.” 

Population centers like Ottawa may be calling him, but they are not his favorite places in the world. Shockey has been to the corners of the globe — from New Zealand to Nunavut, Mongolia to Namibia, stood on top of the Himalayas and in the jungles of South America. Of all those locations, it’s his next-door neighbor, the expansive, wild Yukon, that is his happy place. 

A common theme throughout all of Shockey’s work is a profound, authentic appreciation and respect for the people he meets in his travels.

Moose, bear, and caribou are abundant. It’s a hunting paradise. 

“It’s the last pure remote wilderness left,” said Shockey. “Siberia is Grand Central Station compared to the Yukon.” 

Most of the territory is only accessible by airplane, and there are precious few planes there. The area appeals to Shockey’s spiritual side because it’s like walking back in time to when we were all hunters who lived from the land. 

A close second is another remote place: the Omo Valley in southeast Ethiopia. The first time he saw it, he knew he had to take his wife, Louise, there and share it with her. The beauty and remoteness are striking. “National Geographic” called the Omo Valley “the last frontier in Africa.” 

Jim has been married to Louise for nearly 40 years, and they have two children, Eva and Branlin, and several grandchildren.

His second visit to the area was with Louise, who prefers “less rough” adventures, as opposed to near-vertical mountain climbs or extreme weather. But she got all she could handle when it came to bugs. The Omo Valley is known to be hot and dry but major rains coincided with their visit. 

“All sorts of fascinating and beautiful insects were hatching, and they were everywhere,” said Shockey. “I remember sitting in the tent, and there were bugs in our faces, and Louise said, ‘What have you gotten me into.” 

It turned out to be a great trip anyway. “We’ve had a lot of laughs about that,” said Shockey. 

When Shockey speaks of his wife, he uses terms such as “angel” and “most beautiful soul” and other superlatives. Louise is now battling cancer, and she is the center of Shockey’s world. They’ve been married for nearly 40 years, have two children and several grandchildren. A former actress, “Nana Weezy,” as she’s called in the family, fully embraces her role as a grandmother. 

 “Every day with her is precious,” said Shockey. “Every day is a gift.” 

It’s amazing what Jim Shockey has accomplished in less than 40 years. From his bizarre introduction to Safari Club International in ’84 to winning the C.J. McElroy Award in 2009 and now a book author bent on uniting disparate worlds, perhaps no one has been a better, more passionate ambassador for hunting than Shockey.

For information about Shockey’s book, “Call Me Hunter,” click here.