TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley is making a call from the bullpen to see if hunters might like to join him in a dugout in Oklahoma. Or more accurately, in a duck blind.
The former Broken Arrow baseball and football standout who was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the first round in 2011, developed a love for waterfowl hunting about the same time his baseball career took off. Now he and former BA teammate Mak Monckton and Spring Valley Rod & Gun Club founder Adam Maris have an idea to boost Oklahoma's reputation as a waterfowl hunting destination and provide an escape for hunters and for professional athletes alike.
"The goal is to get some of my teammates in and put together packages around being able to hunt with these guys," he told the Tulsa World. "Eventually to make it a place where we're consistently welcoming in major league players and pro athletes in general."
The business bears the name of Bradley's black Labrador retriever, Crash. He bought a ranch in Pawnee County with a small wetland where he can hunt and named the ranch Crash Landing. So it seemed fitting to name the new guide service Crash Landing Outdoors, he said.
Maris, who built a 12,000-square-foot lodge and gun club off the Cimarron Turnpike north of Stillwater last year, said Crash Landing is a separate operation but will often work in concert with the lodge. Cost for the trips will be $650 per person per day.
"Archie is spearheading this and bringing in teammates and other pro players and the idea is to book three-day blocks," Maris said. "We're going to try to do that seven to 10 times this year, so 21 to 30 days of the season. As this evolves further (Crash Landing) could become that exclusively."
Bradley said commitments to youth sports kept him out of the woods as a kid even though an early duck hunting experience when he was 8 or 9 years old struck a chord. With a busy baseball schedule and traveling games through the spring and summer and then going right into football in the fall, "I never really had any time for it," he said.
"A guy from Broken Arrow took me on my first real duck hunt and from there it was like a fire was kinda lit inside of me," he said. "I really enjoy being outdoors from duck hunting to deer hunting, really anything."
He played ball and hunted with Monckton and their partnership and passions for the outdoors grew from there, he said.
"Obviously after the draft I was able to get more stuff, get some leases, buy some more equipment and that's when it really started to take off," he said.
Any serious waterfowl hunter has to have a retriever, so along came Crash and then came the ranch and now the partnership with Monckton and Maris. He said somewhere between 30 and 50 days of his off-season were spent hunting last year, mostly duck hunting.
"I think finding something outside of baseball that I'm very passionate about and want to be involved in was very important for kind of my self-identity in a way, to relate to something other than just baseball," he said.
The hunting guide business is a plan that looks forward, beyond baseball, he said.
"When people get out here and see this lodge and experience this thing, they'll know this is not just a couple-years deal," he said. "We're looking to invest in these communities and these farmers we're working with and we're looking to be here for the long haul. I see this as something I can retire on and have this unbelievable outdoor service we can offer to people across the country and not just Oklahoma."
The pro athlete said an example from a January 2019 hunt drives home the point.
"In the duck hunting world, it would be described as the perfect morning," he said. "Everything was set up. Everyone was in the blind ready to go. We had plenty of time before shooting light. The sun was coming up and it was probably about 28 degrees, steam coming up off the water and just thousands and thousands of ducks in the air. Something like you only see on TV.
"To have a moment like that with this group of guys and seeing the reaction from these guys them high-fiving and talking on and on about how great this hunt is and how they've never been on anything like this, it really hit home with what we are trying to do."
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com