At Long Last

The cover of Nick's book "Life and Longbows".

My love of literature began at infancy.

My mother would dispute anyone who dared challenge the statement. According to her, all three of us Viau boys latched on to specific objects around the house without any prompting or explanation. My brother Matt loved hammers and hitting things with them. My brother Isaac loved whatever he could find on the floor and fit into his mouth. And I loved books.

“My Nick always loved his books.” She’d say. “You shook whenever you’d see one and pretended to read them to me the moment you learned to babble.”

That love for reading grew with me. I looked forward to Book Order time and always had a pile on my desk the day they’d arrive. Mom never said “no” to books. She put a premium on them and it stuck with me.

The third grade was my first literary epiphany. I enjoyed everything I read, including youth classics like Charlotte’s Web and Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac MacGee, which is still my favorite youth novel of all time. It was during this time, I discovered outdoor authors Gary Paulson and Jean Craighead George. Their novels Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain, spoke to me in ways no other books had. I grew up in the woods and spent hours exploring, making forts, crafting weapons, and knocking over decaying birch tree stumps. The idea of kids surviving on their own in the wild was everything I’d ever wanted in a story. I was so infatuated with Hatchet, in factthat I saved up the $50 and bought a leather-wrapped Estwing. It hardly left my side for several years.

The seed had been planted and was cultivated in middle/high school through Richard Adam’s Watership Down and Brian Jacques’ Redwall series. While not “outdoorsy” per se, the animals were the main characters, and the storytelling was top notch. I had little issue relating to the characters or the world, in which they lived.

While my appetite was always there, my tastes changed in college. Giants such as Crane, London, Twain, and Hemingway changed the way I looked at literature. Reading it was no longer enough. I needed to participate and believed I could. The next few years were spent on songs and poetry with the occasional short story sprinkled over the top. But I was lacking a consistent topic and an outlet to share my work.

I found the topic when I discovered archery in 2009. The outlet arrived in 2010, when I discovered blogging and created Life and Longbows. Still, the education was far from over. The journey had just begun. My archery immersion led to my re-acquaintance with the outdoors, which led to further writing discoveries. Authors such as MacQuarrie, Ruark, Voelker, and Colonel Tom Kelly changed the way I saw the page. Gordon MacQuarrie, in particular, had a profound effect on me. He showed me the power of relationships, humor, and dialogue and how they could make a good hunting/fishing story a great one.

This changed the game completely. I no longer felt that my outdoor experiences were inadequate in comparison to other hunters. In fact, I realized comparing was silly to begin with. The value of an experience is subjective to the hunter. Some search for solitude chasing moose in Alaska. Others long for the romance of the Dark Continent. And some find satisfaction hunting whitetails in their backyard with a buddy or two. This is where the idea for Life and Longbows manifested.

I wanted to introduce you to a younger me, walk you through my experiences (good and bad) and show you how I got to this point — with as much transparency as possible. I am no expert. I wouldn’t even call myself a “good” bowhunter. But I do love bowhunting and the people I’ve hunted with.

All that being said, I hope you will consider purchasing Life and Longbows and will recommend it to your friends when you are finished. I hope you will enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

You can purchase a signed copy of Life and Longbows here

 

 

A New Adventure

The Traditional Outdoors Podcast

It’s funny how quickly things can change.

In late 2017, Imade a post about the podcast world and how I didn’t intend on participating. I enjoyed several at the time but didn’t feel it was the right medium to share my content. A podcast seemed like a major investment — and I don’t mean financially. I didn’t feel I would be able to produce quality content on a consistent basis. I didn’t have a partner. I didn’t have the equipment. I had connections but lacked the time to line up the interviews I thought I would need to make the podcast interesting. Above all else, I didn’t have a clue. I’d listened to podcasts but never participated.

Then something funny happened. I was reacquainted with my first love (the guitar) and did what any other 30-something male would do: joined a slew of online music communities on Facebook. The re-immersion led to my meeting and chatting with several like-minded musicians who also happened to be podcasters. One of these people was Clifton Worley of The Clifton Worley Show who I discovered had many of the same musical tastes and interests.

Clifton’s passion for networking led to the forming of his show, which was based on discussing guitars and music with average musicians from the various groups we were associated with. You didn’t have to be a professional to be on Clifton’s show and I fell in love with that concept. After several weeks of listening to Clifton and his guests, I reached out to Clifton and shamelessly implied it should be “my turn”.

We shared a laugh, I joined him on the show, and it was a blast. We became fast friends and I ended up joining him and our mutual friend (and digital illustrator) Joshua Fraser on a frequent basis. I realized then, as Clifton’s show became “our” show, what podcasting was about, and how much I enjoyed it.

I wanted to do a project of my own and considered doing it under the Life and Longbows brand. However, I still didn’t have a partner. Several people had approached me about it, but no one was ready to make the commitment. Plus, I still wasn’t convinced I could produce enough traditional archery content to make a solid podcast. The Push, Trad Geeks, TradQuest, the Traditional Bowhunting and Wilderness Podcast, and others were already doing an amazing job on the interview and educate circuit and I didn’t see the value of regurgitating that content. It has and is already being done. This put me in quite the quandary mentally. It bummed me out.

Then, something funny happened. My friend and hunting partner Steve (Angell) of Simply Traditional, reached out to me and wondered if I would consider revisiting the podcast idea, but he wanted to take it beyond the traditional archery/bowhunting niche.

“Let’s pull it outside the Life and Longbows and Simply Traditional brand and do something dedicated to life in the outdoors.” He said.

I balked at first. Anything beyond bowhunting and a bit of camping was outside my expertise and comfort zone. And I didn’t dare refer to myself as anything but an amateur in the aforementioned fields.

“I don’t know about any of that, man.” I laughed. “You’re going to need to find guests because I’m not at all comfortable speaking to anything beyond the world of bows and arrows.”

I had pretty much written me being a guest-host off at that point, but he assured me that wasn’t the angle he was going for and went so far as to say that my naivety to the topics would provide a “newbie” perspective to the show.

I was officially out of excuses. I knew I could make the time to talk to my friend once a week and I knew I could play the role of “happy amateur”.

So, we brainstormed, lined up some interviews, set a date to record, and made a podcast. Just like that “Traditional Outdoors” was born and I believe it will be a successful venture. It should be entertaining at the very least and we’ll be thrilled if you learn something!

All that being said, we’ll need your support to get this up and running. You can start by checking out our website, which will both house the podcast and feature links to articles collected from across the Web (including this blog). We’d also like to invite you to our Facebook group, where the bulk of our conversations will take place. The primary goal of Traditional Outdoors is to create an outdoor community filled with enthusiasts that have integrity and love and support our natural resources and the activities therein.

The first episode of the podcast should launch very soon! Stay tuned and be sure to subscribe and tell your friends. There will be multiple ways to do so.

We’ll see you at the campfire!