Charismatic Larysa Switlyk Of Reality
TV Makes Hunting Less Intimidating
By TomClaycomb III and Chris Cocoles
Larysa Switlyk is a certified public account and licensed real estate agent by trade. But she also considers herself a teacher,with the wild as her classroom. An avid hunter and angler who hosts two television shows, Larysa Unleashed on the Sportsman Channel and Larysa Gone Fishin’ on Destination America, Switlyk has absorbed her fair of social media critics, particularly her hunting images . “I have received some negative messages throughout the years, but that is the reason I wanted to start my television show:
to educate those non-hunters, because most of the time those negative people say those things due to a lack of education,”she says. “I think it’s sad that people have those types of things on social media. My friend, (Californian and avid big-game African hunter)Brittany Boddington, mentioned she got over 100 death threats.” But nothing seems to deter Switlyk, who turned 29 in 2014. She’s a Florida native who, according to her website (larysaunleashed.com), caught her first fish at age 11
with simply a piece of fishing line and a hook from her brother. She’s been an outdoor junkie ever since, even though you’ll find out this wasn’t the case of the girl who followed in the footsteps of a family of anglers and hunters; quite the opposite, in fact.
Not coming from a hunting or fishing family or having ever shopped for an affordable small tactical backpack even, you can imagine how badly it freaked out her parents when she turned into a hardcore
outdoors-woman. Correspondent Tom Claycomb III got to
the bottom of this in his chat with Switlyk, and also learned about her roots as an international backpacker, the passion for educating the public about fishing and hunting,her desire to get kids involved in the outdoors and other topics.
TOM CLAYCOMB OK, what possessed you to
even begin hunting?
LARYSA SWITLYK With my passion for travel and adventure, I found myself backpacking through Australia and New Zealand after leaving a CPA job in New York City. I booked myself a hunt in New Zealand, never having shot a rifle before in my life. I’ve always wanted to try hunting,but never had the opportunity until I made my own. I instantly fell in love with the hunting lifestyle, and knew instantly it was born in me. TC Were your family and friends supportive? LS Not from the start. I grew up with three older brothers, and my parents are probably the least outdoorsy people you will ever meet. After returning home from New Zealand, I was proud of my hunt and showed my family and friends photos, thinking they would also be proud of my new found
passion. I instantly got criticized and put down, which confused me, until I found other hunters who accepted me.That is when I realized there is a whole different world out there that accepts hunting.The people who are so quick to criticize lack education.
I started my television show with the mission of educating non-hunters and sharing my passion to influence other females and children to get involved in the outdoors. I figured if I can change my family’s viewpoint on hunting, explain to them why I hunt and get the meating the meat I bring home, then there are a lot more people out there like them who I can also change.Now my family is my biggest fans, and I’m glad I could introduce them to the outdoor lifestyle; but trust me, it didn’t happen overnight.
TC Wow, that’s amazing. So that would explain your passion to help educate non-hunters and to encourage women to get into the outdoors?
LS Yes, my first goal is to share my passion and love for hunting and fishing, and my next goal is to encourage more females and children to get involved in the outdoors. I want the kids away from the computers and video games, and enjoy the outdoors. I’m not telling people they need to go out and hunt. I just want to get more families outside; spend time together and teach their children the safety behind guns. Kids’ cell phones should be replaced with a bow or a fishing rod. The world is so consumed and dependent on technology these days that they are spending less time with their families. I want to educate the non-hunters why people hunt and fish, how we feed our families with the meat, and the conservation behind it all. I feel most people are too quick to judge about something they know nothing about. If I can at least introduce to them the facts, they can make their own educated decision about hunting and fishing instead of instantly thinking negative about it. I figure if I can change my own family’s viewpoint, I can change a lot more people out there and my TV show is a great vehicle for that!
TC When we first talked about doing some seminars together, I remember the first topic you wanted to talk about was something on the order of helping women break into the outdoors. In a nutshell,what would you say to a new female friend who doesn’t hunt.
LS First off, you need to at least give hunting a chance. Like me, you might not know you love something until you try it. I would like to talk about tips on howto go about trying it, howto stay safe and howto avoid bad situations because in the long run, hunting is still a male-dominated sport. There are a lot of female groups out there where you can learn to shoot a gun and go on hunting adventures with other females, which is sometimes the way to go when you are first getting into it, because you might feel more comfortable getting taught by other women.
TC How did you jump from the position in question one, to where you now hunt internationally
and have two TV shows?
LS A ton of hard work, time,money and the will power to never give up, no matter how many times I get told no or that I can’t do something. I got my real estate license so I could have more freedom than with my accounting job, and after a big sale, I would
fund allmy adventuresmyself. I learned the business side of things, flew to Vegas and snuck into the SHOT Show about five years ago to see if this industry was something I wanted to get involved in. I learned as much as possible, tried to hunt as often as I could and started filming my hunts. I asked a ton of questions, learned quickly what information to believe and what not to, made a ton of mistakes, but never gave up. I did a lot of the work myself, started surrounding myself with good people, had a few mentors along the way, took my time, and didn’t rush things. I continued to prove myself in the outdoor industry, taking advantage of every opportunity that presented itself, as well as making my own opportunities. I got a good entertainment lawyer behind me to protect me, pushed myself,practiced more and more on camera, started picking up sponsors and finally took the jump and haven’t looked back.Is it more work than I ever expected?
Yes! But is it worth it? Every second! I turned my dream into a reality, I built a strong foundation, I did it all myself, and I’m going to continue to grow and share my passion and story in the outdoor industry and beyond. I’m living proof that if
you work hard enough and put your mind to it, you can make your dream come true and live it! Go ahead, unleash it!
TC Wow, well that’s an amazing story, Larysa. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. I look forward to working with you in the future. How can the readers follow your
LS Check out my website for updates on my adventures at larysaunleashed.com. They can watch Larysa Unleashed on the
Sportsman Channel on Sundays at 12:30 p.m., Wednesdays at 4 p.m. and Fridays at 9:30 a.m. Larysa Gone Fishin’ will air on Destination America through September on Saturdays at 7 a.m. I also fished for Team Bass Pro Shops during the Mad fin Shark Series, which aired in
April through May on the Outdoor Channel. CS