There are a few members of our ambassador team that cross the divide between RepYourWater and RepYourWild and Matt Hardinge is definitely one of them. Not only are his pursuits diverse but so was his upbringing.
During hunting season you'll find him following his bird dogs through the Chukar hills but as soon as the season closes he's on the river chasing trout.
We sat down with Matt to ask him about his love of fly fishing, bird hunting and his life outside of it. Read on to learn more about Matt.
1. How did you get introduced to the outdoors? Was there a particular moment when you realized 'This is the life for me!'?
From a young age I was always interested in exploring the woods, building forts and causing general mischief outdoors. My love for fly fishing came from spending time at our family cabin in Quebec and chasing trout in the lake. It was there that I learned to fly fish and gained a greater understanding of nature.
2. What is it about fishing that you enjoy so much? What about hunting?
The challenge and the chase. Every river is different and every section of river offers a new perspective and a new challenge. I usually set up 2-3 rods each time I hit the water and this allows me to change techniques and adapt to different scenarios very quickly. The key is just making sure you don't forget them on the bank!
Bird hunting is equally unique in it's challenges. Every species is different. From the terrain and their behavior, to how they act under the pressure of dogs. I love traveling to chase birds and exploring new environments. My main focus is Chukar hunting and the physical aspect of this really makes it the ideal species to chase.
3. Is there a particular style of fishing that you prefer? What is it and why?
There's nothing I love more than throwing streamers. You can fish the same section of water in so many different ways with a streamer and the feeling when you connect is hard to beat. If I'm looking for numbers or efficiency I will bust out the euro-nymphing rod. While it's not my favorite way to fish, there's no arguing how incredibly effective it is. It's also a great technique to show to beginners!
4. If you could visit any destination to hunt or fish, where would it be?
Alaska. Everything about Alaska appeals to me. The rugged and remote terrain, the unpredictable weather, the variety and abundance of species - It's a place that sits high on my list of places to go.
5. What are your dreams and goals when it comes to hunting and fishing?
I have three species of fish that sit high on my to-do list: the Golden Dorado, Giant Trevally and the Arctic Char. Unfortunately they live on opposite corners of the globe and are all incredibly expensive trips to plan, so it may take a while to achieve those goals!
When it comes to bird hunting, I am getting very close to completing the North American upland slam so finishing that is my immediate goal, but I would also love to visit Europe to hunt Black Grouse and Capercaillie.
6. Do you ever eat what you catch? If so, what is your favorite way to prepare them?
I am purely a catch and release fly fisherman but when it comes to bird hunting I love to eat what we hunt. Every bird is unique in flavor and lends itself to a particular type of preparation. The one recipe that works for everything is the good old upland nugget. I bread them with a mix of bread crumbs, salt, pepper, thyme and then fry in butter. One time I even carried all the ingredients into the mountains and prepared Ptarmigan like this in camp at 12,000ft.
7. With many threats facing the outdoors, what worries you the most?
Climate change and human impacts. There seems to be such a controversy around 'global warming,' but if you're someone that spends a significant amount of time outdoors, you'd be hard pressed not to notice a change. Fish are incredibly sensitive to changes in water temperature and quality so it doesn't take much to turn a world class fishery into an average one. Just a couple degrees of change in water temperatures is enough to make corals bleach and reefs are one of the fastest declining ecosystems on the planet.
The COVID times saw a huge increase in people spending time in the outdoors and that impact was immediately noticeable across the landscape. Almost everywhere I've been in the last year has seen an increase in traffic and signs of humans. If the majority of people practiced leave no trace principles, this wouldn't be much of an issue but I've seen trash pile up, tracks from trucks and UTVs in the backcountry and just a general lack of respect for the outdoors. I really hope to see more people treat the outdoors better if they are to enjoy it for the long run.
8. If you could hunt or fish with any celebrity, alive or dead. Who would it be?
This is a hard one. Spending time with all of my idols (mostly in the sports world) would not be time best spent on the water or in the field, I'd have so many unrelated questions to ask them. I would prefer to use this opportunity to spend time afield with a true pioneer like Lefty Kreh or Joe Humphreys to give me an opportunity to learn from one of the greats. In my opinion, if you aren't constantly learning in any of your hobbies or pursuits, you aren't doing it right.
9. What is your favorite piece of RepYourWater gear?
Do I have to pick just one?? The Trout Ties hat is my go to but it's hard to ignore the artwork of Co-Founder Garrison Doctor, I'm in love with ALL the prints!
10. Tell us a little more about yourself, where did you grow up, where do you live etc.
I was born in Montreal, Canada but spent the majority of my life living in London, England. Both places had a significant influence on my life within hunting and fishing but it wasn't until I moved out to the western US that I could really flourish. The access to public land and the plentiful opportunities to hunt and fish are unparalleled anywhere else in the world. I am currently living in Reno, Nevada with my wife, daughter and two German Wirehaired Pointers.