Cameron Hanes has been a dominant presence in the hunting industry for well over a decade. But only recently has he become something of a household name. On the heels of his best-selling book Endure, Cam has finally launched his podcast, the Keep Hammering Collective, which is now a dozen episodes deep.
On Hanes’ first appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience, Ep #450, Rogan said, “Cameron Hanes is a famous bowhunter. Which is a rare thing — that someone becomes famous as a bowhunter.”
Cam responded, “I wouldn’t say famous.”
JRE episode #450 aired in February 2014. Now, in 2023, with three published books under his belt and 13 appearances on JRE, Cam can’t deny his fame, but he still stands by the fact that he’s simply a regular guy who works hard. He just happens to be the most famous bowhunter in the world.
Cam Hanes Coming Up
How did a regular guy from a small town in Oregon become one of the biggest names in the hunting industry and achieve fame outside the relatively niche hunting world? Hard fucking work. Hanes, now 55, has dedicated his life to the craft of bowhunting.
What separated him from the pack was taking on challenges and a nearly unmatched work ethic. Most people train to run one or two marathons in their life. Cameron Hanes eats marathons for breakfast and washes them down with a cup of BRCC’s Beyond Black.
Hanes grew up in Eugene, Oregon, a couple of hours south of Portland. His childhood was no fairy tale. His father and mother divorced when he was young; Cam’s father, Bob Hanes, was the first inductee into the South Eugene High School Hall of Fame for his athletic achievements.
“When you grow up hearing more about your dad than seeing him, his legend only grows in your young mind,” Hanes once wrote. Unfortunately, despite being an outstanding athlete, coach, and local legend, Bob was an alcoholic and an absent father.
“A five-year-old grinding before school? Apparently.”
Hanes’ commitment to hard work became ingrained at a young age. When he was just 5, he ran a mile a day before school as part of a competition. He learned to love measurables. If he could work for or toward something and measure the results, he did it.
This work ethic and drive to succeed created the Cam Hanes people know today. The guy didn’t run his first marathon until he was in his mid-30s, but he was always an athlete.
In high school, Hanes excelled at sports. He shined as a receiver on the football team and was its leading scorer. Hanes also unearthed his competitive nature while playing high school sports.
“Even back then, I wanted to be the best,” he explained. “With football, I would learn very quickly after high school that, at best, I would be an average player.”
He went on to Southern Oregon State where he gave college ball a try. “The irony of college was that throughout my high school years, I never ever drank one beer,” he said. “What I learned at Southern Oregon; I knew how to party.”
Hanes found himself lost after realizing that, despite his hard work, college football wasn’t in the cards for him — but there was another sport waiting for him to discover.
Cam’s friend Roy Roth was the reason he started bowhunting. In those years after college Roth continuously pressured him into trying it. Hanes credits his stepfather Greg for getting him started on his hunting journey when he was a kid.
“Taking us to hunting camp was probably a disaster for him,” Hanes said. “But it was life-changing for me.”
Cam found quick success in his early bowhunting endeavors, and he considers those early successes the launching pad for where he is today.
He killed a huge mule deer that landed him on a magazine cover, in advertisements for Oregon Bow, and gave him quantifiable results. His early success also gave him material to write about. After killing his first bull elk in 1989, Cam wrote his first hunting article for Western Bowhunter Magazine.
“I was short on writing talent but long on desire,” Cam said of his early days as an outdoor writer.
“If you’re not obsessed, you’re going to be mediocre.”
As a teenager and young adult, Hanes consumed tons of books and articles about hunting. He earned his stripes as an outdoor writer, churning out how-to articles for Eastman’s Bowhunting Journal. His real passion was writing hunting adventure stories.
“Back in the mid-1990s, I was writing articles for Western Bowhunter Magazine for free,” he said.
“Some people look at me and talk shit,” he added. “They have no clue about the struggles and sacrifices and struggles I’ve made for decades.”
He wrote his first book, Bowhunting Trophy Blacktail, in 1999 and said he never had a grand plan for it conceptually; he just loved writing. He priced it all out, and it would cost $50,000 to print 5,000 copies. With his all-or-nothing attitude, Hanes went all in.
He borrowed money from his family to help pay for the self-publishing of Bowhunting Trophy Blacktail. It took him a long time, but he sold all 5,000 copies. He didn’t make a ton of money from the venture, but he went into the project with no business plan, just pure grit, passion, and determination.
The second book he published, Backcountry Bowhunting, came out in 2005 and saw much greater success. By then, he had built a name for himself in the hunting industry and had an actual publisher.
The book is currently in its ninth printing and has sold more than 90,000 copies. “Those two books represented two more big chances I took on myself and not just in the field of bowhunting but in my other passion of writing,” he explained.
It took Hanes 20 years to achieve his goal of being featured in Bowhunter Magazine, the pub he longed to write for his whole career. He had to grind to reach that goal — he wrote hundreds of articles, served as an editor of a bowhunting publication, and authored books all while balancing a day job and family.
“I am an average guy who has experienced above-average bowhunting success over the past three decades,” he said. “If I can do it, anyone can.”
If you follow Cam Hanes on Instagram or watch one of his many YouTube videos, you can hear him say things like, “I’m just a regular guy.” or “I’m not talented or gifted. That’s why I work hard. I have to.” Hanes’ all-gas-no-brakes mindset has inspired many in and outside the hunting world.
Fifteen years ago, physical training for hunting wasn’t much of a thing. Hanes started sharing his workout routine and lifestyle via videos and social media; now it’s a huge part of the hunting world.
“I don’t think anything great happens being warm and comfortable,” Hanes said in a video he shot while walking out of his home before 3 a.m. to run one of his morning marathons.
Cam Hanes follows a simple routine: Lift. Run. Shoot. This routine is built on consistency.
His daily commitment to it is fueled by his belief that he’s not gifted or talented, that he’s just a regular guy who has to work harder than others to be good at his craft.
Cam Hanes Taking On the Podcasting World
Regarding podcasts, Hanes has been considered a highly sought-after guest for some time now, and his fans have asked for him to start one of his own for years.
“I’m a bowhunter,” Hanes told Free Range American, “I’m not a great conversationalist like Rogan. But I know what people like me look for in winners, and I want to share that.”
The Keep Hammering Collective is a podcast that will feature guests who are the best in their field or at their craft. Hanes is interviewing them from his humble “regular guy” perspective and trying to glean insights into what they did to succeed. Who better for the task than a man with no self-proclaimed talents and who accomplishes goals through sheer discipline and grit?
“The collective refers to people who are outliers in their field who have risen to the top and used their skillset to be an outlier,” Hanes said. “I want to talk to them and hear how they became successful. These people have done extraordinary things with their lives and I hope to glean things for the listeners to take and use to elevate their lives.”
The first episode will feature UFC fighter Michael Chandler. The podcast will also be supported by a new YouTube series named after Hanes’ routine, Lift. Run. Shoot. In the series, Hanes will give his guests a taste of his daily fitness and shooting ritual.
“Shared suffering builds bonds,” he said. “What better way to get to know someone before an interview than suffering together?”
Black Rifle Coffee Company, FRA’s parent organization, is a sponsor of Hanes’ new podcast. And while Hanes himself never served, his oldest son was recently honorably discharged from the U.S. Army after serving in the 2nd Ranger Battalion.
“I have a huge respect for the military, law enforcement, and first responders,” Hanes said. “If I’m going to partner with a coffee company, it’s gotta be premium coffee with badass people behind the brand, and that’s Black Rifle.”