Life on his terms

Rich Shiree has packed a lot of living in his 43 years. All he seemed to do was hunt hogs and deer, 12 months a year, with a totally independent lifestyle.

Gruff and loud at first meeting, his enthusiasm for hunting and shooting makes him grow rapidly on you. It’s hard to believe that he was once a fashion photographer in Miami, Fla., where he lived on a yacht in Key Largo.

Born in North Carolina, he was reared hunting and fishing in Pennsylvania, where his family owned a camping resort west of the Pocono Mountains. After graduating from the tiny local school (one of 13 seniors in the class), Shiree went on to Pitt University, where he fell in love with photography.

A New York ad agency, with an opening in south Florida, spotted some of his work. As it worked out, his parents kept their yacht in Key Largo, so he had a ready place to stay. He did fashion photography for 4 years, resulting in a quarter-million images in print.

His father’s poor health brought him back home for a short time. When he recovered his health, Shiree decided he had enough “glitz and glamour.” He sold his car to buy a 4-wheel-drive unit and lit out for the Rocky Mountains.

There, he got a job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture managing national forest campgrounds and hunting nuisance predators. He was hired in Colorado, but sent to the Desolation Wilderness north of Lake Tahoe in Northern California, where he happily stayed until 2005.

Family again called, when a construction company owned by his father became involved in rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. His first month in the decimated city, he stayed in a vacant house on South Claiborne Avenue with no water or electricity, before relocating to a campground in Ponchatoula.

It was in Louisiana that he met his current wife and hunting partner Laney, herself a Louisiana native. But he couldn’t shake the love he had developed in California for long range shooting and hunting.

He began an online sales business that grew into The Shire Group. “I load shells for specific people who have specific needs,” he explained. “That’s my source of income now.”

Shiree describes himself as an avid whitetail deer hunter, having hunted in over 30 states. “I have licenses for nine different states in my wallet right now,” he dead-panned. By his count he has taken 53 whitetails having more than 8 points including two Boone & Crockett heads, a 191 5/8 non-typical and a 189 1/8 typical.

He also had racked up a 138 3/8 American bison, as well as black-tailed and mule deer, elk, moose, antelope, 9 black bears, and 6 mountain lions, the largest of which was 258 pounds.

“Believe it or not, I’m not a trophy hunter,” he laughed. “I’m a meat hunter.”

About Jerald Horst 959 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.

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