Alaskan Adventures: Hunting Grizzlies with Christian Schauf
Christian Schauf, the founder of Uncharted Supply, knows a thing or two about preparedness and survival. At the helm of a company providing adventurers and consumers with the right tools to survive just about any catastrophe, Schauf is immersed in the world of survivalism and preparation.
An avid hunter, Schauf thrives on epic, adrenaline-fueled trips that would make any fervent hunter's heart pitter-patter. His most recent endeavor -- a 120-mile trek into the remote Alaskan wilderness on the hunt for moose, caribou, and the large, looming grizzly.
After two weeks in the wild, Guns.com sat down with Schauf to learn a little bit more about his adventure, preparation, guns, and gear.
Guns.com: Let's kick off with a little bit of background on you, just to give our readers an idea of who you are.
Schauf: I grew up on a farm -- farming, hunting, and doing all that stuff. I went to the University of Wisconsin. My career path was all over. I became a musician for a long time, recording with guys like Prince. That turned into 40 trips to Iraq, providing entertainment for the troops over there. When I was home, I was going on hunting trips, climbs, and ski trips. I took a job in Orange County, California, and was going to Colorado one New Year's to ski, and it snowed 2-inches. Traffic stopped for, like, seven hours. It hit me that people don't know how to navigate anything anymore.
That's how Uncharted came about. Our goal is to design products that make you the hero of your own story. We live in a big, beautiful place, and you should get out and explore it, but do it in a safe way. I work with friends who are special forces guys, Everest guides, pilots, and EMTs to see what are the needs of the average consumer. Then we try to build the best, most useable, accessible stuff we can with the goal of making the world a little bit safer.
For me personally, I like to test everything. I love doing outdoor stuff, and it's also a great way to learn and validate what we are doing.
Guns.com: Awesome. Tell me about this trip. How do you think it went? Was it better than expected, worse, or on par?
Schauf: The landscape was jaw-dropping. If you're a hunter, it's like Narnia. That's the most beautiful place you could ever go to hunt. It was hard, you know. I'm kind of a geek on tracking all of my data, and it was 120 miles. On that tundra, you sink well past your ankle, almost lower shin, every step...It'd snow, then it'd be sunny, then it'd rain. But it's amazing. I loved the experience; it was really fun.
When we returned, I was carrying a grizzly.
Guns.com: What were the most important things you did prior to leaving that better helped you when you were actually out there? Because I would imagine in a situation like this, planning is really important.
Schauf: I think it really comes down to four things. One is your gear. Do as much research as you can on where you are going and what you're going to be asking your body to do. For this trip, I took everything that made sense. You take everything you need and nothing you don't. This teaches you a lot about being efficient and what you can live with and without. I think those are great, great lessons.
Two is physical preparation. I was training with a pretty unique group here in [Park City, Utah]. One of our workouts, we go to the ski jump and wear a weighted vest and do 100 burpees to start. Then you do four laps of the ski jump, up the steps with the weighted vests, then run back down. At the end, I'll do pushups and sit-ups. That really prepares you for having to get up the top of the mountain quickly, controlling your breathing, thinking about all that stuff. I wear my Garmin watch everywhere, and during those workouts, I was thinking about how to control my heart, to get my heart rate down, and that comes back to shooting, right? You can't go into a place and have your sights bouncing all over because you're breathing hard. So that preparation is really important.
Third was working with Christensen Arms. Before that, I had been shooting a gun I didn't really love. Being a lefty, I gotta find somebody that has a left-handed bolt-action. Their VP of Marketing got me into one of [Christensen's] Ridgelines. So it was about getting used to the Leupold VX 5-HD scope, the feel of the trigger, how the gun reacts, how it feels...because, gosh, there's nothing worse than getting yourself into position after five or six days, then blowing that one little thing.
The last thing for me is mental. When I go to these big hunts, I watch every YouTube video I can find on hunting the type of animal and also hunts in that area, seeing what the landscape looks like. Just getting new information helps you focus on what the goal is.
Guns.com: So let's talk about guns because our readers will want to know about all that. What guns did you take?
Schauf: I took a Glock G19X and a Sig P320 for my photographer. I know a lot of people are going to be like, "9-mills not going to do anything against a bear." I get it, but I'm really comfortable with both of those guns. They're second nature to me. I think it's better than nothing.
The [Christensen Arms Ridgeline]...the problem with this gun is only I got to shoot it once. This grizzly that I shot, it was 170-yards out. He walked out and took two steps. You know, that's what you want. Having a carbon rifle, when every pound matters, it's just so nice. It's really great. I didn't bash it against any rocks, but I was really impressed with the durability of that barrel and how well it held up in those tough conditions.
Guns.com: You mentioned that you take your own products from Uncharted when you go out on hunts and trips. How did that gear perform? Were there any standout performances?
Schauf: The biggest takeaway was our little Triage Kit. It's an ultra-lightweight first aid and gear repair kit. A little backstory, we interviewed 100-plus Gore-Tex ambassadors in what they take into the backcountry for personal safety or first aid. The one thing that came up a lot was most times the gear breaks before the person has an injury. So, a ski binding breaks or a backpack strap breaks or a seat post on a mountain bike, then that slows down or changes your plan. Then the sun goes down, and you're cold, or lost, and people have issues. It was this aha moment -- first aid is important, but what about your gear.
So we designed this product, and it was just something we literally were using two to three times a day. Now, you can imagine 120-miles and all the weather, you start getting hotspots. We took a photographer, and he was getting blisters. I had some pants that fit when I left camp but then, by day three, were sliding down on me because I was burning so many calories. So, I pulled the duct tape out from the kit and made a belt. I mean, little things like that -- covering the end of your barrel with tape so you don't get a twig down there that will compromise your shot.
There were so many times we were digging into that little kit. It was incredible. So that was my favorite thing.
Guns.com: Well that brings us to to the end, is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers at Guns.com?
Schauf: I would just encourage people to go out and [hunt]. If you're a gun lover and you find those trips where you actually get to take your gun and use it...it's going to change you for the better.
This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.