For Richard Childress Racing driver Ryan Newman, his love for the outdoors essentially started the day he was born. His grandfather Jerry was a huge fisherman and started taking Newman with him as soon as the boy could hold a rod. But it wasn’t until a NASCAR race weekend in 2008 at Kansas Speedway that the South Bend, Indiana, native decided to take up hunting.
“It was like I hit a switch one day and decided to do it,” said Newman. “No one person in particular got me into hunting. Often times on the road, there’s quite a bit of down time so during a race weekend in Kansas, I checked out a big sporting goods store and left with my first bow and arrow.”
The avid outdoorsman prefers hunting with a bow and arrow over a rifle for the sheer challenge. He has had the privilege of hunting in over 10 states, including the Carolinas, Georgia, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah. It was in New Mexico on his very first elk hunt that Newman harvested his biggest trophy to date.
“I was in a tree stand for over an hour and a half by a water hole,” he said. “I shot a 363-inch bull from 37 yards out. I couldn’t believe it. I knew I had gotten a good shot on him. We gave the bull a little time before we started to track him. We tracked him for about 50 yards and then lost the trail. We even found a portion of the arrow. I got discouraged. It wasn’t until the next morning that we found the bull. We had been on top of him all along, we couldn’t initially see him due to loss of daylight. The bull was my first harvest of any kind. I feel pretty sure it was beginner’s luck.”
Luck or not, Newman feels strongly about taking time for the outdoors and appreciates the fact that the similarities between racing and hunting are simple. They are a complete opposite of one another.
“You get to do whatever you want on your own time and relax doing it,” stated Newman. “It’s entirely opposite of racing.”
Newman’s excursions usually include good friend and fellow NASCAR competitor Martin Truex Jr. It is not uncommon to see their Twitter feeds documenting a friendly competition centered around fishing or hunting while on the road. As a matter of fact, Newman’s motorhome trailer hauls a boat for the duo to take out when time permits. Who is the better outdoorsman?
“Truex has probably harvested more things, because in general, he’s been at it more,” credits Newman. “I think we both have pretty damn good shots. When it comes to fishing, Truex normally catches more because I am busy driving the boat.”
One of Newman’s favorite hunting trips with Truex is their annual rabbit hunt in Maryland during the the off-season. This year Newman’s father Greg and eight other men made up the party.
Lil Rabbit hunt today. Good times. pic.twitter.com/eTz2Pe9RV6
— Ryan Newman (@RyanJNewman) December 14, 2016
“We harvested about 100 rabbits this year,” said Newman. “What I enjoy about this trip is it’s about a group of guys doing what they enjoy while cutting up and laughing a lot. It’s also what I like about this kind of hunting like for bird, water fowl, duck and geese, we don’t have to be nearly as quiet like you have to be when deer or elk hunting. It’s a lot of fun.”
Now, Newman shares his appreciation for the outdoors with his two young daughters, Brooklyn and Ashlyn. Daddy-daughter time is usually spent on their farm in Statesville, North Carolina, where Newman finds the experience grounding for everyone involved.
“Our time on the farm is about giving Brooklyn and Ashlyn the understanding of the outdoors,” said Newman. “I point out to them things like the sound a cardinal makes and why a ground hog does what he does and the time of year he hibernates.
“There are so many parts to teaching kids about hunting and conservation,” he said. “It’s not about harvesting an animal as much as it is about understanding why those animals are on this Earth and how we as humans have to manage them. I also want them to know what we as a society can do to make it better for everybody for generations to come.”