Scott Ritchlin was bored on vacation in June and stumbled onto the wild card application form for the Total Outdoorsman Challenge, and decided to fill it out. “I liked that it didn’t focus on one thing, so I just signed up,” says Ritchlin. “I figured it didn’t hurt anything.”
Ritchlin, a vice president of an electrical manufacturing company, started hunting and fishing around his home in New Jersey when he was 15, and he has honed his outdoorsman skills with do-it-yourself hunts in Alaska. “People don’t think of New Jersey as a great sporting state, but I’m 10 minutes from the Delaware River, and I can hunt here from September 1 through February,” says Ritchlin.
Ritchlin has never competed in an outdoors skills competition before, but is hoping that his trips to Alaska will give him the edge in Springfield. “My idea of the ultimate hunt is an unguided trip where they drop you off and say they’ll be back in six days,” says Ritchlin. “You’re either there waiting for that float plane or something’s happened to you. You’ve got to have skills to get through those situations—it’s more than being a good shot.”
To get ready for the finals, Ritchlin has been targeting bass in his home waters and brushing up on his sporting clays shooting. “Since I haven’t gone through any of the competition before, I’m not going to have the same advantage as the other competitors,” says Ritchlin. “But as long as I finish at least in 15th place, that will at least show that I belong there.”