“I haven’t bought meat or fish since 1997,” says Al Roberts, 33, who has been making annual elk hunting trips to Montana since that very year. “My family eats only what we kill and catch.” That statement epitomizes a man who has completely invested his life in the outdoors, who says that if not for outdoor sports he wouldn’t have a life at all. Just look at his various jobs: outdoors consultant, outfitter, guide, and outdoors television host and producer. He does not limit himself to hunting and fishing, either--he's a surf bum who enjoys throwing Jack Johnson on the stereo, too.
Though Roberts claims to have no particular talents and wants only to show that outdoors TV hosts really can be total outdoorsmen (he took second at the Orlando Regional competition), he is a proficient in the shooting sports. He trained with rifles in the Marines (“Our troops are the real heroes,” he says, “and if any of them want to come to Florida to hunt hogs or go fishing, we can help out”) and shoots his bow every day. “I’m religious about my shooting.”
Like several other finalists, he’s also a bit apprehensive about flyfishing. One of his friends is teaching him the craft, though, and he vows to be prepared by the time of competition. “I’ll be ready. I know I told Paul Thompson that he better bring his A-game this year, but that goes for all of us. At this level, I’m confident about everyone’s ability, not just his or mine.”
Roberts has been working particularly hard recently on his endurance training. “Elk season in Montana starts in October,” he explains. “I love fishing for redfish, but elk are my passion. I’ve been fortunate and taken some very nice bulls.” If fortune smiles upon him in the first weekend of September, Al Roberts just might take home the title of Total Outdoorsman, too. --Thomas McCafferty