Hunting fields never far from White's mind

Rick White 

While pitching with the New York Mets last year, there were times when Rick White would go turkey hunting in the morning, then make it home in time to take a nap and still be on the field by 2:30 that afternoon.

Now with Colorado, we can only hope the right-handed reliever continues his hunting tradition. Rockies coaching staff beware; you may have unwittingly unleashed a beast in picking up White, what with all the elk and mule deer that may now be enticing your new acquisition.

No question, White is passionate about his sport. If he and former Mets teammate Turk Wendell were lucky enough to get a day off during the season, they would head upstate from New York City to track gobblers.

"If we don't have a day off scheduled for a while, then we just try to get out early in the morning and we are usually done around 9 or 10," White said when interviewed by ESPN Outdoors last season. "That way we still have time to take a nap and we don't have to be on the field until 2:30, 3, 4 o'clock, or somewhere around there."

All in a day's work, right?

What's more, White, like other ballplayers who are outdoorsmen, enjoys hunting in the offseason. The lion's share of the hunting season falls in the middle of football, basketball and hockey seasons, so pros in those sports aren't as lucky, he explained.

White, 33, had much more to say about his passion for hunting during an "Athletes in the Outdoors" Q&A:

ESPN Outdoors: "What is your hunting specialty?"

Rick White: "Duck hunting over deer hunting. I like to be able to sit around and talk to the guys while I'm hunting."

EO: "So there is more camaraderie?"

RW: "Deer hunting is more relaxing than duck hunting. Duck hunting is more just hanging out with the guys."

EO: "Where do you duck hunt?"

RW: "Anywhere I can, Ohio (where White was born and grew up) and Kentucky (where he went to junior college)."

EO: "How often are you out in the field during the offseason?"

RW: "Just about every day; very few days I don't hunt."

EO: "You worked as a bouncer?"

RW: "Yeah, I did that the offseason before I made it to the big leagues, but I don't need to do that anymore."

EO: "What is your most memorable day in the field?"

RW: "Four of my buddies down from Ohio went hunting with me in Kentucky (in November 2000). We limited out on ducks and geese, and that afternoon we all got pretty nice deer."

EO: "What were the limits that day?"

RW: "We all had six ducks and two geese; we were done by 9 o'clock. We went and got lunch, then went back and everybody took a deer."

EO: "Rifle hunting on the deer?"

RW: "No, bow hunting."

EO: "Are you ever going to have another day like that?"

RW: "Probably not, just because it was one of those days that the moon phases were working good, everyone was in the right spot and a couple of my buddies watched each other shoot their deer while they were up in their stands. So that was pretty cool."

EO: "Moon phases, huh? Do you do a lot of research in that regard?"

RW: "I try to. A lot of times I can only do any (research) in the offseason, so I just try to hunt everyday. I'm usually out for the phases anyway. But as far as the big bucks moving, it's based on the moon phase."

EO: "How do you get away with that with (wife) Corie and two kids (Alexis and Dakota)?"

RW: "I've got a very loving wife."

EO: "Will your time in the field become less when your kids get older?"

RW: "I hope not. Hopefully I can get my oldest one (Alexis) in to doing something with me when she gets older."

EO: "Do you think she's going to be into hunting?"

RW: "She might not be into the hunting aspect, but she might be into going out and looking at the animals."

EO: "Tell me a little bit about your fishing?"

RW: "I'm predominately a bass fisherman. I know how to do all the other fishing, too, but I like bass fishing the best."

EO: "What are your favorite baits?"

RW: "I use them all. I like to worm fish a lot."

EO: "Do you like to fish with a guide?"

RW: "I've used a couple of guides, but I like to go out with my buddies. A couple of my friends fish in the Red Man (tournament) circuit. So they've got a pretty good idea of what is going on."

EO: "What is in your background that makes you a fisherman and hunter?"

RW: "It's something I've come up doing. When I was a kid, my dad took us camping every weekend. I've been fishing since I was a little kid, so I've always loved to do that.

"I started hunting in '94. All my friends had been doing that, but I never got around to it because of baseball and everything. Finally, I decided to start doing it and pretty much have been 100 percent go-hunt ever since."

EO: "Is there some connection between baseball and hunting?"

RW: "I know one thing about our offseason, it falls right between most of the hunting seasons and we're able to do more than most athletes. Football, hockey, basketball, they're all right in the middle of hunting season. So, basically, we have an ideal time off.

"And, as far as pitchers doing it, we don't have that everyday grind that position players do. I know a lot of position players that hunt, too. A couple of the guys I played with in Tampa Bay, we all go and hunt every year in Mississippi."

EO: "You were the first pitcher to throw off the mound in Tampa Bay at the Tropicana, right?"

RW: "They had the dome up, but they hadn't had the field put down, yet. So they put the plate and the mound down; they were just trying to decide how it was going to take, if the angles were right and everything."

EO: "How are you perceived as a professional athlete and how does that compare to hunting?"

RW: "I like to do stuff with kids. I do a lot of stuff with Buckmasters, the deer-hunting organization. It tries to introduce kids to hunting and keep them off the streets. I know that's a lot of fun. I deal with Project Venison. A lot of the deer we kill, we can't eat all the meat. So we donate it to the homeless and needy shelters.

"The one thing I like about hunting is it keeps you humble. A lot of guys, when they become superstars, they have a tendency to change. And I still hang out with the same people I grew up with back home.

"As soon as the season is over, I go do stuff with them and I do a lot of stuff in my hometown. I still live five minutes away from where I grew up (in Springfield, Ohio). I do a lot of stuff with the kids back home, talk to Little League teams and stuff like that. A couple of my buddies are Little League coaches."

EO: "Is there a common denominator in hunting?"

RW: "Most guys I've hunted with, they do it everyday. Even during the summer, they're scouting and looking around for ways to get better at what they do. A lot of guys are locked on not hurting the environment and the animal protection."

EO: "Do you admire full-time hunters?"

RW: "Yes, definitely. I'd like to do that when I retire from baseball. I'd like to get my own place started, hire my buddies back home to help me run it and just have fun doing it."

EO: "Do you want to get a ranch?"

RW: "No, not something that big; that is a lot of stuff you have to deal with. I'd like to just get a nice farm with 500 to 1,000 acres, just hang out and see what happens."

EO: "So life after baseball will have something to do with hunting?"

RW: "Yes, hopefully."

For more "Athletes in the Outdoors," click here.