Guns & Gridiron

NFL star Jared Allen has two main passions--football and the outdoors. The 270-pound defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings is a two-time Pro-Bowler and quarterback-sacking specialist--and is preparing for an NFC title game showdown with Drew Brees. But when he's not getting business done on the football field, he enjoys traveling the world on exotic hunts. Here's a very special Outdoor Life interview. OL: Which game animal is your favorite to hunt? Allen: Whitetails are awesome, but if I just feel like having fun and shooting off some rounds, it's hard to beat pheasant hunting. I've really been getting into predator hunting lately, too. OL: And you've hunted wild boar with nothing but a knife? Allen: Yes--it was amazing. It was up close and personal, and so primitive. Dogs got the boar to stop, then my guide and I flipped it over and I cut it armpit to armpit. My heart was in my throat the whole time. OL: Any other particularly memorable hunts? Allen: Recently, I was wolf hunting in Ontario, Canada. It was freezing and I was hiding in a snowbank, waiting for a wolf to come out of the timber. I sat there for six hours but never saw one. It was heartbreaking, and exciting at the same time. I even got frostbite on my toes. OL: Any firearm of choice? Allen: If I have to choose a gun, I would say my Browning .270 WSM. But I should mention that I just started bowhunting a year ago, and I really love my BowTech bow.
OL: When did you become interested in hunting and the outdoors? Allen: I've been interested in hunting since I was a child. I grew up on a ranch and have been around the outdoors my whole life. I used to go hunting with my dad and grandpa when I was little and I fell in love with it. So, in a sense, it has just always been a part of my life. OL: And you used to participate in rodeos as a kid, correct? Allen: Most of the rodeo stuff I did was at the ranch, where I grew up. I learned how to rope when I was in the third grade. I used to go to all the rodeos and warm up the cowboys' horses for them. I will always have a love for it and I wish I could be more involved nowadays.
OL: Where are you favorite hunting spots? Allen: I've been fortunate to hunt in many places. From Canada to New Zealand, I've been everywhere--but I have to say my favorite places to hunt are Kansas and Missouri. I have a buddy who has a farm in that region, and it's one of my favorite places to go and get away. It also helps that he has some monster whitetail in his backyard.
OL: What's the greater thrill--plowing through the offensive line and sacking a quarterback, or nabbing a trophy animal out in the field? Allen: They're both amazing, but different. Sacking a quarterback is the greatest feeling in the world, but when you stock and lay down an animal, you get a sense of relief. Being able to control your emotions so you can get a good, clean shot--there's a sense of relief after that. And then when you see the animal drop, you let all that excitement out and the adrenaline rush is unexplainable. In football, you use the excitement to help you, but in hunting it hurts you. That's why I love hunting so much--you really have to be able to control yourself. OL: How do you balance a career in football with the outdoors? Allen: It's tough. I would love to hunt all day, every day. But I just hunt on my off days. Unfortunately, I never get to hunt opening weekend, but still, I try to hunt as much as I can in the off-season.
Allen's not alone on the Vikings when it comes to the outdoors. That's noted hunter and, of course, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre with a pretty solid Wisconsin whitetail.
And that's Vikings runningback Adrian Peterson after a duck hunt back in his days at Oklahoma.

Vikings quarterback killer Jared Allen has two main passions--football and the outdoors. Here's a very special Outdoor Life interview.