Kelowna, British Columbia
Adam Foss is the youngest hunter in the world to kill all four species of North American Wild Sheep — with a bow. When he’s not setting records and chasing big game, he can be found outdoors with a camera in hand telling the rugged stories of the outdoors, or passionately supporting a number of organizations that work towards conserving the earth’s resources, and protecting and enhancing the habitat of Wild Sheep. Foss is an incredible storyteller, photographer, and owner of his media company, Foss Media. He’s the perfect encapsulation of the YETI spirit.
What goes through your head when you first wake up in the morning before you hunt?
I am usually listening to whether it’s raining on the tent or not. Regardless of what I thought the previous night, the weather might have just altered the plan, so a listen and a quick peek under the tent flap usually dictates what’s next. Sometimes it’s good to push through bad weather in the mountains, but more and more it seems that hunting smart rather than hard is the way to go. If it’s raining and/or there’s poor visibility, it’s time to curl up in the sleeping bag, take it easy, and put a severe dent in the ol’ snack supply. The weather also dictates what clothing I’ll put on and whether I’ll have a rain cover on my camera(s), so all factors to be considered.
I also typically think something along the lines of “damn this is better than a traffic-jammed commute.” It’s sometimes is easy to get a little discouraged on the challenges of a good hard mountain hunt — sore feet, tiredness, hunger, or tough hunting conditions — but that reminder of just being outside and the simplicity of traveling through the mountains is a good reset from the hustle and bustle of life. I usually try to remind myself at the beginning and end of each day out there.
Where is your favourite place to hunt?
That’s a tough question. There are a so many phenomenal places to hunt, but I’d have to say I have a special place in my heart for the Rocky Mountains of Southern Alberta and the various ranges in Northern BC. Both offer up a considerable challenge in terms of terrain, species and lay home to some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve been lucky enough to wander. Alberta especially as the rolling foothills and high alpine basins in the Rockies is where I learned to bow hunt as a kid.
Tell us a favourite story from a day out hunting.
Just one? Buy me a beer or better yet, meet me in the mountains and we can go story for story around a campfire.
How do you up your game year after year?
Hunting is such a progressional activity, there are always ways to grow and challenge yourself. Whether it’s a totally new area, new species, new story to tell, different tactic/technique/weapon etc. the journey never really stops until you want it to. Because of this, I think that I’m not really “upping my game” as much as I’m trying new things or pushing a little further into new areas. During that exploration, I’m required to figure it out along the way, which instills growth, improvement and an opportunity to learn something new. Mountain bowhunting serves as a consistent source of humble pie and it’s rare that I come back without learning something or with one thing I would’ve done differently.
Photography and filmmaking are oddly similar, and because there are so many different styles, formats, story-telling mediums, and rapidly advancing technology, sometimes it seems as though I’m just trying to stay current and up-to-date rather than feel like the game is being upped. That said, there is so much information out there, and our world is so connected that I learn a lot from watching those I look up to hone their craft, either in person or from a far. I’m also a big fan of taking advantage of online training platforms like Lynda and Masterclass. I mean, I just finished Jimmy Chin’s MasterClass as of this writing. The guy is an animal!
If you could do anything better what would it be?
Practicing patience. Patience applies to many facets of the activity of bowhunting in the mountains, photography, and life in general. I think it’s easy at times in a modern world full of instant gratification, one-click same day shipping and 24hr/365-day access to endless entertainment/stimulation/consumption to erode one’s ability to be patient. I know it’s happened in my life and in the mountains. For example, sometimes I expect there to be animals up in a bowl simply because it “looks” like there should be, or I hiked “X” number of miles/days to be there, or waited so long to draw the tag etc…One thing I continue to learn is that encounters with mature, wild animals are rare and nothing is guaranteed, so it’s better to have patience with the plan, stick to a process and enjoy the ride. That’s usually when something magical happens.
Patience also applies to bowhunting and photography in the technical sense — glassing for one more hour, waiting for the perfect stalk opportunity, holding until you get the perfect or shot. Learning to remember that time spent in the mountains is time well spent and good things come to those who wait is a goal of mine.
Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to?
Growing up I always looked up to my older brother (Cameron) and father (Tom). I followed those two guys’ footsteps up many a shale slope and creek crossing. To see their determination for sheep in the mountains they call home rubbed off on me at an early age. I can’t think of many people with more determination than those guys.
I also admire the old timer pioneers, guides, and outfitters of sheep hunting. They were tackling mountains without technical clothing, boots, archery equipment, optics — hell rangefinders weren’t even a thing yet! These guys and gals were way tougher than most people these days and doing it for all the right reasons. There wasn’t much for money, fame or notoriety in those days but for those willing to go for it they be rewarded with a pile of stories to tell around the campfire.
If there is any love-hate relationship with any aspect of what you do, can you describe what that is?
Our hunting seasons in North America are so compressed that we try to cram every single day, week, and season with one more hunt and one more adventure. I’m often loading up for the next trip before ever unpacking from the previous three, or better yet don’t even go home for a shower and some laundry in between. (Yeah, yeah, I agree this is a wonderful problem to have, but hear me out.)
I remember one time coming in after midnight one night after a long week of elk hunting to find my then girlfriend, now wife, Frankie waiting up for me. She asked how the hunting was and, inevitably, “when are you going out next?”
I glanced at my watch, paused for a moment and responded, “about an hour and a half.” She gave me one of her classic eye rolls but still had to laugh.
It awakes a challenge between being the guy with the camera, or the guy with the bow. I do truly love both, but both come with a different set of pressures and expectations. I sometimes wonder if focusing on one more than the other would be a good idea, but I really don’t ever see myself giving up either so I’m back to square one pretty quickly.
Essentially, sometimes I feel like we’re packing it all in, which I love, but also serves as a challenge because I think at times I don’t fully appreciate, reflect on, and decompress from one remarkable experience before heading out on the next one.