- Brett Pauly
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If you asked Jermaine Dye a decade ago if he would eventually become a hunter, he would have told you not in a million years.
But things change, as the longtime Kansas City Royal right fielder found out this season when he was traded to the Oakland A's.
One thing is certain: Dye, who grew up in California fishing around the San Francisco Bay Area with his father, will continue to hunt, having picked up the sport late.
And the deer in the Sierra best beware: Once Dye began getting animals in his sights, he became very good or very lucky. He dropped a nine-point whitetail with his first in-field shot from a rifle and took down an eight-pointer on his third shot from a bow.
Oh, and one more thing: Dye and the A's are in the playoffs, while the Royals had to settle for going home early this year. Unfortunately for Dye, he won't be contributing anything in the outfield or at the plate; he broke his left leg on Sunday when he fouled a ball just below the knee.
ESPN Outdoors recently interviewed Dye for an "Athletes in the Outdoors" profile:
ESPN Outdoors: "It sounds like you are a great example of somebody who came into the sport of hunting much later than most?"
Jermaine Dye: "Exactly. When you find spare time in the offseason, as you play sports, you meet more people. They put you on to it to come try it. And if you like it, you like it."
EO: "Ten years ago, did you ever imagine yourself being a guy who would hunt deer?"
JD: "Not at all, never. Coming from California (Dye, 27, was born in Vacaville), I would never envision myself doing this. If I had probably been playing for another team in another city that wasn't really known for populations of deer and ducks, I probably wouldn't be doing it. But, you try something and you like it, you never know."
EO: "You know Shane Halter (shortstop with the Detroit Tigers), and you guys have a hunting relationship, is that right?"
JD: "Yeah. In the offseason I kind of got hooked up with him when he used to play for the Royals. He introduced me to a couple of his hunting friends and they got me hooked. He lives here in Kansas City in the offseason, and we go just about five times a week once the season ends."
EO: "Was Shane responsible for turning you on to the bowhunting side of things?"
JD: "I like a challenge, and I view bowhunting as harder than (hunting with a rifle). (Halter) kind of got me hooked on it. One day we were shooting his bow and arrow, and I kind of liked it. I went out (two years ago) and bought one and went out and started hunting."
EO: "Where do you hunt?"
JD: "We hunt on (New York Mets pitcher) Kevin Appier's land; he still lives here in Kansas City."
EO: "What do you find rewarding about hunting?"
JD: "I think it helps to get away from the sport of baseball and gives you a little quiet time and relax time and just lets you think about being outdoors enjoying the moment. It gets your adrenaline going when you see that deer, from about 100 yards, walking your way."
EO: "When was it that you took your first whitetail?"
JD: "When I first got my bow and arrow, I went out a couple of times and I got my first shot and shot an eight-point whitetail. So I've got one with my bow and arrow and one (nine-pointer last offseason) with my rifle."
EO: "Have you been a rifle hunter for some time?"
JD: "Never did it. It's kind of funny because the guys I go with have been hunting for so long and have maybe killed one deer. Every time I've gone, I've seen a deer and let some go or shot one. The first time I shot with my rifle, I took a nine-pointer after 10 minutes in my stand. The guys get on me because they think that it is not fair for me to just start and have two trophy bucks."
EO: "So, the nine-pointer was the first shot ever at a deer?"
JD: "With my rifle, yes, and I was in my stand for no more than 10 minutes. Shane was actually walking down to his stand and couldn't believe it."
EO: "What was that experience like? Some people would say that is amazing; you may never get to put a scope on a bigger buck."
JD: "Exactly. I think just from me being able to shoot a shotgun and go duck hunting and stuff, I anticipated what it was going to feel like. But you still have that feeling of, 'What is going to really be like? Am I going to be able to keep the rifle steady when I pull the trigger?' But it came out all right."
EO: "Had you been a shooter before?"
JD: "Yeah, I've shot handguns at target ranges. But, I never felt the power of a rifle from your shoulder."
EO: "Are you a big fan of deer meat?"
JD: "I like summer sausage and deer jerky, but the steaks and the
hamburgers I don't really like."
EO: "Do you give it away?"
JD: "If nobody wants the meat, whether it is deer or duck or geese, we send it down to the mission and donate it."
EO: "What would you say your most memorable day in the field has been and why?"
JD: "I think my first shot with my bow and arrow. It was getting dark and here is this buck trotting over the hill a little bit. It was probably my only chance to get a shot off with it getting dark; where he was, everything played out right, the wind was in my face. I probably wouldn't have taken the shot if it was earlier, because it was a little farther than I wanted. But I got him."
EO: "Yeah, but this was the first animal you had taken with a bow. What was going through your head?"
JD: "Adrenaline was pumping, heart was pumping. I just tried to be as calm as I could be, and try to pick a spot where I thought he was going to cross over, hit the release and calm my nerves. I couldn't really tell if I had hit him at first, he jumped over this barbed-wire fence and ran into some brush. I called up Kevin and Shane and we went looking for him, and found him."
EO: "I think some athletes, I don't know if this is true of everybody, compare the adrenaline rush of reeling in a big fish or taking down a whitetail to getting a big hit or making a big play."
JD: "I think so. Anytime you have that adrenaline flowing in hunting and fishing. It's like the other day in Boston; we were down by one run in the ninth inning, and their closer comes in and I hit a home run to put us in extra innings. You get a great feeling from that, giving your team a chance to win, and we went on to win that game in the 11th inning with another home run."
EO: "In the offseason, you aren't playing baseball. You're a competitor, though, looking for a thrill. Does hunting fill that gap to some extent?"
JD: "I think so. I can't sit around the house (with wife, Tricia, and son, Jalen) doing nothing. I've always got to be doing something, and the hunting and the fishing takes your mind away from things and puts the competition in your mind. You aren't stepping in the batter's box; you're competing with your buddy to catch fish."
EO: "That's funny you should mention that. Is there friendly competition when you get athletes together in the offseason, even if it is fishing?"
JD: "Definitely. I have a boat, and Shane has a boat. We pack two or three people in there, and whoever catches the most fish gets his meal paid for."
EO: "What do you fish for?"
JD: "Largemouth bass."
EO: "What's your favorite lure or bait?"
JD: "I like plastic worms and lizards and deep divers."
EO: "So how are you described as a baseball player and does that carry over to hunting or fishing at all?"
JD: "I think I'm described as a hard-working person who goes out there and plays hard every day and has fun doing it. And I think I'm the same way outdoors, I just go out and have fun. I don't have to kill anything that day, just the joy of being out there and enjoying the atmosphere and being in the wildlife that's fun for me."
See Jermaine Dye's player profile on ESPN.com's MLB pages.