Hunting was a mix of passion and necessity when Jarrod Washburn was a kid. Dad was a police officer in small-town Wisconsin before working in a factory in another small town. Mom had different jobs throughout the years as a seamstress, Washburn said, "sewing different odds and ends," then working at a grocery store and later at the local bank.
Taking game was expected of young Washburn. Not surprisingly, he maintains an offseason regimen of hunting every day back home in lonely Danbury, Wis., except on Sunday and that's only to watch the Packers. If Green Bay plays on Sunday evening or Monday night, expect the Anaheim Angel to be in the field seven days that week. Wife, Kerrie, and son, Jack, born in the offseason, enjoy Washburn's company in the evenings and during commercials on Sunday.
ESPN Outdoors recently caught up with 26-year-old left-hander between pitching assignments.
EO: "What in your background draws you into the field?"
JW: "I grew up doing it basically hunting and fishing everything. When I was a kid, it was kind of a way of life. We had to do it for food and to help get by. We didn't have a lot of money, so we needed the meat, and the fish and all that stuff to help us get by. We were not well off. I mean, we got by; we had everything we needed to live. And my parents did a good job of raising me and my brother and sister. But, you know, we definitely depended on deer season and duck season and all that to help get food to feed the family, you know, and help make getting by a little easier."
EO: "Quite a different lifestyle now, huh?"
JW: "No question. The first time I got on a plane was after I signed my first contract with the Angels. And I flew to Boise, Idaho their short-season A team."
EO: "But you played college ball. You had to have flown, right?"
JW: "In college, I played at a Division III school (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh). We bused everywhere. We went to the Division III World Series every year (winning a national championship in 1994), but we had to bus it to there."
EO: "You could afford to pay for any kind of hunting you wanted now, hunts you could have only dreamed about as a kid or even in college."
JW: "Yeah, but I'm not the kind of guy who likes (guided hunts). I mean, I could enjoy it because it's hunting, if it was a fair-chase situation. But I really enjoy, you know, the part of going out and trying to figure them out myself. I don't want to pay a guide and show up somewhere and he says, 'All right, you're going to sit here.' I mean, I'd get satisfaction out of maybe killing an animal that way, but it just wouldn't be the same as doing all the scouting yourself, trying to figure them out yourself. To me, that's probably the most enjoyable part just the walking around in the woods and trying to figure them out. "
EO: "Your specialty is bowhunting whitetail deer. What's the attraction?"
JW:"I think whitetail are the smartest animal in the world."
EO: "How so?"
JW: "Well, they've adapted to so many situations and they can live anywhere. They live in South Texas, where there's cactus, and Saskatchewan, where it's 25 below everyday and snowy. I mean, they can live anywhere. They can adapt to all different situations. They're in towns and cities and the middle of the woods. There's always buildings being built here and there, and they have got to keep adapting like with the grunt call, for example. When the grunt call first came out, it worked like magic. And I think now, more often than not, they hear you grunt and they're kind of wise to it. They're constantly learning."
EO: "What about the bowhunting part of the equation?"
JW: "I kind of compare bowhunting to pitching a little bit, in the fact that I think I could pitch the rest of my life and by the end of my career I would still not know everything there is to know about pitching. And I think bowhunting is the same way. I think you could bowhunt every day for the rest of your life, and when you're done you won't know everything there is to know about it."
See Jarrod Washburn's player profile on ESPN.com's MLB pages.