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Many refer to Montana as the heart of the West. For good reason. Besides its unsullied rivers, streams and lakes, the state is home to millions of acres of untamed wilderness that offer the adventurous outdoorsman a plethora of opportunity. Taking advantage of those opportunities is what paved the path for MeatEater’s Ryan “Cal” Callaghan.
It’s not always easy to make your passion your career, but for Callaghan, his mission to continuously educate himself about the outdoor world quickly led to a reputation as a dedicated and professional outdoorsman.
“I stared guiding fishing and whitewater trips,” he says. “I was loving every minute of it. I started guiding hunting trips as well, and I did the guiding thing full-time for about 10 years. This only fueled my love of the outdoors. Plus, I just learned so much.
“Through guiding, I met the founders of First Lite, Scott Robinson and Kenton Carruth. We shared a lot of the same values around our passion for wild places. A short time later, I started consulting for First Lite, which led to me being First Lite’s first full-time employee.”
A friend of Callaghan who worked for the National Wildlife Federation had been tasked with evaluating whether a sustainable, huntable herd of bison could be established in Montana’s Missouri Breaks. During that time, his friend was also helping Steven Rinella with some facts for his book, American Buffalo In Search Of A Lost Icon.
“I went to a book signing Steve was doing,” Callaghan recalls. We spoke for a while. A couple of weeks later, Steve contacted me for some information about mule deer in the Missouri Breaks. I ended up helping him out with a pair of first-time hunters, Joe Rogan and Bryan Callen. That initial experience led to a decade-long of friendship with Rinella who eventually tapped him to lead conservation efforts at MeatEater.
“At MeatEater, I work closely with many different conservation groups. I look at what they have going on and the different initiatives they are working on. Then, I see how we can get involved. Our main area of focus is the advocacy side of things,” he says. “We are always looking to do more in that arena.”
At MeatEater he also hosts the popular podcast, Cal’s Week in Review, an entertaining and educational take on conservation issues and current events. “I really like to work in a good call to action to the podcast listener base to help get more people involved where help is needed. The common thread is spreading the word on issues that affect hunters, and ultimately enhancing the places and resources we all value.”