Asking Chaz Knox if he likes to hunt or fish better is like asking a dad which kid he loves more: he loves them both the same, for different reasons.
“I can’t pick. I work hard in the summer, and when fall comes around, I’m out hunting all the time. I fish whenever I get a chance,” said Knox, 31, an award-winning, GAF Master Elite-certified roofing contractor who owns Knox’s Construction.
Knox holds a license as a big-game hunting assistant guide in Alaska, and he owns a charter fishing boat business in Lake Erie.
He has hunted extensively out West, where he shot an 800-pound brown bear outside of Beverly Lake, Alaska, and an elk in Bitterroot National Forest in Idaho, rugged terrain where the Lewis and Clark Expedition once passed through.
Hunting in remote, isolated areas can prove to be dangerous, no matter how prepared a hunter is.
In his only mishap in about two decades of hunting, Knox ended up with frostbite in his left foot on the day he shot the brown bear, after his snowmobile got stuck in a creek. Knox said he was waist-deep in frigid water, trying to free the snowmobile, and after he managed to haul the vehicle out, he still had a long drive back to the cabin.
“It had rained the whole day, it was 28 degrees outside, I was soaked, and my hands were in the water while I tried to get the snowmobile out. It was miserable. I was so cold I couldn’t even walk anymore,” said Knox. “My guide was worried that we might have to spend the night if we didn’t get back soon, and that I might not make it overnight if were were out in the elements. I felt like the tin man.”
Knox’s first experience as a guide with an outfitting company occurred by accident.
On an elk hunting trip in Idaho several years ago, a ranch hand broke his leg after he fell off his horse, and the guide asked Knox, an experienced horseman, if he could fill in to help set up the camp – which included leading a dozen packed mules to the campsite.
It was demanding work, and Knox loved it.
“People don’t realize that you have to be in really good shape to hunt out West,” said Knox. “They’re used to hopping out of their cars and jumping in a tree stand. That’s not how it is out there. You don’t know how many days these guys hike before they get to that spot.”
A McGuffey High School graduate, Knox began hunting on his family’s 1,000-acre cattle farm in Claysville when he was 12 years old.
He ended up working on a nearby horse farm, where he became a skilled rider, which has proven valuable.
“The town of Dillingham in Alaska, where I go hunting, has 20 miles of roadway, that’s it. Other than that, everything is done on snowmobiles in winter, by boats and horses in spring,” said Knox.
His most recent elk hunting trip in Idaho was filmed by the Outdoor Channel but never aired because the camera man’s camera shook when Knox shot the elk.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Knox, who also was a bull rider until 2003 and who held his company Christmas party at Urban Assault. “I can’t wait to get out there again.”
When he’s not hunting, Knox can be found on his 30-foot charter fishing boat on Lake Erie. Knox bought the vessel from a boat captain who was retiring, and he invested thousands of dollars to refurbish it.
“He’s a perfectionist,” said his wife, Tina. “Everything he does, he’s great at it. He pays attention to every detail, and he’s meticulous.”
Knox has run charter fishing trips for the past two years, with his 14-year-old daughter serving as first mate.
“She runs the whole back of the boat. She’s teaching 40-year-old guys how to fish,” said Knox. “She knows what she’s doing, and she loves it.”
In fact, the women in Knox’s life are becoming skilled outdoorswomen.
Tina shot her first deer in November – a buck – and Tina’s three daughters, along with Knox’s two daughters, have been introduced to hunting and fishing.
“I enjoy watching their faces; that means more to me, honestly. I like seeing people’s eyes light up when they see that stuff for the first time. Like when my kids see that big fish coming to the boat, my little one gets so excited and I love it,” said Knox. “It’s so cool.”
Tina is accompanying Knox on a hunting trip to Idaho in February 2013, where they will hunt for mountain lion.
“I’d never see him if I didn’t hunt with him,” joked Tina.
Knox’s home in Lawrence reflects his love for the outdoors. Roaming inside are two Alaskan Malamutes, 130-pound Makiyah and 6-month-old McCoy.
One room is filled with game he has shot over the years: black bears, a bobcat he killed bow hunting, and several deer among them. Also on display: an arrow Knox shot into another arrow, a mark of his shooting prowess.
“I think ‘Myth Busters’ said it couldn’t be done. Not true,” Knox said, holding up the arrows.
He’s in the middle of designing a log home he and Tina plan to build on property in Claysville, where the dogs will have room to run and the kids will have woods to hunt.
Knox said he’s probably going to quit the charter fishing business because “people don’t take care of or respect your stuff. They were smoking, leaving cigarette burns on the seats, breaking my poles. It isn’t worth it. ”
And that will leave more time for his two favorite pursuits.
“I have so many hunting trips I want to go on,” said Knox. “I don’t think there’s anything better than hunting and fishing.”