IT’S A timeless struggle, the setting of many stories and movies. Tradition nudges you to follow in your family’s footsteps while your heart pulls you in a different direction, leaving you torn between disappointing those you love most and running after your dreams.
Adam Bagley enjoyed everything about his work at Bagley & Bagley. He enjoyed his customers, working with family, and his co-workers. He also felt at home outdoors, seeing the earth wake up against an ombre sky as the birds welcomed the sun and sang the moon to sleep. He was at home at Craig Game Preserve, a guided bird hunting preserve, and his love for the outdoors was the only thing missing from his work in his family’s insurance company.
Bagley said, “Before I had my driver’s license, I would drive my four-wheeler the eight or nine miles on backroads from my house [to the preserve]. I started out cleaning and setting birds. Then I started guiding and helping Larry Craig with cooking, cleaning, and the lodge’s operations. I’ve always said I’d love to be able to hunt for a living.”
Bagley’s dream to hunt for a living is most hunters’ dream. As Craig began considering retiring from the guided hunting business, he repeatedly offered to hand it over to Bagley. Still, Bagley’s commitment to his family’s business and responsibility as a husband and father refused to let him seriously consider the possibility. Last October, Craig approached Bagley for his final answer.
“Larry said that he was either going to have me take it over, or he was shutting it down. I thought, ‘There’s no way I can do it.’ But he shared his experiences with me, and we thought we could make it work,” Bagley said.
That was the easy part. There were conversations left to have with his wife, father, and brother. With his wife fully onboard (she said he’d be crazy if he didn’t do it), he moved on to share his dream with his dad, who recognized it as his passion and encouraged him to pursue it. Last but not least came the dreaded conversation with his brother.
He said, “I didn’t know if he would be mad, happy, or sad, or knock my teeth down my throat when I told him. It took me two or three weeks to come up with the courage to finally bring it up, and I got pretty emotional. He looked at me before I could even finish the conversation and said, ‘Adam, I sit next to you every day at work. I’ve heard you talk on the phone all day long about hunting. This is an opportunity you’re never going to get again. Go with it.’ That helped me make the final decision to take over in January. All my family is very supportive, and it was just a blessing.”
From October to early April, Bagley can be found at the preserve, ensuring the hunters’ experience is one they’ll never forget. From the field to the lodge table, he has every base covered. People from near and far enjoy an escape to the tranquil outdoors, leaving refreshed and refueled. And no matter how hard the work, Bagley goes home with the same feeling every day.
“I never thought I’d be able to say I get to do something that I always dreamed about and love doing for a living every single day. I’ve been blessed,” Bagley said. GN