Q & A with HUNTERRA - 2% For Conservation
"We have always believed it’s necessary to leave a place better than when we arrive. That standard is part of our personal and professional DNA."
What exactly is HUNTERRA and who is your product geared toward?
We are a team of elite cartographers that are pioneering the creation of custom maps for American hunters and land professionals. Armed with cutting-edge technology and exceptional customer service, we create the ultimate tool for hunting and managing land. Our brand celebrates our hunting heritage, takes pride in delivering 100% American made products, and recognizes the corporate responsibility in giving back to wildlife conservation.
How long has HUNTERRA been in business and how did it start?
In 2010 our founder Ben Harshyne created a map of the Western PA land that he grew up hunting as a Father’s Day gift to his Dad. Ben's unique way of visualizing terrain within the aerial photograph’s endless sea of trees helped them better understand how whitetails use topography for survival. The 3D image revealed key terrain features that were not previously visible. All of a sudden every ridge, saddle, draw, and bench were blatantly obvious. That year it helped them have the most successful season of their hunting careers, and HUNTERRA was born.
Soon after, his Dad’s friends ordered maps for their land, and business organically grew. Fast-forward to the summer of 2013, and Ben was doing all that he could do to keep up with production while maintaining his “real” job as the lead cartographer at the National Counterterrorism Center. That fall Ben’s wife Kate left her employer to help manage HUNTERRA, and an inevitable decision was looming on how dedicated they would get with growing the business.
Although Ben’s career at the Counterterrorism Center could be long-term, there was no denying that the Harshynes were marching to the beat of HUNTERRA’s drum. Spending time with family over the holidays, they put a gameplan together that eventually lead them to the heart of the Midwest, where hardcore deer hunting and land operations are magnified. On June 26th, 2014 they uprooted from Washington DC, and committed to giving everything they had to make HUNTERRA thrive. Today our headquarters sits in Iowa City, IA; a university community in the America’s heartland that flourishes on technology, education, and innovation.
Why is conservation important to your business?
We have always believed it’s necessary to leave a place better than when we arrive. That standard is part of our personal and professional DNA. The same is true with the corporate responsibility that comes with doing business in the hunting community. The wildlife that roam this beautiful country are some of our most important renewable resources. The health of those animals—and in turn our future hunting and fishing livelihood—rely on educated conservation decisions. How can any business in the hunting industry not find it vital to help those organizations that are working to ensure our wildlife flourish for generations to come? It’s not only a smart business move, but also the right thing to do.
As a small family-owned company, we know quite well that every dollar counts. Despite the urge to be blinded by the bottom line, we are proud to say that we focus on contributing to the sustainability of this country’s wild animals and places.
What conservation organizations do you support either through monetary contributions or volunteer time?
HUNTERRA qualified for 2% For Conservation this year through our contributions to The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). QDMA is North America’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to researching, educating, and advocating sustainability for wild whitetail deer. Their influence spans from attracting and growing new hunters, to educating hunters and wildlife biologists on advanced practices for properly monitoring and managing deer populations. They also advocate for policy of educated management regulations that impact deer at the local, state, and federal levels. Outlets such as their Quality Whitetails magazine, Deer Steward seminars, local QDMA branch gatherings, and Rack Pack youth events strengthen North America’s deer hunting heritage and practices. They also publish an annual Whitetail Report that explains data and topics for a current status on the pulse of our continent’s whitetails. QDMA is on a mission that we support.
Our decision to allocate resources to QDMA lies at the fundamental reason of why our company exists. Ben started HUNTERRA because of his passion for whitetails. His love for the quest of hunting mature bucks and improving habitat guided him to create the ultimate tool for deer hunters and managers. When you are passionate, you put your best work forward. We truly believe HUNTERRA is an influential brand in the hunting industry because of this passion for the whitetail lifestyle.
Tell us one thing unique about HUNTERRA that most of us wouldn’t know?
Every single thing that HUNTERRA offers; from the map materials to the tape and rubber bands that we use for packaging, is 100% American Made.
Another cool fact is that for three months after uprooting from DC, Kate and Ben lived and worked out of an 1979 Airstream that they renovated into the HUNTERRA “Mobile Map Cave”. They traveled to 22 States visiting business partners, clients, and family, before finally landing in Eastern Iowa. Although the Mobile Map Cave awaits its next coast-to-coast road trip, Ben uses it every fall as his forward-deployed bowhunting base.