Q&A: Angler, Outdoors Writer & Shooter, Gabriella Hoffman
We met Gabriella Hoffman through a mutual connection—Andrea Haas, with Huntress View. With about 50,000 social media followers, it's clear Gabriella has busted her butt to make a name for herself and to become an influencer. And she's not just an influencer in one field—as a writer, she covers politics, shooting, fishing, hunting and much more. She's a writer, media consultant, video blogger, and has about a dozen other titles we could probably apply. Instead, though, we'll just let her tell her own story through the interview! Enjoy!
GoWild: For those who don’t know, tell us your outdoorsmanwoman story. Is there a specific time you remember becoming interested in spending more time outside?
Gabriella Hoffman: I’m happy to share my story on how I became hooked on the outdoors! Absolutely.
I grew up in Southern California (specifically South Orange County) where the outdoor opportunities were plentiful. From fishing in the Pacific Ocean to hiking national parks, the Golden State afforded me many opportunities to explore the outdoors and become an enthusiast. My parents were always keen on us—my sister and I—getting off the couch and going outdoors ever since we were children. I would say it was age 10 or 11 when my love for fishing started to develop. I shot my first gun at age 19, and now, at age 26, I’m planning to learn to hunt this Fall. You can say fishing was the gateway activity that led me to the outdoor industry.
GoWild: Now, you’re a pretty serious angler. What’s your favorite species of fish, and what’s your favorite to eat?
Gabriella: Oh yes, I love fishing! I know it’s standard to say this, but my dad was responsible for inspiring my fishing addiction. He’s been fishing for over five decades, so he’s quite knowledgeable about it and has taught me all that I know. In lieu of having sons, he saw me as the perfect fishing partner and has molded me into an avowed angler. I’m really grateful he hooked me in! I believe I went on my first freshwater fishing trip at 8 and got more serious about it a few years later. It wasn’t until Memorial Day 2003, when I was 12, when I landed my largest fish to date—a 8.9 lb catfish measuring 28.5 inches—that my love of fishing was solidified.
Growing up 15-20 minutes away from the Pacific Ocean made me appreciate the salt life and deep-sea fishing. We also had great freshwater fishing opportunities—with my favorite place being Lake Cuyamaca (an hour outside of San Diego, CA). Now that I live in Northern Virginia, the fishing landscape is a bit different but more readily accessible. I live in close proximity to both the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, along with the Chesapeake Bay being a 45-minute drive away from my town. There are also saltwater opportunities in Ocean City, Maryland and Virginia Beach, Virginia 2.5 to 4 hours away, so freshwater or mixed fishing in the Chesapeake Bay is mostly what I do today.
In terms of favorite fish species—oh my! There are so many fish species I enjoy targeting. I’d have to say some of my favorites include snook, largemouth bass, striped bass, shark, El Dorado/Mahi Mahi, and trout. In terms of favorite fish to consume, Mahi Mahi is perhaps my favorite. (If you hailed from SoCal and didn’t enjoy fish tacos, something was obviously wrong with you.) To me, it’s best enjoyed grilled or deep-fried. I love smoked fish too—whether it is smoked salmon or smoked white perch.
GoWild: You’re involved in a ton of stuff, so this might be hard. What would you tell our fans and readers that you do for a living?
Gabriella: That’s funny you mention that—I’m definitely overextended with my activities (for good reasons). My job in a nutshell: I’m a media strategist. I help clients—including those in the shooting sports and the fishing industry—develop or clarify their messages and branding. Services include media relations, social media strategy, digital analytics, influencer marketing, and video making/content creation. You can see some case studies of past successful client work on my site. I also juggle being a columnist and op-ed writer. Over the last decade, I’ve written about cultural, political, and outdoor issues and been published in some notable publications. I’ve been able to successfully find a balance between maintaining a small business and being somewhat of a public figure. More people should aspire for this balance!
GoWild: What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on in the outdoors industry?
Gabriella: I would have to say my favorite project is helping build up ReelCamo Girl as a Team Member. I’ve served as one of 10 ladies on the RCG Team since last September. We’ve evolved into a community of women who fish, hunt, hike, shoot guns, and dive. We post our outdoor activities across social media, blog about the latest gear/apparel/tools, and partner with like-minded companies. In addition to our Team Members, there are over 150 Brand Champions who help push out the message and are involved in our day-to-day activities. It’s really a wonderful effort to be a part of, and I’m so glad I can play a small but important role in the organization!
GoWild: You’ve really got your finger on the pulse of the industry. So we want to know what you think is the next big thing in fishing, hunting and the outdoors industries.
The next big things in the fishing, hunting, and shooting sports industries are 1) influencing marketing and 2) startups for fishing and hunting properties. It is estimated that 84 percent of brands polled will implement influencer marketing into their business plans this year. Many of the big brands we know and love in the industry have adopted influencer marketing thus far, but either struggle to find mutually agreeable influencers or elevate very few personalities. Nevertheless, we will see more companies wet their feet with influencer marketing in the age of social media.
With respect to start-up’s for hunting and fishing properties, Outdoor Access out of Richmond, VA (my state) is a company anglers and hunters should look into and join. Think Airbnb for the Great Outdoors. It’s a membership-based organization that empowers both landowners and outdoor enthusiasts to “unlock the outdoors.” As your audience may know, the East Coast is not largely defined by public lands—making it somewhat a challenge to access the outdoors. So utilizing private land—with the blessing and permission of landowners, of course—is a natural alternative for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s cost-effective for members and profitable for landowners. The outdoor industry must welcome and embrace creative disruption—much like what Outdoor Access has done.
GoWild: People have long thought of hunting and angling as a boys club, but you’re tackling that head on. You host “Sportswomen You Should Know” and are so supportive of this community of women. What would you say to women who are afraid to take that first step towards casting their first line or shooting a bow?
Gabriella: It is definitely perceived like that, but that’s if you accept the negative stereotype at face value. Fortunately, the majority of men who partake in the industry welcome women into the fold with open arms. I mean, what’s more attractive to men than women who enjoy fishing, hunting, or shooting sports? It’s the outliers—perhaps 5 to 10 percent of men—who are patronizing, crude, belittling, or skeptical of women in the outdoors. The majority of men have welcomed females into these activities because they realize we aren’t out to get their manhood. We are proving to be complementary—not in opposition to them.
With respect to my Facebook Live series, I started “Sportswomen You Ought to Know” earlier this summer (on my Facebook page) to highlight women who have blazed or are blazing the trail hunting, fishing, and shooting sports. Women’s empowerment has been hijacked and lost, but I believe it can be reclaimed by women who partake in outdoor activities. Not enough of the real, true sportswomen get the coverage they deserve. As a result, I wanted to try something no one is doing by highlighting great ladies who play an integral role in their respective industries. Many of these ladies have impressive social media followings, awesome professions, and unique outdoor backgrounds—so why not showcase them? Perhaps there are people watching who may want to connect with them for professional reasons. Or maybe more female Millennials (much of my audience) are looking for sportswomen to look up to. If I can also help open some doors for any of the ladies profiled, I’d love to see that. I’m a big fan of women empowering women in the true, genuine sense. I hope others can get inspired and encourage more women in the outdoors too!
GoWild: The last time we chatted, you were telling us about how your family is actually from Lithuania and that you grew up eating every bit of an animal, even recalling cow’s tongue being tasty. Tell us more about what that was like growing up in that kind of environment and how you think it impacted you.
Gabriella: Yes! As a first-generation American of Lithuanian descent, meat is a big component of the diet in that European nation. Family dinners growing up were usually meat heavy—especially with unique animal part dishes. I’ve enjoyed Baltic empanadas with chopped liver, cow tongue sandwiches (as you mentioned), and other unique dishes. If you have family with immediate ties to Eastern Europe, chances are your family faced food rationing and starvation for much of the 20th century under Soviet occupation. Meat was not accessible to the masses, so it was cherished by people there when they ate it—my family included. But more positively, meat and potatoes have always been a part of the cuisine over there. Additionally, Lithuanian cuisine utilizes wild game. There’s a vibrant fishing culture and hunting culture there with its proximity to the Baltic Sea and its numerous wooded forests, respectively. To those reading and looking for an awesome exotic location for some outdoor adventures, add Lithuania to your list!
GoWild: How can GoWild™ help you further the mission of bringing more women into the outdoors as hunters and anglers?
Gabriella: I’m confident GoWild will help propel more women to get involved in the outdoor industry! Carving a space that invites women and their input—as your mission statement currently stands—will allow you to attract more women. Reposting content, encouraging more women to sign up for updates, and involving women-run groups for collaborations is how you can get more females on board. I’ll be happy to help out any way I can!