We met Zac Horrocks during an all time aftèr session in the bar of the Peruvian Lodge, at the base of Alta Ski Resort. Zac was trading a few hours a week doing laundry for free room and board in the Peruvian employee housing that winter, spending the money he saved on rent at the hotel bar. Zac personifies the outdoor lifestyle: sustaining his passion for professional big mountain skiing with his hunting and fishing guide business.
Last winter he sent us a photo of himself holding up a 100-pound wolf-looking creature. He had been out on a deer hunt, when the eerie feeling crept over him that he’d transitioned from hunter to hunted. Sure enough, after shifting his focus he was able to spot two creatures stalking him. Fearing for his safety he took a shot, killing a female. What makes this story so wild, and the reason he can’t say for sure what species it was, is wolves technically don’t live in New York State. However, conservation efforts in the last decade have lead to a resurgence of the grey wolf population, leading Zac to believe that they have begun to make a return to the Adirondack Mountains.
We checked in with Zac following a very strong showing at the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby, an annual fishing tournament on its namesake island in Massachusetts. The 29 year-old has been competing in the Derby since he was 4 years old. He now focuses on the fly fishing division and his 25 years of experience have paid off.
The last two years, Zac has won the Grand Slam, awarded to the angler with the highest combined weight of a fish from each of the 4 species; Bonito, False Albacore, Striped Bass, and Bluefish. After netting the grand slam in the first week, he set his sites on individual species totals, winning the overall in False Albacore and Bluefish. This was his best showing yet and his 2nd grand slam in two years, putting him the company of just two people in 72 years of the tournament's history.
Zac’s success in the Martha’s Vineyard Derby should make things easier as he plans to grow his guiding business beyond the Lake Placid area. He does quite well for himself, but keeping things fresh is what keeps his career exciting. His recent success will help him grow his reach in salt water guiding (an entirely different ballgame) and make inroads into the media side of the sport.
Zac describes his passion for hunting/fishing and skiing to be complimentary, telling us, “I have a true passion for both and I believe that each allow me to do the other better. I bring aspects of each into the other. It’s also healthy for me to take a break, setting each sport aside, allowing myself to take a break and move on to my next endeavor fresh. I find driving my 19-foot Pathfinder in big water is similar to skiing big lines in no fall zones. I…find that some aspects of fishing allow me to be patient and take a different and [more] thought-out read on snow conditions and terrain.”
Make sure to follow Zac on instagram, because this fall and early winter (deer into duck season) Zac will be guiding duck hunting clients over English Pointers and deer hunting in his own time. He plans to hunt his way across the west to Utah for the start of ski season, chasing deer in Kentucky and the Carolinas (hopefully bagging a bunch of much needed meat to sustain himself for the winter) and ducks in Mississippi, Arkansas and into Texas.
Once hunting season is wrapped, he’ll be traveling to Japan where he will be skiing and guiding through the legendary “Japow” during “Japanuary”. After his trip to Asia, he's off to Columbia where he tells us that he's taking a break from powder days with some fishing and exploring. Then its back to the cold smoke up in Alaska for sled access backcountry skiing with pro snowboarder friend, Justin Latimer.
Can’t say we’re not incredibly jealous of his winter itinerary.