When I finally reached Cory Yarmuth, it was just after 7 a.m.,
and he was in the middle of a giant project at his job.
The McHenry man is an electrical instrumentation technician,
which means his work ethic and practical skill set are several
notches above, let’s say, your typical editor.
“This is the only time I can talk,” he explained, after I told
him my whole day was pretty much clear.
His day? Not so much.
Outside of his employment, Yarmuth spends three hours a day
shooting a bow and several chunks of the clock researching fishing
holes and firing at targets.
Come Sept. 12, Yarmuth, 34, will be in Springfield, Mo.,
representing his fellow Illinois outdoorsmen in the fifth annual
Field & Stream Total Outdoorsman Challenge. Over three days,
he’ll battle 15 other outdoorsmen in fly-fishing, bait fishing,
rifle, shotgun, endurance, archery and ATV handling.
Think of it as sort of like the Olympics – only with events that
are actually interesting.
At the end of the Challenge, the outdoorsman with the best
combined score wins a $25,000 check and – possibly more
importantly, depending on the need for aforementioned check –
Yarmuth spent much of his youth fishing and hunting. He lived in
Crystal Lake for awhile, then later moved to McHenry, where he
fishes “at least once or twice a week.” Like most outdoorsmen who
live in northern Illinois, he admits his hunting days have grown
“My favorite thing is fall shorefishing for salmon on Lake
Michigan,” he said. “I also enjoy muzzleloader hunting, traditional
blackpowder. But I don’t hunt much anymore, mainly because of the
access problems where I live.”
Yarmuth’s arrival at the ultimate outdoorsman competition
started in early May at the Bass Pro_Shop in Gurnee, site of one of
24 local contests held around the country.
“I just showed up and went through all the events and the next
thing I knew I’d qualified for the regional,” he said. “I hadn’t
prepared a lot for that first round, just a little shooting and
Yarmuth advanced to the finals by qualifying at the regional
tournament in Independence, Kan., in June. There, he finished first
in baitcasting and first in air rifle.
For those who’d like to watch Yarmuth compete, the Total
Outdoorsman Challenge is scheduled to air on the Versus network. A
complete schedule of the events is still in the works and will be
posted at fieldandstream.com/totaloutdoorsman.
Paul Thompson, a 33-year-old wildlife technician for the North
Carolina Department of Wildlife Resources, is again considered the
favorite, having won the past two Challenges.
“The event has a lot in common with a great hunting or fishing
trip,” Thompson said. “When was the last time you saw someone
better their score after a bad round of archery by catching a few
True. That’s what makes hunting and fishing such great sports –
a dozen bad days can be forgotten with one brief thrilling
Yarmuth is hoping to use that theory to bring bragging rights
back home to Illinois.
“Fly-fishing is the only event that really worries me,” he
admitted. “But I’m working… working hard on it.”