“Legendary Professional Skateboarder” and “Passionate Hunter” probably aren’t two titles you’d associate with one person–but times are changing, and Geoff Rowley is part of that change. Having carved out a hugely successful career in the Action Sports Industry, and now focusing on his newly-founded Civilware brand, it’s safe to say that Geoff is sitting in a unique position of influence.
Proof of that influence isn’t hard to find. At the 2015 WSF Sheep Show Geoff made a significant donation to the foundation’s “Take One Put One back” program, with one stipulation: a film was to be made that would educate the general public on the disease that’s afflicting wild sheep herds in the U.S., while also highlighting the positive role hunting and hunters play in wildlife conservation. The film played during Conservation Night at the the 2016 Sheep Show and was aptly titled “Wild Sheep.” It can be viewed on the Civilware site.
An avid year round hunter, Geoff also guides desert sheep hunts for Jake Franklin’s Kika Outfitters – taking the same tenacity and brutal physical endurance he learned from years of falling on concrete straight to the desert and mountains of California.
Name: Geoff Rowley
Hometown: Long Beach, CA
Occupation: Pro Skateboarder
Vias or Verde: Vias
Favorite piece of KUIU apparel: Guide Pant
Photos By Tanner Johnson
Most people probably wouldn’t think that a professional skateboarder from Liverpool, England would be an avid hunter. How did you first get into hunting?
I’ve always been interested in wildlife and the outdoors since I was a little kid, but wasn’t exposed to the hunting side of things until I was about 15-16 years old. A good friend of mine did volunteer work for the forestry commission in England and was also a hunting guide out here in the States. I moved to the U.S. when I was 18 years old and over time started to meet him at his hunting camp after his clients left. We’d muck about in Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado hunting turkey and predators…and the obsession went from there.
You have become a great advocate for hunting and conservation. What is the driving factor in you voicing your stance on these issues, in spite of the sometimes negative reactions you receive?
Seldom is the truth spoken in plain terms with regards to sound wildlife management and policy in the media – meanwhile our wildlife on a local and sometimes state level is hit hard. I speak up when I see something that’s blatantly not working, or is counter-productive to the health of our natural resource – and sometimes just in support of something I feel is a vital wildlife management tool, like the basic act of buying a tag and hunting. With me being a pro-skater, a lot of my audience is pretty young and follows me to see skateboarding, but I’d rather educate that person when I have their attention than give them a reason to make a blanket anti-hunting statement or uneducated response. I shy away from posting many trophy or kill shots (even though I’m hunting year-round and go on lots of insane hunts!) because it’s often the wrong first impression for many people. I want to open doors in the action sports industry for hunting, not close them. I also feel like a lot of the brands in the hunting industry have an old-school approach to marketing and public relations that’s not helping progress the sport. One point that gives KUIU a huge competitive advantage is it’s forward thinking ability to shake up the status quo, and lead by example. Something I learned very early on in action sports, is it has to appeal to the most fickle of all consumers, which is the youth market.
You founded the company Civilware. What led you to start the company? What projects are you currently working on?
Civilware started due to my frustration with the standard of product on the market. I felt like the quality of knives and specialty equipment marketed to hunters was below standard, ill-fitting, poorly designed and marketed to an older demographic. And none of the established knife brands were addressing the needs of the professional hunting guides, the dudes/gals that spend year-round making and breaking gear, and putting their life on the line for their clients success. I’m sure there are many other hunters out there sick of cheap disposable razor blades with poor fitting heads that are looking for something better. I’m working on the follow-up to our current GIRU project (check it out at GIRU.com), something I’m super excited to share with hunters as it’s a product geared specifically to their needs and one not currently met on the marketplace.
You’re one of the most successful skateboarders of all time. How did you get started in the sport? What efforts did it take to become so prolific? How much do you still skate?
I started skating when I was 13 years old and prior to that I was a total sports fanatic, playing on school and local teams since I was an embryo. I saw a local kid carrying a modern skateboard with crazy bright graphics and I guess it just looked appealing to me at that age—the rest, as they say, is history. My father was always super fit and athletic. He instilled in me a healthy competitive spirit that didn’t know when to quit, and an even stronger work ethic. I love skating and have always enjoyed the creative and individual aspects of doing it, the searching out of new spots and terrain (sound familiar? Haha!) and the practice and patience it takes to progress year after year. (Sound familiar again! Haha!). I skate a couple of times a week, and have done that since I started.
What are some of your favorite places and species to hunt? Is there anywhere you want to hunt that you haven’t yet?
My favorite place personally is Arizona and species is mountain lion, preferably trailed on dry ground off mule with hounds. In a past life I’d like to have hunted jaguar in Mexico on the coastal wetlands with the Lee Brothers, and then the same species in the Mato Grasso area of Brazil with a Marsh Deer hunt at the same time; but sadly both species are protected. We can dream can’t we?
How did you find out about KUIU, and what made you choose it for your hunting apparel?
A friend asked me if I’d heard of KUIU and Jason Hairston’s name came up. I’d heard of him in connection with Sitka and then started following the blog and early KUIU rollout. I then had my agent at the time reach out directly. I got on the phone with Jason and we’ve been friends since. With my background outside of skating in product and marketing, I think we’d figured out within the first few seconds of that call that Vias camo was going to be a game changer – and the closest thing on the market didn’t have the technical fabric, nor designs to compete. That’s why I chose KUIU: it was a game changer in camo, fit and performance.
What is your favorite wild game to eat, and how do you prepare it?
I like bison, straight off the grill with salt and pepper. Or wild sheep meat unseasoned and cooked through.
You recently launched a Civilware project on GIRU. What’s the project, and why did you decide to launch it on GIRU?
We’re recently launched the Civilware x Vans Desert Chukka Boot project on GIRU. We elevated an inline classic of Vans with performance and manufacturing upgrades. We then sampled 8 product variants and are asking for consumer feedback on almost every aspect of the boot prior to taking to full production. I decided to launch on GIRU because it was the only platform that would allow Civilware to get direct feedback on what would usually be a very expensive product to take to market; all the while not knowing how the consumer would respond to the end product.
What’s your next big hunting adventure?
I’m hunting pig in the central coast, I hunted buffalo a couple of weeks ago, mountain lion the week before that and predator hunting season for fox and bobcat just closed so I was out for both of them also. I also helped Kika Outfitters here in SoCal on a desert sheep hunt in January, which resulted in a new unit record. It’s safe to say I’m hunting non-stop and as frequently as my schedule allows. Let’s do this!