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Oklahoma outdoors: MLB pitcher Archie Bradley turns into a duck hunting outfitter during the offseason

Major League Baseball players (left to right) Matt Kemp, Archie Bradley, Brendan Rodgers, Sam Hilliard and Adrian Houser pose after a duck hunt in Oklahoma with Bradley's company, Crash Landing Outdoors. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
Major League Baseball players (left to right) Matt Kemp, Archie Bradley, Brendan Rodgers, Sam Hilliard and Adrian Houser pose after a duck hunt in Oklahoma with Bradley's company, Crash Landing Outdoors. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

There are two places where Archie Bradley excels. On the pitching mound and in a duck blind.

Bradley, the former Broken Arrow prep baseball and football star, has already started his plan for life after Major League Baseball. During the offseason, he's an outfitter, guiding clients on waterfowl hunts in north-central Oklahoma.

Three years ago, Bradley launched Crash Landing Outdoors, a waterfowl hunting venture in Oklahoma.

Bradley, who debuted with the Diamondbacks in 2015, is not ready to give up pro baseball just yet. His last team, the Cincinnati Reds, opted not to offer Bradley a contract last week. However, the 28-year-old knows he will be pitching for somebody in the big leagues in 2021.

"I have already talked to the Royals and Red Sox today," Bradley said Thursday.

For the next two months, Bradley will be spending most of his time at his Pawnee County ranch where he loves to deer and duck hunt. Hunting at his ranch is reserved for family and friends, but at the Crash Landing Outdoors hunting lodge north of Stillwater — just eight miles away from his ranch — Bradley and his two business partners entertain duck hunters from across the country.

Former Broken Arrow teammate Mak Mockton and Adam Maris, who also owns a private hunting and fishing club in Arkansas, are Bradley's partners. Crash Landing Outdoors has a team of a dozen waterfowl hunting guides — Bradley included — and about 100,000 acres leased in north-central Oklahoma for hunting.

On its website, Crash Landing Outdoors advertises a "major league experience" in Oklahoma's outdoors. Bradley thinks duck hunting in Oklahoma provides just that, along with the gourmet meals served by a professional chef at the hunting lodge.

"I would definitely say it (Oklahoma) is a hidden gem (for duck hunting) and doesn't get the credit it deserves, which honestly, I am OK with," Bradley said. "We want to keep it that way a little bit. We don't want everybody rushing over here. Just like in baseball and football, I will always back Oklahoma. I am biased, but I think it is all-around one of the best outdoor states there is."

Crash Landing Outdoors' business grows every year, and most of the clients come from outside Oklahoma. Hunting packages, which include all meals and lodging, start at $850 per day with a minimum of three days of hunting and at least five hunters per group. There is an up charge to hunt with Bradley each of the three days.

"I try to hunt at least one day with each group or at least to get over to the lodge and hang out and meet with the guys one of the days," Bradley said. "Not that I think that I am that special, but we are trying to capitalize on getting to hunt with a big leaguer."

Sometimes customers might get to hunt with two big leaguers. Another Oklahoma-born pitcher, Adrian Houser of the Brewers, helps out at Crash Landing Outdoors.

Bradley and his hunting guides stay busy. The second half of Oklahoma's duck season opened Saturday, and it was the first of 18 straight days that Crash Landing Outdoors has clients booked on duck hunting trips.

Four scouts drive the roads each day looking for ducks. Based on their reports, a decision is made at the end of the day where to hunt the following day. Hunting destinations range from the Arkansas River that runs through the leased properties to private lakes, ponds and fields.

Diamondback fans have been among Bradley's clients, but 20 percent of Crash Landing Outdoors' business comes from other professional athletes. Not surprisingly, most of them are Major League Baseball players like Bradley.

Midwest City's Matt Kemp and his teammates with the Rockies, Brendan Rodgers and Sam Hilliard, have duck hunted with Bradley. Brewers closer Josh Hader and reliever Corey Knebel, who was traded from Milwaukee to the Dodgers last week, are scheduled to arrive in Oklahoma this week to go duck hunting as paying clients.

Bradley expects another half-dozen Major League Baseball players to duck hunt in Oklahoma before the season ends Jan. 31. He has a gym at his ranch that many of the major league players use for their off-season workouts while they are in Oklahoma.

Bradley got hooked on duck hunting in high school, crediting former classmates Casey Mathis and Cale Fulps, along with fellow duck hunters Richard Davis of Tulsa and Todd Rolland of Broken Arrow — two men he shared a hunting lease with in north-central Oklahoma — for getting him started.

"I like deer hunting as well," Bradley said. "If you ask anybody that knows me, it is the only time I am quiet and will sit still. I love that aspect of deer hunting, but the duck blind is one of my favorite things in the world. The camaraderie, the setting. It is the closest thing to the locker room atmosphere I have found outside of sports."

Bradley has a 6-year-old Labrador he named Crash based on the Crash Davis character played by Kevin Costner in the movie "Bull Durham." Another main character in the movie was pitcher Nuke LaLoosh played by Tim Robbins.

"My dad used to call me Nuke as kind of a joke," Bradley said. "He said I had a million-dollar arm and two-cent brain."

So, when it came time to name Bradley's ranch and outfitting business, Crash Landing seemed perfect. Crash is the veteran retriever among the group of dogs that Crash Landing Outdoors uses on duck hunting trips, although clients often bring their own retrievers.

"Shooting birds is what we are trying to accomplish, but as I have gotten into this, the experience is what we are trying to create," Bradley said. "That exclusiveness, that time in the blind with your friends and your dog."

Bradley said Crash Landing Outdoors will not book more than one group of hunters during the three-day stay.

"That is something that we offer that not very many outfitters or lodges offer across the country," he said. "It is you and your friends only."

Crash Landing Outdoors also offers deer and upland bird hunts, but only to its duck hunting clients. Goose hunts also are available, and next year dove hunting will be added to the packages available.

In the future, Bradley hopes to eventually offer turkey hunting, hold hunting camps in the summer, and possibly even fishing trips on nearby Sooner Lake.

"I have very big plans," Bradley said.

For the immediate future, however, Bradley plans to keep playing baseball for as long as he can. Some of the plans for Crash Landing Outdoors will be on hold until he is through throwing fastballs.

"I think I could duck hunt well into my 60s or 70s," he said. "I don't know if I am going to be pitching when I am that old."

Reporter Ed Godfrey looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at egodfrey@oklahoman.com or on Twitter @EdGodfrey. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

Related Photos
<strong>Archie Bradley named his 6-year-old Labarador retriever, Crash, after the Kevin Costner character in "Bull Durham." [PHOTO PROVIDED]</strong>

Archie Bradley named his 6-year-old Labarador retriever, Crash, after the Kevin Costner character in "Bull Durham." [PHOTO PROVIDED]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-fcc6006c409ebe92e982dad50532e3ed.jpg" alt="Photo - Archie Bradley named his 6-year-old Labarador retriever, Crash, after the Kevin Costner character in "Bull Durham." [PHOTO PROVIDED] " title=" Archie Bradley named his 6-year-old Labarador retriever, Crash, after the Kevin Costner character in "Bull Durham." [PHOTO PROVIDED] "><figcaption> Archie Bradley named his 6-year-old Labarador retriever, Crash, after the Kevin Costner character in "Bull Durham." [PHOTO PROVIDED] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-dcaa542396de954d0a83c539cef5acbd.jpg" alt="Photo - MLB pitcher Archie Bradley poses with Crash, his 6-year-old Labrador retriever. Bradley operates an outfitting business in Oklahoma during baseball's offseason called Crash Landing Outdoors. [PHOTO PROVIDED] " title=" MLB pitcher Archie Bradley poses with Crash, his 6-year-old Labrador retriever. Bradley operates an outfitting business in Oklahoma during baseball's offseason called Crash Landing Outdoors. [PHOTO PROVIDED] "><figcaption> MLB pitcher Archie Bradley poses with Crash, his 6-year-old Labrador retriever. Bradley operates an outfitting business in Oklahoma during baseball's offseason called Crash Landing Outdoors. [PHOTO PROVIDED] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-026cbd089c2197a1c1840c24dd2fd8e5.jpg" alt="Photo - Major League Baseball players (left to right) Matt Kemp, Archie Bradley, Brendan Rodgers, Sam Hilliard and Adrian Houser pose after a duck hunt in Oklahoma with Bradley's company, Crash Landing Outdoors. [PHOTO PROVIDED] " title=" Major League Baseball players (left to right) Matt Kemp, Archie Bradley, Brendan Rodgers, Sam Hilliard and Adrian Houser pose after a duck hunt in Oklahoma with Bradley's company, Crash Landing Outdoors. [PHOTO PROVIDED] "><figcaption> Major League Baseball players (left to right) Matt Kemp, Archie Bradley, Brendan Rodgers, Sam Hilliard and Adrian Houser pose after a duck hunt in Oklahoma with Bradley's company, Crash Landing Outdoors. [PHOTO PROVIDED] </figcaption></figure>
Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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