An Interview with Vanguard Professional Julie McQueen
Vanguard is proud to have partnered with Julie McQueen and Daniel Lee Martin of Backstage & Backroads Productions to be their exclusive sponsor for photo & video accessories, bags, tripods, cases, lifestyle gear and more. Backstage & Backroads Productions produces a number of outdoor TV webisodes, shows, commercials and more, including “Brotherhood Outdoors,” currently airing on Sportsman Channel.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Julie McQueen. Read on to learn more about her...
Tell us about Backstage & Backroads. How did you and your husband come to run a company together?
Some husband and wife couples might have a difficult time working together, but Daniel Lee and I thrive on it. We spend every minute together, and our production company “Backstage & Backroads” is a product of our hard work over the years. It started out as a television show on the Sportsman Channel back in 2007, and now we use that same name for the production company. We’ve come a long way from back then, but we’ve devoted our lives to it. In the beginning it was actually Daniel Lee’s idea. When I came into the picture he gladly shared the responsibilities with me, and now it’s a total team effort. We share all of the responsibilities equally, including filming, hosting, producing, and creative ideas.
How did you learn to hunt?
I am a self-taught hunter. I learned mostly by watching hunting videos and reading hunting magazines. Nobody in my family hunted when I was growing up, and I’m not sure what made me want to become a hunter so badly. Something inside of me just knew that this was my calling. I was alone on my first hunt, and I harvested my first animal by myself. I’m proud of that, but it’s also the reason why I enjoy seeing young people who are being introduced to hunting. Those early memories in the field are valuable, and it’s so much better if young people are learning safety and ethical hunting from someone who cares about them.
What’s your favorite hunting season and why?
My favorite hunting season is whatever is in season at the time! I hunt year round, and I’ve learned to focus on living in the moment. If it’s turkey season, then that’s my favorite. If we’re in the middle of elk season, then I’ll always say that’s my favorite. I could never choose just one to be more special to me because I enjoy every aspect of each season. I used to look forward to whatever was coming up next, and the time passed by so quickly that I feel like I missed some things. That’s my reason for loving the season that I’m in at the time most of all.
Tell us about your most memorable hunt.
I have had a lot of memorable hunts, but I’ve only hunted with my Dad one time. Over ten years ago he came to hunt with me for a weekend, and we sat in a deer stand together. My Dad spent over 30 years in the Army, so he is responsible for teaching me to love and respect firearms. Hunting was something that we grew to love individually, and now we’ve bonded over our mutual love for it. Sitting in that ladder stand with him will always be one of my favorite hunts because it was something just for “us”. Father & daughter time in the woods is special for so many people out there, and I’m thankful that I was able to have that moment. Towards the end of the hunt some deer came into the field to our right side. That was the day that I learned that my Dad could shoot either right or left-handed. He switched his rifle to his left shoulder, took aim, and shot a nice doe in the field. I’ll never forget being so proud of him and wanting to learn more from his experiences.
Your biggest trophy?
Daniel Lee and I have collected a lot of trophies over the years. Our home is beginning to look like an animal museum! I think one of my favorite trophies in my home today is a red stag that I shot with my bow. It’s not the largest trophy, or the most rare, but it’s special for a lot of reasons. Daniel Lee and I were on that hunt together and he filmed me shooting the stag from about 40 yards. It was a tough hunt. I felt immensely proud of myself for making a great shot on that animal, and the meat from it fed our family for almost 3 years. The stag hangs over one of our couches, and every time I look at it I remember that we don’t just do this for the trophy; we do this because it feeds our family and it creates these amazing memories that will last our lifetime.
The biggest fish you ever caught?
We go to Boca Grande to fish for tarpon every June. During “hill tide” the moon phase pushes hundreds of thousands of crabs into the Boca Grande pass, and the tarpon show up to feed on the bait. It’s a natural occurrence, and pretty incredible to witness. Of course, we fish for the tarpon during this feeding frenzy, and I caught my biggest one a couple years ago. It took me about 45 minutes to pull her to the boat, and she weighed approximately 180 lbs! We take a few photos while the fish remains in the water, and then we revive them and release them.
Your favorite recipe?
We always have a lot of organic meat that we’ve personally harvested, and preparing it correctly will make a big difference. We actually use a Himalayan salt block for a lot of our wild game. It’s literally a block of pink salt that you put on the grill. It infuses the salt into the food and gives it a great taste. My favorite is mule deer steaks prepared that way. Not only is it healthy, but we really never get tired of it! Add a few fresh green beans and some rice, and you have a perfect meal!
What gear do you like to use?
Our production company stays busy with so many projects that we’re usually running in different directions and trying to keep track of everything. For cameras and production gear we use Vanguard cases. We can’t risk having our equipment break during travel or get wet if the weather turns bad, and the hard cases have been a blessing for us! I also use a Vanguard camera bag when we are in the field hunting. Even when we are on a hunt, the camera gear takes top priority. The Sedona bag gives me room for some extra lenses and a DSLR camera, and I also have room for some snacks and other essentials. In our line of work your backpack has to function as a camera bag.
Aside from our cases and bags, we have so many pieces of gear that are crucial to our success that it’s hard to name them all! We are tough on our gear; we really use it in the field and we can’t always be gentle. When something works for us we remain loyal because our livelihood depends on the gear that we surround ourselves with.
How have you seen the role of women change in the industry since you first started?
The role of women in the hunting and fishing industries has changed dramatically since I first got started in it. We are creating a name for ourselves based on our work ethic, our talents, and our abilities to provide food for our families. Women create fantastic outdoor television; we are behind the camera, in front of the cameras, and creatively involved in every way. I’m excited to see so many women coming into this industry feeling strong and secure.
When I first began trying to get into the hunting industry there were only a handful of girls interested in it. I was on a few pro-staffs back before that was common. Back then we would actually show up to store openings and special events, we were paid, and we were expected to know the products and represent the company. People used to look at me differently because hunting was my passion. I’m happy that women have broken down that wall.
What’s next for you? Any exciting projects on the horizon?
One of the great things about Daniel Lee and I is that we always have exciting things on the horizon! We have new projects that we are working on, we travel almost nonstop, and we get to do what we love for a living.
There are a few new projects we’ll be working on soon, and to keep up on the announcements and what we have going on, we always recommend that people follow us on social media! We love sharing behind the scenes photos and sharing our journey with everyone!