Beckie Jones, EDN
If you would’ve told Tiffany and Scott Haugen back in the first grade that one day they’d be married and jet-setting around the world, they would have probably laughed at you, then went looking for cootie spray. But that’s exactly the path their lives took, with a few minor detours.
Yes hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen, this is THAT Scott and Tiffany Haugen. To catch the rest of us up, Scott has been featured in dozens of shows in more than 30 countries in the past 10 years, tracking almost every type of game imaginable. Scott’s books on hunting and fishing are specialized by region and type of game, domestic to exotic. Scott also hosts a show on the Outdoor Channel called Game Chasers and his family is often featured hunting alongside him or stirring a pot with the latest catch. Often Tiffany completes episodes of The Game Chasers with unique recipes and cooking segments on some of her husband’s catches. Birds, deer, elk, bear and salmon are all covered in Tiffany’s books as she takes the meat from field to table, including cleaning, cutting and cooking.
How did these two kids from Walterville end up as arguably the power couple of Lane County?
“She lived about a mile up the road this way, and I lived about a mile down the road.” Scott says with a characteristic smile.
Spending their elementary and junior high years in the same class at the tiny Walterville school, the two couldn’t exactly steer clear of each other, but hardly took notice either. They graduated from Thurston High School together, still distant friends. Scott earned his Bachelor’s degree at University of Oregon, and Tiffany earned hers at Oregon State. It was a get-together at the Lane County Fair with Scott’s cousin, who was also Tiffany’s roommate, that started the spark that has resulted in 22 years of marriage, 2 sons and hundreds of thousands of fans.
Before they were married, Scott told Tiffany that he wanted to move to Alaska and live with the Eskimos. Finding they possessed kindred adventurous spirits, Scott and Tiffany moved to Alaska shortly after they were married.
“We lived a subsistence lifestyle in Alaska. All the game we took care of ourselves, and ate,” Scott said.
“You had to. There were no stores or anything. If you wanted to eat, you went and got your food,” Tiffany added.
Having fished and hunted with his family growing up, Scott relished the opportunity for a new venue where he could scope out different game. After seven years in tiny tundra villages,
“We knew it was time for a change, and we thought, ‘Well, why not make the most extreme change we can?'”
So they did. To Indonesia. A 208-degree difference on the particular day that they signed their contracts with the school in Sumatra where they would be teaching. For two kids growing up in tiny Walterville, their adventurous spirit had to come from somewhere, and they both agree it started right here.
“I grew up hunting and fishing here. And that’s one thing we get asked a lot – ‘You’ve been to all these cool places in the world. Why do you live here?’ (It’s) where we grew up, and we just like the outdoors. You can hunt and fish something every day of the year if the rain doesn’t bother you,” Scott said.
“We have the best in the country – the salmon and steelhead and trout and all the other fish, and all the birds and big game,” Tiffany said.
After spending 199 days straight (in Alaska) in negative 40, 50 and 60-degree weather with the wind chill factor, “I’ll take rain any day,” Scott said.
His first forays into what has become the family profession began with an article he wrote on sturgeon fishing on the Columbia River. Then Cabela’s called to offer him a guest-host position on its ESPN show. Today Scott writes more than 100 magazine articles a year for Cabela’s Outfitter Journal, and other hunting and fishing magazines. Together Scott and Tiffany have written and published dozens of books on hunting and cooking a variety of fish and game. The Haugens decide where they go and what they hunt for the show. But with Trijicon, one of the world’s biggest scope companies as his sponsor, Scott is on the big game track regularly.
“The western big game flavor, that’s what they want,” Scott said. “What everyone in the country wants to do is come out here and hunt deer and elk, but very few people get the chance to do that, so we take it to them on the tube.”
As little boys, the couple’s sons Braxton and Kazden, helped narrate and co-host Game Chasers. Now 11 and 9, respectively, they sometimes do entire segments of the show by themselves. Braxton has even started editing alongside the show’s producers, using professional software like Final Cut Pro.
“They both have been shooting TV since they were like 2. (Braxton is) pretty dialed in. He’s been around it so much, he knows exactly what he needs to do. He’s very camera aware,” Scott said. “And everything that they have hunted has been with TV cameras (rolling),” Scott added. “They usually have one or two TV cameras with them. So it’s not just one person in the woods, so it makes it much, much more difficult (to hunt).”
The couple said even though the boys miss out on some school when they head to work with Dad, “They’re learning how to work hard. It’s not just fun running around out there,” Tiffany said.
With both their parents holding Master’s degrees in education, the boys don’t exactly get off easy while away from the classroom. They’ve prepared their own Power Point presentations while on location, and shared them with the entire school upon return.
One year Braxton and Kazden held a Tiny Toy drive at their school, where they collected miniature action figures and tiny dolls before heading to Africa. They packed one suitcase full of 50 pounds of toys, and took them to remote villages, refugee camps and schools in Africa, handing them out to children whose eyes widened at the sight. Some of them had never even seen a toy. The boys took pictures while passing the toys out, and shared that, too, with the kids at Walterville School.
“Whenever we take the kids places, we try to get them in to experience the culture,” Scott said.
It’s rare enough to see a marriage last 20+ years, even more rare when the couple works together, but for this local family, it’s the family business and the shared love for the outdoors, hunting and nature that seems to be the key to familial harmony.
Tomorrow, in part two of our time with the Haugens, we go inside the family home and get a feel for why their books, shows and adventures are so popular.