CEi Outdoors is a publishing business, we publish the Outdoorsman’s Resource Guide.
Craig Steele was born & raised in Kingman, Arizona, where he still resides. He grew up hunting & fishing local areas, just like the majority of outdoorsmen across the country. His family wasn’t upper class & for many years his father would forego applying for hunts, just so his son & daughter could apply. Craig’s parents checked him out of school & sports, for weeks, on more than one occasion, in order for him to go on a hunt.
“My sister & I both drew Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep permits, before we were 13! We were blessed to hunt a lot as kids.” Craig
After Craig graduated high school, he married his wife Richelle & became a career firefighter. After several years of marriage & school, he finally graduated community college with a fire science degree & had two wonderful kids. Inspired by his Grandfather & Gordon Eastman, from 2002-2005, he produced three AZ hunting DVD’s. Most of the footage consisted of diy type hunts, which was different from many of the other DVD’s being produced at that time.
In 2006 Craig found hunting & filming travel expenses were inflating, the DVD market was flooded & it took more free time than he anticipated, so he decided to stop producing DVD’s. Craig had been applying for unit 9 & 10 archery bull elk hunts since he was just 14 years old, but like so many others, he had never drew one of these permits. It was frustrating, so in 2006 he chose to apply for an easier to draw hunt & with a high amount of bonus points he drew the tag. They hunted hard, but did not get it done & had plenty of EXCUSES. That same year Craig also started applying for out-of-state hunts. He wanted more chances to draw QUALITY tags because he valued a quality experience.
“I used to be ignorant as I thought only wealthy guys applied out-of-state. But a lot of applicants are guys like me who value QUALITY hunts & realize if they are going to spend the time, money & effort, they want a quality experience. It’s no different than my parents applying us for Desert Bighorn as kids, most local hunters thought it was crazy, but my parents valued it. Heck, I grew up in a double wide & my parents drove used cars, but we went hunting because they sacrificed & made it a priority.”
|I thought this was high!!
Inflation, fuel prices, cell phones & lack of resources…
After the 2006 season, Craig began to notice subtle things that made for issues while in the field & in his wallet. They were inconvenient at the time & all of these happened while less than 2 hours from his home town.
“In 2004 we were hunting in Arizona GMU 8 during the Archery Elk season & we complained about $1.79 per gallon gas prices. We really thought it was bad back then… During that hunt, the water pump in my travel trailer took a dive & we didn’t know where to get another one, so we drove to the biggest city & wandered around until we found an RV part store. You don’t think about that stuff until it happens.”
“One year, I thought I left my wallet at a rural convenience store 30 miles from elk camp. We hopped in the truck & made the 60 mile round trip once again, only to find out it wasn’t there.”
“2007- My dad broke all of the fiber optics on his pins the last weekend of his archery elk hunt; we didn’t have a number to any of the bow shops & really didn’t know if they were open on the weekend. We stayed at camp & rigged something up, which didn’t work very well at all. That same year, my dad got some bad fuel & broke down in Seligman, AZ, before the hunt. We didn’t know they had a part store in that little town. My dad called my brother-in-law & had him get a fuel filter in our home town. My dad missed that afternoon of scouting, got into camp late & was tired as hell the next morning.”
“2009- While hunting in a unit 30 minutes from my home town, my good friend needed a battery for his range finder. The rural convenience store was an hour drive. We decided to pass on driving because we didn’t want to waste the time or money to drive there. What if that 190” buck would have stepped out at 320 yards, maybe they had the battery?”
“2008- We got back to camp late & my buddy decided he wanted to eat at the local restaurant. We drove 35 minutes only to find the restaurant was closed for the night. We wasted 1hr 10mins, plus fuel! We had M&Ms & Dr. Pepper for dinner.”
It was apparent to Craig that these experiences, along with many others proved he could have saved some valuable time & money by having these resources with him. His cell phone was a tool, but he wasn’t putting it to good use. He figured since he was paying cell phone providers 100 bucks a month & fuel prices where killing his hunting budget, it only made sense to believe that other outdoorsmen could benefit from having resources with them while in the field.
During the summer of 2008 Craig began writing thoughts & different experiences down. It soon turned into nights of phone calls, debating & lots of brain storming. He eventually gathered as much information as he could & then published a free digital publication in 2009 called, “the Outdoorsman’s Resource Guide.” It was a step, but it wasn’t complete & he wasn’t satisfied with the product. It needed more information,it needed to be updated, because businesses were always going out-of-business & outdoorsmen could also benefit from having more information while in the field.
In early 2010 Craig purchased a Garmin 1300 GPS, he wanted to compare & use it as a tool. He & Chris Chavez drove every inch of highway across Northern Arizona. They found the GPS to be a great tool, but the business information was not built for outdoorsmen. Lots of out dated business information, the majority of the rural gas stations were not to be found & it did not have 90% of the current hunting related businesses listed. Again, it was a great tool for knowing where you were at & for getting you somewhere, if you had the right information.
That winter & spring, these two guys went door-to-door handing out brochures, searching for motels, restaurants & gas station owners who valued the outdoorsman’s dollar. Arizona outdoorsmen spend millions of dollars on food & lodging in just Coconino County alone! Craig felt it was important to at least inform these businesses of what outdoorsmen spent & what they were doing. They covered over 7,000 miles in Northern Arizona plotting & searching for businesses…
In July 2010, Craig published another digital version & the first print edition of the Outdoorsman’s Resource Guide. The response was good & even better from guys that spent a ton of time in the field.
“It’s the resident hunters & guides that are spending a lot of money & time in the field, getting the ORG’s philosphy. They understand there is nothing like it & you can know the terrain & animals like the back of your hand, but you don’t have the number to the rural gas station or the most up-to-date list of bow shops around your unit. It is very satisfying knowing that a well known guide or a hardcore diy hunter understands the value in it.”
BIGGER & BETTER in 2011!
November of 2010- Craig resigned his full-time career firefighting position & is now running CEi Outdoors, their publishing business full-time. Craig is dedicated to building a quality product that can help make a difference for any outdoorsman.
“I realize I have worked my butt off to put out a quality product, but I want to make it better! We have taxidermists, meat processors, guides, diy resident hunters & native land tribal members helping us with next year’s publication. I really want next year’s publication to be viewed as a tool that will help NEW hunters & any outdoorsmen willing to absorb & use the information. We don’t discriminate; we list as many taxidermists, meat processors & other businesses as we can. We want QUALITY information that is relevant for a given state & unit.”
2011 will be another year of challenges in order to put together a better product. Businesses are always changing, finding more relevant resources & searching for businesses that truly value the outdoorsman’s way-of-life, is a challenge. Inflation & cost of fuel is driving the cost of hunting & fishing to extreme levels, now more than ever. Craig hopes people understand that the Outdoorsman’s Resource Guide, looks like a magazine, but it’s really a tool & one he believes can help save you some time & money.