Halter plays many roles in baseball, hunting

Shane Halter 

Strong of bat and glove, third baseman Shane Halter has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the Detroit Tigers.

Just the same, it's that time in the year when Halter and other hunters in the big leagues start thinking about the offseason. Some of the Tigers are fairly itching to get into the field. Heck, by now bowhunting targets might even be set up in the batting cage at Comerica Park.

Halter, 31, began his hunting passion at age 16 and still spends a lot of time in the field with his father. A former Royal who resides in Overland Park, Kan., with his wife, Jenny, and their 3-year-old boy, Gunner, he plans to relocate to Texas to be closer to his father.

At 6 feet, 180 pounds, the compact utility player wears No. 17 on the baseball field. But his jersey could easily be No. 9, to represent the positions he played in a single outing last Oct. 1, when Halter became just the fourth player in major-league history to complete the feat.

A man of many of roles in baseball, the same can be said of his hunting prowess. "I tell you what, I would do any kind of hunting if somebody asked me to do it," Halter explained. "I mean any kind."

Read what Halter had to say about his accomplishments and passions after ESPN Outdoors interviewed him for an "Athletes in the Outdoors" Q&A segment:

ESPN Outdoors: We heard that some of the Tigers like to do a little bowhunting practice without even getting out of the stadium. What's up with that?

Shane Halter: "We do a lot of bowhunting and, then, at about the end of the season is about the time that deer season is about to start. We just usually set up a target down there at the end of the batting cage or, you know, out on the field or something, and practice our bows. It's to kind of get used to shooting them again and kind of tune them in again before we go home, because we know as soon as we get back home that deer season is about to start."

EO: How did that all get started?

SH: "Lance Parrish, the third-base coach, set up a bow target in the batting cages at end of the season last year."

EO: What is it that draws you to the outdoors?

SH: "It's kind of a time to go out and think about what's going on in life and relax and go at your own pace. You don't have to worry about phones. You don't have to worry about somebody talking to you. You can go and do whatever you want.

"Not to mention to get the thrill of actually getting an opportunity to shoot a big deer or get out for the opportunity to actually see one. You don't have to kill something to enjoy a good time. I enjoy just going out in the woods, and if I don't see a deer, just seeing the trees and walking around and kind of seeing the tracks and doing a lot of studying. You got to kind of know what's going on out there. You got a lot to learn. You see something new everyday when you get out there.

"I think the thrill of just not knowing and the anticipation of, 'Is he really going to walk out?' or are you really going to get the opportunity to see one or shoot one is the thrill for me."

EO: What are among your favorite types of hunting and places to hunt?

SH: "I do a lot of whitetail (deer) hunting, and I also go to Colorado with my dad (Frank, of Houston) and hunt elk and mule deer. I've been hunting three times in Colorado. I also usually go to South Dakota pheasant hunting."

EO: What is your hunting specialty?

SH: "I enjoy bowhunting. It's a lot harder, and it takes a lot more skill. You have to be a lot closer, obviously. But I really enjoy rifle hunting, also. There is really not much thrill in rifle hunting, except that if he's close you know you're going to drop him, and if he's far away the deer doesn't even know you're there. The thrill is really bowhunting; you know you're going to kill something if you go with a rifle."

EO: What have been some of your really memorable days in the field?

SH: "I would say the days that I've had in the duck blinds that you really limit out and you really kill a lot of geese are my best days. But my biggest day as far as big-game hunting is the day I dropped my first mule deer (with a rifle) out in Colorado with my dad in my first year to go (in 1997). We were in Lake City, Colo., and my dad and I had seen this mule deer walking across this ridge. And I went one way and my dad went the other way, and it just so happened that it came my way and I shot him and my dad was all excited.

"He's been going for 20 years and so it was kind of cool, because he kind of passed that tradition on to me and I hope to do that for my kid one day."

EO: To whom is the credit due for getting your hooked on the outdoors?

SH: "My uncles did a lot of fishing. I grew up in Hooks, Texas. There was not a lot of hunting, maybe a little squirrel hunting. We mainly started out bass fishing and it just carried over into hunting. I'm a topwater guy as opposed to working a finesse bait. I like seeing the fish come up to the top of the water and bust a topwater lure — a torpedo or a popper. Get some water flying."

EO: Can any comparisons be made between your successes on the baseball field and those in the field of hunting?

SH: "I think you get the same rush when you drop that big deer or you catch that big fish or you shoot that big goose that you do when you hit a home run or you get a base hit. The adrenaline rush from that and playing the sport I do is basically the same thing. It is why I need hunting and fishing during the offseason. Baseball's not there in the offseason, so I need something else to give me that energy and that enthusiasm."

EO: "What do you tell people who ask why you hunt?"

SH: "I hunt for a reason. There's a reason why I hunt. And all the meat and stuff that I kill I donate to homeless charity (in Kansas City, where he played in 1997 and 1998). People who don't have home and don't have meals to eat, that provides food for them. I think it's kind of giving back to somebody else who is not as fortunate as I am."

EO: How often are you in the field?

SH: "I probably go six times a week in the offseason. And I would probably go more if I didn't have a little boy. Monday through Thursday I usually deer hunt. Monday we may or may not hunt, but Tuesday through Sunday I'm hunting. I usually deer hunt on Tuesday, duck hunt on Wednesday, Thursday I deer hunt, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday I duck or goose hunt. I get up in the morning at 3:30 or 4 o'clock, or I'll just sleep in and go in the afternoon."

EO: What would you consider to be your dream hunting trip?

SH: "My dream trip would probably be going up into Canada for one of those big Saskatchewan whitetails. Or a big elk hunt out in Colorado or Wyoming or New Mexico. That would be my dream trip, the high country. I've got a passion for those places. If I could buy a mountain, I would."

EO: You are nearly a year removed from the nine-position game. What are your thoughts on the feat now?

SH: "I've really had some people kind of bashing that game, and it really just burns my ass when they do it. There's nothing I can say to make myself let somebody know what kind of excitement I had for that game. Because I worked my butt off to learn all those positions and learn how to do those things. I spent two years going to an instruction league to catch. I learned first base basically just going over and taking ground balls and listening to a few people on how to play it. I put a lot of work into that opportunity and for (Tigers manager) Phil Garner to give me the opportunity to do it, that day will probably be one of the most special days of my life just because I felt like I worked so hard to get there.

"(Sports TV talk-show host) Jim Rome and a couple of people said all you had to do was be right-handed and play on a crappy team. Well, you know, not everybody can go back behind the plate and catch. Not everybody can get four hits in the game. I got four hits (in five at-bats) in the game that day and played all nine positions, and he was basically kind of bagging on it. Well, it's easy to sit on a stool and say bad things about what somebody's already done. You know, hindsight's always 20-20. And he talks about it after the fact. You really can't say anything to those people because they don't know how mad you would actually get. If I said something to him, then I would be adding fuel to his fire or adding fuel to somebody else who was bashing the game, and they don't know anything about the game."

EO: Is there any type of hunting you wouldn't try?

SH: "I tell you what, I would do any kind of hunting if somebody asked me to do it. I mean any kind. I'd go flyfishing, squirrel hunting, dove hunting; it doesn't matter. I used to do it all, and I love it all. Any part of hunting I love."

EO: Was there any one episode that sold you on hunting, that made you such a fanatic, that fueled your passion?

SH: "I don't know really what got me so fueled. I think having success when I went, when I actually got the opportunity to see something or kill something. That really got my going. I think the success that I had early at a young age fueled it."

EO: What do you say to the anti-hunters?

SH: "If we didn't kill these animals, there would be an overpopulation of every animal in the world. There are too many deer in the world. (Others share this view.)
And they're going to be malnourished; they won't have the right ingredients to survive anyway. You can tell those people if you didn't have hunters and you didn't have people giving back to homeless shelters, you may not have those pretty little flowers in your yard (because deer would eat them) or you may have people driving down the highway and hitting deer and killing themselves rather than us keeping a close eye on the population."

See Shane Halter's player profile on ESPN.com's MLB pages.