Hill Country Outdoors
What started as a hobby has turned into a major lifestyle brand beloved by the Lone Star State and country for more than a decade.
Craig Smith began GameGuard in 2003 when his wife, “basically told me I had to find another way to pay for hunting and fishing.”
From that discussion and from his lack of finding a pattern that truly worked in the scrub lands where he hunted south of San Antonio came the original GameGuard pattern.
Smith explains, “I had a man who kind’a mentored me in business and one day I was complaining that I just didn’t think the patterns on the market really fit where I hunted and he said if you don’t like it, you should do something about it.”
Smith spent over a year drawing and designing a pattern that included such South Texas staples as live oak, limestone, yucca and cactus.
“I got the pattern to where I liked it and put it on a couple shirts and a cap.”
Of course, developing a pattern and actually getting people to buy it are two different things. But Smith had an idea for how to achieve the latter, as well.
“My idea was that if I could get hunting guides on ranches to wear my pattern, their clients would see it, recognize that it was what the experts were wearing and go home and buy it.”
Smith hit the road and put his wares in the hands and on the backs of guides throughout the state and, as they say, the rest was history.
Smith began his love of hunting in the East Texas town of Tomball.
“Now it’s part of Houston, but back then it was pretty rural,” Smith recalls. “We lived in the country. Both my grandfathers were ranchers so I was always around it and loved to hunt and fish and so had lots of opportunities to do so.”
Those opportunities included hunting deer and running coons with dogs.
Twenty-five years in the printing and promotional business took Smith from the Piney Woods to having offices in San Antonio, Georgia and Puerto Rico. He married and raised a family and during his limited time off, he’d retreat to fish and hunt South Texas … that place where he couldn’t find a pattern to fit the terrain.
Today GameGuard is a multi-million-dollar family owned and operated business with strong sales and a heavy market share throughout the South and Southwest. They manufacture men’s and women’s clothing, utility bags, coolers, gun cases and accessories, all available with or without the GameGuard logo.
The company recently launched GameGuard Signature, a line of distinctive, high-end leather-trimmed camouflage products.
Of this ever-growing expansion Smith humbly explains, “I tell ya’, my father was and remains my biggest mentor and he always said, ‘If you work hard and treat people right, you’ll do well.’
“And that’s what we’ve tried to do as a company for the past 12 years and will continue to do in the future.”
Young is a Fredericksburg resident and avid outdoorsman whose work appears in this newspaper, Rock & Vine magazine and other outdoors publications.