By Chris Avena
Laramy “Sasquatch” Miller, brought-up with the traditions of generations long gone was raised in the picturesque yet treacherous mountains of Colorado. Under the tutelage of his grandfather and Uncles he was taught not only trapping and hunting skills, he learned how to survive in the wilderness with nothing more than his knife. As he grew, so did his skill set. He possesses the ability to live in the wild as our ancestors did over one hundred years ago.
Today, Laramy is the host of the Outdoor Channel’s “The Trail” as well as the Sportsman Channels “Last of a Breed.” Laramy truly is the last mountain man as he sets out to uncharted territory sporting his homemade buckskins and long bow crafted by his own hand as he endures the elements and the unknown adventures that lie ahead. Standing 6’7” and weighing in a 270 pounds, Laramy is a formidable adversary for whatever he may come across in the back country (except for maybe a grizzly) yet, back at home, you are greeted with his signature smile.
Chris: Today we are here with Laramy “Sasquatch” Miller. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
Laramy: It’s my pleasure. I always love to talk to you. We’ve been friends for a long time.
Chris: I haven’t seen you in a while, COVID kind of put a wrinkle in everything. I feel like I am playing catch up with everybody. Since I last saw you, you were in the process of starting Last of a Breed, and then you started The Trail. How’s everything going with your shows?
Laramy: I tell you what. I had this harebrained idea because I like to put myself through pain, I guess. But The Trail was kind of a baby of mine for a while and I always thought it’d be so cool because, you have all of these TV shows, you have “Alone”, you got all this stuff that has been a big deal and so I’m sitting there thinking of me as a modern-day mountain man and I always try to put myself in the early 1800s. So, I thought, well, I’m going to take off with a horse and nothing. A horse, a long bow, knife hatchet, sleeping bag. Let’s go. Luckily Tim thought it was a great idea and we started up the show and it’s been great. Right now, we are in the second season is doing very well. And yeah, it’s the time of my life, honestly.
Chris: You are doing nothing more than being yourself. You were raised this way.
Laramy: I was raised this way, but I’ll tell you what, what people don’t realize is that in the first season I lost 37 pounds.
Laramy: I’m a big guy, so I can afford to lose a little bit, but 37 pounds is a lot. People do not realize what it takes. When you don’t have that mountain house or you don’t have potatoes or food in your refrigerator, you have to get everything yourself. You have to go out there and you are cutting wood constantly, especially if it gets cold, that just makes everything five times harder. Then you throw a horse in the mix and you have to take care of him too.
Chris: Sure. The horse isn’t going to be eating the squirrels that you shoot.
Laramy: Exactly. When there’s two feet of snow down, what do you do for your horse? When the water is frozen over, like during season one, which is already aired and it’s on MOTV and everything else. But season one, I had a freak snowstorm come through and it dropped two feet of snow on us. I had to literally boil water, melt water down for my horse because the water was all frozen. I had to find food for both of us. That was why I lost 37 pounds, but the second season I did a lot better. I only lost 24 pounds.
Chris: So, you are in constant motion. You are not sitting around in camp. There’s always something to do.
Laramy: If you want to survive and you want to actually prosper, you have to keep moving.
Chris: Let’s take a little bit of a step back here. Your whole family were mountain men. Your grandfather, your father, he passed it down to you. So, you were raised out in the bush.
Laramy: I was very lucky. My grandpa, everybody calls him the modern-day John Wayne, cause he’s just one of them old salty cowboys, bless his heart. He’s still alive, but he can’t do what he used to anymore. But he kind of instilled those values in all of us. Then my uncle started an outfitting business. My uncle was known as the mountain rat because he was a survival backcountry, middle of nowhere type of guy. And then my dad used to guide for him. So that uncle and my mom, were brother and sister, my dad used to guide him. So, I was raised in the backcountry. The first time I went in the back country on my own horse, I was seven years old.
Chris: Wow. That is bold.
Laramy: I have been doing this for a long time. There are so many things that can happen back there. All the lessons that I have learned and the hard work. I’m so thankful for that lifestyle growing up.
Chris: You are a real outdoorsman. Compared to you. I am just an outdoor enthusiast.
Laramy: I didn’t have a choice. I was either going to be an outdoorsman or nothing, and that’s growing up. I grew up on a cattle ranch and we didn’t have much money. So, we couldn’t afford to eat the cows. We survived a wild game. I shot my first deer when I was seven years old.
Chris: You had to contribute to the family, right?
Laramy: Exactly. We had to eat, right? But I would not change anything. It’s been an awesome way of growing up. You look at all these kids today. Look at the way the world and country today. They don’t realize how tough it is, that food on their plate, how hard it is to get it. People think that you can buy everything. Well, when it comes down to brass tacks, guess what? Money is not going to be worth anything.
Chris: You can use it to start your fire.
Laramy: Exactly. You might have to use it that way sometime here soon.
Chris: How does everything you learned growing up translate to TV? How did that come about?
Laramy: You know, it’s the old adage, right place at the right time, right? I grew up that way and then I went the football route and I played football for quite a few years, got hurt really bad. So that ended my football career because my whole mindset was that, I want to be able to pull a bow back and walk when I’m 40. Which I’m 40 now. I’m really glad I did that. But I took off, went back into guiding and I was guiding and helping run an outfitting business. And old Trevor Gowdy sent a crew down to film a show with us for elk hunting show. I got lucky and called this bull in from quite a distance. There’s no way that I should have called him in. He was a mile away and I just started hammering on the calls. Here he comes, the bull comes right in. They shot him at 35 yards, made great TV, didn’t think nothing of it. Two weeks later, Trevor calls me and if anybody knows Trevor Gowdy, he’s a salesman. I love the guy to death, but he’s the salesman. He introduced himself and he says, Laramy, I have an offer that I hope you cannot refuse. I said, really, what’s that? At the time, I am a 23-year-old kid. Don’t know anything. I said, really, what’s that? He said, I want you to come and take over as my co-host. At that time, it was a Quest for the One. And then he said, I really would like to try to get you your own TV show.
I was like, never thought of getting into, my uncles did TV. They did VHS. They sold them in Walmart. They were very successful. They passed away in a plane crash in 1995. I kind of had an idea about it and in my mind, and I wanted to follow their footsteps. I kind of want to do that, but I never imagined it going where it’s gone. I owe it all to Trevor for finding me and kind of changing my mind to put me there, but being in the right place at the right time. And I got lucky from a long way.
Chris: A lot of hard work though.
Laramy: Yes, being in this industry, I’ve been in it for 17 years now, and I have people ask me all the time, how do I get into hunting? How do I get my own TV show? How do I do this? And the truth is, you got to have something different.
Chris: There’s no other show like yours. Nothing.
Laramy: No. And that’s what I prided myself on is, I’m unique. You can like it, you can hate it, but I’m different. And I’m going to keep being different. And that’s just me.
Chris: When you are out in the bush for extended periods of time with just you and I guess a cameraman, I mean, anything could happen. In fact, you had an incident. I guess it was during the Mountain Man show.
Laramy: Yeah, that one (as he waves his half pinkie) It is crazy. Anything can happen out there and I preach to people. I’ve been handling a gun since I was 3 years old. It was a freak accident, blew my finger off, but you know what? It saved my life because my appendix ruptured two days later. It took me 18 hours to get out of the bush with a blown off finger. If I was not close to a hospital, I would have been dead.
Chris: Eighteen hours with a ruptured appendix? You would not have made it. No way.
Laramy: Did you know that Lewis and Clark went that whole way from St. Lewis all the way to the Oregon coast. They lost one guy. You know what you died of? A ruptured appendix
Chris: No kidding.
Chris: You must come across everything while you’re out there, predators everything.
Laramy: You know, when the camera is not rolling is when you get some of the best story footage ever. Because I’ve had so many close encounters, with grizzly bears and wolves and that’s what keeps me going though. That’s what keeps me alive because I love that. The thought of the fact that it’s you against everything. Because it is that way out there a lot and your mindset, you watch the show Alone. You got all these guys and 90 percent of them tap out; they can have all the skills in the world. 90 percent of them tap out because of their mind.
It’s crazy. I’ve guided for 20 years and you’ll have guys in the best in shape. And they won’t go as hard in the mountains, won’t be able to go as much as a guy that you would look at and say, there ain’t no way he’s going, but he’s more mentally tough than that guy that’s in phenomenal shape and does CrossFit and everything else. He’s more mentally tough. And he goes the distance. It is crazy how your mind plays such a factor. Like when I’m back there on the trail, if you start thinking negative at all, it’s a spiral. You’re just going to go downhill.
Chris: When you are going down the trail and a grizzly pop’s up out of nowhere. Does the grizzly start backing up saying, holy shit, there’s Laramy?
Laramy: Nope. Just start backing up saying, holy shit, there’s a grizzly.
Chris: What do you do?
Laramy: Well, that’s one thing I’ve been blessed with is your reaction to events like that. The first reaction is everything. You know, if you turn and run and you freak out, it’s going to get bad. It’s going to get really bad. But if you can hold your composure and you’re like a grizzly, they don’t necessarily want to fight. Yeah, there’s a dominance factor. They don’t necessarily want to fight, but if you act like prey at all in any way, shape, or form their instincts kick in and guess what? Boom, they’re on you.
Chris: Now, what do you do for food?
Laramy: The first year of The Trail was rough because, at that time of year you think of the settlers and the mountain men and they planned for everything, because you’ve got a lot of stuff that comes in the spring and in the summer, your berries and stuff like that. In the fall, you don’t have much forage. So, you are on a strictly protein diet. You have to rely on protein. And so, with The Trail, I’ve gone there in the fall, usually October, every year. And it’s hard because the forage is, you have some mushrooms around. But you’re relying on mainly protein, you got fish, you’re eating squirrels, you’re eating snails, whatever you can get in your body. You need every ounce of protein. So that’s a struggle because you don’t have the forage.
Chris: The main things I would think of are shelter, food and water. What do you do for shelter? Do you build a lean to? Do you just have a pop-up tent? What do you do?
Laramy: See, that’s what I’m lucky because of what my uncle taught me. So, when I was eight years old, he took us out and he made us make little makeshift shelters for two or three nights. You know, little stuff that you can pop up and it keeps you dry. You know, help you get through the time. So, shelter is a huge thing. Now, water when I’m in the mountains, there’s water everywhere. But you got to know where to drink it because you drink the wrong water and then you’re sick and you’re done. So as a rule of thumb, if water runs through gravel or moss 50 yards is purified. It works just as good as your purification pills that they sell all over the place. It’s the same thing. The food side is the hardest. There’s so much work that goes into that. How much effort is a squirrel worth? You don’t have a whole lot of meat there.
So, you have to pick and choose. Okay so when am I going to actually go hunting? Do I have the energy to go hunting right now? You know you have to play that game with yourself. Me, I’m just hard headed. I want to go hunting all the time.
Chris: As far as gear, you’re limited what you can carry. You have your horse; you have a pack horse. There’s only so much weight they could carry for extended miles. How do you pick what you’re taking and what are the weight limits?
Laramy: Well, that’s the thing on The Trail, so I didn’t take anything. So, my horse, I got camera gear, especially season two. Season one, I had it set up to where the cameraman met me and it wasn’t as strenuous on that end, but season two, I took off and I had half of my pack horse devoted strictly to camera gear. So, I literally had my buckskins, I had a longbow. I did take a Magnum revolver because I had an issue last year where I had a whole pack of wolves. There’s like 20 wolves coming into camp. I could see them moving around, but I had a longbow. I can only sling arrows so fast. You know, if they want to come in and get that horse, I’m done. So, I didn’t take much. I had my buckskins. I had a couple pairs of socks. I had one change of underwear. And then my knives, my hatchets, and I did take coffee and it’s one thing I won’t live without.
Chris: That’s a must. All right, so you were in for what, 30 days, 45 days, give or take?
Laramy: It was 32 days on both trips.
Chris: What about toilet paper?
Laramy: There’s lots of toilet paper out in the woods, buddy. I mean, it gets down to it. Heck, grab a rock. Go stick your bum in the river.
Chris: You made your buckskins. You made your bow. How’d you learn to do that?
Laramy: My grandpa, he’s a leather worker. He builds saddles and boots and he taught me the leather working side, but I wanted to take it to a whole new level and I wanted to do the brain tanning. I wanted to learn the mountain man stuff. I wanted to be a modern- day mountain man. So, I took it upon myself to learn all that. Over the last 25 years of being in the woods all the time, I’ve learned it and I actually become halfway decent at it.
Chris: Well, you’ve taken it on many adventures. So, they last. You’re doing it right now. What was the most compromising position you’ve been in aside from shooting off your finger on the show.
Laramy: On the show, you didn’t get to see it, but I went across a rock slide with my horses that was one of the sketchiest things. The trail system back there is just horrible. There are no trails left. So, you’re bushwhacking, and I hit a rock slide, and I had horses sliding, and I thought I was going to have a huge wreck. Luckily, I didn’t. That was probably the most harebrained, scary experience I had. But man, over the years, I rode up on a grizzly bear with two cubs one time that charged my horse and all I could think, I just kicked my horse, let’s go. I don’t want you to think, just go. You’re bigger than he is. And luckily, the mama bear ran off the trail. That one was good and could have ended really badly. I’ve had a couple of horse wrecks that, a couple of the horses didn’t make it out and nasty stuff in the mountains, but I look back, I couldn’t name just one. I’ve had a lot of different, just, oh shit, moments that I don’t know how I made it out of that, but I did.
Chris: Someone’s looking out for you.
Laramy: I know the man upstairs; he must like me for some reason.
Chris: You have a new project that you’re working on. An outdoorsman tough man competition. Tell me about that.
Laramy: You have all of these competitions nowadays, these hunting competitions and they’re all phased around smaller guys that can run for days. You know, I’ll go to the mountains. I’ll go hiking with the best of them, but I’m not going to run. That’s not me. I’m 6’6 275 pounds. I’m not going to run. But when you need a 350-pound bear packed out, or you need to throw a moose quarter in a pack box and you are by yourself, that was my thought process for this competition. So, I got former NFL player, Derek Wolf, and we’re going to go test ourselves. We are about the same size. We both have that football background and we’re hardcore mountain hunters, so let’s go see. It’s going to be like the strong man of outdoor competitions. You go and you have to lift 300 pounds and carry it 200 yards up the hill. You have to shoulder press this massive amount of weight and do all these things. But at the end of it, you have to go shoot a bow or you have to go throw a knife or a hatchet. It’s going to be really cool. But it’s geared more towards the strong men of the outdoors, not the guys that can run for days, the strong men of the outdoors.
Chris: Is it just going to be the two of you? Are there going to be a bunch of entries.
Laramy: Well, my goal is to have it go on for a while. It’s just going to be me and him to start. But then I would like to transition it into, having teams the next year and go from there, but we’ll see. If you are looking at the outdoor block, Derek and I are probably the two biggest athletes for big guys. And so that’s why I chose him because Trent Cole’s another guy. I mean, he played in the NFL for a long time. Big guy.
Derek and I are both 6’6”. He’s a little heavier than I am, but guys like that shouldn’t be able to do what we do in the woods and that’s what I want to kind of portray is just because you’re a big guy doesn’t mean you can’t go do what all these other guys do.
It comes down to that mentality again, because it’s going to be a tough competition. Physically, it’s going to be draining and lifting really heavy stuff and still having to concentrate to make that shot at the end of it. You know, it’s going to be hard, really hard. And so, it’s going to be fun. I’m excited. I love to push myself any way I can.
Chris: Is that on the calendar for 2023 or 24?
Laramy: It is 2023 later this year. There’ll be more information coming out. But yeah, it’s on the calendar.
Chris: So, it will be like the wide world of sports for the outdoorsman.
Chris: All right. Well, I definitely appreciate you taking the time to speak to us today. Where can everybody find you?
Laramy: Instagram and Facebook, it’s Laramy Sasquatch Miller. Other than that, go to YouTube, Laramy Sasquatch Miller, and then www.Laramymiller.com .
Chris: Okay. Appreciate you taking the time and we’ll see you soon.
Laramy: All right. Thanks, Chris.