ATN Brand Ambassador, Kevin Rought
Welcome back to the series with our friends at ATN Corp. We’re excited to share this exclusive interview with ATN brand ambassador, Kevin Rought. Kevin has 40 years of hunting experience and has been a brand ambassador for ATN Corp for the past three years. He is based in western Michigan and is the co-founder of Overdrive Outdoors LLC. Here’s an insight into Kevin’s experience with hunting and how ATN gear has been a game-changer.
CLN: Can you give our audience a brief introduction to yourself? (Background, about you, and your experience in the outdoors industry).
Kevin: For my full-time job, I’m a technician for an aerospace manufacturer. I’m also the co-founder of Overdrive Outdoors LLC. In my free time, I have a passion for the great outdoors and hunting. Being from Michigan, I grew up with a hunting family. When I was younger I was heavily involved in 4-H, we had competitive shooting programs in our 4-H club. We had reloading classes through 4-H, so before I was hunting I was shooting in 4-H in the air gun competition which was my intro to competitive shooting. From there I went to small game hunting probably around the age of 11 or 12, I used to do a lot of rodent control at the house in terms of chipmunks, squirrels, etc. After that, I got into big game hunting then around 2001 I started getting involved in predator hunting. Predator hunting really took over for me in terms of what I really enjoy doing and spending a lot of time doing it. I still spend time deer hunting and a little bit of small game hunting. I’ve traveled out west for big game such as elk, mule deer, and antelope. I also bear hunt here in Michigan. In terms of the industry, I’ve been a part of the industry without being involved in the industry part up until a few years ago when I started getting involved with ATN.
CLN: Can you give our audience some insight into the business you co-found, Overdrive Outdoors LLC?
Kevin: My friend, Joshua Mapes and myself got together and started Overdrive Outdoors LLC. It didn’t start as a company, we started it as a Facebook page with the goal of having a place where anybody could come and share their hunting and fishing experiences without fear of being harassed, belittled, or anything like that. It’s something that we’ve seen a lot on social media. For example, if you had a youth go out and let’s say it was their first time hunting and they shoot a spike. You’d have a lot of people get on there and harass the person for shooting a spike saying “you should’ve waited till it was bigger”. Overdrive Outdoors LLC doesn’t believe in that, we believe you should be able to celebrate any legal successful harvest no matter what the size of the animal is. We started that page and with that in mind, it has grown over the years. Two years ago we decided to move forward and make it a company. Primarily at this point, we’re still a social media-based company in terms of providing content for hunting, fishing, and pretty much everything outdoors.
CLN: What drove you to be a part and put together Overdrive Outdoors LLC?
Kevin: The same reasons that we initially started it. I’m not a trophy hunter per se, when I deer hunt my goal is to put meat in the freezer for my family. As such, I try to shoot a mature legal animal. I don’t go out just to shoot an animal to just say “hey I shot an animal”. There’s always a purpose behind it. At the same time, we think you should be able to celebrate all of your time in the outdoors. Including your success and your failures at the same time without having someone belittle you for doing so. Just because someone feels you should have shot a bigger buck or they feel you shouldn’t fish for a particular fish because it’s a trash fish. If you’re enjoying yourself in the outdoors and you’re partaking in legal activities, you should be able to celebrate that and share it with other people. That’s kind of the mantra of our whole group and the purpose of why we started it, to allow other people to get on there and do that without having detractors.
CLN: Where is Overdrive Outdoors LLC based?
Kevin: It’s based in Michigan and we have our team members scattered throughout the state. We cover a broad range of the state. With that being said we have followers from all over the world and from a lot of other different states. We welcome anybody and everybody as long as they follow our guidelines of not harassing somebody, not being negative, but actually celebrating and enjoying the time in the outdoors.
CLN: Can you dive a little deeper into how you came across ATN products and what got you involved with the company?
Kevin: When I first started predator hunting here in Michigan, we primarily hunted in the daytime. Back then the laws in Michigan only allowed for use of rimfire or shotgun after dark. After I got involved in predator hunting for a while and was doing it in the daytime, we wanted to try some nighttime hunting. So initially, we started using red lights, which red lights when used correctly can be very effective, but I wanted something more. So I purchased an ATN first-generation night vision scope to put on my 22 Mags so I could get better performance at night. I used that scope for several years and was successful with it. The first generation night vision scope is dedicated strictly to nighttime. I only had one rimfire rifle, I also use that for small game. I didn’t want to have to keep switching scopes back and forth so, at the time, ATN had just come out with the X Sight II, I saw that it had daytime and nighttime capabilities. I decided to buy that to replace the first-generation scope. I put that on my gun and that helped a lot with the versatility of the gun being able to use in the daytime and nighttime plus the night vision capabilities. It helped my predator hunting quite a bit. I ran that for quite a while and then they came out with the ATN 4k Pro. I ended up getting one of those. It’s also day and night capable so I was able to use it for small game hunting or varmint hunting during the daytime yet I still have the night vision capabilities. I’ve been using those three ATN optics for several years and decided to approach ATN once I saw they had a brand ambassador pro-staff position available. I approached them about being on the staff because I believe in the products have been very happy with the performance of the products and helped me immensely in my hunting here in Michigan.
CLN: Before becoming a brand ambassador, how long were you using ATN’s products?
Kevin: I was using ATN’s products for about 7 years before I became a brand ambassador for them.
CLN: In your opinion what is the difference between ATN products and other scope/tech companies?
Kevin: There are several differences to me. One is affordability. Their optics tend to be what you could call “working man” optics in terms of affordability. The price of all the night vision and thermal products has come down throughout the years but ATN still maintains a price for good quality optics at an affordable price for the average person. The nice thing is ATN offers a variety within those price ranges. You can go for a simple optic like the Thor LT or the LTV that are more entry-level and basic or you can go up to their more high-end optic like the Thor 4 or the 4K Pro that gives you more options, more versatility, and yet they’re still fairly reasonable. They also have features that other optics don’t, for example, the battery life on the ATN optics is incredible. You don’t have to worry about changing batteries several times while you’re out hunting. One single charge on a lot of these optics will last you all weekend hunting. In addition to some of the other features like the ABL compatibility with the Thor 4 and the 4K series. The ability to have a rangefinder that will connect via Bluetooth to your scope with the correct data being entered, allowing you to simply range a target, shoot without having to do calculations, holdovers, and everything else is a game-changer.
CLN: I would imagine ATN technology has changed your hunting game, can you expand on this in your own words?
Kevin: Yes, for one the versatility of being able to hunt day and night with a single optic to me makes a big difference. A lot of times I hunt in the daylight and then will transition to nighttime and be able to have a full-color daytime capable optic. Then with a push of a button, switching to a nighttime optic really makes a big difference to me. Also adding thermal optics to my toolbox, the thermals are an absolute game-changer when it comes to nighttime hunting. Having the ABL and the ability to range a target to make a shot with the correct data entered, has helped a lot in terms of success in the field. Also having the ability to record all my hunting activities as well has been great for providing content for ATN, Overdrive Outdoors LLC, and just being able to keep those hunting experiences a lasting memory. It’s something I’m able to share with friends and family, all those successful hunts as they’re recorded through the ATN optics.
CLN: What is your favorite ATN product currently?
Kevin: That’s a hard one to answer because I like all the ones that I have. If I had to choose a favorite, I would probably say the ATN Thor 4 Thermal Scope. That one gets a lot of use, I’ve used it hog hunting down in Louisiana and I’ve used it predator hunting up here in Michigan. It’s probably gotten more use overall lately than my other optics.
CLN: For someone new to hunting, what product do you recommend?
Kevin: It’s a toolbox so it depends on what the hunter is going to do with it. The nice thing about ATN is they offer a variety of products that should fit almost every hunting scenario. If you’re only daytime hunting then the ATN 4K Buckhunter is an excellent daytime-only digital optic. If you think that you’re going to be doing nighttime and daytime hunting then the 4K is an excellent product. It also will depend on your budget and that’s another nice thing about ATN products.
CLN: For anyone on the fence about investing in their hunting gear, what would you tell them?
Kevin: A lot of that comes down to what your expectations are in terms of usage. How often do you use the optic? It makes more sense to invest that money when you’re serious about it. If you’re not sure about it, starting off in the entry line of products is a more affordable and reasonable way to try it and see if you like it and if you do want to invest more money in it. The products themselves are solid and their customer service has really improved over the past year to where I don’t have a hesitation recommending them. But in terms of someone that’s on the fence about what they want to get, I would again look at how serious you are about pursuing what you’re gonna do, and match the products to what type of hunting you are going to do.
CLN: In general, I feel there is a general lack of education around hunting and conservation, what message do you want to send to those who might be new to hunting or might be seeing this kind of content for the first time?
Kevin: Speaking specifically to predator hunting, a lot of people don’t understand the conservation aspect of predator management. They think of it only as trophy hunting. I have wolf hunted, I’ve predator hunted bobcats, coyotes, fox, etc. A lot of the properties that I hunt are at the request of the landowners because the predators are causing damage to livestock, They’re causing a decrease in other game animals and a lot of people don’t understand that aspect of it. I have people that have frequently offered to pay me for helping them with this process because they can’t do it themselves but I don’t take payments for it. I do it because I enjoy it and I like helping people with the issues that they have and it’s kind of a win-win. I’m helping the landowner with their predator issues and at the same time, I’m doing something that I really enjoy doing. Also, in terms of predator management, depending on the time of year, the animals get utilized, whether it be through fur sales, or we’ve had people that will take a carcass from us for taxidermy or scientific purposes. They’ll remove everything off of it and then rebuild the skeleton into a display. The animals get used, although I don’t recommend eating them most of the time. It’s an aspect of helping control the predator population. Predators if left unchecked have a more rapid spread of disease. Keeping the population in check does help keep that spread to a minimum.
CLN: What is your favorite thing about hunting?
Kevin: To me, predator hunting, especially coyotes, are considered some of the absolute smartest game animals in North America. Every time I go out it’s a challenge to see if I can be smarter than that predator. So a lot of it is the challenge of besting nature’s best. The second aspect would be helping landowners control predator populations. Quite often, we get a lot of thanks from people that have had pets attacked or killed by predators. Farmers have predators harassing or killing their livestock. That’s a lot of what we do as well. There’s a certain sense of gratification in helping those landowners and knowing that you’re helping save the loved pet or helping protect their livestock from losses.
CLN: Do you have any closing thoughts about you or ATN that you’d like our audience to know?
Kevin: Especially in the western culture, predator management has been a big part of that lifestyle. To get involved, what you want to do is, think of it as a toolbox. What tools do you need to accomplish the task? Don’t hesitate to ask other people about it to get guidance on what products would fit best for your application. ATN makes a broad spectrum of products that would fit almost any application. Getting feedback from people that are actually doing it and using those products is a really good asset in terms of you being able to make an educated decision on the products that would fit what you’re going to do. In terms of the industry, being involved in it now with ATN and with some of the other sponsors for Overdrive Outdoors LLC. It’s nice to see the family atmosphere of these companies in terms of how we all get along with each other. At the same time, we’re supporting what we all love to do, whether it be deer hunting, predator hunting, etc. It’s just nice to be part of a group of people with similar interests that support each other.
We want to thank Kevin for taking the time to chat with us about his experience with ATN products, we hope that you’ll check out some ATN gear for yourself. You can find more content from Kevin and his co-owned business, Overdrive Outdoors LLC by checking out their Facebook page. The time is now to upgrade your hunting gear. Check out ATN’s full line of products by following the link below.