With over 300,000 Instagram followers and 127,000 YouTube subscribers, Heidi Hoback shares her life and her love of the outdoors with the world.
STORY BY BARRY WISE SMITH
1) Tell me about growing up in Virginia—were you always into hunting and fishing?
I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My older brother, my mom, my dad and I were always doing outdoorsy things together. I grew up in an outdoor lifestyle, hunting and fishing. We have a lot of trout streams around here, so I grew up fishing for trout. I also fished for largemouth bass in Claytor Lake and Smith Mountain Lake. There’s a picture of me in a diaper and a pair of Timberland boots holding a trout as big as me on a string. I also tagged along with my brother and my dad on hunting trips. We have a family farm in southwest Virginia, and we hunted there my whole life.
2) What did you do after high school?
I went to four different colleges; I just didn’t like being in a classroom. So I left and moved home. When I was home, I decided I needed a hobby, so I ordered a lure-making kit on the internet, and I started making lures. I already had a pretty good amount of followers on Instagram, and when I finished my first batch of lures, I had a ton of messages from people asking if they could buy them. I realized I could turn this in to something, so I came up with the name Lil Red Lures, ordered more supplies, created a website, and moved to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I had visited there since I was a kid on family vacations so I knew the area and the fishing. That’s when I really got into saltwater fishing.
3) How often do you do get to go hunting and fishing these days?
During the summer, I fish almost every day. This winter, I moved back to Virginia for the winter months, and I’m renovating my family’s farm. The farmhouse on the property was built in 1901—it has no running water and wood stoves for heat. After the house is done, I’ll split my time between North Carolina and Virginia.
4) What are your favorite things to hunt and fish?
My love for fishing is now mostly saltwater—red drum and speckled trout. I got my first boat last summer, a 21-foot Bulls Bay. I like to hunt for whitetail, wild turkey, and coyotes are on my list.
5) When did you start on Instagram, and what were your goals in the beginning?
I’d never been a really big social media person, but while I was at Virginia Tech, my roommates told me that everyone was doing Instagram. It really started blowing up for me in 2015. People seemed interested that a girl would be into outdoorsy stuff like fishing and hunting. I found my niche in the social media world. I like that I could get outside and focus on nature. I now do YouTube videos, and I like to hear how they’ve brightened people’s day or inspired them to get outdoors. I use it as a place to share my stories and influence people to live a better life and have a better mindset.
6) How do you share your love of the outdoors with women and encourage them to try outdoor activities?
I didn’t set out to do that, but it’s pretty amazing that girls have said that they’ve been inspired to see me take my boat out and rig my gear up myself. I think women can be empowered when they see another woman doing it. I really hope to inspire both men and women to find their happiness and what makes them free. The simpler you make life, the better it will be.
7) What is your best one-that-got-away story?
Here’s my “ghost buck” story. About a year ago, I decided to solo camp at the farm in November in hopes of harvesting some meat for the freezer. After a few days of no success and sleeping in a summer-rated tent in freezing temps, I began tracking a nice six point. On the last day of my hunt, he appeared at the top of the ridge, and I took a long shot—over 100 yards. He seemed to fall after my shot rang out, but when I went to where he had been, there was no sign of blood or impact. I tried to track him and ran the story through my mind a million times. He became known as “the ghost buck.”
9) What does your perfect day look like?
Waking up before sunrise and taking my mom and my dog on the boat and having a great day of fishing. Catching enough to eat for dinner, and heading home to watch the sunset and having a couple of mojitos and a nice fish dinner.
10) Tell me about your lures and your website.
What started as a hobby became my business. I began experimenting with things that I thought would work, and every time I put something on the website, it seems to sell out. I hand make every lure. A couple of years ago, Walmart contacted me about coming in to their store, and I had to tell them that I couldn’t do it then because I didn’t have a manufacturer or the inventory to make that size order. But I definitely want to expand into the retail market. I think a lot of people really like that I make the lures by hand, so I think finding help to make them by hand would be the next step. There’s no better feeling than seeing someone catch fish with one of my lures. I just got my trademark plaque, so that’s exciting.