McKenna “Bear” Pascoe was born and raised in the ranch country of Central California, and grew up roping, riding and shooting. By his freshman year in high school, Pascoe stood 6-feet-2-inches and weighed over 200 pounds. Hence the nickname Bear. At the collegiate level, Pascoe was a standout as tight end at Fresno State University, and was originally selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the 6th Round of the National Football League draft in 2009, before ending up with his current team, the New York Giants.
Today, at 26, Pascoe’s still a bear, standing 6-feet-6-inches and tipping the scales at 270 pounds.
Recently, Pascoe became a member of “Team Weatherby.” A new promotional effort by the rifle maker Weatherby, Team Weatherby’s made up of professional athletes and other celebrities who will participate in various Weatherby hunts and shoots. It was a natural fit for Pascoe, whose father instilled in him a love of shooting and hunting, with a big emphasis on safety and responsibility. A National Rifle Association member, Pascoe took some time during a recent Team Weatherby hog hunt to talk with AmericanHunter.org.
AH: Tell us a little about your childhood.
Pascoe: I was born in Bakersfield, Calif., and raised in the Porterville area on our family ranch. On the ranch, our closest neighbor was five miles away—it was three miles just to get to the road.
AH: So you made your own entertainment?
Pascoe: We did. My brother and I would grab our BB guns and pellet guns and take off walking and plinking, and be gone all day. When I was a kid, if I wasn’t in school or doing chores, I’d be outside shooting guns with my brother. We loved it.
AH: So air rifles were your introduction to guns?
Pascoe: I started off with a Red Ryder BB gun. Then I got a Daisy pellet rifle. My dad made sure we knew how to use one before he moved us up. Eventually, I got a .22 lever action with open sights. When I graduated from high school, Mom and Dad gave me a 20-gauge 870 Wingmaster shotgun for graduation. Talk about an awesome present. For the next couple weeks, you couldn’t take that shotgun out of my hands!
AH: How did hunting become a part of your life?
Pascoe: My dad loved to hunt—still does. One of the first hunts I went on was a quail hunt with Dad and a big group of people. I must’ve been eight or nine. It was really exciting, being a part of that. And Dad was always hunting deer whenever he got the chance, bear, too.
AH: But you mentioned, too, that you’d gotten away from the hunting and shooting?
Pascoe: When I got into high school, I started playing football and that became my goal. Practicing, lifting weights, running. Plus I had to keep up my grades, and there were always a lot of chores on the ranch. Hunting kind of got put on the back burner, along with a lot of other things, too.
But hunting’s always been there in my life, always been something I loved and did when I could. Dad and I just did a duck hunt at a hunting club here in California. That was great! It was really the first time I duck hunted from blinds and called them in. When I was a kid, we duck hunted. But we’d sneak up the canyons and scare them off the ponds, and take ‘em that way.
AH: How did you become a Team Weatherby member?
Pascoe: My cousin, Vince, got a job working for Weatherby. We always talk, and I told him I wanted to do more hunting. Weatherby had an employee meeting, and they talked about putting together Team Weatherby. They said they’d like to get a pro football player on it, but they didn’t have any real contacts in the NFL.
Vince raised his hand and said, “Hey, I know a guy!”
AH: Then what happened?
Pascoe: Weatherby had me in for a tour. We talked about hunting and shooting, and the kinds of things I want to do now, and when I retire from football. Weatherby fit right in with all of that.
When they told me about it, I really wanted to be a part of Team Weatherby. It’s kind of a small, exclusive group, and I was very honored to be offered a spot. I love their rifles, too! I have a Mark V .300 Weatherby Magnum, and their .338 Lapua Tactical Range Certified rifle (Weatherby’s Threat Response Mark V), plus a couple of their shotguns. I’m really excited about having these guns and using them on Team Weatherby hunts.
AH: As a gun owner, what are your feelings about the Second Amendment?
Pascoe: I’m a full-bore supporter of the Second Amendment and the NRA. The Second Amendment is one of our constitutional rights, and our forefathers put it in there for some very good reasons. It’s our right to have and own guns. You have the right to defend yourself and your family.
At the same time, if you’re going to have guns, you better know how to use them. That’s something my dad really put into us. You need to be educated about firearms, a hunter education course or a gun safety class or whatever you do. But it’s your responsibility to know how to use that firearm the right way.
AH: Have you thought about life after football?
Pascoe: I want to own a ranch, and do some professional rodeo. (As a teenager, Pascoe distinguished himself as a roping champion.) Raise cattle. More time for hunting and shooting, that’s for sure.
AH: Do you have a dream hunt?
Pascoe: My “bucket list” hunt would be to go up to Alaska and go grizzly or brown bear hunting, and bag a big ‘ole bear. I think that would be a blast! I think it’s the fact that they are a dangerous animal, and a force to be reckoned with that would make it such a challenge.
AH: Big ‘ole Bear Pascoe killing a big ‘ole bear?
Pascoe: Yeah! (Laughs.) That’s the dream. One day!