Real(tree) Men Wear Sweater Vests


The ATA and SHOT shows are finally over for 2012. We’ve spent so much time pointing out cool gear and favorite products from the shows this year that I think it’s only fair to point out my least-favorite aspect of the shows—the Realtree Sweater Vests.

To my knowledge, these v-neck, Merino wool garments aren’t commercially available (you’d best kiss the ground and then thank the stars above for that). They were custom-ordered as the official “show uniforms” for the male Realtree employees at this year’s shows.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that overall, the reception from those of us required to wear them wasn’t favorable. However, they were the center of many-a-fun conversation over the two weeks. Here’s a sampling of the commentary:

-Jeremy Eldredge, Hoyt (interrupted a meeting to shout this at Tony Hansen): “Look at those things the Realtree guys have to wear. Hey Hansen, nice vest! Bwahahaha!” 

- Kristy Barnes, Realtree: “Those would look much better with a big tuft of chest hair sticking out of the v-neck.”

-Dave Hurteau, Field and Stream: “You look quite dapper, Brantley. Kind of like Rick Santorum.”

-Dana Peacock, Realtree: “No sweater vest today? Gimme some knuckles. I’m not wearing my leopard-print show shirt, anymore, either. It gave me a horrible rash.”

-Jonathan Harling, Winchester: “See? Words can hurt. I told you to stop teasing me about my sweater vest last year, and you wouldn’t. The tables have turned, buddy.” 

-Tony Hansen, Realtree: “Yeah, of course I know the vests weren’t on the schedule to wear today. I don’t care. I really like them.”

-Brita Hinderliter, Gray Loon Marketing: “I can’t even believe how sexy that is.”

-Dodd Clifton, Realtree: “I’m glad you boys are wearing your vests, but my God, it looks like a couple 5-year-olds put them on. How did you already get them that wrinkled and stretched?”

-Stephanie Mallory, Realtree: “No you weren’t supposed to put them in a washing machine. They shrink like crazy. Of course, that means now they’re skin-tight. Even better!”

-CJ Davis, Nikon (via text message at 1 a.m.): “You sleeping in that vest, Brantley?”

-Art Tucker, Realtree: “Yeah, it’s cold. Vegas gets cold at night. Bet you wish you had a sweater vest, like mine. But you’re not a team player, are you?”

-Michelle Brantley, my wife: “Seriously. Seriously. Just put it on without a shirt underneath and flex for a photo. Just one.”