Friends and fellow bowhunters Jason Ingersoll and Justin Renninger came up with an idea while camping after a day of deer hunting – and being men of action, the Ahwatukee residents acted on it.
The result is Mounted Horn, an online clothing company with casual attire for hunters – and those who love them.
With both founders being family men, there’s even a children’s line with onesies and bibs and tiny t-shirts with the Mounted Horn logo along with hunting/fishing images and messages.
And because Ingersoll, 39, and Renninger, 36, are ardent conservationists, since launching their company in March, they donate $1 of every shirt sold to the Arizona Mule Deer Organization, a nonprofit that works to improve the habitat and future of the state’s declining mule deer population.
“When we started Mounted Horn, it was more of a creative outlet for us to design and sell clothing that we would want to wear,” Ingersoll said, adding:
“As we began building the business, we realized we wanted it to be more than that. That’s why we decided to partner with the Arizona Mule Deer Organization.”
Renninger, an IT tech supporter, concurred.
“As hunters and fishermen, we care about our parks, the animals, and the environment. Our focus on designs began with mule deer, but we’ve expanded to include even more options, including fishing.
“We hope to go further, possibly including hunting and camping gear, and maybe our own camo pattern.”
Their clothing line is “made and designed for outdoorsmen by outdoorsmen,” Renninger said.
“We are consumers of hunting stuff and we’d talked about how we should start making our own stuff, clothes we would want to wear,” added Ingersoll. “And what started as just ideas came together enough that we started our own company.”
Ingersoll is a full-time media and social media specialist, a career he came by while serving as a combat photographer and videographer while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps.
“It was a unique experience,” recalled Ingersoll, now a husband and father of two sons, ages 9 and 4. “I spent seven years working in museums and on crime scenes in Japan, Australia and other countries, but no hot zones.”
He said he comes from a family of hunters, and is a fan of northern Arizona deer and elk hunting.
“In Arizona, we have some of the best public land hunting anywhere,” he said. “Justin and I are very much public land hunters.”
Ingersoll and Renninger met in 2013, and have been hunting together since.
Renninger said it was due to his friendship with Jason that he moved from rifle hunting, which he’d started with when hunting at age 13 in Washington state, to bow hunting - which he admits meant a lot of practice at area archery ranges like Chandler’s Archery Headquarters.
“I’ve been bowhunting about five years now,” said the Southern California-born Renninger, who with his wife has two daughters 14 years, and 18 months.
“I deer hunt with Jason, though I’ve been putting my name in for an elk tag but haven’t gotten one yet,” he said wistfully.
Renninger said he’s hunted deer, quail, doves and ducks in his past, but now focuses on deer.
“Duck hunting in Arizona is difficult because they don’t flock very well down here,” he noted.
The Mounted Horn brand has a growing number of t-shirt and hat designs; one of the newest, Arizona Pride, has proved popular since its unveiling earlier this month.
The graphic is a silhouette of the company’s Mountain Horn logo with the antlers wrapped in the state’s red and yellow, and emblazoned with the copper star on the blue skull.
There are at least a dozen different graphics adorning the men’s and women’s graphic t-shirts, children’s wear, hats and even padded socks with the company logo.
Many boast creative sayings like Elk Whisper, Deer Whisperer, I Love the Outdoors, American Hunter and the headscratcher to the uninitiated, Got Backstraps.
“For the most part, most of our customers are like-minded so they understand what this means. Backstraps are the money cuts of the animal like loins, chops or ribeyes.” Ingersoll explained.
Both Ingersoll and Renninger love to cook, and cuts from their fall and winter hunting expeditions are used in recipes year-round.
Being grilling season, their Facebook site currently showcases mouthwatering recent delicacies such as elk cheeseburgers with grilled asparagus, barbecue bacon venison cheeseburgers, bacon-wrapped deer tenderloins and more.
“My favorite thing to make is a barbecued elk roast,” said Ingersoll. “It’s like pulled pork and literally shreds apart when cooked.”
Their Instagram account often provides photos of completed dishes such as bacon-topped wild game meatloaf and sometimes, recipes for dishes like elk meatballs.
A photo of an elk roast included the fact that it had been dry aged for two weeks, and a deer jerky photo solicited favorite recipes.
A recent live video of Ingersoll, wearing his Mounted Horn t-shirt, and grilling bacon-wrapped deer tenderloin on a 106 degree afternoon, was well-received by newcomers to the site and other videos may be done again in the future.
Both men are sensitive to those who may question how hunting animals and conservation co-exist.
“Hunters and fishermen are among the biggest supporters of wildlife conservation in the country. Every dollar we spend on tags and licenses goes towards conservation,” said Ingersoll. “Many of us, including Justin and I, support nonprofits such as Arizona Mule Deer Organization as another way to help conservation.”
“That’s why we’re supporting the Arizona Mule Deer Organization by donating one dollar from each shirt,” reiterated Renninger.
For now, their company is their passion but remains their sideline and hobby.
“I love what I do, and I’ve been doing it for 11 years,” said Renninger, the IT professional. “But at the same time, you want to build your own company, see it grow, and bring more work to Arizona.”