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Good Dan Hunting
Stephanie Davis Smith | Photo: Jamie Hopper | February 20, 2014
Our guest editor gleans life lessons in an unexpected place.
As president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties and our guest editor this issue, Dan Forsman sees a lot of parallels in being a good business leader and a good landowner. “Anytime you’re given something, you want to improve upon it and cultivate it,” he says. “So, you’ve got to be a good steward of the land as much as you are a good steward of your people.” After purchasing a 200-acre property for hunting wildlife such as deer, wild hogs and ducks, he discovered that his land was also shared by predators such as rattlesnakes, alligators and panthers. “I’ve always been sensitive to the ecosystem. That’s why I enrolled our farm in a state stewardship program to promote longleaf pine, protect gopher tortoises and participate in burn cycles. I have always known that, in nature, for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. When you’re dealing with an environment, there are all these unintentional things you can do. I’m just taking care of my little piece of the world.”
Forsman has always been a hunter. “When I was 13 or 14, I’d walk with my dad in the fields of Nebraska hunting pheasant, rabbit and quail. “I feel very engaged and alive out there,” reveals Forsman about spending time on his South Georgia hunting property. “That’s why people climb mountains. That’s why they go on ski trips or even to the gym—they’re looking for that feeling. That’s what people are searching for. They’re looking for that lift—and it’s right out there.” When he came to Georgia, Forsman started out shrimp fishing on the coast. “Have you ever seen Deadliest Catch? It was exactly like that!” Don’t let the buttoned-up business executive facade fool you—this nature-loving, camo-wearing thrill-seeker has always loved being out in the wild. “They call it the great outdoors for a reason,” he explains. “When you go out hunting you experience it all: the sunrise... the smell of the woods before a storm... the gobbling of a wild turkey in the dark... all of it.”
While he heads down to the property pretty regularly during hunting season, he never misses being in South Georgia during the rut. “A rut is the time when deer activity peaks,” he explains. “It happens once a year, and the activity can be surreal. It is a fascinating time to see the behavior of the herd, the sounds they make and the interaction between bucks, does and other game.” To Forsman, hunting isn’t just about the kill, it’s about the entire experience you have out in the woods. “A great duck hunt might be when your son takes his first bird, which he will never forget,” he explains. “The best hunts happen when you make an indelible impression on others. And it’s the allure of never knowing what’s going to happen next.”
When Forsman takes first-timers out, his hunting philosophy reveals a lot about his management and leadership style. “You don’t want to be the condescending know-it-all [to a rookie]. You want to be the encourager and help people grow into loving whatever they’re doing. I want to be seen as a coach and motivator. I’ve had people help me up the ladder of success, and I want to do the same.”
And while there are many similarities in his work and hunting style, Forsman rarely brings colleagues or associates down for a hunt. “It’s a family and close-friends activity and I never use the property for entertaining clients.” He keeps business and pleasure separate. Instead, his sons and son-in-law are often his hunting companions, and each year they have a family hunt. “My dad and cousins come down for a week. We hunt in the morning, play golf in the afternoon, hunt again in the evening and then have a wonderful meal.” It sounds like most guys’ dream weekend.
That’s just what Forsman wants. “If you think about it, in this world of concrete, sheetrock and glass, we’re only about the third generation of humans that have been confined like this away from nature,” he notes. “Our roots are anchored in something much more rudimentary, fundamental. Could most people live off the land today? If you can’t pop it in a microwave or pull it up on an Xbox, you’re toast. This gives you a chance to connect with something real.”