Larysa Switlyk had just completed her CPA exam and was taking a break before law school when she discovered her true passion for hunting and fishing. This would ultimately take her around the world, and she has been chasing extreme game in even more extreme terrain for well over a decade. Having hunted more than 80 species and racking up accolades that most hunters can only dream about, Larysa has truly reached the upper echelons of the hunting elite.
Whether it is hunting crocodiles or hippopotamuses in Africa or chasing mountain goats in Azerbaijan, Larysa has done it all. She won the Sportsman Channel’s “Shot of the Year” in 2014 and then became the World Carp Classic champion the following year. In 2019, she impressively completed the Capra World Slam, cementing herself among hunting royalty.
To chronicle her hunts, she created and produced her own TV show, Larysa Unleashed. That was followed by her latest show, Unleashed Global Adventures, which not only captures her exciting hunts but also doubles as a hunting consulting company that allows the rest of us to book a once-in-a-lifetime hunt. We were able to track Larysa down after a successful turkey hunt to learn more about this amazing huntress.
SS: You’re a pretty badass hunter, but you didn’t come from a hunting and fishing family. This all started on a holiday in New Zealand. Tell us about it.
LS: My first passion is traveling and experiencing new cultures. I was supposed to enter law school, but I wanted to take a break after finishing my masters in accounting and taking my CPA exam. I wanted to live a little and to try new things—skydiving, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting and canyoneering. If I liked it, then I’d do it again, and if not, I’d move on. I never expected to fall in love with hunting.
SS: What happened when you called the local outfitter in New Zealand about fly fishing?
LS: I called and talked to one of the owners. She told me that it wasn’t a good time for fly fishing but hunting season had started. She asked, “Would you like to book a two-day hunt?” So, I showed up with my backpack, a pair of boots and that’s all. The outfitter just looked at his wife with a face like, “What have you gotten me into?”
SS: How was your first hunt?
LS: My first hunt was very strenuous with a lot of hiking, but I got to experience the beauty that God has created. I was backpacking, and I didn’t have a lot of money. I wanted to shoot a red stag, but I didn’t realize how expensive they were. They were starting at $6,000, and I told him, “I can’t afford that.” So, I asked him, “What’s the cheapest thing I can hunt?” He offered me the opportunity to hunt a female fallow deer for $250.
SS: What was it like the first time you pulled that trigger?
LS: When I took that shot, everything went into slow motion. I’ll never forget the way that it made me feel. I was overwhelmed with emotion, and the adrenaline rushing through me was the most intense feeling I have ever experienced. It was just pure excitement and elation that I did what I had set out to accomplish. After I admired this beautiful animal, I watched the guide butcher it. We packed it off the mountain and cooked it for dinner. I realized quickly that this was my new passion and something I was born to do. I hungered to learn more, so I asked him, “What else can I hunt that I could afford?” He replied, “An Arapawa ram.” I responded, “Great, let’s go tomorrow!”
SS: How did your first TV show, Larysa Unleashed, come about?
LS: Hunting is very expensive, so I needed to fund my new passion. That’s when I snuck into the SHOT Show and saw the Golden Moose Awards. I saw people winning awards for making hunting shows, and I couldn’t believe it. I set a goal of five years to make my own hunting show and to be up on that stage winning an award.
SS: You finally ended up on that stage, just like you planned. How did it go?
LS: I lived and dreamed this show. I used it as a vehicle to showcase hunting in a positive way and to promote conservation. It’s not as glamorous as people think, though. I had to work very hard and use a lot of my own money to get it to where it is today. I finally won the Sportsman Channel’s Shot of the Year award in 2014. I shot a running doe with my bow. We were doing a deer drive, and it was running right toward me and turned at the last moment. I made a good, instinctual shot and an ethical kill. I was the first female ever to win that award. I had been dreaming about that speech for five years and used the time to thank everyone who said that I couldn’t do it.
SS: You’re an ambassador for Hunt of a Lifetime. What do you do there?
LS: We take children who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses on their dream hunt or fishing trip. I’ve always wanted to share my passion and get more women and children into hunting. On one trip, I was with this 12-year-old boy hunting a ram in Florida. He had a neurological issue that had him in a wheelchair. Over dinner, his mom told this story of a deer hunt where she watched him stand up, shoot the rifle and sit back down. He was excited about taking the deer, and his mom was more excited that he had stood on his own! He said, “We need to call the doctor. We found the cure to my disease, and it’s hunting!” That’s why I do this. It’s so rewarding to take kids out, and I’m happy to volunteer my time.
SS: How do hunters aid in wildlife conservation?
LS: Hunters do more to protect animals and their habitat than any other group. They prevent overpopulation that can cause the animals to starve or be stricken with disease. Taxes paid for licenses and equipment go toward conservation. Scientific studies show that regulations and bag limits improve wildlife numbers.
We include a segment on conservation in each episode of Unleashed Global Adventures that is specific to the geographical region and the game we’re hunting. It’s important to note that just placing a value on game animals overseas offers them significant protection. Without this, the animal serves no purpose to the community and can be poached or killed with impunity. If it has value, then the people will protect it. Hunters’ dollars are worth way more to these communities and are used to fund schools, infrastructure and jobs, like anti-poaching units.
Hunters go to the most remote communities outside of the five-star resorts and photo safaris because that is where the animals are. Most foreign hunters cannot bring the meat back, so it goes to feed the local communities. There’s a science behind wildlife conservation, and it’s working.
SS: A limited number of people have ever completed the Capra World Slam, and even fewer have been women. Tell us about it.
LS: This award has a very special meaning to me because my boyfriend, Jason, and I accomplished it together, and we were able to share the stage for the most prestigious night of my hunting career. The Capra World Slam is the most physically difficult hunting award. You have to hunt 12 goat species of the world. They live in very dangerous and steep terrain. It’s difficult to even get within 400 yards of them, which means your physical and shooting abilities need to be at the highest level.
SS: What was one of the more difficult goats to hunt?
LS: The bezoar ibex in Turkey was very difficult. I had to make an extreme shot of 465 yards downhill. Jason had to hold on to me as I hung over the cliff edge in order to make the shot. It was a very challenging shot taken while the ibex was moving. He didn’t go far, and we found him right where I thought we would. Some of the animals are very impressive, and you can spend days on the mountain chasing them. They run up the mountain in five minutes, and then it takes me two hours to cover the same distance. A cool fact about my slam is that I have all these difficult hunts on film!
SS: What do you love about mountain hunting?
LS: Hunting is a mental game. You have to convince yourself to keep going and to make it to the top of the mountain. You go through this emotional roller coaster. You could hunt for two weeks and not even see an animal. But honestly, I enjoy the experience the most. On some of my best hunts, I didn’t kill. Hunting is an incredible experience. There are times when you are just miserable. I sometimes find myself asking what I am even doing out there—I’m wet, I’m freezing, and I can’t feel my freaking toes! I can be exhausted and starving, but there’s something inside me that keeps me going. Every time I get home, I can’t wait for the next hunt to begin.
SS: At Skillset we love gear, so what is one piece of hunting gear that you just can’t do without?
LS: A Ledlenser headlamp is a necessity. Sometimes you don’t think you’ll be out all night, but then you get stuck packing out an animal late, so it’s always in my gear.
SS: If you could only have one rifle, what would it be?
LS: The Gunwerks ClymR chambered in 28 Nosler. It’s a fast and versatile round. I’ve hunted all over Africa and Europe with it. I was able to take down an elk in New Mexico at 1,150 yards. I prefer spot-and-stalk hunting, and this rifle works well for that.
SS: If money were no object, what kind of hunt would you book?
LS: I would hunt the markhor goat in Pakistan. It’s about a $200,000 hunt. It is unique and one of the most impressive-looking goats in the world.
SS: Unleashed Global Adventures can set up an epic hunt or fishing trip for anyone. What can our readers expect, and how do they reach you?
LS: Yes, we hunt with all our outfitters ahead of time. It’s all filmed, and you can see where you’ll be hunting before you book. I’ve teamed up with Jason Soulliere, who had a booking agency with his father for over 30 years. We created Unleashed Global Adventures as a hunting and fishing consultant company as well as an internationally aired television show. Our TV show plays globally and just received the Professional Outdoor Media Association Pinnacle Awards in the Broadcast and Conservation categories, which we are very proud of.
We have the experience, and we can send you to the best places. It’s better to be pointed in the right direction by someone who has been there. You can book your own Unleashed Global Adventure at UGABookings@gmail.com or at unleashedglobaladventures.com. Definitely subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date on new adventures we are offering and follow us on social media! We also arrange some hosted trips for new hunters and ladies-only trips, so don’t miss out on upcoming trips, especially if it is something you would like to try yourself!