- March 4, 2012
The fast pace and glamour of New York City beckoned Larysa Switlyk soon after she graduated from the University of Florida with a dual bachelor's and master's degree in accounting.
So at 22 years old, Switlyk took a job with PricewaterhouseCoopers. She lived and worked in the city. But the dream died fast, within six months. “Once I did it,” says Switlyk, “I realized I was really a country girl.”
The realization led Switlyk to take a two-month trip, on her own, to New Zealand. She jumped off cliffs on the Great Barrier Reef. She went skydiving. She swam in waters with 14-foot-long tiger sharks.
And, most significantly, Switlyk learned how to hunt. “I had a natural talent for shooting,” says Switlyk. “I found my passion.”
That passion put Switlyk on the cusp of a new career. Now 26, she has met with NBC Outdoors producers about her own hunting TV show. In the meantime, she's crisscrossing the country, and the world, on hunting and fishing excursions. The latest was a trip to New Mexico to hunt elk.
But Switlyk has day jobs, too. She tired of the 9-to-5 in accounting, so she earned her Realtors license in 2009. She currently works for James Buchanan Realty in Sarasota, where she does mostly residential sales, with some commercial leasing. She also puts her accounting degrees to good use, doing freelance bookkeeping with a few local companies.
The jobs are essentially a means to finance hunting and fishing.
“I like real estate. I like accounting,” says Switlyk. “But I love to hunt. That's my dream.”
Switlyk says the most ironic part of her hunting life is she has three older brothers — none who hunt. Her parents aren't hunters, either. “I grew up with a fear of guns,” she says. “I thought if I touched a gun, it would kill me.”
But Switlyk discovered skeet shooting at the University of Florida. The sport's hyper-focus requirement took her mind off school. Says Switlyk: “I would go skeet shooting and nothing else would matter.”
Now, even without the TV show, Switlyk has turned her hunting enthusiasm into an entrepreneurial venture, with a website and videos. The site, http://larysaunleashed.com, is also a blog of Switlyk's hunting and fishing adventures.
Switlyk says she wants hunting to always remain her happy place, the spot where she can go with no cell phones and no distractions. “You can get away from it all,” she says.
Switlyk plans to get away to more exotic hunting locales. She has hunted and fished in countries on six continents, everywhere but Antarctica. One of many highlights was when she hunted big game in South Africa.
Given her past accomplishments, a trip to Antarctica could happen sooner than later. That journey, like many others, would fulfill Switlyk's mantra to live life with no regrets.
“If you want to do something, do it,” says Switlyk. “Don't ever wait.”