DAREDEVIL OF THE ELITE SERIES
Story Matt Pangrac - Lead Photo courtesy of Brandon Card
Caryville, TN - Elite Series rookie, Brandon Card, has navigated his way through the first seven tournaments of the 2012 season with quiet consistency. He has recorded only one top 12 finish, which came in his home state of Tennessee on Douglas Lake, and has posted four other finishes between 18th and 41st place.
With only Oneida Lake left on the 2012 schedule, Card holds a 30 point lead in the Rookie Of the Year race over Florida’s Cliff Prince.
On the outside, Card appears to be a pretty mellow dude, but fans who have been following Card’s quest for the 2012 ROY title, got their first taste of his extreme side when Card posted a photo of himself on his Facebook Fan Page strapped in to a skydiving harness and sporting a roguish grin.
“I guess that my personality is pretty low key,” Card said. “I just try to live life to the fullest and do stuff that I really love to do.”
Skydiving happened to be one of those things.
“I’d been talking to my girlfriend about it, because skydiving has been on my list for a long time,” explained Card. “She surprised me with it on my birthday, and it was a pretty awesome gift.”
Card’s jump originated in Dandridge, Tennessee, which is the same city that hosted the Elite Series when they visited Douglas Lake this past May. “We could see both Douglas and Cherokee Lake when we jumped, so that was pretty cool,” he said. “It was pretty intense, especially the flight up.
“The scariest part was when the door actually opened and I had to put my legs out on the rail. I was trying to postpone the whole deal, because I was kind of freaking out. I grabbed the side of the plane, and the pilot literally grabbed my hands and pushed them outside the door. I think we were in the air for about seven minutes, but the free fall was only about 40 seconds.”
When asked to describe what the free fall felt like, Card answered, “Kind of like bungee jumping,” and that response opened up a whole new dimension into the world of Brandon Card outside of the Bassmaster Elite Series.
“This is all stuff that I really love to do, so what the heck, why not do it?” Card explained. “Bungee jumping was probably my first real extreme sports experience. When I was 14- or 15-years old, I bungee jumped at Pigeon Forge (in Tennessee).”
Two summers ago, Card and his brother tackled whitewater rafting on Tennessee’s Ocoee River – the same river that hosted Olympic whitewater events in 1996.
“It actually wasn’t as scary as we were hoping for because it was only Class III Class IV rapids,” said Card. “But there were a couple of times when we almost flipped the raft and things got a little hairy.” He’s currently in the planning stages of another whitewater rafting trip with his brother. “We’re looking at the really hardcore rapids – the Class V and Class VI stuff,” he explained. “I think that when we finally get on that kind of water, it’s going to be pretty extreme. My brother is really hardcore about the adventure stuff. With my fishing schedule, it’s just really hard to plan trips together like we would like to.”
(For those of you who need to brush up on the International Scale of River Difficulty classifications - Class V rivers are “exceedingly difficult,” and feature “long and violent rapids, following each other almost without interruption.” Class VI rivers feature rapids that “have rarely been attempted and exemplify the extremes of difficulty, unpredictability, and danger.”)
Along with skydiving, bungee jumping, and whitewater rafting, Card lists cliff jumping among his favorite leisure pursuits.
“Yea, I’ve done quite a bit of cliff jumping in the past,” he said. “I’ve never really jumped off of anything that big though, probably only 50-footers.”
Card’s favored cliff jumping destination is Norris Lake, which he considers to be his home lake. “There are a lot of really tall bluffs and cliffs and stuff around the lake,” he explained. “When we’re out fishing and see a cliff that looks like it would be cool to jump off of, we just climb up there and jump.
“I pretty much just jump. I really don’t do any of the crazy flips and stuff,” he continued. “I worked at a canoe outfitter in northern Minnesota my sophomore year of college, and there were some extreme cliffs up there on the glacier lakes,” Card remembered. “There were a few jumps up there that I just couldn’t bring myself to do – they were like 70-footers.”
So, what’s next on Card’s “to-do” list?
“Dude, my brother and I are obsessed with it. We literally talk about wingsuiting all the time,” said Card, who has a library of adventure sports DVD’s. “The only thing is that it takes quite a bit of experience skydiving before you’re ready for it.”
(For those of you who need to brush up on what exactly “wingsuiting” involves - it is described as, “The sport of flying the human body through the air using a special jumpsuit, called a wingsuit, which adds surface area to the human body to enable a significant increase in lift.” If that doesn’t paint a clear mental picture, check out this YouTube video of some wingsuiters – CLICK HERE)
“It’s all about the adrenaline rush,” said Card about his affinity for adventure sports. “I just love it. You name it, I’m up for it. I would have to say that something that would compare to the feeling of jumping out of a plane would be like catching a bass over six pounds in a big tournament. The adrenaline rush that you get right after you land the fish – that’s what it’s all about.”
Note: Card mentioned that he also has a fondness for rock climbing and rappelling, and he would like to take his bungee jumping to the next level, jumping off of some “really high bridges” in the future.
And why aren’t there many photos of Card’s extreme adventures? “Most of the time it’s with a group of guys, and we really don’t bring cameras,” he said. “I think that I’ve got a photo of me cliff diving somewhere, but I have no idea where to find it.”