Tuesday, Aug 06 2013 06:00 AM

Local hunter, outdoorsman is business success

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Lennis Janzen, of Tehachapi, doesn't just run a company to provide products for outdoors enthusiasts, he travels an d tests them himself.

Outdoorsman Lennis Janzen founded Crooked Horn Outfitters nearly 25 years ago. His products are still all made in the USA.

Lennis Janzen and Crooked Horn Outfitters have become a long standing staple and a brand name used by hunters and outdoor enthusiasts around the world. Crooked Horn Outfitters, which will celebrate its 25th year in business early in 2014, is as American as apple pie. Founded by a Kern County native and long-time Tehachapi resident Lennis Janzen, Crooked Horn is more than a business, it is a passion for adventure, hunting and the outdoor life.

Janzen grew up on the Tejon Ranch where his father was a cattle foreman for 40 years.

"I grew up knowing a cowboy's job is never done, there were always plenty of chores for a kid to do before and after school, this included most week-ends as well" Janzen said.

From the age of six, young Lennis learned how to work cattle on horseback and by the age of 12 learned how to do most of the jobs on the ranch but hunting became his number one passion.

Lennis attended high school and began his higher education at Bakersfield College and went on to Chico State, where he majored in Forestry. Lennis was also very skilled in carpentry and he opened his own cabinet shop in Tehachapi.

After 10 years of building everything from cabinets to furniture and on his 30th birthday, Lennis decided to follow his passion for the outdoors, and started Crooked Horn Outfitters.

Crooked Horn's first product designed was a custom daypack, which got off to a good start but the Slide & Flex Bino-System, which replaced the old fashion traditional neck strap, turned out to be the home run hit that put Crooked Horn on the map.

The Bino-System is a unique cross over-the-shoulder design that holds the binoculars tight to a hunter's chest, relieving all neck pain and kept them from swinging around.

"After about five years our products were becoming very popular in the hunting industry and the Bino-System was now being used world-wide and sells were incredible. Twenty years later the Bino-System is still the solution for heavy binoculars and remains our number one seller," Janzen added.

Crooked Horn's original business goals were to create a line of hunting essentials that would be "must have gear" for most outdoor activities.

"No matter the activity, you have to be able to rely on the gear you have with you, sometimes even for survival as many can attest to, even myself," Janzen said. "Situations can change drastically and it is easy to not be prepared."

Janzen field tests his product in remote areas, such as Alaska, and on hunts across the USA.

"One of the most important features of the Crooked Horn line is it's made right here in the United States by a military manufacturer," he said. "You can rest assured it won't fail you when you need it most."

Crooked Horn made the decision 20 years ago to hold on to the Made in the USA label.

"That was a decision that hasn't always been so easy, but if we were going to build the best products in the world, we would need to build them in the strongest country," said Janzen of the more than two dozen products Crooked Horn offers to the outdoorsman and hunter.

Innovative products like the RF Hook Up Series was a breakthrough for the hunting industry as well as archery tournaments allowing customers. It allows use of a rangefinder and binoculars simultaneously.

The Backpack Trail Lights was another hit for Crooked Horn and is a product everyone should own. It is a compact, yet powerful hands-free light will easily lock onto any one inch webbing, backpack, suspenders, purse strap, or clip anywhere you would need a light; car visor, shirt pocket, belt, etc. The concept is to keep the light below your eyes, protecting your night vision so that you can see all obstacles in front of you. It's a perfect light for every family member to use while hunting, fishing, camping and running, just about any activity done in the early morning or late evening.

"Our goal is to design the ultimate line of equipment that will make a hunter more confident in their outdoor abilities and more successful harvesting trophy class animals," Janzen said.

"I hope our equipment takes your adventure to the next level. Once you are comfortable in the outdoors you will become confident in your abilities and you turn apprehension into exhilaration," he added.

Hunting for Janzen isn't always pursuing big game with a weapon. He has become very skilled at capturing big game and small critters with video and digital still cameras.

"After the hunting seasons are over is when most of the big animals become visible. The adrenaline rush of filming animals can be just as rewarding as hunting because you still stalk in close and have to make the shot. The only difference is, with a camera you don't need a license or tags," Janzen said. "There is no season or bag limits, and you can film the same animal as they grow bigger each year, plus you don't have clean the animal when you get home. Now I can hunt year round and enjoy every season that the outdoors offers."

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