Kelby Fassiotto loves the outdoors. That’s why just about everything he does—hunting, photography, coaching baseball—happens there. He lives on a ski resort in a small Colorado town, so it goes without saying that he deals with tough rocky mountain terrain regularly. When it came time to choose an off-road vehicle for his hunting trips, he needed something that could get the job done, but that also fit his lifestyle. That’s why for Fassiotto, choosing the Can-Am Defender wasn’t just about performance, but personality.
If you plan on asking Kelby Fassiotto what he does, you’d better clear your schedule. He’s a professional photographer and videographer, talents he uses as the owner and creative director of the content creation company he founded, Blacktimber Media. He co-owns Cuchara Valley Archery, a Southern Colorado archery club which he’d like to expand. He owns a bar, which operates during the summer only. He coaches baseball. He does CrossFit. And of course, he hunts. A lot. And Kelby documents all these experiences on his Instagram page, where he describes himself as a Digital Creator. No matter what he’s doing, you can be sure he’s doing it outdoors. And his Can-Am Defender isn’t far.
Fassiotto has an active Instagram feed. He posts nearly every day, sharing candid but pro-quality photos of his latest hunting adventures and peppering in some breathtaking Colorado views. You can’t scroll too far through his feed without seeing one of his hunting buddies wearing camouflage and holding a cold one.
By following Kelby's Instagram (@shutterwest_) you also get close-up looks at his go-to off-road vehicle, his HD10 Can-Am Defender. Roughly two years into owning it, Fassiotto is smitten with the vehicle’s capability. “That thing goes everywhere,” he says. But there was more to his purchase than simply performance.
“Everything [about Can-Am] felt like it was something I wanted to belong to. We’re all more about the culture and what it represents,” he says of he and his brother, who lives close by and often joins him on hunting trips. “So we thought Can-Am had a great culture and we just wanted to be part of it. Plus, you guys make sick ass machines so we just said, ‘Let’s go.’”
Being part of the Can-Am community was important to Fassiotto, but so were things like Can-Am’s customer service, the care that went into building his vehicle, and of course an engine that could handle him and his hobbies. His Defender always joins him on his hunting trips, so he needed a ride that could accommodate varied middle-of-nowhere terrain—but could also handle some treacherous terrain closer to home.
Fassiotto lives right beside the newly resurrected Cuchara Mountain Park in Cuchara, Colorado, a magical view he wakes up to each morning. But he isn’t one to just take in a view. Naturally, when Kelby first got his Defender, he wanted to test it out in his own backyard.
“Those slopes are steep,” Fassiotto says of the ski hills. “There are a couple black diamonds on there and the Defender would go straight up those 35 degree slopes. I was a little nervous [at first], but it worked out pretty well.”
When he’s not hunting, Fassiotto coaches high school baseball for a program that he and his father relaunched after the school went nearly eight years without a team. He uses that to contextualize his commitment to hunting. “There aren’t many things after high school sports that you put a lot of time into, and then it’s showtime and you reap the rewards from what you put into it. So it’s really just all how you prepare and then you can see how well you do from being prepared to do that. It’s physically demanding, mentally demanding, and it’s definitely going to teach you patience.”
In southern Colorado, winter temperatures regularly dip below 30 degrees. Hunting days are spent outdoors and often span from sunup to sun down. Kelby says in his family, hunting starts as soon as you’re old enough to carry a gun, typically at six or seven years old. He can remember his first hunting trips with his father, and in particular the chilly temps. Those days, he says, he would get so cold that his jeans would freeze together. Kelby would beg to keep moving to stay warm, but the elder Fassiotto preferred to stay put, waiting patiently for an opportunity. It’s a lesson in patience that stays with Kelby to this day. Still, those chilly memories stay with him too, especially when the icicles start to form on the roof of his Can-Am Defender. Those cold Colorado winter days have Fassiotto considering making a slight adjustment to his side-by-side: Adding a fully sealed cab for warmth.
Fassiotto has taken a liking to bowhunting, an admittedly much harder method than rifle hunting. It requires even more diligence and skill.
“We had an elk a few years ago that got about three feet from us," Kelby says, recalling the incident. Thankfully, he says, his group stayed calm and stayed put, and the elk moved on. "When you call ’em in, they’re coming to either fight you or mate with you. One of the two is going to happen, so you’ve got to hit it before it gets to you. It’ll make you think twice.”
But for Fassiotto, it’s not just about a prize. The work he puts in to improve as a hunter goes a long way toward respecting his prey and caring for the well-being of the animals.
“You practice all year long so that you can shoot ’em once and get ’em down the first time. That’s why you practice all year long; so you only need one shot. Because you don’t want to hurt ’em or anything. You want to make it as peaceful as possible for them.”
“And the plus side is, if you end up shooting something, you get fresh, organic meat for half the year for free basically. There’s that part of it too that people don’t really understand.”
Fassiotto can get deep when talking about his experience with hunting. Sure, it’s been a lifelong hobby of his, having got his start in his first decade. But it’s also been a life changer for him.
“It’s just like connecting back with nature. If you go on a hunting trip for three days, your whole mindset is completely different. You end up thinking about what you want to do in life. We went to Arizona for 12 days, and when we came back my whole mindset was completely different. You appreciate different things and you appreciate your relationships with people. It just resets your mindset. And if you start young you can do it your entire life.”
Then there’s the way hunting can connect you with your roots. Kelby remembers the day his older brother shot his first elk. It occurred 50 years to the day after their grandfather shot his first elk, and at the same location to boot.
Kelby Fassiotto is a man of many passions. We're proud to have been able to add one more thing to his list of passions: His trusty Can-Am Defender.
On worksites, hunting trips, in agribusiness, and anywhere you need: the Defender gets the job done right. And he's the pillar of many incredible stories.
We want to hear from you. How has Can-Am changed your life, or motivated you to do more and challenge yourself? Share your journey with the tag #CanAmOffRoadLivin—we might get in touch and share your story.