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Ups and Downs of Being a Professional Hunter

Pat Reeve | Mossy Oak ProStaff

Pat Reeve with Ram

Many sportsmen who watch our show and others on TV may think that every time we leave home, that the first day we get to where we’re hunting, we can take a big buck within 20-25 minutes after we arrive. But that idea is simply not true. I had to spend two weeks on two different trips to Saskatchewan in 2017 to harvest that 160-class buck I finally took with my bow. Nicole and I have to produce 13 new, original TV shows for our “Driven” TV show every year. Most of the time, that doesn’t mean we only hunt 13 weeks. 

One time I hunted Dall sheep in the Northwest Territories of Canada and had to make two trips there before I finally got my ram. I went two times to Saskatchewan to take my nice bow buck. I’ll probably have to go Illinois twice to fill my tag there. People often ask me how long do I hunt to film those 13 shows. My standard answer is, “As long as it takes.” 

Nicole and I are just like all the other deer hunters. We get defeated on a number of our hunts, but rarely do you see that defeat on TV. That’s where we got the name of “Driven” for our TV show. We stay on the road as long as is required, and we hunt in all kinds of weather. Although we research, plan and scout for deer and work over 300 days each year to produce those shows, the deer still beat us more times than we take them. But we’re passionate about our hunting, and we’re not going to give up. 

In 2016, I hunted all year long and never harvested a whitetail. I took some mule deer and other animals, but none of my whitetail hunts worked out. I passed up a 160 whitetail in 2016 that I wanted to grow older. I spent a lot of time with my children and hunted with them. I also hunted hard in other states. 

During 2016, I flew back and forth two different weeks to Saskatchewan to hunt whitetails. I sat in the cold until dark thirty without even standing up but still didn’t get a buck. Now sitting for 12 hours or more for seven consecutive days and not getting a shot will burn you out on hunting deer. Then I returned for a second week and had the same kind of luck. Luckily, Nicole had a good year in 2016 with whitetails, and my children did too. That same year I did a TV show in Alberta, Canada, and saw a giant whitetail and several other big bucks but couldn’t get a shot at any of them. We produced that show to help people realize that you can do everything right to take a whitetail and still strike out. 

I had this giant buck coming in to where I waited that I should have been able to take. But a doe spooked him, and I didn’t get that opportunity to shoot. That kind of encounter happens to all of us who hunt. One of the things many people don’t understand is that we go on a lot of hunts and aren’t able to film TV shows while there. 

I’ve learned and kept records that we have about 50-percent success each year on all our hunts. I’ve been filming TV and videos on hunting for the past 30 years. I do everything possible to be successful on every hunt I do. Often I’m asked, “Why don’t you hunt public lands?”  We do hunt public lands every now and then. However, the chances of taking a mature buck on public lands is much less than taking one on private lands. 

Our “Driven” TV show is on for 52 weeks. So, we produce 13 shows in the fall, and seven shows not in the fall. Every day Nicole and I do something to produce those 20 shows each year. When we’re not hunting, we’re getting ready to go hunting. We may be shooting our bows and rifles, hanging tree stands, putting out or checking trail cameras, etc. 

For 30 years, I’ve hunted full time, all the time, to bring the outdoors to the hunting public. I’m 48-years old now, and I’m always asked by people, “Pat, how long do you think you can keep running this kind of schedule?” I answer them, “Until someone throws dirt in my face when I’m six feet under.”

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