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A Life in Outdoors Television

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Editor’s Note: The quickest way to get from where you are to where you want to be professionally is to find a person who already has arrived at the place you're trying to go. Ask that person to mentor you to get to where he or she is. If you look behind great people, you'll find that most if not all have had great mentors. Mentoring often creates an up-and-down relationship, but it’s still the shortest route to success. Cody Robbins of Live 2 Hunt TV had had world-renowned outdoorsman, Jim Shockey, as his mentor.

robbins-day2-2 ResizedAnother of Jim’s Shockey’s friends was Arley Claypool, a deer-hunting guide at Jim Shockey’s deer camp. Jim knew that I had hunted and guided a lot of territory around my home. He thought I might be able to help Arley find a big mule deer and video the hunt. So, Arley and I spent quite a bit of time together, but Arely’s reputation had preceded this hunt. Arley Claypool was known far-and-wide as having four of the most-beautiful daughters in all of Canada – Jolene, Brandy, Breanne and Kelsy. When I was a little boy, Arley had helped my dad build our home, so our families already knew each other.

On the hunt, I filmed Arley taking a 215-inch mule deer, after hunting for 25 days. Of course, I started talking to him about his daughters on the hunt. I asked him, “Can you get me a date with one of your daughters?” He told me, “They are all dating someone. You aren’t in their league. I never could get you a date with one of them.” Six months after Arley took the big mule deer, he called and asked me, “Will you take my youngest daughter Kelsy mule deer hunting next fall?” I really didn’t care which one of Arley’s daughters he wanted me to take hunting, because they were all really pretty. Any one of them would work, but Kelsy was the only daughter who hunted, and she was the youngest. Kelsy took a really-big buck – a 193-inch mule deer buck - on that hunt and was on the cover of “Big Buck” magazine with the deer she took while hunting with me. After the hunt, Arley called me and said, “I think this is disgusting, but Kelsy likes you. She thinks you're a nice fellow. You better call her quick and ask her for a date before someone else does.” At this time, I was 27 and Kelsy was 25. Kelsy was managing her family’s western store. She had worked there since she was 13-years old.

robbins-day2-3 ResizedWhen I told Kelsy that I was planning on leaving Jim Shockey’s TV show and starting a TV show of my own, she said, “I think you're crazy.” At that time, we were only causally dating. I was working for Jim. Once I tried to start my own show, Kelsy got involved and started helping me become successful. She became my co-host. I was doing all the hunting and filming, and I needed someone to put in front of the camera. So, Kelsy became that person in front of the camera. We were on the Canadian TV Network for 4 years before we brought our show to the United States.

During those 4 years, we were barely able to make ends meet and pay our bills for our TV show. We were probably within minutes of going broke when my mentor Jim Shockey came back to me and said, “Let me help you get your show aired on the Outdoor Channel.” At first, I thought Jim was a little hurt when I told him I was going to start my own TV show. He had put a lot of time, energy and effort into training me, and now I was going to become a competitor. I knew there had to be some hard feelings involved. So, we had put some distance between us for about 8 or 10 months. However, we had invested so much time in each other. I was hoping we could get back together, and I knew he was too. We had traveled to 15-different countries together. I was his only cameraman and editor for the first 5 years of his show. During the time I worked for Jim, we were spending about 325 days every year side-by-side. So, besides the business we were in together, Jim and I were very close friends.

robbins-day2-4 ResizedThen Jim and I started taking to each other again after about 10 months. We didn’t talk about business. We just talked about the time we had spent together, the hunts we’d been on, the kind of deer I was finding, and the deer he was seeing. We talked about family and how each other’s business was doing. We were just having the kind of conservations that friends have. Then Jim called and said, “I've seen your show on television when I've been in whitetail camp. I think you're really doing a good job. You really need to get on the Outdoor Channel.” I told him, “I’ve tried, but so many people are trying to get their shows on the Outdoor Channel that I haven’t been successful.” That’s when Jim said, “If you'll let me market your show for you, I think I can help you get on the Outdoor Channel.” Jim and Gregg Gutshaw marketed our show until last August, 2014, Jim was starting a new show, and I really wanted to go out on my own. This was fine with Jim. We’re still the best of friends, and I still consider him my mentor. We try to help each other whenever we can.

Jim probably saved our financial lives. Jim taught me the television business and the video and editing business. He also provided a vehicle for me to find my wife, and he saved us from a terrible financial disaster. That’s why I believe so strongly in the value of mentoring and finding a mentor for whatever you want to do in life.

To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oaks Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.

For information on making jerky from your elk and other big game animals to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book.

Tomorrow: Cody Robbins Explains How to Book Your Dream Canadian Deer Hunt

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