When hunting trophy bucks becomes your profession as well as your recreation, you have to put in about as many hours, or more, than you do with a 9-5 job. I start shed hunting as soon as deer drop their antlers where I plan to hunt in the upcoming season. By shed hunting, I often can find sheds from big bucks that other hunters haven’t seen, so I know there’s a big buck in the area. All I have to do is find him. When I do locate him, I can start putting out trail cameras. I can pattern him in the spring and summer when he doesn’t have any hunting pressure, and when other hunters aren’t in the woods. Also, in the late spring and early summer, I’ll sit on hilltops and mountain tops where I can see agricultural land for about 2 miles with my spotting scope. I’ll be looking for big bucks feeding in the agriculture and in any open fields, clear-cuts or any places high enough to let me scout from long distances. Once I see a mature buck and determine I want to take him, if he’s on private land, I’ll attempt to get permission to hunt that property long before deer season. I’m putting in 200 days a year, sometimes all day and sometimes only part of a day, scouting for deer.
I also have a cattle ranch and raise Black Angus Crossbreeds, Black Baldies, and my hobby on the side is raising Texas longhorn cattle. The color of these cattle, the length of their horns and their bloodlines really intrigue me. I was raised on a cattle ranch, so raising cattle is in my blood. My dad was a cattle rancher but just sold all his cattle and retired. So, when Kelsy, my wife, and I are gone hunting, he takes care of my cattle like they’re his own. If Kelsy and I are planning to be hunting deer for 15 days, I don’t even have to call Dad to see how things are going. He’s been taking care of cattle all his life, and we’re so lucky to have a family who is supportive of our hunting and our TV show.
I started hunting when I was 12 years old, and even though no one in my family hunted, I was very fortunate that one of my friend’s family hunted and took me with them. By the time I was 16 years old, I was a passionate bowhunter; when I was 19, I set a goal to video as many big deer as I possibly could. I had saved my money, so I quit my job and bought a professional video camera for $1200. My goal was to produce a hunting video of mule deer and whitetails in Saskatchewan and sell that video through a magazine named “Big Buck.” I think that same magazine is still being distributed.
Halfway through that hunting season, I was fortunate enough to locate and video a white-tailed buck that scored 198 inches, and I got some really good video of this buck. After I filmed that buck, that night I was sitting with famous outdoorsman Jim Shockey’s nephew and showing him the footage. Like me, he couldn’t believe how big this buck was. So, he told Jim Shockey about his buddy with the monster whitetail. Mr. Shockey wanted to meet me, so he could hunt that big deer. Mr. Shockey always had been my hero and a hunter I truly respected and admired. We set-up a time and place for Mr. Shockey to hopefully see the monster buck. Before Mr. Shockey came to see that video, I put 3 hours of big bucks on the video in front of the buck that scored 198 inches. When Mr. Shockey came to my house, he had to fast forward the video through all the big bucks I’d photographed that season. When he’d see a big buck, he’d stop the video and ask, “Is that him?” and, I’d say, “No, sir.” Mr. Shockey was being very polite, but I could tell he was getting frustrated. He wanted to see the footage of the giant whitetail that his nephew had told him I had.
When he got to the end of my 3-hour video and finally saw the big buck, he told me, “I’d like to hire you for 30 days to hunt this big buck, and I want you to video it for me.” When I heard those words I was as excited as if it was my birthday, Christmas and every other holiday rolled into the event. I couldn’t believe that the man I’d watched on TV, the man who had an outfitting business that produced trophy deer every year, and the man who was my idol was hiring me to work for him. Jim Shockey also had produced an adventure series of videos that I’d bought and nearly wore out each tape watching it. Just the opportunity to follow him around, walk in his footsteps and sit in a blind with him was an unbelievable opportunity for me.
Tomorrow: The Lie that Started a TV Show