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.
My wife, Kelsy and I have been wearing Mossy Oak Break-Up for the last 3-4 years. After we wash Mossy Oak Break-Up two or three times, we have found the pattern becomes a little muted and not as bright, which makes the pattern perfect for the country we hunt when were stalking mule deer. But this year, we’re really looking forward to hunting in the Mossy Oak Break-Up Country pattern. During the rifle season here in Saskatchewan, Canada, where we live, we’re not permitted to wear camouflage. We have to wear all white or all hunter’s orange. But when we hunt in other places and/or during bow season, we've been wearing Mossy Oak Break-Up.
We live on a ranch in Saskatchewan, Canada. We have 80 head of black cows and 20 head of registered Texas longhorn cattle. My longhorns are my stress relievers. They are pretty-colored, they have big horns, and I enjoy raising them.
Fourteen years ago I started working for Mossy Oak Pro Staffer Jim Shockey. I was his cameraman and his editor. Jim was my employer; he was my friend and my mentor. I spent more time with Jim than I did at home, and he continues to be a great friend and a great mentor. I enjoyed working with Jim because he was one of the best teachers I'd ever had, and he demanded the best from me that I could produce. I talked quite a bit to Jim about one day having my own TV show. At that time, Jim was considering producing a show called “The Professionals,” which aired about 6-years ago. Finally, I decided I never was going to have a TV show if I didn’t dive in head first, leave Jim and start my own show. This decision was probably the scariest decision I ever made in my entire life. Most of my friends said, “What are you thinking? You're leaving one of the most-popular outdoor TV shows in the nation, working with an iconic person like Jim Shockey to start your own show. You know how tough it is to get sponsors and air time. You know how many TV shows fail because there's so many people trying to do what you're hoping to do.”
Every night when I went to bed, for the next 2 years, I kept thinking, “This show is going to crash and burn. I'm going to lose everything I've got. I don’t really think this is going to work.” The reason the show finally gained momentum, and we’re now on the Outdoor Channel is because Jim Shockey started talking to me. He said, “You have a really-great product. Would you be willing to join forces with me and have our marketing group market your show for you and try to get your show down in the states on the Outdoor Channel?” At that time, our show was only running in Canada. When Jim offered to help me, I jumped at the chance, because rarely if ever will a major TV host and producer help another TV hopeful get into the same business. In 2012, Jim introduced us to Mossy Oak. This is the reason Kelsy and I wear Mossy Oak, and our TV show is also sponsored by Mossy Oak. This is the short version of how Kelsy and I got into the outdoor TV business.
Before I worked with Jim Shockey or got into the outdoor television business, my goal in life was to make a hunting video, put it on the market, buy a full-page ad in “Big Buck,” a magazine in Canada, and release my own hunting video for whitetails and mule deer in Canada. I wanted to be like Will Primos, Jim Shockey and the other great TV hosts and producers. I worked for 8 months really hard, saved all my money, bought a professional video camera and started filming wildlife. At the end of several months, I was running out of money and about to starve to death. I couldn’t get any kill shots on camera. I filmed an awful lot of really-big bucks. But when I hunted them or went with someone to hunt them, they seemed to vanish.
Jim Shockey heard about some kid (me) who had filmed a whitetail buck that would score 190. Jim wanted to know where the buck was living and wanted to see the footage of the buck. Someone gave him my phone number. That’s how I first met Jim Shockey. When Jim Shockey called and said he was coming to my house to see the footage, I was shaking in my shoes. I couldn’t believe that Jim Shockey was sitting in my house, watching the footage I had shot of this really-big buck. After Jim watched the footage, he offered me a job to become his cameraman. He explained to me that he wanted to start his own hunting TV show. I couldn’t believe I was getting that opportunity! Jim and I hunted together for 30 days that fall, and Jim took that 190-class buck that I had filmed. I think that’s still the biggest deer he's taken. I couldn’t believe I got to sit in the blind with Jim, tell hunting stories and have the opportunity to get to know the man that I had admired for so long. I was hired in the fall of 2001.
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: Finding a Wife and Life in Outdoor Television with Cody Robbins