Category Archives: Hunter Stories

SHOT Show 2011

January 25, 2011

SHOT Show 2011

By Brandon Wikman

As the ATA show comes down to a simmer, another gargantuan show begins to sizzle. Nearly halfway across the country, the world-renowned SHOT Show kicks off in Las Vegas.

The ATA show, which is held in Indianapolis, caters to  archery hunters, whereas the SHOT Show is targeted to the general hunting population. Both shows are huge and electrifying.

Shot show 1 The SHOT Show is an annual tradeshow for the shooting and firearms industry. It is one the biggest event of this type in the world, together with IWA & Outdoor (“IWA Nuremberg”) which also takes place annually. “SHOT”, besides being a general reference to shooting, is an acronym for “Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade” (show). This trade show is open only to those in the trade and the press. It is not open to the general public.

SHOT Show attendance remained strong in 2010, rising 11,000 above 2009’s show in Orlando.You will find some of the following show statistics quite intriguing. The total attendance averages to be about 58,444 people. There are 1,633 exhibitors showcasing outdoor and hunting products. There are over 31,2800 people who attend to write orders, look at the new and exciting products, and meet fellow industry partners. Lastly, there’s 700,000 net square feet for hardcore hunters to use.

The first SHOT Show was held in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1979. The show is owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. It rotates between Las Vegas, Nevada; Orlando, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana, and several other U.S. cities, although in the last few years it has taken place mostly in Las Vegas.

A show like this lasts for several days and makes for an incredible experience. If you ever have a chance to attend such an event, please do. You will be glad you did.

Jenn’s First Bird

Crossposted from Grow the Hunt

October 12, 2010

Jenn’s First Bird

– By Brandon Wikman

Hunting turkey can be a pursuit of unpredictable obstacles that weave themselves into a broken basket that can only carry air. Big birds are notorious for pecking your intelligence into the ground. Often times, they seem to make me want to pluck my hair follicles out! This week I strutted out of the woods slightly smarter and much more successful.

This past weekend meant the world to me. I wanted to serve my dear friend Jenn a hen dinner served on a silver platter. My focus was purely on my forest’s feathered friend, turkey.  A peculiar critter that eludes even the most tactful hunter in the woods, these birds live and die by their keen eyesight. It’s as if turkey sport a pair of Nikon’s on their goofy faces, not to mention their uncanny ability to survive in a wilderness seemingly fit for only the most dominant bush creatures.

I had one day to put my best efforts into scouting and zeroing-in on a bird for Jenn. I began my woodland excursion in the morning while trekking farm fields for any visual evidence of footprints, scat or feathers. During my big search I happened to stumble across an alfalfa field that graciously held a handful of feathers. As I collected field feathers and began to part the lush greens in search for prints, I was convinced that this was a gobbling good spot.

Instantaneously, the blind was erected. Turkey aren’t as tent-blind savvy as whitetail, but I still brushed-up the blind to ease any doubts. My handsaw was put to action. Woodchips flew like sparks as the saw’s teeth shredded through the lumber. Pine boughs were thrown into a heaping pile that would soon be decorating my blind. Pine trees are incredible for throwing down a covert strategy that will make you invisible; the limbs are dressed with so many finger-like needles that vanish your outline in a matter of seconds. My blind looked like a pine hut that came directly from the early era of caveman. My ancient cavern would soon be put to the ultimate turkey test once Jenn arrived to hunt tomorrow.

IMG_5037 The next morning was show time. All I had to do was hope that the flock of birds wouldn’t forget their travel route, which bypassed the blind at a mere 10-yards. Jenn and I shuffled to the blind at first-light. As she jacked ammo into the shotgun I crossed my fingers and wished for Jenn to blast her very first bird.

The sun cast a balance of warmth on the blossoming fall forage while the fog faded, and flocks of geese darted into the horizon from bowling balls to bb’s. This Mother Earth moment was instantly carved into my memory and cleansed my soul. It was nature at its very best. We sat, watched and waited.

Suddenly, my eyes grabbed a flashy bolt of black. Both Jenn and I squinted out of the window and spotted the flock scratching their way from the woods into the field. Beams of sunrays accented the feathers as I gawked at my plan working to perfection. Jenn snuggled the gun into her shoulder as I continued to throw a one man show circus in my imagination. One-by-one the birds entered the field. Jenn selected the closest turkey and without much guidance provided her own opportunity to shoot. The faint click of the safety was followed by the booming blast of her gun. There were birds and feathers scattered everywhere! It was as if the sun had been abruptly blocked and floating feathers and darting birds choked all light. All the while, I turned to look at the smile on Jenn’s face and it lit the world back up.

IMG_5516-ADJ As the commotion of wing beats and puttering bird noises ceased, I turned my attention to a beautiful bird lying on the ground. The elation of joy was hard to beat for the experience of a surefire plan, which is difficult to come by. I counted my blessings that morning and shared my love and passion with someone I deeply care for.

Blue River Whitetails

Crossposted from Grow the Hunt

October 07, 2010

Blue River Whitetails

– By Brandon Wikman

A certain sign of hunting season’s arrival is when the soft velvet turns ripe and begins to peel off antlers like dry flaky skin. It was early, the weather was warm, and the deer still sported a thin coat in Kansas last week; let the hunt begin!

IMG_5492-ADJ I’ve always looked forward and dreamed of sitting in a Kansas tree overlooking a mass field of greens. As a media savvy population, we know the caliber of deer that are taken from Kansas’s ground, which makes the concoction so much more riveting. TV shows, writers, and industry leaders flock together like geese to find their landing strip in the beautiful rolling hills of Kansas. Though the state is very diversified in land and terrain, bucks are of plenty. Trophy scoring giants attract antler aficionados all season long. It isn’t a surprise to see so many hardcore hunters travel to the Sunflower State in pursuit of tall-tined critters.

My hunt began with an in-depth research review of my selected guide and outfitter. I’ve been blessed to hunt some absolute dynamite spots with magnificent people, but in the same token, have made fatal mistakes of driving into the wrong camps. My Kansas go-to-guy was David Schotte, owner of Blue River Whitetails. Schotte runs a superb family oriented operation and has been doing a successful job putting his clients on both species year-after-year. He’s also featured on Drury Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Next Generation, Hardcore Hunting, and Hunting With Keith and Tony! It didn’t take long for me to realize just exactly why these well-known television shows kept returning to Hanover, Kansas!
The first day I arrived at Schotte’s house for a meet n’ greet and more! After striking back on old times and past memories, Schotte was quick to upload some recent Moultrie trail cam pictures. Using the aid of trail cameras significantly reduces hunter error by ten-fold! This is exactly how Blue River Whitetails is able to provide their big buck hunting clients an unheard-of 70% success rate with a 150” average!

As we both clicked through picture-after-picture of recent deer activity, I could only gawk at some of the heart-wrenching whoppers that called this place home. It became even more exciting when we stumbled upon a spot that had an abundance of morning activity. It didn’t take us too long to hone in on the pictures and reserve a spot for the next morning.

Daylight brought the sounds of darkness alive and colors of Mother Nature pure. Muzzleloader in hand, I scanned the valley in search for antler, but instead stumbled upon the trail camera that was strapped to a tree a hundred yards below me. This was where many of the deer were crossing.

Only minutes of daylight passed until deer began funneling back to their bedding area. I motioned to a slight noise of movement to my field producer as he turned on the camera. I buried my face into the scope and waited to see brown. On cue, a doe walked out into the opening. She posed for the trail camera for a brief moment before tossing her head back. Another doe followed. As both doe crossed my shooting window I spotted antler in my scope. Massive brown tines balled-up into my scope and nearly struck me in the face as the doe left my field of view. My heart sunk into the bottom of my stomach as my thumb cranked back the hammer.

Crack! In seconds, smoke piled in front of me like London fog and blocked my vision. The shot instinctively felt good, but I needed to see blood. I walked down the hill, smiled in front of the trail camera and found what I was looking for; fresh blood.

The time and efforts Schotte put toward planting food plots, installing waterholes, building brush blinds, and strategically placing cameras all boiled down to that very moment; holding my biggest buck to date. I want to sincerely thank David Schotte of Blue River Whitetails and bless his family for providing an incredible atmosphere each year we go.