Every year I like to show respect to the people, blogs, websites, podcasts, etc. that help me keep my mind outdoors even when I can’t be there physically. Let me start by saying, I’ve been a subscriber to Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, and Wisconsin Game & Fish for years. In fact, yesterday I read a great article about mature buck myths on the Outdoor Life website. Those magazines are always great for tips and product recommendations. Wisconsin Game & Fish spends most of their fall giving out information about the deer herd, new regulations, etc. I always pick up some information from all of these magazines that I find helpful. Even if I’ve learned nothing from any of them, at worst it’s just entertaining to read about hunting and the outdoors.
This year I have three recommendations. Actually, four recommendations if you live and/or hunt in Wisconsin. I’ll start with the Wisconsin-specific:
Wild Wisconsin – Off the Record Podcast
Apparently this podcast was available last year, but I was not aware of it. I discovered it a few months ago and it has – especially recently – been a deer hunting clinic. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about deer hunting in Wisconsin is covered. The podcast is produced by the Wisconsin DNR and the hosts/guests are DNR wildlife biologists. Two weeks ago they released an episode called “Deer Hunt 2018 – What You Need to Know Before You Head Into the Woods”. It was everything about changes to the hunting laws and why they made the changes. Yesterday’s episode – “A Year in the Life of a Whitetail Deer” – was fascinating if you’re in to that kind of thing. They cover other Wisconsin wildlife topics as well. Earlier in the fall there was an interesting episode about the state of migratory birds in the state. As you can imagine, the spring and summer are loaded with fishing information. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this podcast and thank the Wisconsin DNR for creating it.
Wired to Hunt Podcast
Yes, I’m a big fan of the podcast medium. If you have a mobile device (everyone does now, right?) and you’re not listening to them, you’re really missing out. Do you like talk radio? Imagine being able to listen to any topic you want whenever you want for free. It’s a fact: There are a trillion hunting podcasts available. Why do I like Wired to Hunt? Mostly because I like the host, Mark Kenyon. Unlike a lot of the hunting professionals and experts out there that I’ve followed, I think I’d really like hanging out with Mark. I realize that if you’re in to any kind of hunting – especially deer hunting – there’s going to be at least some redneck element to it. That’s just not my thing. If Kenyon is a redneck, he doesn’t show it. He feels like a regular guy who just loves to not only hunt deer, but to learn about them and understand them. I also get the vibe from him that he’s not really and expert and he’s learning along the way like I am. He tells great deer hunting stories. He seems to be in genuine awe of many of his more accomplished guests.
Last year Wired to Hunt added an extra weekly podcast in October and November called the Rut Report. They call hunters from around the country and ask them about the rut activity that they’re seeing. At first I thought this would be an informative analysis of exactly what was going on in every state. It’s actually just anecdotal evidence. They’ll call someone from Wisconsin and say, “What’s the rut activity in Wisconsin on a scale of 1-10?” The guy answering will tell a story or two about how many deer he’s seen or a buddy of his. The question really should be, how many deer have you seen this week? The funny part is, I prefer it this way. It’s an informal conversation with hunters around the country and the topic is, “You seeing any deer?” The Rut Report is a podcast I listen to immediately on Wednesdays when they drop.
In past years I’ve written tribute columns about deer hunting legend Ron Spomer. I love watching his hunts. The issue is, he’s always hunting big open country in South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, or Texas. I’ve never seen him shoot a deer from less than 200 yards away. He’s always streaking across the prairie trying to chase down a giant buck that he just saw go over a hill 800 yards away. I admire the hell out of his knowledge, ability, and marksmanship. However, I don’t hunt like he does. I park my ass in a tree stand in the woods and sit. If I’m dreaming about my deer hunts, Ron Spomer’s hunts don’t cut it.
Bill Winke and the guys at Midwest Whitetail do it like we do. They’re up in trees in the woods or on the edges of fields. My favorite part of Midwest Whitetail is the amount of video content they put out and how quickly they turn it around. This time of year they’re putting up daily video blogs. If one of the guys had a successful hunt you can bet I’m seeing high quality, well-edited video of it within a couple days. This year they added an app for AppleTV. Being a proud cord cutter and someone who streams everything, the convenience of having all of the Midwest Whitetail content on my TV right next to YouTubeTV, Netflix, and Hulu is awesome. I take a look every day to see if anything new has been added, and there’s always something.
My only beef is that – much like Wired to Hunt – it’s all bowhunting. I think I need to get a bow.
I already touched on my feelings about redneck culture. When I first heard of Modern Huntsman on Kickstarter about a year ago I felt like these guys were scratching me right where I itch. Allow me to steal a portion of their Kickstarter campaign:
For those of you who don’t know, Modern Huntsman is a biannual publication, and online forum for like minded conservationists, creatives, and outdoor enthusiasts. Born out of frustration with the way hunting is often mis-represented, this publication will be told from the perspective of hunting purists and philosophers, unaltered by the skews of mainstream media, misinformed emotional rants, and corporate interests.
In short, we’ll be returning to the root traditions, in hopes of improving the perception of hunting in our modern society.
THAT is a hunting publication I’m happy to get behind. I want to support hunting without thinking that a portion of the money I’m giving is being funneled directly to the NRA. I just received Volume Two of Modern Huntsman in the mail this week. This issue is focused on what we can do as outdoorsmen to make sure there is always public land available to everyone. Keep in mind, this is not a cheap magazine. This feels like a book printed on heavy stock. The photography is mind-blowing. The storytelling feels like a modern version of the Gordon MacQuarrie books dad gave to us years ago. Not gonna lie…my dream would be for something I write to be good enough to receive their attention. I would love to have one of my hunting tales published in their magazine.
I enjoy everything I mentioned above, but there isn’t a single one of them that hits the bullseye for me. The Wild Wisconsin podcast is informative, but doesn’t capture the camaraderie and fun of hunting. Wired to Hunt and Midwest Whitetail do some of that, but they are also 100% bowhunting. Modern Huntsman is beautiful, informative, and takes outdoor storytelling to a new level. However, a lot of it is about exotic hunting overseas or outrageous hunting expeditions 10,000 feet up in the Rockies for animals I never knew existed.
I’m just an IT guy with a couple shotguns, a .308, and a few weeks of vacation. I’m fortunate to have friends and family to share it with. I know there are thousands of others out there like me. I just haven’t found the exact combination of everyman hunting and storytelling that captures not only what happens in the field, but what happens at camp. I’ll continue to work on that.
Until then, check out Wild Wisconsin, Wired to Hunt, Midwest Whitetail, and Modern Huntsman. They do the trick for me.