January 03, 2017
When you're a serious whitetail hunter, you're always hoping for just one more good hunt.
Especially when you film such hunts for a living as Outdoor Channel television personality Pat Reeve does each year.
As this story is written, Reeve, who along with his wife, Nicole, co-hosts the Driven with Pat & Nicole television show, is chasing one final big buck, a late-season giant that will put a finishing touch on a great season of filming.
But he's doing so against the continual march of the calendar as the Christmas and New Year's Day holidays come and go, passages of time that usher in the annual tradeshow season each year in January.
Ready or not, it's time for some business, this time without the video cameras.
"Going into show mode, it's gotten a little easier over the years as we've gotten accustomed to it," said Reeve. "Still, when it's time to leave for ATA in early January, sometimes, it can cut into your late-season hunting.
"It seems like show season kicks in so fast, but it's a part of it all, a part of what we do each year, so it's important to us to get there," he added.
"We want to meet and greet fans, let them know who we are and who our sponsors are and hear their stories of hunting success."
They also want to connect with old friends.
"We love to see everybody, it's such a big family for us now," said Pat. "We get to see people like Lee and Tiffany, the Kiskys and others that we haven't seen much of during the past year."
If meeting fans and seeing old friends are a couple of things driving Pat and Nicole to Indianapolis this year, then another part will be solidifying and nurturing the business relationships that make their careers possible.
"Yeah, the business side of ATA and SHOT (the SHOT Show) are important for us," said Pat. "We're looking to continue business relationships with existing sponsors and to start grooming new ones."
Reeve admitted that as an established outdoor television show, it's not as pressure-packed as it once was to hit the ATA Show floor.
In fact, he admits that by the time he and Nicole arrive at the ATA Show, many of the year's business partnerships have already been solidified.
Still, like a hunter looking for one more buck to chase, he and his wife always have their eyes open for the next relationship that might one day help their show continue on and go to the next level.
One example readily comes to Pat's mind.
"I remember when I started Driven back in 2005 and was walking around the ATA Show floor," said Reeve. "I came to Curt Price's Lumenok booth, shook his hand and told him what I was doing.
"He didn't know me from Adam, but he was cordial," he added. "I was so new, we didn't have much of a chance to talk, but from that point on, he never forgot me. And I stopped back and said hi each year.
"As my brand grew and the show got on air and became more popular, he eventually decided to invest in the show because he liked our approach.
"I still remember that first year when he talked to me after I stopped by to visit. And that's how it goes, that's the kind of longevity and relationship that you're looking for."
For those accustomed to seeing Reeve in a tree drawing back on a record-book whitetail, he admits such work during show season is perhaps the most important part of his yearly efforts.
"This is a side of the business that no one else sees," said Pat. "Other people, they see you from the outside looking in and they think that all you do is go hunt for a living. What they don't see is this business side of it and all of the hard work that goes into this.
"There's the sales pitches, the marketing side of things, the getting and maintaining of sponsorship dollars for your show, the meeting with fans, etc. There's a lot of hard work and a lot of long hours that goes into that side of things."
In fact, Reeve says that hitting a home-run in show season is sometimes harder to accomplish than harvesting a big whitetail.
For complete ATA show coverage of all the new bowhunting gear for 2017, please visit: http://www.bowhuntingmag.com/ata-show-2017
"Yeah, I'd say it is way easier to kill a Boone & Crockett buck on camera than it is to get and maintain sponsorships and such," he laughed. "After all, I'm a hunter, not a salesman."
That being said, it seems obvious from the success of their show and the quality sponsors Pat and Nicole attract and keep, that the hunting power couple is good at the business side of things too.
"We're loyal, we work hard on maintaining our credibility and we work on over delivering to our sponsors, to help keep them happy with our efforts," said Nicole. "Thankfully, we have most of them (with us) for a long-term relationship."
Pat adds: "We work extremely hard at it and spend a lot of hours fine-tuning our craft, perfecting the details of what we do. People see the show at a high level of production, but they don't always see how you got there and all of the effort that it took to do that."
"Hopefully, our sponsors notice and see such things as the YETI cooler in a shot, us showing a Mathews bow in a partial cutaway, things like that," he added. "It's subtle branding efforts, but it's an eye to detail that sets you apart."
Nicole indicates as solid as their show and business relationships have been over recent years, there is always more hard work to be done come every new show season.
"You can't rest on your laurels," she said. "The first thing we do at the end of each year is talk about what we did right and wrong last year, how we can get better during the next year.
"Pat has never been happy to have the same flow in our show with things like the opener, the graphics package, etc. He's always looking to tweak it and make it even better."
"Yeah, when people watch (our) show, I don't want them to have a hard time distinguishing it from a rerun or from a new original show," said Pat. "We don't do many shows, so we have to do what we do very well and keep it fresh."
Both Pat and Nicole are hopeful their business partners will recognize that hard work as yet another show season begins.
But as much or more, they also are hopeful the fans of their show will see and like such efforts.
"You love interacting with the people that are there, those who are fans of what we do," said Pat. "From the pro-shop folks to the grassroots level to the marketing folks, you want to shake as many hands as you can.
"It's always gratifying to meet these people, the ones who are in the archery pro shop playing Outdoor Channel on the TV set when your show comes on," he added.
"They want to meet you, to talk to you, to get an autographed poster, to take a photo, stuff like that.
"(And we want to do that because) show season helps them know who Pat and Nicole are."
And who they are is one of the hardest working couples in the business, a husband-and-wife team driven to succeed every time a new year rolls around.
Even if they have to leave home in early January during the final hours of the whitetail season.