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After ten years in front of the cameras of Driven with Pat & Nicole, one of Outdoor Channel's popular shows, you might think that Pat and Nicole Reeve might want to rest a bit on their laurels, especially with 21 Golden Moose nominations and five wins in Outdoor Channel's annual SHOT Show awards ceremony that presents hardware to the network's yearly best of the best. But the two hard core hunters from Minnesota never do rest, instead they push the bar to even higher levels of outdoors television excellence.
"For us, it's still a lot of fun," said Nicole.
"This is the 10th season of Driven and we're still having a lot of fun doing it," she said. "Every year, we try to do something that is different, something that is fresh.
"We try not to go to the same locations and do the same thing each year. We try to find new locations and hunt for new species each year, something that will be a little different for our viewers to see."
Nicole admits that in some respects, viewers have seen a different show, to some slight degree, in recent years. How is that?
"Pat and I both grew up hunting whitetails," she said. "That's still our main passion and where our roots are, but we like to mix it up a little bit and we've really gotten to love the big game adventure hunts over the last few years for species like mountain goat, mountain caribou, sheep, etc."
Most days, that is because when a hunter is trying to film such hunts in tough to access forested, mountainous and desert terrain, the desired outcome doesn't always happen.
"When you're filming a hunt and have a camera involved, things are not always going to go the way that you hope that they will," said Nicole.
"We do 20 original episodes every year and that means going on a lot of hunts and not all of them are successful," she added, even if they are big-time, once-in-a-lifetime kind of hunts. Case in point was a bighorn sheep hunt that Nicole had bought in 2012 as a wedding present for Pat.
In one of the most inhospitable environments that a hunter can find themselves hunting in, let alone trying to film a TV show in, the trip to Canada was a dream for any big game hunter who has ever picked up a rifle. But in the rugged and cold mountain climate of Alberta, something apparently knocked Pat's scope off a bit during the trip into the high altitude zone where the province's famed bighorns live. Meaning that while being a crack shot who achieves his deadly aim with hours and hours of pre-season practice, things went awry for Pat when the one and only moment of truth came on the hunt. When he pulled the trigger on his rifle, the resulting shot was over the back of the big ram. A devastating moment for any hunter, let alone when it is captured on film.
"We had just gotten off of a hunt in the Yukon," said Nicole. "We had been up there 14 or 15 days and the terrain and the scenery was just fantastic.
"(That was) my most favorite hunt and we both were very successful (on it). We both shot mountain goats, I shot a monster mountain caribou and Pat shot a black wolf.
"Things were going awesome on that hunt, but then we went on the sheep hunt and things didn't work out as we had hoped."
It was certainly a deflating moment, a lengthy hunt undone by the missing of the only really good shot opportunity that was presented by the bighorn ram.
"You're not going to be successful all of the time, that's just part of it," Nicole said.
Disappointments in the field, and in filming, don't last long for the Reeve's family, however, since there's almost always another adventure and another opportunity right around the corner. Take last fall, for instance. Shortly after Pat's missed opportunity in Alberta, the couple found themselves back in the field, this time with 17-year-old daughter Olivia.
"We took Olivia down to New Mexico and she shot a big bull elk down there," said Nicole. "It was her first-ever elk!"
Their children are one of the driving forces in both Pat and Nicole's lives.
"The most difficult part of what we do each year is being away from our family for periods of time," she said. "As many days as we spend on the road each year, it gets tough.
"Definitely the number one downfall to what we do is being away from the kids so much," she added. "We, unfortunately, do miss some of their activities at home, but in this business, you have to make hay while the sun shines."
That's the downside. These days, Pat and Nicole are discovering an upside to being in the business of filming a hunting television show and having children.
"On the flip side, the kids are all getting older and can travel with us some," said Nicole.
Click image to see photos of Driven with Pat & Nicole
With the couple building a new office and production facility, the kids are becoming more and more a part of what is happening these days at Driven. From the kids helping find shed antlers in the spring to whitetail scouting trips in the summer to actually doing some hunting in the fall, Pat and Nicole do everything they can to involve the children in the process of filming and producing one of outdoor television's most heralded shows.
"The kids are getting old enough to be more involved," said Nicole. "Parson, our 10-year-old, he got his first deer with his bow and arrow last fall. And Olivia, (who got her first elk last fall), she has been whitetail hunting with us since she was nine."
And just a few days ago, Pat's son, Carson, used a Thompson Center Venture .270 rifle to tag a beautiful velvet-racked 9-point giant whitetail during the Kansas youth-only deer season. The fuzzy-antlered monster buck certainly brought a big smile to Pat and Nicole's faces for sure, but the biggest grin by far belonged to young Carson.
After an unsuccessful year at Wicked Outfitters last year during the Kansas youth season, the younger Reeve’s made up for last year's tag soup with a clean kill on a buck that traveled only 30 yards before piling up.
"Carson was pumped!" blogged Nicole about the special family moment on the hunt before the Driven television cameras.
She added that Carson " ... had just knocked down a giant Kansas velvet buck," a bruiser nicknamed "Shooter." And who knows, it just might be big enough to knock one of dad Pat's many big bucks from the family's den wall!
If it sounds like filming one of Outdoor Channel's shows can be fun, disappointing, challenging, and rewarding, well, it can be and sometimes, all at the same time. But that doesn't mean that Pat and Nicole have any desire to slow down, slack off a bit or rest on their award winning television laurels.
Quite the opposite, in fact, with a season of hunting and filming ahead that includes videoing hunting adventures for Canadian whitetails, mule deer in Mexico, whitetail hunts across the Midwest and even a rut-hunt for Sitka blacktails on Kodiak Island in November, there's always a new project, and challenge, for the Reeve family and that helps to always keep the job fresh and exciting for both Pat and Nicole.
"Everybody thinks that you roll in somewhere, get in a stand, harvest an animal and then go somewhere else," laughs Nicole. "But what they don't see are the hours and hours and hours of work, preparation and filming that go into a single episode.
"We come away from each hunt with hours and hours of footage that will hit the cutting room floor since we can only end up with 15 to 20 minutes of content per episode.
"It takes a lot of careful planning (to even get that footage in the first place). We have to be smart about the places we go, the money that we spend and we have to do a lot of homework for it to be worth our time and effort.
"And then when you get there, it's certainly different than just throwing a camera up and filming a shot. You've got to be sure that you've got the camera in the right place so that you can get the right shot."
Hard work, yes but the Golden Moose awards and show ratings prove that it is all worth it. And please don't think for a second that Nicole is complaining one bit about the job that she and Pat have.
"There may be some days when it's pouring down rain, you've gotten up at 3:30 or 4 in the morning for 30 or 40 straight days and the temptation is there to want to (hit the alarm and) sleep in," said Nicole. "But we don't do that because there's no place we'd rather be and there is no other thing that we'd rather be doing."
All of which explains why Driven with Pat & Nicole is now celebrating a decade of award winning excellence for filming an outdoors television adventure show, Pat and Nicole Reeve style.
Editor’s Note: Visit the “Driven with Pat & Nicole” show page for air times, photos, bonus video and additional information about the show.