Few states can boast the bowhunting tradition that Missouri can. Outside of Wisconsin and perhaps Pennsylvania, the Show-Me State has churned out legions of bowhunters. Michael Hunsucker and Shawn Luchtel happen to be two of those bowhunters, and they also happen to host the popular Outdoor Channel show Heartland Bowhunter.
As devotees to archery hunting and whitetails, it’s safe to assume both Hunsucker and Luchtel have been influenced by some of the industry’s heaviest hitters, but which ones? I caught up to the boys from Heartland Bowhunter to ask them just that and a few other questions to find out what takes two young Missouri hunters from a passion for the woods to a viable career in the hunting industry.
Most of us were brought into the bowhunting fold by our fathers, and Hunsucker and Luchtel are no exception. As Hunsucker explains, his father was instrumental in getting him into the woods, but not with a bow. “My dad had been hunting most of his life, but only with a gun. After several years of deer camp with family and friends I was hooked, but I needed more. The Missouri rifle season is only 10 days long but that wasn’t enough so I naturally turned to the more liberal archery season.”
Luchtel on the other hand was exposed to bowhunting by his father at a young age. Of his father’s direction he explained, “My father had me shooting a bow at 10, and out in the field with a bow at 12. He was eager to teach me proper form along with good arrow placement. He also let me learn lessons on my own, like how important it is to pay attention to wind direction. He has been a role model for me since birth and still is.”
The ever-important paternal influence certainly nudged Hunsucker and Luchtel into a bowhunting lifestyle, but they also devoured any information they could find. According to Hunsucker, even before he picked up a bow he was watching Realtree Monster Bucks DVDs and the Truth About Hunting DVDs produced by the Primos’ Crew. Luchtel also credits those early DVDs with his gleaning plenty of information on whitetail bowhunting and the pursuit of farther-flung game animals.
New Wave Info
A true testament to the latest generation of bowhunters came in the form of one of Hunsucker’s responses to the question if he had any favorite bowhunting writers, thinking I might hear a response about Fred Bear or Chuck Adams. He instead, explained, “As I became more serious with bowhunting, I turned to the Internet forums to learn more. I leaned on the information offered by the serious hunting sites, and that led me to meeting more people with similar interests.”
It’s impossible to deny the role the Internet can play in learning of hunting tactics, techniques, new products, and places to go to scratch the bowhunting itch. It’s a resource that can put hunters in touch with knowledgeable hunters throughout the world, and the savvy Heartland Bowhunter duo has put it to good use. That doesn’t mean they aren’t without their industry heroes, however.
Best of The Best
Both Hunsucker and Luchtel had definitive answers when asked who they currently admire in the bowhunting culture. Luchtel immediately answered, “The Drury brothers. Not only are they excellent people but they have taken their show to another level, and Mark Drury is a whitetail scientist. To this day I look up to Mark and follow him for advice. He has dug deeper into whitetails and their patterns than anyone else I have ever met. The Drurys are a huge asset to the industry.”
Hunsucker also spoke of the Drurys, before saying, “There are so many great hunters in the limelight and outside of it, but I still admire the guys who I grew up watching. Michael, Nick and T-Bone from Bone Collector remain at the top of my list along with the Primos’ crew. And I do have to throw one more bowhunter out there - Tim Wells. That dude is a mad man that hunts anything and everything with a bow and is an incredibly talented shooter!”
It’s always interesting to dig into the formative years and the influences of today’s leading bowhunters, and the boys from Heartland Bowhunter did not disappoint. It’s a safe bet that with their devotion to whitetails and serious bowhunting, that perhaps 15 or 20 years down the road, a couple of bowhunters - perhaps Missouri bowhunters - will credit Hunsucker and Luchtel with being a driving force in getting them to hunt harder and perhaps take the industry by storm.