September 07, 2017
By Lynn Burkhead
In the course of filming deer hunting programs for Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel and MyOutdoorTV , there are countless hours logged in trees, blinds and in camp each fall.
As the long hours and days drag by, not all of the moments out in the woods are award-winning footage of a Boone-and-Crockett-class whitetail strolling in for a shot.
Some moments are, well, they're a bit on the humorous and/or forgettable side. Which is exactly why we posed the following question to a number of our #DeerWeek hosts.
Any funny stories to tell? Cue the laugh track!
"Funny stories? None, that I'd like to share," laughed Steve West of Steve's Outdoor Adventures as he pleaded the Fifth Amendment.
"Yeah, I'm not sure I'd even know where to begin," said Bill Gorman of the L.L.Bean Guide to the Outdoors. "I have quite a few stories as I'm not always the most graceful person (in the woods)!"
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Ronnie "Cuz" Strickland, a legendary figure in the outdoors industry if there ever was one, knows exactly what Gorman is talking about. Especially when he harkens back to an ungraceful moment early on in his career, even if it was in the spring woods rather than in the fall.
"You have to remember (that) when I started filming, there were not (any) hunting shows on TV, just a few fishing shows and stuff, other than the old American Sportsman show on ABC," said Strickland, a longtime fixture on Country Roots program.
"The first hunt that I filmed for Will Primos was a turkey hunt near my home," he continued. "The gobbler came in strutting, jumped up on a fallen log, strutted (some more), and Will shot him. It was epic!"
Until Cuz noticed something rather embarrassing.
"The old gear we used, it required you to power on the tape deck, punch the play and record button, then turn on the camera and punch record," he recalled sheepishly. "Let's just say that there were a lot of steps and apparently I missed one that day!"
For some of our deer hunting personalities, it's not the blown opportunities – on film or otherwise – or ungraceful moments. Sometimes, it's the very act of getting up into a tree.
"I have countless funny stories," said Dan Braman of Wildlifers. "But the ones that come to mind the most is simply how unbelievably scared our producer, Chris Koch, and I can get in treestands! Sometimes we both struggle to do our jobs with any hope of success."
What about you Jim Shockey, well-known British Columbia mountain man, hunting guide, and host of UNCHARTED?
"Funny stories? That would take a novel to answer," he laughed. "But my father talking about taking Viagra on camera; that was probably the funniest – and most embarrassing – moment, all at the same time!"
Then there's one of our resident comedians, Ralph Cianciarulo.
"Any whitetail moments I'd rather forget?," grins Ralph, who co-hosts Archer's Choice and The Choice with his wife, Vicki. "Yup, every time the cameraman says, 'Nope! Not enough camera light, not enough pre-roll footage, not enough ... etc. ... etc. ... all you can do is laugh!"
Ok, Ralphie, any embarrassing moments to confess?
"Hang with me for a moment," he smiled. "Just about any amount of time that I'm out there in the woods, I always seem to do something stupid that someone will get a laugh about or something to pick on me for."
Somewhere, Vicki is laughing and nodding her head.
"There have been too many embarrassing moments to mention and to be honest, I've been trying to shut them out of my memory for years," chuckled Ralph. "In fact, there are so many of them, I can't remember the worst one!"
Keep in mind that such funny bone moments aren't confined to the Midwestern whitetail woods. Just ask Trevon Stoltzfus, co-host of the bowhunting show Outback Outdoors.
"I think one of the funniest stories on me is the time I was on an Eastern Colorado hunt where Dave Beronio and I were decoying in a small buck," said Stoltzfus.
"I came to full draw expecting the buck to come around the left side, so I drew and set up for the shot," he continued. "Meanwhile, the buck veered right and walked by only 12 yards away from us and then spooked.
"I blamed Dave for not letting me know which (way) he was coming and Dave blamed me for not knowing what I was doing! A hilarious argument (ensued) that lasted all day."
But for all of these humorous tales, perhaps none can top the story that Mark Drury tells about the day that a trophy class buck actually saved one of the Drury brother's lives.
But which one it was, well, that could be up for debate.
"It was in the early 1990s," recalls Mark. "Terry and I were in two different trees and we had a bunch of deer coming through. I was filming, he was hunting. At one point, I ended up trying to tell him to rattle because there were some deer going away."
Those deer eventually included a couple of gross scoring Boone and Crockett dandies.
Thing is, Terry didn't respond, which caused the blood pressure of younger brother Mark to start to rise.
"I think at first, he's not seeing me or something, so I whisper a little more emphatically for him to rattle," said Mark. "But there was still no response, so I'm starting to think he didn't really like little brother telling him what to do."
Finally, the frustration boiled over ... way up in a couple of treestands, mind you.
"It had been a long fall and we really hadn't killed anything (for our videos), so everything kind of came out at once," said Mark.
At that point, Mark and Terry did ... well, they did what brothers often do; they had a brotherly spat!
"He threatened to come out of that tree he was in and kick my butt," laughed Mark. "To drive his point home, he rattled really loud, held up the antlers and said 'You think you know what to do?!?"
What happened next?
"I told him to come on over," laughed Mark.
In my best Mark Buffer voice as he introduces a professional wrestling match: "Ding, ding, ding - let's get ready to R-U-M-B-L-E-E-E-E-E!"
"He (Terry) came out of his harness and started climbing down to the ground," chuckled Mark. "But as he did, I had to try and get his attention because here came a good deer. He got back up in that tree and we darn near killed a 155- to 165-inch deer that day.
"I don't know whose life that deer saved that day, but it saved one of our lives because we were about to go!"
Interestingly enough, Outdoor Channel viewers have seen that particular farm since then, even if it hasn't been the Drury's filming on it.
"Oddly enough, those trees sit on the farm that Lee and Tiffany (Lakosky) now live on," said Mark. "We hunted that farm back in the early 1990s. They bought it 12 to 15 years later, not ever knowing that we had even hunted on it."
And certainly not knowing about the day that a big old buck sauntered through and inadvertently saved the life of one of the Drury brothers.
Even if Mark and Terry don't agree about which one it was!