For millennia, hunting parties have gone out to track and kill their harvest. Then they come back and tell stories about the hunt around the campfire and paint them on cave walls. Before November 2013, I only had one hunting story to tell. It goes like this: When I was a kid, I used to hunt with my dad and brothers. I’d typically find a cozy spot in the truck to sleep for most of the trip. The one time I woke up and tried to help spot bucks, I found one. My dad smoked it and the buck turned out to be a doe. Bad news. His hunting career was over for a few years and mine was all but extinguished. I don’t quite think that’s the story to paint on my hypothetical cave wall for future generations to admire. Luckily, an opportunity came up to film a hunting story in Texas more than 15 years after the ill-fated doe incident. If it isn’t too much trouble, I’d like to paint this one in the cave instead.
When I started at CRKT, we were working on a product called the Hoist’N Lok. It was clear this product was going to need a video for explanation on how to use it and why it’s awesome. I volunteered to film the video guerrilla style to keep the budget low (and get out of the office!). We decided it was a fine idea to send me to Texas with the product designer and world class hunter, Russ Kommer, plus CRKT employee and hunting guru, Patrick Gottsch. The three of us met in Houston then drove another couple hours into the heart of Texas to Triple Threat Ranch outside Sommerville.
I had always been hunting with my dad in tents and in the snow. Turns out, I’d been doing it wrong. Hunting was designed to have a home base lodge with a big fireplace, cozy couches and a Texan cook. Now this was hunting! We settled in for the night, then woke up before dawn the next morning to begin filming.
This production was a single camera shoot on a shoestring budget. That said, the crew at Triple Threat Ranch bent over backward for us to make sure we had everything we needed. With Patrick and Russ producing and making sure we were following the script outline, I was able to sit back to direct and shoot. It wasn’t without its challenges, but it was the type of shooting that I love.
After two days of climbing tree stands and chasing hunters on the move, I was tired. I wanted nothing more than to sleep, but these guys don’t sleep when they’re hunting. They just hunt. Nighttime is for hunting hogs. Texas has millions of hogs running around in what one person called “the aporkalypse.” This ranch was no exception. We saw pigs everywhere. So, with a couple high-powered rifles, infrared imaging and night vision scopes, we sent a handful of these pigs to hog heaven. I’m not going to claim it was a fair fight technology-wise, but with my poor aim and hunting inexperience, I’m positive the species would overrun the world before I could ever eradicate them.
More than anything, I was incredibly impressed by the passion these guys have for hunting. They exhibit the same unfiltered intensity that can be found in Donnie Vincent’s Canadian hunting film, “Who We Are.” These guys talked about hunting in the same way I gush over face shots and deep powder. It’s raw, unadulterated passion for their sport and it commands respect.
At the end of the trip, we left the ranch feeling confident that we had gotten the footage we needed to explain the Hoist’N Lok mechanism and market the living daylights out of it. Russ Kommer gave me the nickname “Rewind” for constantly telling him to back it up and do it again. It was a fitting nickname and a foreshadowing of the arduous process awaiting me back in Oregon in making sense of the footage. In the end, I delivered two product videos for use at trade shows and online:
I now understand why the ancients often painted hunting on cliff faces and why these guys in Texas talked incessantly about hunting: Something primitive inside of us loves the hunt. We love the thrill of gathering food that resists capture. We love the chase and all the adrenaline-laced emotions that accompany it. And so, we paint the scenes of the pursuit on the cave walls of our lives for future generations to examine. I can only hope my posterity will remember that one epic time I brought home a pig from Texas, rather than that time I spotted the doe that permanently soured my family’s hunting career.