Realtree's 2008-2009 Forecast
Realtree Pro staffers, camera crew and friends know how to hammer huge bucks. Their hunting knowledge and abilities are unquestionable and they are admired by many for their successes afield. Yes, they may have the skills to pay the bills, but when it comes to downing monster bucks and other critters, it's all about location, location, location. That's why when David Blanton isn't hunting in one of those high-demand locals, then he's planning the following year's hunts.
There are several factors that we must consider when setting our hunting schedule, said Blanton. Not only must we hunt in places that provide exciting and entertaining TV, but more importantly, we must kill big whitetails on camera, and that's easier said than done.
That's why Team Realtree has longstanding relationships with several outfitters that consistently put its Pro staffers on big deer, such as Diamond Springs Ranch and Perry Ross's Outfitters in Kansas, North River Outfitters in Alberta and Seven J Outfitters in Wyoming. Since these outfitters always provide the team with outstanding hunts, Blanton often books them two years in advance because the prime hunting time is so limited. On the other hand, there are some outfitters that Blanton and the Realtree hunters have vowed to never hunt with again.
If we see that the animals are experiencing too much hunting pressure and that the outfitter is more concerned with making a ton of money than providing people with a quality hunt; we won't return, said Blanton. We don't want to promote this type of outfitter on our show.
Sometimes, the team is just ready for a change. After hunting with the same outfitter several years in a row, Blanton will often book another outfitter in the same area just to give the audience something different. Then, there are outfitters like Seven J that are in a unique position with Realtree because its season comes in so early—on September 1. Since Blanton hasn't found many places where they can experience such a good hunt the first week in September, he doubts they'll stop hunting with Seven J any time soon.
Making A Choice
Throughout the year, the production team receives numerous phone calls from both outfitters and individuals inviting them to hunt. Blanton appreciates the invitations and says they'll consider hunting with an outfitter if they're not already hunting with another outfit in that particular area, but they generally shy away from the individual invitations.
If we go somewhere new and have a wonderful experience, we want to refer other people to that area. Individuals with private property generally don't want the notoriety or phone calls. For that reason, we usually just hunt with outfitters.
Blanton and his team look for outfitters in locations known for producing big deer, and since viewers like to see something different each year, they're always looking for unique and productive new places to hunt.
We're filming an Indiana hunt in December this year. You just don't see a lot of Indiana hunts on TV, so that footage should be a little different than what people are used to seeing. We're also filming a mule deer hunt in southwest Texas in a big mountain range east of El Paso. I'm sure the terrain and hunting style will leave a lasting impression on the viewers.
Now that the schedule has been set for the 2008/09 season, Blanton is looking ahead with great optimism claiming he's most excited about hunting in Iowa, Kansas and Illinois.
The Midwest is known for producing monster-sized deer, and I can't wait to get a shot at one. I'm also looking forward to hunting north/central Montana because I love the scenery, and we're pumped about hunting a couple of new places such as Timberland Outfitters in Illinois and San Miguel ranch in Texas. I've heard wonderful things about both outfitters. Bill is most excited about his Wyoming elk tag, not to mention hunting for giant whitetails with Lee and Tiffany Lakosky on their Iowa farm. I expect this to be an awesome year.
The 2008/09 Season Unveiled
The 2008/09 season will kick off the same way as it has for 10 years with a trip out to Seven J Outfitters in Wyoming to hunt the Black Hills the first week of September.
Michael Waddell and I will go out there to film Realtree Road Trips. I'm sure that trip will be a hoot. Owner Jeff Smith and the guides do such an incredible job patterning deer that I'm sure this will be a fun and productive hunt for us all.
On September 1, the opening day of elk season, Bill Jordan will be hunting elk at Limestone Outfitters in New Mexico. His son, Tyler, will join Jordan out there for a long weekend of hunting. During that same week, one of Realtree's producers, Dan Johnson, will be leaving the hunt at Seven J to join up with a couple of buddies in Wyoming just south of Sundance to hunt elk.
On September 15, the opening day of bow season in Missouri, Jordan and Sam Klement with Spectrum Outdoors will be hunting with Bill Hill and Border Bucks Outfitters. That same week, Blanton will hunt with Rich Birdsell of Northern Rockies Outfitters in Montana above Great Falls.
Jordan drew a Unit 7 Wyoming elk tag and will head out on September 20 to hunt with Wagonhound Ranch.
On September 24, the first group will go to the Milk River, Montana, to hunt big whitetails.
The Milk River is a very special place for us. We've got some new hunters going this year and they're very excited. The first group consists of our own Chris Griffin, who's taking Bob Ransom and Brent Wehner from Ameristep, which is a valuable partner to us. The three of those guys are already losing sleep because they are so thrilled about hunting this treasured spot. Last year the hunting at Milk River was tough. We saw plenty of big deer, but we just couldn't get the seasoned deer in range. We're very hopeful about getting on some good deer this year because we let so many big bucks walk last year.
The second group to hunt the Milk River includes Travis T-Bone Tuner, Bill Jordan and Nick Mundt. The third and last group will go on October 4 and includes Brad Harris and Spook Spann, who's featured on Monster Bucks XVI with the largest whitetail ever killed on video - a 230-inch giant.
On September 28, Blanton and Dr. Richard Reid will head to Alberta to hunt with Ron Nemetchek with North River Outfitting. Waddell will travel to Montana on October 5 to hunt with Jackie Bushman and the Buckmasters crew on the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana. On October 20, Blanton will go to Texas to hunt big whitetails at the San Miguel Ranch outside of Uvalde.
On October 28, Jordan will head to Iowa to hunt with Lee and Tiffany Lakosky. And on October 30, Blanton will hunt Kansas the first week of November with Bob and Audrey Boos at Diamond Springs Ranch.
Ned Yost, former manager of the Milkwaukee Brewers, will go to Alberta on October 31 to hunt with Ron Nemetchek with North River Outfitting. On November 1, country music artist Rhett Akins and Sam Klement hunt with Timberland Outfitters in Illinois. And, Waddell and country music artists Blake Shelton and Andy Griggs will head out to hunt with Tom McMillan, of McMillan Outfitting. Jordan will fly out to Kansas on November 8 to hunt with Ben McDonald and Terry Ross in Unit 16.
On November 9, Realtree's Dan Johnson will begin hunting in Iowa, and Waddell will travel to Indiana to hunt whitetails on November 11.
On November 16, Blanton will hunt with Nikon's John LaCourte at Timberland Outfitters in Illinois with his muzzleloader. Bill will head to Missouri on November 18 to hunt with Bill Hill at Border Bucks if he didn't tag out in September. On November 28, he'll take Tyler back to Missouri to hunt with Bill Hill after Thanksgiving.
Blanton is scheduled to hunt mule deer in southwest Texas on December 3 with Adventure Outdoors. Then on December 16, he'll begin his gun hunt for whitetails with River Bend.
As you can see, we have a packed schedule as always. I'm extremely optimistic about the hunts we've scheduled and believe that we'll capture some awesome footage for our TV shows and DVDs, while having an excellent time in the process.