Q: Tell us all about yourself, first off. How did you get into hunting and fishing and what are your earliest hunting memories?
Although I grew up in central Kentucky, I wasn’t a hunter as a kid. My parents and I had cattle and horses. The first time I even saw a deer near my home was when I was 16. I didn’t start actually hunting until I was in my early 20s. A buddy of mine at the police department where I worked came up with the idea. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing and a camera crew should’ve been with to film a comedy show.
I stuck with it and after I had harvested a few deer, I decided to switch exclusively to archery equipment. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else in the fall now!
I did grow up fishing in farm ponds, mostly catfish and bluegill. Quite frankly, that was a little slow for me or maybe the reward isn’t as big? But in the end, I don’t have the time to take on another hobby, because anything I do, it's FULL TILT, and I simply can’t do anything half-cocked. It’s gotta be all or nothing!
Q: What's your favorite weapon for a hunt?
100% - just a bow. Although I did start out hunting with rifles and muzzleloaders, I have gone to exclusively archery gear for the last decade. It’s more of a challenge because typically your shots are within 30 yards. Part of the fun of the hunt is also me seeing how close I can get to the deer while remaining undetected.
My thinking is that if I use a rifle and shoot a deer at 200-400 yards, that animal will never even know I existed. But at 30 yards, stand placement, sounds and scent all come into play. Obviously, there are some hunts that are extremely tough with a bow, but it has just become my style of hunting.
Q: What specific things are on your list when you're preparing for hunting season?
Preparation is key for hunting. Scouting and looking for sign in the woods is a lot of fun. I study the topography of the areas where I will be hunting and the surrounding areas. I plant food plots (beans, turnips, oats, wheat, corn) for the deer and other wildlife. Trail cameras have come a long way in the last 10 years and do a fantastic job of letting you track what’s moving through and at what times.
Shooting my bow is really important to me. The goal is to always make an ethical shot. It’s hunting and it’s violent, there is no way around that. So, the practice I do ensures that when I take that shot, every effort has been put into making sure its the best shot I can take, the placement is accurate and the animal dies quickly.
Q: Where's the most exotic place you've gone hunting or fishing?
Montana! For a Midwest boy, going out west was awesome! The mountains and terrain are absolutely gorgeous. I have been hunting there twice for antelope with archery equipment. I was able to harvest a solid antelope on public land this past fall and spread awareness about state and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) ground too. BLM land in recent years has become subject to debate with the government trying to take away some public lands. I believe we are all public land owners, whether we are hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, or enjoying national/state parks. In a nutshell, public lands should stay in public hands.
Q: What's Arrow Wild TV and who would want to watch it?
Arrow Wild TV is a photography/media content company that has a web show. Instead of the traditional hunting shows that are on cable networks, we do more “real time” as the season unfolds. We show the shed season.
Note: Deer shed, or drop, their antlers each year and it’s like an Easter egg hunt to try and find them. It’s especially cool when it’s a deer you’re familiar with or with whom you’ve had some history.
Then we go into turkey hunting season, planting food plots, scouting, hanging tree stands or blinds, setting trail cameras, then finally the actual hunt. Its all 100% bow hunting only.
We try to educate a little, show the ups/downs, the effort and the conservation side of hunting in lieu of just the harvesting side of hunting. The entire year as a whole is much more involved and intimate than most people who are unfamiliar with hunting would expect.
Q: If you could travel anywhere on Earth for your next adventure, where would you head?
I would have to say Alaska, New Zealand, Russia! Moose, Bear, Red Stag! I could go on and on. But there is so much of North America that I want to see and experience, I think I will stick to that for a while. Finances also keep me in the lower 48. So much of where/what I do is driven by this… I don’t have a fear of dying, that part went away during my 15 years as a police officer. I only have a genuine fear of dying before I accomplish everything I want to see and do.
Q: What's your favorite Nite Ize product and why?
My favorite Nite Ize products are the flashlights, mainly headlamps, the Steelie line, and CamJam straps. I’m very active and always on the go, so to see where I’m going when it’s dark, and with social media work/maps on my phone, a Steelie to throw my phone onto and keep rolling, it’s all really important. Cinching down equipment and camera tripods so they aren’t rattling around is a plus too, and I think that’s the Nite Ize secret sauce, solving problems, one small gadget at a time.
Q: “Solving problems, one gadget at a time.” Very nice. What else do you want to share?
I have gained so much from hunting and met so many great, passionate people that I wanted to give back. I reached out to my local DNR (Department of Natural Resources) officer and became an Iowa Hunter Safety Instructor. It has been so awesome to teach safety to new hunters and, to steal a line from my DNR buddy, we are staying to teach about incidents too.
Accidents happen and can’t be avoided. But incidents can! So, if we can teach the importance of wearing a harness when climbing into trees and teaching gun safety to hunters young and old, then maybe we can prevent these incidents from happening.
I also have organized some donations to Quality Deer Management Association by designing a shirt I sold through Arrow Wild TV. The shirt said “#conservation / because simply buying a license isn’t enough” I gave 100% of the profits of the sales to the QDMA. What’s the old saying? Leave it better than you found it. That’s what I try to do every day, even if it’s just walking the public lands and picking up trash, or teaching hunter safety to groups.
Q: Great stuff. Thanks. How do people find you online if they want to follow your adventures?
My personal Instagram is @johnny.utah.hunt and Arrow Wild TV is @arrowwildtv I do have some short films and episodes on YouTube under Arrow Wild TV as well.