Schoby asked me to punch out a tale of the best shots I’ve seen in my years with Petersen’s Hunting TV. One thing I’ve learned from globe-trotting with the Fantastic Four (Boddington, Steele, Schoby and Rodriguez) is that relative to these masterminds, I don’t know jack about shooting. I can shoot a rifle, I can shoot a handgun and I can shoot a shotgun. Often times I can hit what I want where I want. But these four freaks are savants. It would be like saying that because I own a rally car and can drive well that I can evaluate the skills of Sebastian Loeb (Let me translate for you left-turn knuckledraggers… “the skills of Dale Earnhardt or Ricky Bobby” I actually had to Google “best NASCAR drivers” for that pull. You’re welcome.)
I’m an artist to the core, so I can intuitively do with a camera what these masterminds do with thunderstix. But, I won’t venture into their turf to break down their best shots. I spend too much time with these boys in places where accidental deaths happen easily.
How about I just tell you about my favorite shots?
Craig “The Body” Boddington: Dateline: New Mexico, coupla’ years ago. We’re up high chasing elk with the legendary Kirk Kelso and former Leupold Boss and my main man Tom Fruechtel. Marty Plunk, a hell of a guy and a member of the Weakley, Tennessee Sherriff’s department won a Leupold sweepstakes and was on-deck for his first elk day one of the hunt.
Kelso took us to the top of a favorite mesa early to glass 360. As the sun poked over a distant mountain range, I remember it being to our east. Is that right? Anyhow, Kelso spotted a herd five miles off moving toward some juniper for the day’s siesta. The plan I heard was to let them bed, make a plan, ambush them in the evening. As is the case with 99.5% of hunting plans, Kelso and Boddington jettisoned it for the more expeditious plan of cutting half that distance with the truck then jogging the other couple miles to intersect the big deer.
Back to the truck, Kelso drives the ranch road like the testosterone balloon he is and BAMMO next thing I know we’re piling out onto the sage and sand. Deputy Plunk passes the baton to Boddington due to a heart condition and the elevation. Boddington tries to pep talk him into trying for the elk. Ha ha ha ha! B.S. Boddington grabs his rifle and he, Kelso and I trot upwind toward the junipers. I keep rolling tape on Boddington and Kelso as they jog. Watching Kelso run is like watching a Clydesdale at Belmont, but the giant pulls it off.
We break into the junipers like ninjas. The cows and little bulls trot by oblivious. We are in the mix as the shooting sticks go up. Craig pulls some David Blaine move to steady his breathing and POW a big bull pulls his last silly by trotting past the killing end of Boddington’s rifle. Five miles and 75 yards later segment one is in the can.
Kevin “The Man of Steel” Steel: Dateline: Craig, Colorado, my first season with PHTV. My bosses booked me in Sonora, Mexico for Coues deer back to back with a winter range elk. Cruel and unusual? Absolutely. Not only is it shockingly cold at thirty-below Fahrenheit, but this in contrast to being on a toasty Sonoran mountain a day earlier. We had a sponsor and Boddington with us at, so this means three times the work for me. Each of them steps out of the truck, puts on a stalk or six, shoots an elk then returns to the warm truck. Me? I’m onboard for all of it. Plus, it was my rookie season so I dressed to impress by bringing a huge HD camera that tipped the scales at 22 pounds and required a 30-pound tripod. Stupid.
So, frigid stalk after frigid overloaded stalk, my batteries are draining fast. Sponsor shoots bull in a winter wonderland so cold the animal shattered like an ice sculpture when it fell. I’m exaggerating. Boddington puts on a hero stalk the following day that fills my knees with cactus spines and POW levels the bull like a true Californian yearning for the 75-degree warmth of the truck. Then Kevin, the guide and I go round and round the hills and dales looking for a good representative of the area (my favorite term next to “TV bull”) and I’m exhausted. The snow is deep, the wind is cold, the cactus spines are sharp and enough “BOOMS” have echoed throught the area that the elk are on high-alert.
Finally dusk, the last night, we put a stalk on a big herd in an agricultural bottom. The
wind is icy and the light is failing. My extremities are frozen and my batteries both physically and camera are failing. The bulls are mixing with the cows like it’s a big-city swingers party and clear shots are few. Soon enough, the “Man of Steele” lives by the code “nothings dying until lead’s flying” and drills a good bull in the fading light. The shot rocks him and we watch him fall. I tape a quick “grip and grin” and hobble back to the warm womb of the F-250 to dream of better career moves to come.
Look for my favorite shots from Mike “The Schobenator” Schoby, and Greg “G-rod” Rodriguez in an upcoming blog.