David Blanton, 51, is executive producer and host of the Realtree Outdoors television show. He also produces the company's Monster Bucks video series.
The LaGrange, Ga., resident has chased whitetails and elk across North America. He will be in Oklahoma City Tuesday night to speak at the Crossings Community Church's annual Beast Feast.
What is going to be your message Tuesday night at the Beast Feast?
I love to tell my story first of all because I think I have an incredibly phenomenal job to get to hunt and travel and get paid to do it. I tell some fun hunting stories but the main message is how a job like mine can have its negative side effects.
I allowed my job to become too important several years after I had gone to work at Realtree. That job was the mort important thing in my life. It had become more important than my family. My life's priorities have been reshaped and refocused since.
How often do you hunt?
The fall is really busy. In the fall I will hunt on average about 60 days, about half the time. I could be gone every day in the fall if I chose to be. We take the time in the fall to really pace ourselves and try to come home for several days between trips. You have to keep that fire burning.
I don't care what you do for a living, if you do it to much you lose your passion and just get burned out. I don't ever want to get to the point where I start taking my job for granted.
How often do you hunt when you are not filming for the television show?
I don't. There may be a couple days during turkey season at home that I will take someone turkey hunting just because it's such a social sport and I love it. I love to take a first-timer or a kid and just let them experience the spring woods and hear a turkey gobble.
What is your favorite big game to pursue?
I really enjoy hunting a big, mature whitetail with a bow and arrow. It's not because that's what the TV ratings tell us that's what people want to see more than anything. I enjoy it because every deer is different and the big, mature deer are tough. Now I didn't say a 170-inch deer, just a big mature deer. He can be 130 inches and be mature.
I also love elk hunting during the rut. Who wouldn't when those big bulls scream like that? But I normally only get to go on one elk hunt a year, sometimes only one elk hunt every two years because you are at the mercy of the draw system.
Where is your favorite place to hunt whitetails?
My mindset changes with the seasons. The first trip of the year this year we are going to head out to Wyoming for the opening day of archery season on Sept. 1. I look forward to that hunt so much because it's the first hunt of the year.
By the time the pre-rut rolls around, when the big boys are cruising and you start getting into some serious trophy mode, then I would say Kansas or Iowa when you can draw a tag, which is about once every three years.
Have you ever chased whitetails deer in Oklahoma?
I have never hunted whitetails in Oklahoma, believe it or not. I have always wanted to. I have always known there were great whitetails in certain parts of Oklahoma.
Do you think there is too much obsession about antler size?
I do. Even though I think it is good for the quality of the deer herd in the long run in certain aspects. I like what the states are doing with implementing some (trophy) management guidelines for certain counties or sections, but there is a big downside to that.
I don't like to see these kids, first-time hunters, go out and hunt and there is a 3 ½-year-old, 7-pointer that they can't shoot. I don't like to see people like that not able to squeeze the trigger.
I do believe there are more and more people conscientious about growing big deer on their hunting leases and I think that is fantastic. What I see more and more that disappoints me are the friendships that have been ruined because of a big deer.
What bow and what rifle do you shoot?
What I am shooting now is a Bear Archery Anarchy that they came out with last year. I absolutely love it. My favorite caliber for deer is .280. I shoot a Thompson-Center Encore Pro Hunter. I've killed all kinds of stuff with that .280.
Do you prefer to bow hunt?
I hunt more with a bow simply because the seasons are longer. I love to hunt elk during the rut when they are bugling, and that's during the bow season. I love to gun hunt and muzzleloader hunt. I am just limited by the number of hunts during the year.
What is your opinion of hunting whitetails on commercial, high fence operations? Is it fair chase?
I don't think it is fair chase unless you get down in Texas and you get on a ranch that is 5,000 acres or larger. Then I don't think the fence would come into play.
We don't hunt high fences. I will never oppose people hunting high fences as long as it's legal. I am not going to oppose it because I think hunters need to support each other in whatever way we want to hunt. If a guy wants to hunt with a crossbow instead of compound bow, if I guy wants to hunt with a compound bow instead of a longbow, I don't think hunters need to bicker and fuss over what they hunt and where they hunt as long as it's legal.
I do think the sports networks that show hunting shows — the Outdoor Channel, the Sportsman Channel, the Pursuit Channel — I would like to see them put up a disclaimer at the beginning of a show that the show you are about to see took place behind a high fence, just to let folks know if it's in the wild or not.
What is the biggest issue that faces hunters today?
We are not recruiting new hunters. The attrition rate is heading in the wrong direction. The price to lease land may be getting too high. I think the reason we are struggling to bring in new hunters is because of single-parent households. We have so many single moms who are raising kids who don't have the means to introduce their children to the outdoors.
Do you ever hunt on public land on your television show?
Almost all of our hunting is done on private land because we hunt with outfitters around the country. One of the things we get positive feedback on is that if people like our show, they can pick up the phone and call that outfitter and go and hunt there.
What is your best tip for whitetail deer hunters?
Without a doubt, you got to consider the wind. There are a lot of products on the market nowadays that claim to eliminate human odor, and I can tell you firsthand that there is nothing on the market that can totally eliminate human odor. It may help knock down a lot of human odor, but there is nothing out there that is totally going to wipe it out. So my biggest tip is you got to play the wind. You got to understand thermals.
What is the biggest buck you have killed?
My biggest buck is a 14 pointer that I killed (in south Texas) with a rifle that scored 176 inches gross. My biggest buck that I ever killed with a bow was 159 inches in South Dakota that I killed last year.
Sometimes people are surprised when I tell them the biggest deer I ever killed with a bow is just shy of 160. They think you go to the best places and that they've got the deer tied out for you and all you have to do is climb the tree. It couldn't be further from the truth because I still enjoy so much scouting and hanging my own stands.
Do you have a goal of killing a monster buck?
I've never got caught up in the trophy thing because if you are going to sit there and trophy hunt, you are not going to have enough footage for 13 original episodes on TV.
People think I hunt these places where there is giant deer behind every tree. The truth is when you are out hunting fair chase whitetails, anything can happen. We got our teeth kicked in just like everybody else.
Crossings Beast Feast
Where: Crossings Community Church, 14600 N. Portland
When: Tuesday. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner served at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15 per person.
For more information: Call Courtney Cartwright at 302-1257 or email email@example.com