Imagine if hunting was like the shows on Outdoor Channel: You get up at 8:00 a.m. (dang, that’s early!) and drive your camouflaged ATV 100 yards to a small condominium overlooking a soybean field where you can see in every direction for seven miles. After ten long minutes, the bucks start coming in, each bigger than the last and with names like Heart Attack and Linebacker because you’ve already ranked and catalogued them all on your trail camera. You pick the one you like because it has nice G4’s and a drop tine (it’s just like shopping), and then it magically appears in the back of a new Dodge Ram. Throw in some commercial breaks for Michael Waddell’s irresistible food coloring and corn syrup mineral licks, and that’s hunting. Fortunately there’s an alternative called YouTube, a democratized space where amateur videographers and outdoorsmen present alternative and more realistic depictions of hunting.
The above video is probably the single best tutorial on public land scouting available on the web, and it’s yours for free thanks to Garrett Prahl aka DIY Sportsman. For the last three years, Garrett has built a small library of self-shot hunting and fishing videos set in Minnesota and Wisconsin that reflect his self-reliant philosophy of hunting. Garret is an extremely good hunter, but what I admire most his work is that he’s not afraid to make a video that reflects our most common experience as hunters: going home empty handed. There’s an elk hunting video on his channel where the high point is him waking up in the middle of the night to discover that his pants have frozen solid. How many of us screw things up while hunting? Yet every hunting show only depicts hunters getting it right. Garrett is able to pull this off because he knows you can learn as much from an unsuccessful hunt as a successful one. With each video, success or not, DIY Sportsman delivers an honest and informative take on hunting.
I discovered Virtuovice’s channel a few years ago while looking for a tutorial on Japanese water stones. Virtuovice, also known as Wako, has since earned himself a cult following on YouTube for his expert knife reviews. Because Wako takes about 70 deer a year (the area where he lives is overrun), he’s personally field tested almost every quality hunting knife you can think of. This is real knowledge that can be useful for making your next purchase. Despite specializing in knife reviews, his self-shot sika deer hunts in the snowy mountains of Hokkaido are simply beautiful. I recommend this channel to anybody looking to buy their first hunting knife or learn the finer points of blade geometry.
Stuck N The Rut
Travis Schneider started Stuck N The Rut in 2010 to showcase his family’s free DIY hunting videos. The team’s excellent camera work, beautiful featured locales, and dedication to the concept of earning your hunt make Stuck N The Rut essential YouTube viewing. Although they’re young, these guys are absolute pros at what they do, and even the most experienced hunters can learn something new by watching them. Their Alaskan moose hunting videos are simply breathtaking.
Leatherwood Outdoors is a loose collective of truly dedicated and down-to-earth PA boys who document everything from hunting rattlesnakes and snapping turtles to using a flintlock shotgun for grouse. They’re rowdy, fun, and have no product to sell you. They simply love to hunt, and the videos capture their enthusiasm perfectly. If you’re just learning to hunt in the Northeast, this is great place to get some practical advice.
Forget Bear Grylls: Billy Berger of Primitive Pathways is the guy you want on your side for the Apocalypse. In one video, he literally saws a branch off a tree, magically turns it into a longbow before your eyes, then proceeds to hunt with it. He’s as skilled a woodworker as he is a hunter. His videos on the use and effectiveness of stone and primitive weapons are both edifying and entertaining. This guy is the absolute real deal.
We just recently launched our Pocket Ranger® video channel where you can see even more hunting and fishing videos from contributors Bubba Rountree, Darcizzle Offshore, Fishing with Flair, Mr. Bluegill, Captain Ben Chancey from Chew on This, and more. Check it out, and make sure you download our Trophy Case mobile app before hunting season goes into full swing.