By Colin Williams
Fellow hunters, I have unlocked the mystery of life and the
perfect job. I found this inspiration while settling into my Sunday
afternoon easy chair. There, on the TV screen, were people actually
getting paid to deer hunt. What an awesome gig!
Each Sunday, and now on the Outdoors Channel almost every day,
these hunters grasp the whitetail racks of men’s dreams. They look
me in the eye, in their confident little way, taunting me with a “I
bet you wish you were me,” look. How difficult could it be,
traveling to some extravagant lodge, being placed in a stand by a
guide who has patterned the buck since its birth, and just simply
harvest the deer on film?
I could do that!
Is this career as glamorous as it appears? Let’s go right to the
source: It just so happens the producer and co-host for North
American Whitetail Television, Pat Reeve, is a native
Growing up in Plainview, Reeve began following his dad into the
woods at an early age.
“From the minute dad took me in the woods, I was hooked,” Reeve
said. “I lived every day to hunt, and never imagined a career would
come of it.”
His first taste of outdoor photography success came after
winning a Minnesota Deer Hunters Association amateur photo contest.
Using a borrowed camera, Reeve recalled, he snapped a fawn photo.
The photo ended up on the cover of the MDHA magazine.
That accomplishment prompted Reeve to continue his photography.
Still using borrowed equipment, Reeve began photographing deer in
the Whitewater Valley and began selling photos locally. While
attending college, Reeve kept his dream of an outdoors-oriented
career in mind.
“Even though I knew I had to chose a career path,” Reeve said,
“I always held on to the idea of being paid for doing something I
During a respite from his education, Reeve took a job working
with the DNR trapping turkeys. Soon thereafter, he met Tom Indrebo,
of Buffalo County, Wis. The two had a similar interest big
whitetails and quickly became friends. Indrebo was producing a
series of deer videos, including Monarch Valley, and asked Reeve to
help film. Soon after the video series was completed, whitetail
expert Myles Keller asked Reeve to film a bear hunting video. Reeve
took enough time from his full-time job with a medical supply
company to travel into Canada and film for Keller. He then had the
chance to film an elk hunting video. This opportunity, however,
entailed a two-month commitment, and he didn’t have enough vacation
left at his 8-to-5 job. He’d reached a crossroads.
After consulting with his wife Holly, he quit the stable,
sure-salary job and took a chance on his dream.
“Holly has been the secret to my success,” Reeve said, “without
her support, patience and confidence there is simply no-way I could
have made my dream career come true.”
During that same fall, Indrebo offered him a job guiding for his
fledging outfitting business, Bluff Country Outfitters. Between
guiding and part-time filming jobs, Reeve began scratching out a
living doing something he loved. Reeve also continued spreading his
name around the hunting and outdoor business world by writing a few
articles for Outdoor News.
The inspiration for his future came while guiding for Indrebo.
Jackie Bushman and Buckmasters Television hunted southeastern
Wisconsin. Contacts made while guiding for nationally televised TV
shows planted the seed that began Reeves’ filming career.
“Money was in short supply,” recalled Reeve, “Holly and I were
barely getting by.”
Then, one of those contacts panned out. Hunters Specialties
offered Reeve a seasonal position that turned into a full-time job.
Reeve filmed hunts for H.S. videos including waterfowl, turkey, elk
and predators, but his real passion remained whitetails.
During his time with H.S., Reeve began noticing that people
where looking for more out of a deer hunting video than just a
kill. Deer hunters wanted big buck profiles, hunting techniques,
and a show focusing on quality “wild” deer hunts.
Again, Reeve took a chance: He once more left a good-paying job
and struck out on his own. He and his wife had a mortgage, two
kids, and another one on the way, and he was leaving another good
“Most wives would have considered their husband crazy, but Holly
was supportive and believed I could succeed,” he said.
Reeve contacted Gordon Whittington, the editor of North American
Whitetail Magazine (NAW).
“NAW had forged a reputation among the who’s who in whitetail
magazines,” noted Reeve, “so I pitched them my idea.” In March
2003, the project began and Reeve is now the producer and co-host
of North American Whitetail Television. With co-host partners such
as James Kroll, Gordon Whittington, Stan Potts, Greg Miller, and a
crew of 12 cameramen, Reeves’ dream finally had come true.
His road to success was fraught with life-changing decisions,
risking it all in pursuit of his dream. His answer to my question
about this career being as glamorous as it appears?
“I’m certainly not going to tell you I don’t love what I do,”
said Reeve, “but there certainly are drawbacks. I’m away from home
from the end of August through the end of January, traveling from
Canada to Texas.
“The remainder of the year includes appearances at sport-shows
and an annual commitment toward video production.”
The pressure to provide high quality footage is arduous, Reeve
noted. Filming strictly wild whitetail hunts creates a myriad of
limitations not experienced by someone hunting alone. Stand
locations include a hunter and a cameraman, thus twice the noise
Having enough light to effectively capture the hunt on film also
poses a challenge, especially when most encounters with mature
white-tailed bucks are in the waning minutes of shooting light. The
NAW television team scouts its own animals and sets-up its own
stands. This demands time spent at hunting locations long before
“The pressure of producing high quality footage is intense,”
Reeve said, “just like a professional athlete, you either perform
at a high level or someone else will.”
Yeah, in hunting circles, Reeve can be categorized as a
celebrity, but the reality of it is he is simply a devoted father
and husband trying to make ends meet.
Nevertheless, the guy still looks at me through the TV, in that
confident little way, taunting me with a look that can’t help but
make me envious.