ATA Day 3 – 5: Realtree.com

WTR ATA Realtree | Hunting Camouflage

 

In 1986, very early in the camouflage revolution, Bill Jordan decided to try his hand at designing a camo pattern. Bill had entered the hunting industry in 1983 when he started Spartan Archery Products in a back room of his father’s boat dealership in Columbus, Georgia. Spartan manufactured t-shirts at a local mill which were sold to a variety of large retail customers across the country. The commodity garment trade was a tough, low-profit-margin business that depended on high volume – not easy for an established company and nearly impossible for a startup. Bill was pinching pennies and fishing bass tournaments on the side to create income. Meanwhile, he was constantly searching for ways to separate his company from the crowd.

 

That is how Bill came to be sitting in his parents’ front yard one day in 1986 with paper and colored pencils, sketching and coloring the bark of a giant oak tree that grew there. Bill believed that by layering the images of twigs and leaves over a vertical bark background, he could create a three-dimensional appearance that would match a variety of terrain and make his pattern distinct.

 

Using local mills, Bill navigated the printing process until he finally had a set of camouflage clothing to photograph. Always the promoter, Bill began to photograph the garments on bowhunters in tree stands. Every month for about eight months, he sent the images to hunting clothing buyers across the nation. However, Bill couldn’t send sample garments because the camo was doing too good a job disappearing. “We couldn’t get the pattern to stay on the pants,” he remembers. “It rubbed off. I had only one suit and no additional fabric, so I kept sending photos.” When December rolled around, the buyers were clamoring for garments.

 

“I didn’t have any garments,” Bill recalls, “but I couldn’t tell them that, so I just sent them some more photos.” The problem would be resolved, but with no time to spare. Bill had begun working with Eastbank Textiles, and they met the printing challenge just one week before the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show. At last, Bill was on his way home with about 30 yards of the printed fabric to be made into garments for the show, but the airline sent the box of fabric to Columbus, Ohio, instead of Columbus, Georgia.

 

“I finally got the fabric on Monday, and the show started that Thursday,” says Bill. “I rushed it to the manufacturer and they made the basic garments by Wednesday morning. I had naked mannequins waiting at the SHOT Show, and I was sitting in Columbus waiting to get pants sewn.”

Listen to the episode here:

ATA Day 3 – 5: Realtree.com

I’m at ATA. I’ve got Josh Honeycutt with me and he’s from Realtree.com. Josh, tell the audience out there what you do at Realtree?

I am the Associate Editor and Deer Hunting Editor for Realtree.com. Basically, I hit up all of the deer hunting content, the bowhunting content, big game hunting content and the land management stuff. I work with a good team of people. I work with Steve Hickoff. He’s the Turkey Hunting Editor. He handles all the small game stuff, the guns and shooting. We have some other team members, Stephanie Mallory, Michael Pendley. We have a good team of people there that help run Realtree.com. We make sure that if something needs to go on the website, whether it’s a how-to-type piece, whether it’s a product review, whatever it might be that goes up on Realtree.com. We’re the ones that handle it.

How did you get into this career? I have a lot of people on my show saying, “I want to get in the outdoor industry. I want to do something in the outdoor industry.” How did Josh break in?

I started out as a freelance writer. I wrote for hunting magazines, hunting websites, and it started with a smaller local magazine called Kentucky Outdoor. That’s where I was originally from and that’s where I am now. I work remotely even though Realtree is in Columbus. I work remotely in Kentucky. It snowballed from there. I started writing for more publications and then I went to work for the National Wild Turkey Federation. I was blessed with a good opportunity there and loved it. I’m a big turkey hunter, but my heart is with whitetails and that’s what I truly love to do. When I had the opportunity to become the Associate Editor and Deer Hunting Editor for Realtree.com, it was a good fit. That’s how I ended up where I am now.

I did a great show with Josh when he shot his big eight and he shot a 170 class eight-point buck this early season.

It was a pretty great opportunity for me. It was a once in a lifetime deer. I may never kill a deer bigger than that and that’s perfectly fine with me. I’ll continue to try to outdo myself, but it’s not all about big deer for me. I just love to be outside. I love to be in the woods. I love to eat deer meat, that’s the primary reason that I do it. Every now and then it doesn’t hurt to shoot a big deer too.

It’s not about the size of the deer; it’s the experience of the outdoors. Click To Tweet

What’s new at Realtree?

We’ve got a lot of new stuff. In 2018, we launched Realtree EDGE, the new camo pattern. That’s taken off like wildfire. We also have a new pattern that we launched called Realtree Timber. It started out as a waterfowl pattern, but we’ve noticed that a lot of people want it for turkey hunting, for deer hunting and for all the things that they do and in the outdoors. Those are the two newest patterns for Realtree.

When you come to ATA, what feedback do you get from people when you meet people, celebrities, guys and gals that are here tied to the industry? What are they saying about Realtree?

WTR ATA Realtree | Hunting CamouflageThey like it. We have Bill Jordan, David Blanton and Tyler Jordan, the whole team of developers there have been developing camo patterns that work great and work well for a long time. They built the company, made it what it is now along with all those that they work with. You can attribute those great patterns to Bill Jordan and his team, but it’s always been great. There were lots of good reaction and positive feedback from all the patterns in the past, but it seems that Realtree Edge and Realtree Timber have both taken off in a big way. I’m definitely excited about that. There are a lot of products here at the show at ATA that have Realtree Edge and Realtree Timber on them. You can get them. They’re on the shelves with Mathews. We’re back on Mathews Bows for the first time in a long time. We’re on PSE Bows for the first time ever. We’ve got Realtree Camo in about almost every bow that’s available to the public. It’s going well. It’s been a lot of positive feedback on the new patterns.

When somebody is in the industry are on the street and they’re a hunter and they’re saying, “How do I pick from the top five top brands of camo?” What sets Realtree apart?

I can’t speak to the other camo patterns on their behalf, but Realtree Camo works. That’s what I’ve worn probably my entire life. I don’t remember wearing anything else. It’s always kept me hidden. When you look at the detail, you look at the shadows, the coloration. You look at the detail on the patterns, they do work. Realtree Camo has always done me well and it’s resulted in a lot of dead deer in the backs of people’s trucks for many years. It’s got to work.

WTR ATA Realtree | Hunting CamouflageJosh Honeycutt, it’s always a pleasure to catch up with you. We’re meeting for the first time. He’s been on the show a number of times, but it’s a pleasure to meet with Josh and I can’t wait to see where his career goes.

Thank you for having me on once again. I’d love to jump back on the Whitetail Rendezvous podcast any chance you have me on.

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About Realtree.com

Josh Honeycutt is a backcountry deer hunter from Kentucky that grew up slinging arrows and bullets at pressured river bottom whitetails. If it’s deer or turkey season, you’ll find him high in an oak tree or sitting up against one. And he enjoys spending that time in the outdoors with his wife, Kathryn, as well as the rest of his family and friends.

Josh has hunted the prairie whitetails of Kansas to the river bottom bucks of Kentucky to the pine-dwelling deer of South Carolina. Simply put, he loves to hunt deer. And it doesn’t matter where, either.

His passion for the outdoors led to a career as an outdoor writer, photographer and videographer. Josh has been a regular contributor to Realtree.com since 2012 and came on board as the associate editor and deer hunting editor in July of 2015. He writes the Brow Tines and Backstrap blog. His work has been published in nearly 50 publications and websites including: Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, North American Whitetail, Whitetail Journal, Game & Fish, Fur-Fish-Game, and more.