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Discover True West Productions 2019 With Brady Collins And Ian Morales
I’m interviewing two guys that live within five miles of my house, in my studio here in Colorado Springs, Colorado. That is the base of Whitetail Rendezvous and Deer Hunting Institute. Brady Collins and Ian Morales have started True West Productions. They’re the cohost, cofounders and coconspirators. Welcome to the show.
How are you doing?
How’s it going?
It’s going great. Who wants to start off?
Ian, if you want it.
My name is Ian Morales. We are True West Productions. Brady and I have created True West Productions as a production company for the outdoor industry. A little bit on my backstory, I started hunting in Ohio. I’ve got really big into hunting archery mainly. I’m a whitetail guide and a big game hunting guide and I absolutely love it, but I love hunting as well, and photography and video are my passion. That’s where I thrive is with that. Brady and I teamed up and created True West Productions and we’re trying to not necessarily get it off the ground because we’ve established that point of it but trying to grow right now.
I’m Brady Collins. I got on archery a little bit later in the game than Ian did. I got into it when I was fifteen. What fueled it was how the hunting community backed and helped me after my mother passed away when I was fifteen. I’m into the hunting industry because that community I would say is such a real community. They help anyone they can. I got into photography with my cell phone. Now I’m into it with the DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras and everything like that, the production part of it. I want to help get the name out there for the community as well. Also, our favorite brands as well.
If somebody wants to find you, what do you use your tag on or hashtag on social media?
You’re also known as Sons of Fall, is that correct?
We got picked up by Sons of Fall. We signed our contracts with Sons of Fall. That’s a huge step for us for sure.
Tell me something about that and how that came to be?
We’re with Badlands. We do a lot of photography for them and their website and we’re working with their media company. One day I was scrolling through Instagram. I see Sons of Fall out there and they’re repping Badlands and I’m like, “Why can’t we make it official that we both can benefit from some of our photography that they can use and we can use a lot of their media and marketing to get our name out there as well?” It’s a win-win for Badlands too. I actually talked to Joel Port. He’s one of the founders and he thought it was a really good idea right off the bat and sent us contracts over the same day.
Do you get real money?
No, not real money yet.
How does that work?Ready to create memories, amazing views and the great outdoors with a bow in hand for our friends and clients!! Click To Tweet
We’re establishing ourselves first before anything.
It’s a lot of partnerships type of stuff. I wouldn’t say a lot of pay. Not what we’re looking for sustainable for our company right now.
You want this to be a job. You want this to be a career-type of thing that you don’t have to work at Verizon or King Soopers or something like that?
That is the goal someday is to have this as our everyday job where we wake up every day and we’re going out to produce content. That’s what we want.
There are a lot of people. Have you gone to ATA yet?
We probably will get passes to go to ATA. I’ve never gone. Ian has.
I went in three years in a row, but I haven’t been since 2017.
As we talked about, this business is all about relationships and it takes time to establish some. You don’t go to the ATA with your handout. In the past, I’ve done Facebook Lives or Instagram Lives from the floor and I did 5-minute, 10-minute promos for companies. You do that and you hope it swings back around and at least people say, “I met Bruce and we get a good exposure. I actually had some hits,” and you go from there. There’s no magic. This is a hard industry. There are a lot of great people out there. The video space is screaming full. It really is. I liked the thought of you going to work for people, for brand name companies and working it that way. Are you going to do any freelance? If somebody wants to come in and say, “I need you to help me build my brand.” Is that what you’re thinking of doing?
That’s what we built the company off of. Right away, we were going to start filming hunts for people that necessarily didn’t want to buy the full production. We offer a cheaper price because we’re a new company. That’s the building blocks for our company was helping the everyday hunter get video footage of his dream hunt. We also branch after brand photography now because obviously, people sometimes want their hunts videoed.
Everybody seems to want to do it on their own. We’ve taken off with the brand and company media stuff. A lot of the earliest companies that we work with are loving what we’re doing and the production that we’ve provided them there, they’re really loving it.
Have you got a hold of Aron Snyder yet of Kifaru?
That’s a funny story but that’s what we’re after here.
Aron killed a wolverine up wherever the heck he is.
I saw that. That was pretty cool.
It’s definitely in our mind, the local companies like that. We’re with Badlands 100% and that’s the pack market. Right now, we’re not looking at Kifaru.
Did you get Outdoor Edge?
We have Tyto up in Minnesota. We’ve been working with them, but we are most likely going to be looking for a nice sponsor since they have a lot of photography.
We have over at Gunnison, Kirstie Pike with Prois. Aron and I will be getting together doing some podcasts. It is fun. There are some great people right here in Colorado. I try to promote Colorado-based companies wanting to do that. Let’s talk about hunting. How many have you guys done? I know Ian, you were a guide in Wisconsin for a while. Where do you hunt in Wisconsin?
Brady was the one that was hunting in Wisconsin. I have guided in Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and a little bit in Missouri. I’ve been hunting for years now, mainly archery. I have killed my fair share with black powder and rifle but archery is my go-to. It’s been a couple of years. Since 2017, I have actually not killed a deer.
What have you been doing?
I’m working. I moved from Ohio to Colorado Springs and I’ve been building myself up here. I’m trying to get back into the swing of things more or less. My last buck was at Ohio and in 2017. He was about 143. He wasn’t anything huge.
That’s a gorgeous buck. Don’t apologize. A trophy is whatever the person’s pulling the trigger deems it to be. I’ll jump on that because we’ve got to stop doing that. You’ve got to stop apologizing. It’s your hunt, it’s your deer, it’s your trophy. It doesn’t matter. Many people get angst up about, “It’s not really that big.” I don’t care. The deer behind me, I killed it in Iowa. I blew an Iowa tag. I was on a guidance hunt and I blew an Iowa tag because of his brown ties. That’s all I saw. It was a little hunt. He had almost ten-inch brow tines. I said, “You’re going to die, sucker.” He’s got a perfect frame and he’s outside the ears. It’s everything you want it to be, but he’s like a 2.5 year-old-deer and everybody went, “Do you realize you killed the Boone and Crockett buck?” I said, “Yeah.” A few years after, he would have been a Boone and Crockett buck. He came out, the light was perfect. He was broadside 150 yards muddles over. I killed him. I don’t get it because I’ve got a lot of trophies, but he’s my favorite one, some at the tree and those brown ties, he got me. That’s my first muzzleloader kill, the first one I shot. I look at people and say, “It’s my hunt, my money, my time.”
It’s 130-ish deer but with my crossbow, I would’ve smoked him. I’d smoke him anyplace, anytime. It’s a gorgeous deer. I’m sorry about that, Ian. I think more and more people and Sam Harris are doing a great job of being positive. Hunting is into the client. We got to be our best friends and you can have the Ford and Chevy discussions and that’s fine, but keep it fun and stay away from all this negativity. “You shouldn’t have shot that little deer.” “Yeah, I should have.” I’m going elk hunting. I get a friend coming up from Wisconsin and we’re going to shoot cows. Basically if it brown, it’s down. Where we’re hunting, it’s legal. You can kill a bull. It’s going to be four points or better or a cow. I don’t care.
Even when we went out opening week, we were perfectly willing to shoot anything that was legal. We wanted meat on the ground and the experience.
Was that the first foray into the mountains of Colorado for you guys for archery hunting?
As a team, yes. I have done it a couple of different times. For Brady, I know that was a first for elk hunting, right?
Exactly, yeah. It’s the first one for me.
We’ll have to team up. Brady, what about you? Your hunting experience and how it all got started? What’s you’re hunting tradition?
I’ve been hunting for years. This is my first year out West hunting elk, archery, but most has been archery. It was in Wisconsin. A little bit in Minnesota, but mostly Wisconsin archery hunting and rifle. The last buck I killed was 2018 and it was with a rifle. It was actually a funny story. It was the day I came back from drill. My drill weekend for the guard and I’m like, “Screw it. I’m going to get up.” I got up and right away in the morning he came out across this CRP field and I dropped him at 120 yards. He was about 131 was what he scored. It was a nice wide and old buck. He was on the decline for sure. I had a basket eight that I killed that year and a doe. I filled the freezer that year and the rest of the time had been all archery does and a few 120-class bucks.
What part of Wisconsin did you hunt?
I rifle hunt in Dairyland, Wisconsin which is about an hour south of Duluth, Minnesota or Superior and Polk County, Wisconsin.
In the wolf zone?Money is going to be super nice when it comes in, but that takes a lot of time to get money. Click To Tweet
You get a lot of wolves. I hunt in Rice Lake. That’s where I hunt. I have a friend that’s got a farm up there. I spent a couple of days every year with them and I’d see more wolves than I see deer.
It’s a big problem.
No, it’s a huge problem.
We have it common in Colorado.
They’re already here. Here’s a shout-out for Stop the Wolf, Denny Behrens. We did a thing on their wolves. Most folks are already in Colorado and they went the CPW, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, to fund the reintroduction or introduction of wolves into Colorado. The hunters are going to pay for the introduction and the voters don’t have to do anything. CPW can’t afford to do that. That’s my rant on that. I love wolves. I’ve been fortunate. Over my shoulder, it’s the harvest wolf up in British Columbia and if you’re in the wilderness and you hear a wolf howl, there’s nothing like it. You go, “Holy fright,” because he’s an apex predator and he can kill you. To me, it’s fun saying, “This is wilderness.” On one hand, I’m glad to see him in Colorado, but we have to manage them and fill the CPW to have to fund that is entirely wrong. All the people out there that are for reintroduction, it’s great. Step up to the plate, cast your vote and then pay like the rest of them. Wolves are going to get here whether we have an introduction or not. They’re already here.
We’d have that, we see the sign for a mountain in there all the time.
There’s plenty of forage, there are plenty of elks, and there are plenty of deer for them to eat and they’re an apex predator. They’ll come. There will be conflicts and if we can manage it, fine. They’re part of the environment, they’re part of the ecosystem. I used the term eco-terrorist who wants to see wolves jammed down their throat and not putting up a cent. That doesn’t compute. There’s my rant on that. What are your two cents on that?
Growing up in Minnesota and hunting in Wisconsin as well, I have a huge view on wolves. I’ve seen what they do to deer populations and Minnesota’s deer population has diminished because of wolves. It’s gone. You can’t go out rifle hunting in Minnesota during the rut and you’ll maybe see 1 or 2 bucks. That’s about it in a really good zone. Anyway, I don’t think it’s a good decision, especially the numbers that they’re talking about releasing. They were talking about releasing about a full-size pack, now about 50 but that’s still too much. If you think a litter is about 5 to 7 pups, four of them will probably live. The elk and the mule deer population is going to get decimated and the moose.
Wyoming’s already phased out with the Shiras moose. It’s decimated by the wolves. In heavy, deep snow, they can’t escape and then it’s lights out.
I read that Idaho is now talking about reducing their non-resident elk numbers for tags because of their wolf population taking down so many elks. That’s going to be Colorado in a couple of years if this happens.
It won’t take that. If you’re reading this and you’re a hunter, Stop the Wolf, support it because within a number of years, elk hunting in Colorado will not be the same. We will not have the over 200,000 elks that we presently have. If they let them go in the White River, the Flat Tops and Grand Mesa. Grand Mesa has the most moose in the state. It will decimate the moose. What’s the end game in all this? There will be no hunting, no CPW, no anything and reduced tags. No tag, no money and no support. Hunting becomes a thing of the past. Within a generation, we could see it diminishing because now we have wolves from Canada all the way to Mexico along the Rocky Mountain Front.
What people don’t realize is it affects the other apex predators here too. Mount lions aren’t going to have that food source anymore. In Minnesota, we don’t have a mountain lion population anymore because of that.
They can’t compete against a pack. There are a lot of things we have to think about new as a production company is going to be faced with. We’re filming guys hunting and your career path will be diminished. You’re in your late 20s, mid-20s. By the time you’re in your ’50s and ’60s, you won’t have the opportunity. That’s the thing that I scratch my head about. Companies that belong to ATA and the other hunting ATA, most of them are archery people and you throw the shot in there. That doesn’t exist anymore. $37 billion is the archery industry and it doesn’t exist anymore. That’s a hit. Think of the jobs and think of the communities. You grew up, Brady, in Wisconsin. The communities that make a heck of a lot of money serving beer and broths during that nine-day-hunt season. Guys come up to their cabins and they go out and buy gas and food.
Mathews is based out of Wisconsin.
Is it part of Wisconsin?
That entire town runs off of Mathews.
They don’t exist. We could go down Bowtech and Hoyt. You can go down the list and if you don’t have whitetails to hunt and if you don’t have elk to hunt and some people say, “Wolves aren’t that much a problem, we still got them and other places that we have whitetails,” but wolves don’t pay attention to any state boundaries. They go where there’s food. We’re getting a sense of where you guys are at in the conservation and the pros and cons of that. When you go to somebody and say, “We’d like to represent you, we’d like to do some work for you,” like Badlands, why are you guys connected with them?
Ian, he can probably touch on this. He’s got previous connections with them.
I wouldn’t say that’s the main reason, but I had a partnership with them for a few years, starting back in 2015. I branched away from not necessarily hunting because I was still guiding every year, especially when I was guiding here in Colorado. With Badlands, I’ve trusted it for years. I’ve been rocking Badlands backpacks for a long time and I’ve trusted them. For the Whitetail Woods for guiding and for everything. They’re buying no harnesses and stuff like that. They came out with the approach and the approach FX camo and I’ve loved it. It’s been some of the best camos I’ve ever had. I’ve had Gore-Tex and all these high-end brands out there. Badlands has been the best option for me.
I showed Brady the Badlands stuff when we first started this company. He fell in love with it too. We decided that was the company that we wanted to go with, not only for warranty but for quality and the gear that we need for what we do. That’s why we went that route. A good thing to touch on with them too is what made me really want to approach them is they’re not the biggest company out there yet. We could grow with them because what we noticed too is that their media wasn’t quite up to par with the bigger brands. We approached them saying, “We can blow you guys up with media and get you the super high-quality content.” We could benefit by obviously being associated with Badlands, but you could benefit from it by having that pro-grade content.
Where is Badlands out of?
It’s in West George, Utah.
They’re at the Wasatch Front. Who’s the main guy over there marketing-wise?
You just go to their website and go from there?
Also obviously on all social media and stuff like that too. You can see some of our content on their social media and I don’t know if they’ve redone their website yet, but once they redo their actual product website, you’ll see a lot of our stuff on there as well.
Let’s switch it up because I get thousands of readers who’ve gone, “They’re salivating. There’s a couple of guys that are doing exactly what I want to do.” We touched upon this a little bit, but this is a hard industry. It takes a long time. If you look at the Mossy Oaks and the Bill Jordans of the world with Realtree and I think of Bill Winke that got purchased by Realtree and Midwest Whitetail. My good friend Josh Honeycutt’s tied into that very heavily with Realtree. When you think about a guy like Bill Winke, here he is in Iowa and he’s got a dream, he’s got a goal. I had Bill on in my first 50 guests and I said, “How’d you do this?” He said, “It was hard.” He got his payday twenty years later. He made a good living after the first couple of years because it was slim potatoes. He was working. He told me and people can go back in and look for Bill Winke Midwest Whitetails at Whitetail Rendezvous.
He’ll tell you exactly how hard it was for him and his wife and working three jobs and doing everything he could to live his dream. At the time that the whole industry was ascending, he was maybe at the best time to do it. Because of technology, filming has gone to a handheld. Even I could film my hunts if I wanted to. Let’s say I’m really good. I could do it but I choose not to. I have one video of the wolf handheld in British Columbia. It lasts about a minute and a half. That’s my only visual content. Thinking about that, what suggestions would you guys give to somebody that’s sitting out there and saying, “I want to do this?” What would you tell them?
If they’re serious about it, first of all, networking. Get with a good photographer that’s in the industry. I got with TJ Perez. I don’t know if you know TJ. He’s with Kifaru. He does a lot of work with Aron Snyder and stuff like that right off the bat. Also invest in your equipment right away. That’s the number one thing I could say is invest. It’s a lot of work. I’m going through the wringer trying to get this thing, everything’s up and running. It’s up and running but still trying to grow it. I work 40 hours a week and then I put another 40 into this business out after work and during work too. I’m on my phone posting on social media at work and then I come home and I edit photos, put up new content and it’s a lot of work. I’m definitely tired, but I’m still hungry to grow the business a lot more.
We’ve got a lot of work to do and this is only the building stages and I’m the same way. I’m always on social media, always checking social media at work and posting pictures, editing and learning something new. I download some new software for those pictures you guys have been seeing on social media. It’s like a still picture but it has motion in it. I’ve been working a lot on that.When it comes to the crunch time, you got to hit those deadlines or else clients are not going to look at you seriously at all. Click To Tweet
That’s right on my iPhone. It’s HD where it has five seconds of actual motion.
That’s the whole picture where with this one, you have your subject in the photo. You also have the background itself moving. The subject is still, but you can do it with water, with the sky. You can even change it up to where the background is still and then the subject is moving. It’s pretty cool.
Is it almost like a Boomerang? The old guy knows some stuff. I think that’s funny, I really do. We’ve got technology. You got a one, do you want to put in the time? Get good equipment. The huge thing that a company, let’s go for Bill Winke with Midwest Whitetail. He didn’t have social media, but he got video out there, tons and tons of video. His interns, people and guys wanted to start filming hunts and there was right the right time. Now he has millions and millions of hits, no wonder Realtree wants to buy him. It’s a very successful brand but that took twenty years. What do you think before this is a full-time gig for you, how many years are you going to have to put in?
We’ve put in total contributing to the company right now, we put in about a year. I would say 2 or 3 with the connections that we have with Sons of Fall and Badlands. It’s a matter of time until people start seeing our name out there.
Two guys can support themselves, not their families, but you can one, go hunting, have the best equipment you can get and then do something that you love and pay your bills.
That’s all we’re looking for if we’re being honest. We love the production aspect and everything else, but we’re huge archery hunters and that’s what we want to be out there doing. We are providing content and getting video and all of that stuff while we’re in the field too. It’s a double whammy when we’re out there. We’re doing what we love in all aspects that are huge.
One of the things too is money is going to be super nice when it comes in, but that takes a lot of time to get money. I would say you’re going to see in a year or two probably True West is going to have to add someone too because this workload is a little heavy right now for the both of us
Are you looking for an intern?
Potentially, but not right now.
Tell me about the job role. We don’t know.
They need to know how to film edit because you’re going to see True West. Me and Ian, we’re going to probably branch off of each other in a year or two because we need to go film other people, not just ourselves. He’s going to be filming and I’m going to be filming somewhere else and we need someone else for back home to do some editing and social media management while we’re out there. We can’t have these one-week, two-week time lapses of nothing on social media.
Even podcasts too. It’s been almost ten months since our last podcast.
Do you have a podcast brand?
It’s True West Podcast.
Here’s from a guy that’s got over 600 episodes done and it used to take me five hours to edit. Fortunately now, I have a gentleman that invested in Whitetail Rendezvous. For this year and 2020, I do have a VA to do all the editing. RS Asset Management with Bob Roark did that. A shout-out to Bob and thanks for that. It’s a hellacious job and to get the people on the show, do the show, produce a show and then go to the hosting company and get all that worked out. It’s a lot of work.
Finding guest for the show too.
They’ve got to be interesting.
If I run a podcast for probably a year now but not our podcast. I ran my own page before True West Productions and that’s what molded into True West. I ran a podcast for them and it’s very difficult finding good guests to talk to on there.
Elk season is winding down. Are you guys going to go back out?
We’re trying to link up the days so we can get a couple more days out there. Brady has done for archery for this year and I still have a week and a half left.
It ends on the 29th. I start hunting Sunday. I’ll be in that camp, I’ll be home Sunday night and if everything goes right, those are curse words, I should be able to get my friend honorable within three days.
We’re starting new jobs. It’s hard to get days off for it and link them together.
That’s our hardest thing.
It’s a lot easier hunting elk tag team. For the best information, look for Corey Jacobsen of Elk101. If you’d like to hunt elk, you need to go and get on by Corey’s. Here’s a free shout-out, Corey. Buy his course and he and Randy Newberg got it going over there. They’re probably the best guys to get up to speed hunting. East Meets West podcast, Beau Martonik, is in Idaho and he dumped the bull. He’s an awesome guy. If you guys haven’t been on his show, you need to reach out to him and get on his show. He’s an awesome kid, but he knows a lot about helping people that don’t think they can hunt the West to hunt to West.
Corey is a huge role model for me. The same with Brian Call and Donnie Drake.
I don’t know Donnie. Brian Call has responded. He and I have talked back and forth and stuff. I’m a big Aron Snyder fan because he’s so hardcore.
Ryan Lampers too. He is awesome. Ryan Lampers is great. He’s out of Idaho.
He’s an incredible hunter.
Investment in time, investment of money, then you’ve got to develop your contacts through relationships. The best way to do it that I know is on social media and then meeting people face-to-face at trade shows and showing them your work as you’d done with Badlands.
You can’t be shy in the hunting industry. That’s what I’ve learned. You’ve got to reach out. You’re not going to grow your page by people looking at it. You’ve got to reach out to those guys that have made it and you have to reach out to them because they can help promote you if they see something in you.
Brady, here we are. You’ve got True West Productions and you’re hunting. Why did you come to Colorado?
I lived in Minnesota all my life. Colorado has always been a place for me. North America is the hunting mecca. It seems like you have everything here. You have whitetail, you have mule deer, you have elk, but you’ve also got mountains, which I’ve always been attracted to going into the mountains. It’s always been a dream of mine to live out in a state that has the mountains, the animals that I can hunt and basically have free rein over because of all the public land here too. It made sense for me and my fiancé to move here. We wanted to have a fresh start. We were correctional officers back in Minnesota in a rough prison environment. I don’t know if you watched the news that much, but we had an officer that got murdered.Colorado is North America's hunting Mecca. It seems like everything is there. Click To Tweet
Were you at Stillwater?
How’d I known?
It’s on the national news. It was a very hostile environment that we wanted a fresh start from. Colorado seemed like the perfect place.
We have a supermax here. Have you gone down there and talked to them about working there?
No, I don’t have any interest in corrections. I’ve had my fair share of it for sure.
That’s a discussion for another time when we’re sitting around having a beer or something. To me, I always looked at that the inmates get out, but the people work there are in for life.
It’s definitely a harsh environment. If people say you can’t get PTSD from working in a correctional facility, they’re dead wrong. I found a peaceful environment in Colorado doing photography, working at jobs but not as hostile.
Life is hard enough. It really is. The hunting, if we let it be can be super stressful. How do you handle that? When you’ve got deadlines and you’re doing production and everything and you’ve got to perform?
That’s what I’m dealing with on my two days off that I had from regular work is I still work full-time doing this production. After I’m done talking to you, going out, filming a little simple get ready on video for elk hunting that Badlands and hopefully Sons of Fall use this year.
You can come into my garage. I’ve got ten bins ready to go. I’ve been stuffing bins for a couple of days because of my buddy, he has absolutely no clue. When you whitetail hunt, you put your stuff in your bins and you’re hanging out and you put it on. You walk, drive, we can hunt right outside the bunkhouse if we want to. We can take the four-wheelers or we can take the truck or you go where you stand, you sit, you maybe walk a couple of 100 yards at most. Maybe further in Wisconsin, but if you’re Dan Infalt, then you’re into the swamps.
Meeting deadlines though, I would say you need to sacrifice a lot of time, your free time. I haven’t had off the weekend in I don’t know how long. A lot of your free time even with work, I’ve asked for extra days off so I have to work extra hours at work to get my extra days off that I can put towards this business. It’s definitely a time sacrifice, but when it comes to the crunch time, you’ve got to hit those deadlines or else they’re not going to look at you seriously at all.
Ian, we’ve been talking about the stresses of production and deadlines as one part. It looks like fun and you’re out in the wilderness, but if you’re working for a company, they expect X and you’ve got to produce it. How do you handle the stress of what you’re trying to do?
It definitely is very stressful and I would say my de-stress is being out in the world or out in the mountains and getting the content and everything that we do. That helps. That keeps me less stressed and that’s where I always like to call it a happy medium. I don’t have a lot of that with guiding too. A lot of deadlines and stuff like that with my clients and all of that. They have a week that they’re there. Guiding is more stressful than production, honestly, at least as far as me.
That’s a great segue because a lot of people, who read this do DIY hunt, but then there are others that will hire a guy because they don’t have the gear and don’t have the time to do the research and all that. What suggestions would you give to somebody who’s going to hunt the Rockies, the first time elk hunter, let’s just say, or moose hunter? What suggestions would you give them so they can have a successful hunt, not in harvesting an animal but to a successful experience?
You have to do your homework. Get your research. I know not everybody can afford to get like the onX apps and all those mapping apps and stuff, but I’m telling you those have saved our life time and time again and especially me with guiding. I will sit there and do my homework for hours on onX and even when we go out and scout. Scouting is everything in my opinion, especially for elk. We went out all summer scouting and I feel if we wouldn’t have, we would have been walking in blind and it would’ve been a challenge. I know a lot of guys that do over the counter and DIY all across the West. That’s what they do. They don’t have time to come scout, they don’t have time to do this and that. They walk in blind. Scout if you can. Scouting doesn’t have to be physical in person. You can take these mapping apps, you can even use Google Maps if you want and you can see the terrain on the satellite in the hybrid and all that. Definitely intel. Do your homework, do your research and find out the best units to go to and at least for success rates what you’re doing, whether it’s archery, rifle or whatever, scouting and all that. Finding a specific unit, especially for over the counter, it’s a little bit harder.
The CPW puts out population numbers per unit and success rates with that unit. I would recommend looking at that and then also how much public land is in that unit.
Especially depending on the state that you’re hunting too.
I’ll give a shout-out for goHUNT. I wrote a lot of Colorado profiles for them and one thing we did was the percentage of public land versus private land access and success rates. This information is available in a lot of places, but for Lorenzo Sartini, Chris Porter and Brady Miller and the crew at goHUNT, I’ll give a shout-out because they’re one of the first that got it right. Now there are other companies out there that are doing it, but since I was heavily involved at the beginning of goHUNT, you have to do your homework. There are plenty of podcasts out there, there are plenty of people out there that will tell you how to do it. You can do it any place. You can do it at work or on your phone. I’ve got onX maps and Google Earth. I’ve got everything and I can be sitting with somebody on the phone and say, “This is where you need to go. This is your ability.” I hunt between 10,000 feet and 9,000 feet. That’s my elevation bandwidth. Bulls will be up in the Alpine meadows above 10,000, but they always go down to the fingers, the spruce fingers and stuff. Still that gets to 11,000, 10,000. During the rut, there where the cows are. It’s like whitetail hunt. It really is. That’s when I first started hunting out West. We had a guy who had hunting, he said, “I love Wisconsin bow hunters because they understand cover, food and the escape routes. They understand it and of course you need water. I think that’s true.
If you’re an Eastern whitetail hunter, you can be successful. There’s no question about it. I remember, Dwight Schuh passed on but I used to talk to him and he said, “It’s a matter of breaking down 10,000 acres into 1,000-acre plots and smaller because elk are only in 10% of their habitat at any one time.” That’s the reality of it. You’ve got 10,000 acres and then any one time, they might be in a 1,000 acres of it. That’s why you put on miles and miles. The good hunters that I know, they get high, they put a butt on the ground and then they get the long glass out and then they glass. If they don’t find them, they go over the hill to the next one. They don’t spend time and grind it out. You find a bull first. It’s like a whitetail hunt. You can pattern bulls, in my opinion. What are your thoughts on that, Ian?
You definitely can. They are a lot like whitetail and if you have a lot of whitetail experience where you know what you need to have a successful whitetail hunt, it’s very similar. The only difference, you’re on ground. In my opinion, you’re not sitting in a tree waiting. You’re out there trying to find a bull. That’s 90% of what we’ve done all summer. It’s classic. Going out there, finding a spot, glassing and then the next day, we pick a new spot and the next grade rover or maybe a mile or two up the road or down your grade. That’s 90% of those were glassing and locating, in my opinion.
When Wayne Carlton started, he’s a Colorado guy, he more or less kickstarted elk calling. He’s the guy that I know that started it off with turkey calls and then figured out you can make a kee kee run into a whistle and a bugle. That’s what he did. Wayne has had a great career doing that. The whole thing was a location. He’d stand on the top of the ridge and then blow down these hellacious canyons. If he didn’t hear anything, he wouldn’t go into the canyon. While some people go into canyon and say, “That looks good.” Don’t do that to yourself. That’s stupidity plus I can’t do it anymore, but when you’re 20-something, 30-something, you can charge the mountains and the mountains will kick your butt every time.
I went through a brand new pair of boots during scouting.
We both went through a pair of boots during scouting and even the opening week, we put about 60, 70 miles on our boots just glassing and scouting. It was tough. It’s not easy out there.
You’ve scouted, you found a couple of herds of elk, you’re within a ten-mile radius, let’s say of the camp and stuff. It’s DIY. It’s the national forest so everything looks good. All of a sudden, you come in and you’ve got five campsites picked out and all of them are full. What do you do then?
We keep looking.
You normally have four sectors that we selected in our unit. One is we know no one will be back there because they can’t get back there with their vehicles. Another is a pretty popular one that we went to our first day. The other one is super high country, low-density elk, but high country that not many people want to hunt in.
They’re very few and far between, which is why no one else goes there. We were the only two hunters out there.
Have a plan B, plan C and plan D, even a plan E if you need it because Colorado is ruthless with the hunters out here.
Not even hunters. Even onto this public land that’s out there, they have ATV trails everywhere and they have big lakes for fishing and all these people that go out there and hike and everything in between. There are more people out there than there is wildlife for sure. That makes it very tough because that educates not only the elk but the herds of general and it makes it harder for people like us who are out there doing DIY on a national forest line.
Don’t be surprised if you’re at Alpine. There’s timberline and above, you have ridge runners and people run the ridges and that’s what they do. They’re not running. They’re on trails. They’re running the ridges. It’s not a problem. They have every right to be out there as I do. I have some great friends that do it and they get to run as high and or up 12,000, 13,000 feet running ridges. Elk and sheep see that. I quit hunting on the weekends because it was ridiculous. I could hunt for five days and then I had to go and go fly fishing or go to sleep or wash my clothes or something because I couldn’t get away from the people. From tree line and above from Colorado, it’s 12,000 to 14,000 feet. There were people there and so you have to be aware of it. Those people have every single right to be where they are. They’re utilizing the resource like you are.
It’s public lands. Anybody can go use them as long as you’re not doing illegal especially Colorado because we do have a lot of public land out here and it’s awesome.When hunting, do your homework, do your research and find out the best units to go to. Click To Tweet
We love public land. Private land is nice too though.
You can’t be private land in. That’s a lot of my guiding experiences. It’s all been at outfitters and it’s all private land or wasteland and stuff like that. It’s a little bit easier.
That’s part of our hunting, is a little bit of private mixed in with our huge amount of public.
I’ll roll on a Sunday. It takes me four hours to get to where I’m hunting and if there’s elk in the ranch field, I know I’m screwed. I’m not even going to set up my camp if there’s over 100 head of elk in there. What they do, they come off the forest and they feed there, but the normal thing, they bed in forest because that’s where the bed is. They eat on the alfalfa and the hay and then they go back up and unfortunately that’s the whole thing. If they’re on that guy’s ranch, then I’m basically screwed for that area. I’ll go to plan B, C and D and I’ll find out. I have no doubt I will find out but it’s hard folks. We’re rambling on and talking a lot about different things, but if somebody wants to reach out to you and get in touch with you, how’s the best way to do it?
Even on Facebook, we have most of our info as far as contacting us, pricing and all that.
Your phone numbers and all that stuff?
It’s all on Facebook.
What type of customer do you want to track? What’s their profile?
I would say guys a lot like us that are out there doing backcountry hunts. I know a lot of guys at least that they are big into filming, but when they go do big hunts like this, they will hire people to come to film them. That’s why we’re wanting to fill those gaps because there are a lot of people out there that are looking for that. They want to go on a big backcountry adventure hunt and they want somebody to come film it. Rather than them self-filming as they do in the Whitetail Awards and stuff like that, they want people like us to come help. That’s basically our market right now as people that are like us. They want their hunt filmed, they want it documented and they want that memory and everything else. A lot of people out there don’t have the money for it. We are absolutely professional. I’m talking like a different level, like the producers and content providers and stuff that are deep into the production aspect of hunting. They’re all on the Outdoor Channel and stuff like that. That’s going to cost you some money.
With us, we are newer, we are a little bit cheaper than everywhere else because of that. We are very professional and we know what we’re doing. We’re not necessarily aiming for a specific group either. Anybody, even if you’ve never had your elk or your hunt filmed and you want someone who can come film your hunt. You want that memory and stuff like that. We’re aiming from anywhere from people that have never had their hunt filmed to people who’ve had their hunt film 100 times. They need somebody like us that can really provide the workforce.
We’re not afraid of the snow. We’re both from the Midwest. I’m from Minnesota. He’s from Ohio. We get a lot of snow. We’re not afraid to film some mountain lion hunts either or anything like that.
Are you predator hunting?
Yeah, we are predator hunting.
Any predator hunting, honestly.
We’ll film any hunting, anything, turkey. I’ve done a lot of turkey footage and stuff like that too.
How about companies? I know you’re working with Badlands and Sons of the Fall. What can you do for companies?
Videography and we have some promos for them and big brands. We shoot all in raw and everything like that. We do a lot of blow-up posters. Also, if they need a social media page ran, we’re both very fluent in social media. That’s a start for us is social media right now. We’re starting that. I would say pictures, brand photography for them. Their product photography and in field though, not studio.
We can do studio as well if that’s what they want. A lot of the companies out there are aiming for more like in field hunting type of video and photo work. Any type of multimedia marketing or anything that big companies could want, we can do it. Anything as far as social media to actual production shoots and stuff like that. We’ve done everything in between and both of those things as well. We’re very fluent and professional in those aspects and that’s why Badlands is loving us in what we’re doing and providing for them is because we are very professional. We take the time to not only get with the company that we’re working for as far as getting shot lists and what they’re specifically looking for and go by that. We also are very creative in our own aspect. Not only do we get what these companies are asking us for, but we’ll go above and beyond to provide more creative stuff that we do on our own. A lot of the time, it seems like these companies are loving the creative aspect of what we’re doing rather than the specifics that they’re asking for it too.
How about a wrap up, Brady?
Seriously, I love that you reached out to us. We’re excited to get into the outdoor industry and True West Productions in the next few years is going to be something big. This is going to be an awesome thing to look back on to for sure, talking to you and seeing how far we’ve come and everything and that we’re really excited.
I’m definitely excited. We’re still in the building stages and things are going very smooth for us. I’m excited to look back on all of this and how we started and especially now that we’ve put so much work, effort and time into this company. It’d be good to look back someday because I know we’re going to be successful. I have no doubt in my mind. I know it might take a couple of years, but I know we’ll get there.
On behalf of hundreds of thousands of readers that welcome to the outdoor industry and I wish True West Productions, Brady Collins and Ian Morales, the best of success. I’m going to be tracking with them. They’re local, so who knows? You might see my face dumping an elk or something. Probably not though.
You’ll never know.
Thank you for reading. Thank you, gentlemen.
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About Bradu Collins
I was introduced to hunting at the young age of 11 by my father, where we hunted the snowy tundra of Minnesota. I grew apart from hunting for a couple years and focused on school but came back to it when my mother passed away when I was fifteen. I used archery as an outlet and a way to help with a very depressing time in my life. The hunting community surrounded me with support and helped me harvest my first whitetail the same year with a bow!
After school I found myself working as a Corrections Officer in the State of Minnesota and after a series of horrific incidents I took a leap of faith and quit my reliable good paying job at the Correctional Facility and moved to Colorado to live my dream as a professional photographer and chase bugling bulls, elusive mules and the ultimate predator, mountain lions after chasing whitetails in Wisconsin for 12 years.
I find myself putting down the bow and picking up a camera most of the time because I enjoy filming others joy in hunting and sharing that feeling.
Today I am the Co-Founder of True West Productions where our mission is to spread the word on how amazing the hunting community is and how they helped me through the hardest point in my life!