LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE:
Welcome to another episode of Whitetail Rendezvous. This is your host, Bruce Hutcheon. And we’re heading down south to talk to Alex Rutledge. Now, Alex, he’s done a lot neat things over 29 years in the outdoor industry. He’s one of the youngest men ever inducted into the National Legends of Outdoor Hall of Fame. And Alex about five years ago, started a company called Bloodlines. Alex, welcome to the show.
Alex: Hey, man. It’s an honor to be here on the show. Man, congratulations on a great show that you have. There’s a big buzz in the outdoor industry about the Whitetail Rendezvous. You’re doing a great job.
Bruce: And so let’s just jump right into why you founded Bloodlines about five years ago and then just take us in the journey from when you started to the journey where you’re at today.
Alex: Well, as most people know if they followed me, I’ve been in the outdoor industry, as you said, 29 years. I actually cut my teeth looking for a company called Hunters Specialties which is popular with prime time bucks and HS Strut. Actually I woke up one morning, Bruce, and conviction was laid on me not keeping my focus on my family. In the day, before they come out with iPhones and iPads and all this new technology, I was going through my paper calendars and I was looking at everyone that I had crossed through everyday I was gone from home, and I had seven years worth of calendars. So I thought, “I’m gonna count these days up.” So I counted these days up and at that time, my daughter was 11 years old. And conviction got laid onto me, “Hey, man. You need to pay attention what’s going on here.” God laid it on my heart, “You need to spend more time at home.” So I was getting all these job offers while I was at Hunter Specialties.
And I went through the calendar and I seen I was gone over half of my daughter’s life. So it laid a conviction on me. So I decided to entertain some of these job offers. And it was more than double the money I was making at Hunters Specialties. You know, I was very blessed to work for Hunters Specialties, and they helped create my name in the outdoor industry, give me a chance to prove myself. But it give me an idea to go work for someone and create the Bloodline brand. And if you’ll look up Bloodline in a dictionary, it will say lineage, heritage, family, i.e. the blood of Christ. So the whole idea behind this is to send a good message to everybody in the outdoor industry. It’s about family, it’s about our faith, it’s about our country, it’s about friends. It’s not about the biggest buck always, it’s about the memories made. And what really instilled that in me also other than the calendar, was my mother, Laverne Evelyn Rutledge. She passed away in 2007 with congestive heart failure. She was a Godly woman, and she was always encouraging me to live for Christ and be a good example. So, that’s how we come up with Bloodline.
So here we are, I own Bloodline in partnerships for the last four years. I sold it last year to a company. And they kept it for one year and they sold it to, now Kaleb Schankie, Nicole Schankie, husband and wife out of Madison, Kansas. Great couple, a family of faith. They got a little boy named Tucker. And also, he has a partner out of Texas, his name is Wade Neyland. He is a financial adviser, he’s into banking. And these folks are down to earth people, Bruce. These people believe in red, white, and blue. They believe in families. So I couldn’t have asked for a better blessing to be teamed up with these folks.
Bruce: And so I understand the Bloodline and how is that transmitted over to the Whitetail community? I know the cost of Christ and what you stand for. And how does that transfer over to who we are as Whitetail nation?
Alex: Awesome. Awesome. Great question. Well, it goes back to what I just said. We wanna send a good message, and that message is about family, part of the message. Well, I can remember one of the first whitetails hunts I ever went on in my life. I couldn’t sleep all night long. My daddy was encouraging me and I could shoot a .22 when I was four years old. I would bust rocks the size of a nickel of the fence post in our yard. And my dad would show me off to people would come to buy his dogs. My dad was a big dog breeder. He sold coon hounds and coyote dogs and beagles. Anyway, he taught me to deer hunt. And I will never forget the first time he let me go by myself, I was 11 years old. I left the house with my rifle and walked about a half a mile behind my house on my own. That was the first part of manhood, that was my first experience, by myself with whitetail. But I would go with my dad at four years old, five years old and watch him harvest deer etc.
Bloodline is in everybody’s vocabulary, everybody has a bloodline. If you come from a line of deer hunters, archery hunters, gun hunters, whatever it may be, it’s in your bloodline. Think about it. Who taught you to hunt, Bruce? Who took you on your first outdoor experience? That’s the message we’re sending. It’s important to pass on our heritage of whitetail hunting, turkey hunting, whatever it may be, fishing. Your outdoor experience. And that’s what we’re trying to do is motivate people to get more active in the outdoors.
Bruce: Why do you think it’s so important today to get people to enjoy the hunting tradition, to get them outdoors, to get them in a tree stand, and to spend time around the campfire?
Alex: That’s a great question, and I figured you was gonna ask this question. Well, as we know, if you ever studied statistics, which I don’t know the correct percentage or the number, but the divorce rate is really high right now in America. And with what’s going on with liberalism in America, a lot of our younger generation . . . we’re losing the younger generation to not hunting and experiencing the outdoors. I just wanna commend companies like Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, [inaudible 00:06:56], Dick’s, Scheels, to name a few, Walmart for having sporting goods in their stores and also for sponsoring shows, like your show, my show so we can get out here and promote the outdoors. So the idea here is to get more younger people involved. Because the young generation, we’re losing it. The average of a hunter in America right now, I believe is 45 years old. That’s the highest percentage, average age of a hunter in America right now. But the fastest growing demographic is two areas: one is women and the other is predator hunting. So, we need to encourage our kids, we need to educate our kids about conservation. We need to take kids . . . I encourage all the listeners listening right now, if you got nephews, nieces, even your neighbors kids. If you’ve got a great relationship, take these kids, let them experience putting a worm on a hook. Let them experience [inaudible 00:07:53]. Drive the roads and let them see deer, let them see turkey. And please don’t make them think that the ultimate goal of hunting is to kill but harvest because it’s not. It’s about the experience. It’s about being in the outdoor and it’s about what our fore fathers, my grandfather, my dad has passed down through the bloodline to me to make me wanna be in the outdoors.
Bruce: Let’s just jump into the tradition of hunting in your life and who started you on this journey.
Alex: Okay. That’s another great question. Man, this show is really good. As I said earlier, my first deer experience was with my dad. I come from a very large family, Bruce. I’ve got five sisters and four brothers. There’s 10 kids in my family and I am the baby of 10 kids, and we all are full blood brothers and sisters. And my family tree does fork, but it was handed down to me from my family, my dad and my brothers. What I’m about to say here, and I’m not saying this to encourage any kids out there because it’s not good. But when I was three years old, I had my own can of Copenhagen. I thought I was a grownup. I was a tobacco chewer and my daddy thought it was cute that I’d chew. My mom didn’t like it but my dad did. It just passed onto me. I wanted to be like my dad. I wanted to be like my brothers. Whether it was cutting wood or working cattle or coon hunting, deer hunting, turkey hunting, fishing, whatever it may be, I wanted to be like them. They inspired me to be an outdoorsman. Some of the greatest memories I ever had was in the squirrel woods squirrel hunting with my family and waking up in the early mornings.
My dad was a cook in the Navy. He served on the USS Yorktown for many years. He was the head lead chef there on the carrier. That being said, my dad loved to cook, and some of the fondest memories I had would be waking up in the morning before daylight, 4:00 in the morning and hearing my dad in the kitchen making cathead biscuits and frying up deer meat or turkey breast. And back then, we didn’t have coolers, he would take those sandwiches in white bread and put them back in the old wholesome bread sack and we’d take them to the woods with us and wrap them in tin foil or whatever, and when it come lunch time, we’d all meet for lunch. That’s what the outdoors is about, and they’re the ones that inspired me to be an outdoorsman, my dad and my brothers.
Bruce: What do we need to do as the Whitetail nation to help bring in more youth and keep encouraging women to join us in the outdoors?
Alex: Well, it’s all about education. We got to educate them. We got to show them and let them feel our experiences in our stories. For example, me here talking about my experiences. You got to be passionate. Everybody involved with Whitetail nation, Whitetail Rendezvous, they need to be passionate about their common goal. And that common goal is to educate and entertain. And we got to do programs to reach out to kids and reach out to the families. Whitetail nation, Whitetail Rendezvous, great organization. The money that’s spent there, the memberships or whatever, we need to continue to support this because every dime that we can contribute to any organization, NRA, NWTF, Rocky Mountain Elk, Ducks Unlimited, it helps fight for our rights. The ultimate answer is just to educate and entertain to encourage these folks to be involved into the Whitetail nation.
Bruce: And at Whitetail Rendezvous, we stand for three things: we educate, collaborate, and communicate about the whitetail world.
Alex: Awesome. Biology’s another key thing, that intrigues kids. They wanna know about biology, how something is developed and how long it takes to grow, symptoms of diseases, etc. That intrigues kids. For a good example, how many kids you know . . . even you as a kid growing up was you intrigued by dinosaurs? Think about that.
Alex: We got to educate them, it’s where it’s at, everything. It’s all about relationships, relationships, relationships. Getting people involved and doing things that’s cool that intrigues them. That’s the key.
Bruce: Let’s talk about some recent whitetail hunts and lessons learned that you’re gonna make sure that you share with your buds and that you’re gonna implement next year in the deer stand.
Alex: Okay. Well, first of all, I’ve been a whitetail hunter at a very young age as I mentioned earlier. Most people know me now in the outdoor industry for whitetail and turkey and elk and predator, etc. A true passion of mine, and I share this often, is getting inside the minds of whitetails. I’m obsessed with whitetails. I’m obsessed pretty much with anything that I pursue, whether it’s small mouth fishing, turkey hunting, deer hunting or elk or whatever it may be. But that being said, figuring out whitetail, it’s like a . . . and I share this in seminars. I do seminars all across the United States every year. It’s approaching it as a crime scene. If I’m going into the woods to figure out whitetail, I wanna use the 30,000 foot approach. I’m looking down, using topographical maps, aerial photos, even my iPhone. With the new technology, you got all kinds of advantages now than what we had at a younger age. It’s figuring out where deer are gonna live and where they’re gonna travel to and how to get inside of their mind to fool them, to make them come into bow . . . I’m a bow hunting . . . Matthews is the bows that we’re shooting here at team Bloodline, one of the greatest bows ever. But that being said, it’s about being scent free as part of this puzzle, this crime scene, putting these scrapes together, connecting the scrapes for rub lines. But the path leading to a thicket that may be a bedding area . . . that’s the challenge I love. Touching on some deer hunts, last year harvested one of the most memorable deer of my entire career.
I don’t know how many Pope and Youngs I have. I’ve never registered one, but I’ve got several. But 90% of the deer that I kill or with a bow and I call them in or decoyed them in or mock scraped them. That being said, the deer I killed last year was nine and a half years old plus on my own farm. And I had spy point tail cam pictures of him, night time pictures, for the last seven years. Believe it or not, last year I saw him in the daylight three or four times. He was coming into a mossy oak, silk biologic food plot to does in December, late season. And I had an encounter with him but were in the [inaudible 00:15:16] and I filmed him over 20 minutes. He was just out of range and it was windy and I wouldn’t catch the shot. I went back the next night, the wind was right and I was using my Ozonics. [inaudible 00:15:27] Ozonics, I’m telling you it is unbelievable. And I’m not trying to be a hard salesman here, I’m just telling you I believe in that product. Does come in downwind and I knew this buck would possibly come back into this feed plot. And the does actually saw me in the shooting house and they blew the field out around 4:30, it started to get dark at 5:15. I thought, “Oh, man. My hunt’s over, they saw me.” And it wasn’t, I’m telling you, 10, 15 minutes later, I seen does starting to filter back into the field. The does come in all around the shooting house that I’m in and it was extremely cold. And I looked down the power line about 200 yards, here he steps out. We call him the [inaudible 00:16:11] He’s over 20 something inches tall, but he’s only like 13 or 14 inches long. I won’t score that well but he’s an old monarch.
Bruce: Oh, my goodness.
Alex: He comes into the food plot and all the doe are filtered back in. I got does downwind, I got does walking by me and scent’s blowing right down to them, they never smell me. A young buck comes in now and he starts bristling up [inaudible 00:16:36] does. He comes in and I’ve gotten over seven minutes of pre-rolling and he comes in to 54 yards broadside and one of the does . . . getting him a little nervous and he’s [inaudible 00:16:49] and he had his front shoulder back. And I waited for him to step forward, and when he did, I ranged him and, with my Matthews Creed XS, I smoked him, double longed him, he didn’t go 100 yards.
Bruce: At a boy.
Alex: I’m telling you, I self filled the whole hunt by myself. Because at the time, the ownership of Bloodline, they wasn’t sending me a producer. I was having to film my own stuff. But that being said, God prevails, man. I got over 20 some minutes of footage of this before I kill him. The reason it’s so memorable to me is because I done it by myself. I filmed it by myself, I planting the food plots, I watched this buck grow, and I give him a name. And he was one my hit list, and I made it happen by myself. The first I called was my wife, Linda, my best friend. She come back with me and helped me track him. We filmed a recovery together and everything. Again, it goes back to what Bloodline’s about, sharing with your family. And if you’ve watched any of our episodes of Bloodline or Hunters Specialties back in the day, I included my family in everything I done. My little girl would track deer at three years old. I’ll never forget one of the episodes and my wife and her have a sense of smell that’s unbelievable. She says, “Daddy, I smell blood.” And we didn’t go another 50 yards and I’s letting her track at three years old and she found my buck.
Alex: It’s all about family, Bruce, all about family, man, and friends and God.
Bruce: Yep. I sure agree to that. Let’s talk about how you’ve learned some of the skills and not all of them because I know you got a whole box full of skills, but just some of the skills that you use, you just said, in that last story. How’d you gain all this information? Share with the listeners how you gained all this knowledge.
Alex: Great. Thank you so much for asking that again. What I wanna do is conclude the answer that I really need to give you in that last question. You asked me something I would not do again and I learned my mistakes. Never go into a set if the wind’s not right. Always use the best travel route to get into a set without being seen or winded. That would be my tip to everybody. Now, to answer your question. How I obtained all this knowledge is the experience in the woods and surrounding myself with good people. One of my greatest mentors that I look up to is brother, Jack Rutledge. He’s one of the best whitetail hunters I’ve ever hunted with in my life. And to mention some other ones I’ve learnt from is Stan Potts. I hunted a lot with Stan Potts. I admire that man, respect him a lot, very knowledgeable man. He had taught me use of topos, aerial photos to look down on areas and how to pinch point them, etc. So those are two people that I learned a lot of stuff from. And Eddie Salter’s another whitetail hunter that don’t get the credit that he deserves. You can send Eddie Salter into a big block of timber and I promise you, say, “All right. Eddie, I want you to kill deer.” I’d put him against anybody of killing a deer to eat. Now, a nice buck, he can figure them out quick. But that being said, being in the field and surrounding myself with knowledgeable people has helped me become the whitetail hunter I’ve become today.
Bruce: Thanks for that. Let’s throw this out at you. You and I just picked up 120 acres, we know there’s deer there, but we never been on that ground. What are we gonna do between now and archery season?
Alex: Okay. Well, first thing you wanna do is . . . you got your aerial photo. You wanna talk to the neighbors around there, go introduce yourself to all the neighbors. Okay. Become friends with the neighbors. The Bible tells us to be neighborly. That being said, if you’re neighborly, you have friends. You obtain information, what kind of bucks have they seen? Are they seeing good bucks? Next thing you wanna do when you pull the aerial photos up, you wanna look at every pinch point that you can find. You wanna find every open area. You wanna find every water source, every creek run, every thicket there is. The thickets are usually bedding areas, usually and water sources there then your food source. Okay. That’s what I do. Then I’d go in and set spy points trail cameras on the areas that I think are the most heavily traveled. Then I start putting the puzzle together. Then I start taking inventory of what bucks I got there, then I start giving them names. You can go to myspypoint.com and you can log all your pictures and become a member, and they organize them and put in to date, the temperature, the moon phase, etc, and it helps create data for you to make it more predictable for you on harvesting that certain buck that you have on your hit list. So that’s what I do, trail cams, look at the aerial photos find the pinch points, talk to the neighbors, set trail cams and I go in and have food sources that will be there year round. That’s another key. And the other key is, is keep pressure off of that property. Do all your scouting mid day, once a week, pull the camera cards, never go in the early morning, late evening. Leave it alone. Keep the pressure off of it. If you got a power line, for example, stand it that power line glass 4 or 500 yards away to watch these deer. Don’t go in there and molest them. Create the food sources that they and habitat they need to stay secure and stay right there. Another key thing that I do on my property is I never shoot any of my does and I create a hit list of my does, believe it or not. That’s being deep, I know. But I’ll know these does by markings. But I feed them in my yard every day, they know me. If I walk up, they won’t run off. But I do not harvest any does till after the rut.
Bruce: I’m taking note. The last thing, the hit list of does and then you don’t hunt them until after rut, or you hunt them before the rut?
Alex: No. I do not do anything to molest my deer on my property till after the rut’s done.
Bruce: So you don’t hunt . . . okay. You don’t hunt your property till after the rut’s done. Is that correct?
Alex: I do not hunt does. I do not hunt does till after the rut is completely over. And I do not kill many does off of my property. If I do, it’s gonna be an old doe that’s a barren doe. Now if I have too many deer on my property, I wanna take the healthiest deer out and that’s the two and three year olds, four year olds. Because the healthiest deer are gonna produce twins and triplets.
Bruce: Okay. That makes sense. I’m getting some really good information that I haven’t heard . . .
Alex: I live this. I live it, man. Not that I’m better than anybody, I just live it. It’s my life. If you ever get the chance, you’re invited, come and see how I live. I live in a small town of 670 people 5 miles north of town. My farm’s out in the country, there’s not another house and anybody that lives close to me within a half mile or three-quarters of a mile. I’m in the woods all the time. If I’m not in the woods, I’m fishing for small mouth. I’m constantly wide open.
Bruce: Listeners, I hope you’re picking up these and they’re not nuances, it’s just the way Alex lives and has lived for 30 something years or more, all his life. And that’s how he does so well in the world of whitetails. He said it before, he lives it. And a lot of people we talk to, a lot people who listen on our show are involved with whitetail 365 days a year. But ladies and gentlemen, this is one man that’s living it.
Alex: Every day I’m with my deer. Every day I’m home, I feed my deer, I look at my deer. These are wild deer. I can take a stranger to my place and these deer will leave. I mean, these are wild deer. I don’t high fence deer. And I’m obsessed with whitetail, I’m telling you, obsessed. I’ve got one doe coming into the yard, everybody that’s got triplets. Then I got some older doe, barren, I say barren but a doe that’s only got a single. So the key is, is managing your property correctly and hunting it correctly. You will harvest mature deer every year. My place is so good and I’m not meaning to brag here but I’m telling you facts. I spend a total of 14 hours on my property one year hunting and harvested three Pope and Youngs, never step foot on it again.
Bruce: Proof’s in the pudding or however you wanna say it. Alex has this down. And, again, we’re so fortunate to have Alex spend a few minutes with us. And, folks, he is looking at a muscle car right now, so spend down a little bit. Tell us what you’re looking at.
Alex: Yeah. I got one myself, Bruce. I got a 55 Chevy, I’ll send you a picture, you can post it to everybody and they can follow me on Facebook at Bloodline with Alex or Alex Rutledge. I also have a radio talk show. I’d love to have you guys, Bruce, on my show sometime.
Bruce: It would be an honor. It would be an honor, Alex.
Bruce: It would be an honor.
Alex: I wanna see everybody that’s listening to this do what I do. I want everybody to be successful. I want everybody to understand conservation. I want everybody to understand what it takes to grow and mature a buck. It’s not about the score to me, it’s about harvesting mature whitetails. Because not every deer’s gonna be the same, just like humans aren’t the same. Now we can do things to help the antler growth. And right now I’m just gonna make mention, long-term wildlife system, that’s the minerals I have in my ground. That’s what I’m feeding my deer. And my does are healthier than they’ve ever been since I been feeding them this year. I want everybody to do good that’s listening. I want everybody to say, “I got 20 acres, I got 40 acres, I got 100 acres, and I’m harvesting mature bucks every year because of what I heard from Whitetail nation, White Rendezvous. I learnt from Alex or Stan,” or whoever it may be.
Bruce: Alex, we’re at the point in the show, now, you get a couple of minutes to give shout outs to whoever you want, promos, to Bloodlines, how do people get in touch with you? You’ve already mentioned the Facebook but go through it one more time, give us your URLs and have at it, man.
Alex: First of all, I wanna say thank you to everybody that’s watching it right now, and thank you, Whitetail Rendezvous, Whitetail nation. We live in a great country, we live in here, we all got to stand together as outdoorsmen, outdoors women. And that being said, I wanna thank all of our team members. My co-host, Kaleb Schankie, the owner of Bloodline Doug the [indaudible 00:28:19] DD and Shay Newbery, Wade Neyland and all of our team members out there that represent Bloodline and all of our sponsors. We have so many. Mossy Oak, Matthews, Case Knives, Shepard Hills Cutlery, Hornady Ammunition, Spy Point Cameras, just to name a few. If I left anybody out, I apologize, Executioner Broadheads. But that being said, follow us on Facebook. Go to Bloodline with Alex Rutledge, and you can follow the whole team members there, see what we got going on. You can also go to My Alex Rutledge page or on Instagram, Alex_Rutledge and Twitter, firstname.lastname@example.org is my email and alex_rutledge64 is my Twitter account. That being said, thank you, again, so much for having me on here. I’d love to be on again. And if anybody ever has any questions, get on Facebook. Also, be sure to watch Sportsman channel tonight, 605 on Direct TV, 343 on Dish, 706 on Comcast. We’re launching the first episode of Season 5 of Bloodline. God bless y’all and thank you so much for having me on.
Bruce: Alex, on behalf of Whitetail Rendezvous and our listeners all across North America, thank you for sharing on the show today. And listeners, keep the sun at your back, the wind in your face and always be patient.