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Bruce: Five, four, three, two, one . . . Welcome to another episode of Whitetail Rendezvous. This is your host, Bruce Hutcheon. Today we have Brian and Mariah Hardy, creators of Hardy Camo Facepaint. Brian, say hello to our listeners.
Brian: How y’all doing?
Bruce: Hey, Brian. Let’s just jump right into it. What is Hardy Camo Facepaint and how does it help whitetail hunters?
Brian: Basically we just launched it, we’re brand new. I’ve been hunting for 19, 20 years now and just couldn’t find a product as far as face paint that would cover, not smear, not make a total mess and talked to my wife about it. Came home one day from a trip and she said, “Let’s do this.” So we did our research, did our homework, and we developed a face paint that is superior to anything that’s out on the market. I can’t stand . . . I’m a big bow hunter, and I can’t stand wearing face masks, so face paint was the solution and now that we have this, it’s an awesome product. If you guys get a chance, definitely check us out and order some.
Bruce: Brian, we’re going to have an open mic at the end of the show where you can tell people how to get a hold of it, distributors, if you’re in different shops and the websites, URLs, we’ll have a chance to do that. But let’s jump right back into the 19 years you spent hunting whitetails. Share some of the early lessons you learned and who shared those with you.
Brian: All right. My dad got me involved at a really young age. I would pretty much sit at the base of his tree stand while he was hunting trying not to make as much noise as possible, but when you’re a kid it’s kind of hard to do. But he pretty much taught me the ins and outs and once I started I got that itch and I couldn’t stop. He got me involved with rifle hunting here in Florida, which is where I’m from. South Florida. We started here and when I got into high school I talked him into joining a hunting league with some friends in Georgia, and that’s where it all took off. It was so much fun to go up there on the weekends and see all these people and just never stop learning. Other people have been hunting for years and you just try to pick up the things they’re doing right, things that they’re doing wrong, and you learn yourself along the way how to become successful at it. It’s been a long road, but definitely had some good times and had some great moments and some bad moments. And if you hunt long enough, you’ll definitely have that, that’s for sure.
Bruce: Let’s hear a couple of those bad moments that might have turned out okay in the end, but when they were happening it wasn’t so good. Can you share a couple of those with us?
Brian: Well, bad I would say always wear a tree harness. For safety, hunters, that should be the first thing you put on before climbing up in a stand. When I was young I didn’t really know much about them and was way too tired to be climbing in the stands in the afternoon, decided to do it and within the first five minutes fell right out. Found myself lying on the floor, thank god I didn’t get hurt, but since that day safety harness is number one. It’s your best investment. Your life is more important, worth more important than not wearing one. I can say that for a fact.
Some good moments I would say if you wait long enough, people ask how you can sit there for six, seven hours in a tree stand, and all it takes is 30 seconds. That deer comes, deer of a lifetime steps out, you make the right shot, that 30 seconds can change your life. You see him on your wall, every time you look at him you remember exactly where you were, what time of day, the exact scenario and that’s what it’s all about, is having those moments.
Bruce: Let’s go back to that tree stand. Was it a ladder stand, climber stand, what kind of, hang on? What kind of stand?
Brian: It was just a ladder stand. Just your basic, simple, back road Gander Mountain, 15 foot ladder stand and it didn’t have a rail, nothing on it. And I thought I was fine because I wasn’t getting in a climber or getting in a lock on and it shows you, things happen and you’ve got to be ready for them.
Bruce: So that’s lesson learned for any of our listeners, please . . . go ahead, Brian.
Brian: Definitely. Definitely wear a safety harness.
Bruce: There’s no excuse not to, and you got family and friends that really want to see you in the morning or later that evening, so just be F and be safe. Brian, share a couple ah-ha moments that you couldn’t figure something out about one buck or a lease and you just couldn’t figure it out then all a sudden boom, there was the answer.
Brian: I would say when I first started in Georgia, I didn’t know much about deer hunting, was learning, trying to learn. Everybody wants to tell you their way and there was this one guy that just kept killing big bucks and I’d never killed a buck. At that moment in time I’d killed one buck in my life and he pulled me aside and he said, “Listen,” I showed him trail camera pictures of the deer, I said, “I just can’t figure him out,” and he said, “Do you know where he’s going?” I said, “No.” And he goes, “Well let me help you.”
We drove down the road, I showed him the spot I was hunting and he said, “See this track right here?” He goes, “That’s the difference between a buck and a doe track.” And he showed me the difference and he said, “If this is him, he’s crossing the road here, your stand’s in the wrong spot.” So he helped me move my stand. The next morning I sat there, didn’t see him, I was down on my luck little bit. He said, “You’re not going to see that deer every day. Try again this afternoon.” That afternoon, he walked out, I couldn’t believe it. He was standing there 75 yards broadside and I was so excited when I pulled the trigger he was still standing there. I totally missed him.
But I had my chance, everybody made a good laugh at the campfire, but it was amazing. One little tip like that, just listening to someone that’s been hunting for a long time that is willing to give a hand and help someone learn a little bit more about it. And then from that day on, I started paying attention to more tracks and just tree lines and it just opened my eyes up to deer hunting.
Bruce: Let’s hear about the campfires. When you were a young man, you went up to Georgia and sat around and listened to some old guys and some of your buddies. What impact did that have on you, literally, for the rest of your life?
Brian: I would say it builds some camaraderie. I’m a firefighter down here in South Florida, and the brotherhood is, we’re a real tight group of guys. Especially it goes not only from the fire department, but also with your friends and the hunting community itself. It’s a tight group of people. If somebody is in need of help and somebody is willing to help, there’s always somebody there listening, somebody to reach out for you. And those campfire stories, some of them are just stories, and some of them are real indeed. They have pictures to prove of what they’ve killed or what they’ve seen and it was just really neat growing up listening to some of these old timers tell how it was back in the day. That’s mainly all you hear is, “Well, back in the day . . . ” But it was a lot of fun.
Bruce: Now was your dad or uncle with you up there, or were you just with some other friends?
Brian: It was, my dad and I started it. My dad came up quite a bit with me for the first, probably, nine years. And then the last two I was kind of on my own with a couple of my friends that were still on it. Then after that one of my good friends down here invited me to go out to the Midwest with him and I just started bow hunting, and once I went out to the Midwest, there was no other place that I would rather go deer hunting. Talk about just blowing you away. In Georgia you’re lucky to see five deer a sit. In Kansas you’re seeing 30 to 50 deer a sit. Just the opportunity out there is unbelievable. And then once, now I’m just 100% bow hunting only. It’s just, it’s unbelievable, the challenge. It’s all about the challenge. We go out there every year for 11 days. We have some property we lease and we do everything free range, put up our own stands. We do everything ourselves and it is so rewarding when you put a big buck on the ground.
Bruce: Talking about big bucks out of Kansas, what do you consider a big buck?
Brian: We, of course, everybody wants to kill 190, 200 inch deer, but we also look at everything. Mainly we’re there to kill a mature buck. We look at anything over, try five years old. When they get that big Roman nose, that big stag stomach, you know it’s an old buck regardless of what it’s antlers look like. That deer right there is probably the wisest deer in the woods. And to put that deer on the ground is going to be the hardest thing you can do and as far as the most rewarding animal you will kill. In Kansas you’re only allowed one buck, so once you kill that one deer you can’t take it back if you see that 200 inch deer. For me, personally, to kill that big mature deer is well rewarding over how many inches he has. So I don’t know if that answers your question, but anything over, I would say, 140 inches is a really nice buck.
Bruce: You mentioned challenges. Share with our listeners some of the challenges that you’ve overcome to let you get on those four and a half, five year old deer.
Brian: I would say wind direction is your biggest thing. If you’re sitting in a stand and the wind changes on you and you know the deer is coming from one direction and now the wind starts blowing in that direction, you might as well get down. You’re just wasting your time. I rarely, it happens from time to time, but you can’t outsmart a deer’s nose. If that wind changes on you, you might as well just get down. We try to put stands within walking distance to where, if the wind does switch and we have a spot we really want to hunt, we have multiple stands in that location where we can still hunt the same deer, but depending on what winds is what stand you’re going to be sitting in that day.
Bruce: I’m taking a note. Thank you for that. Let’s talk about what we were talking about in the warm up. Youth, the future of hunting.
Brian: I would have to say that that and getting . . . I’m happily married, I’ve been married just a little over a year now and just to see my wife’s face when she comes out duck hunting with me. She’s not big into deer hunting, but when she shoots a duck or we go skeet shooting, just the reward on her face, how much fun she’s having. The same thing with kids. I took a 15 year old on his first turkey hunt when I was on that lease in Georgia, and I called a turkey in. I was hunting on that lease for, at that time, eight years, and I killed quite a bit of turkeys off the lease, but this turkey that came in was nothing that I’ve ever seen.
He was a monster and this kid pulled the trigger, did everything right, his barrel was shaking, he was shaking and he dropped the turkey 10 yards in front of him, right when I told him to shoot, he did it. I’ve never, he didn’t really, he knew who I was, his dad and I were really good friends and he turned around and it was like he was my little brother and I was his big brother. He was hugging me, he was crying, he was so excited. This year, actually, he sent me a picture of a turkey he was holding and he said, “I finally got one on my own and it’s all because of you. Thank you so much, I hope you’re doing well.” And that right there is probably the most rewarding thing somebody’s ever said to me, about as far as for hunting.
Bruce: How do we do that more so we can get kids away for their iPads and all the devices they have? What are some ideas that you think would get kids in the out of doors?
Brian: I think they just have to go. Everybody I’ve ever, I think what it is is if it’s too hard, your first time going is your main, is your chance. If they don’t have fun the first time, more than likely they’re not going to want to go a second time. So he first time you have to give it your all. It’s called hunting for a reason, it’s not called killing. When you’re hunting there’s no guarantees. So if you can lower your standards, if you can make it the best possible time for that person on their first, they’re going to want to go again. They’ll give up those iPads and give up the Nintendos and that’s what I’ve seen. I’ve seen kids today, they’re getting more involved. Especially down here with fishing. It’s a lot of fun to see them. Once they start, they’re just like how I grew up and how I got hooked. It doesn’t end there, it just keeps going and you just want it more. So that’s what I think, you just have to get them out there to the outdoors as much as possible.
Bruce: Let’s switch it to the women in the outdoors. You shared something that, hey, your wife likes to go out duck hunting with you. Share some advice to guys that have got girlfriends and wives.
Brian: I would say I give everything 150% no matter if I’m duck hunting, if I’m deer hunting. Some people say I’m a little over the top, but when you take your wife or you take a kid out, that’s when you have to step down a little bit. It’s not about you anymore, it’s about them and that’s what a lot of people forget. And as long as you can make that day, that hunt, about them, they’re going to appreciate it. And when we go duck hunting with my wife, it’s not, if it’s freezing out maybe we’ll go a little bit later. We won’t go at the first flight, we’ll go to catch the second flight or something like that.
Just take it down a notch until they want it to be at your level. Especially the younger kids, once they see that they want to step it up a little bit and give it that 150%, then you can just stand back and watch because they’re hooked and now they can do something. So they’re always learning and you just have to roll with it and let things go how they’re going to go. You can’t always been in control. I would definitely say if you want to get your wife or girlfriend or your child involved, make it all about them and just take a couple steps back because you have to remember where you started and how you started, so make it fun. That’s what it’s all about.
Bruce: Let’s switch it over to social media. I know you connected with Jessica Intel up in Wyoming and she reached out to you about some product, and I believe you met on social network.
Brian: Correct. Yes. We have a Twitter account as well as Instagram and Facebook, and she reached out to us about sampling our product and she wanted to know more about our face paint, so I told her I would send her a sample. I said, “Let me know what you think if you’re interested.” And we just started to chat back and forth and she said she loved the product. She was talking to me about how she was going on her first bear hunt and she’s never killed a bear and she’s super excited, so I told her I would supply her with face paint for the hunt, free of charge, as long as she’s getting, she out there in the hunting community and so is our product. I said, “Look, let’s help each other promote.” I said, “Help promote us, I’ll help promote you and we’ll see where it goes.” She was all on board and women and kids in the outdoors is where it’s at.
Their marketing, you see their face, we have a bunch of people using our product for their kids, for their Little League, for baseball. You can post a picture of a big buck on social media, but you’re never going to get more likes to that big buck than a little kid playing baseball that has face paint on. That little kid is in the spotlight and he doesn’t even know it yet. So that’s how her and I met and we’ve still been talking and my wife and I are talking about starting up a pro staff and trying to pick because everybody wants the free product, but we’re trying to get the people that are helping us as well as are passionate about the hunt. They’re not just out there just to go kill something and say they killed a deer. They actually, they love what they’re doing. And she definitely loves what she’s doing.
Bruce: Let’s just recap that because I know we’ve got some listeners that say, “Gee, I’d like to be on a pro staff.” And there’s hundreds of companies out there in the whitetail world. So what advice would you share with them?
Brian: Like what she did. She wrote a little bio about herself. You can, the worst the company is say is say no. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you can sell yourself to somebody, that’s what it’s all about. And a lot of these bigger companies, they only want to talk to people with big names, and the smaller companies, like our company, we’re about helping the smaller people to make them be those big names because that’s what everybody’s dream is. To hunt for a living, not have to work because your work is your hunting and for your job to be your hobby, that is just everybody’s dream. So hopefully that can help, and hopefully some people can get some sponsors that can help them go on some hunts because as we know, the more involved you get into hunting, everything ads up. Your bow, all the accessories, your boots, tree stands, everything ads up. So if you can get some sponsors to help relieve some of that, take some of that weight off your wallet, it really helps out. It helps the hunter as well as the person that’s sponsoring you because now they’re sending you pictures to put on your website and your packaging of your product and it just goes hand in hand.
Bruce: Let’s talk about your first trip out to Kansas, and take a couple minutes and tell the listeners just how you figured out, one, where you wanted to get the lease. You got the lease, and then how you figured out where the stands went, where you’re going to put in food plots, just share the adventure with is.
Brian: Well I got invited my first year out there with some friends. It was two guys on it and they needed one more person, so it would be three of us total. They already had probably 12 to 15 stands put up already. They sent me the topography maps and said, “Pick some spots out that you think you’d want to go look at.” I think we were leasing at the time three different farms. And if you get a new piece of property and you don’t go on Google earth or get the topo maps and see the elevations and see where the pinch points, where the tree lines come together, where the streams come together, if you have rivers, if you have crops on the farms you’re hunting, you’re really missing out.
That is one of the keys to your success and once they opened that door to me and kind of showed me where their stands were, we sat down and, “This looks like a pinch point, this looks like . . . ” and we figured out what the predominant wind is and once we did all that and started putting more stands up, we have one spot that we just, everybody wants to hunt it but it’s always the wrong wind. So we ended up putting four stands up at that one little spot so it doesn’t matter what wind, you can hunt that spot if you really want to. The biggest thing I learned out there in Kansas is wind. A deer will step out into a field 600 yards in front of you, and if that wind is blowing through it, that deer will raise it’s tail, blow and clear the whole field out. So I know I’ve mentioned it several, several times, but wind is, you’re never going to fool a deer’s nose. That’s for sure. No matter how scent free you think you are.
Bruce: What about food plots? You’ve got leased land, do you put in food plots?
Brian: Out in Kansas we do not. There’s soybean, it’s an all you can eat buffet in the area we’re at. But when I was down in Georgia, it was all planted ponds. There was no food, really for the deer. So we did put in food plots and it helped tremendously. We did quality deer management on that property for the whole 11 years I was on it. Until the last year I was there, you could definitely see the progress. The deer were getting bigger, the smaller deer we were letting walk. They’re getting . . . any deer as long as they can get age, they can get ant or mass. And that is the key, but in Kansas, they have unlimited supply of food and their nutrition is just unbelievable out there to where your trophy buck you’re killing in Georgia, that’s a five year old is only maybe a year and a half old or maybe even only a two year old. It’s just, as far as antler growth. But the body size out there in Kansas is . . . one of the biggest bucks I killed out there a couple years ago, he was close to 300 pounds, where you’re not going to see that in Georgia.
Bruce: Thanks for that. We’re at the point of the show now, Brian, that you’re going to have an open mic. So tell people how to get a hold of Hardy Camo Facepaint. Your URLs, Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, Instagram accounts, whatever you want to share and if you’ve got some sponsors yourself now, give them a shout out.
Brian: All right. You can reach us at HardyFacepaint.com. Ask any questions you want to ask, we will get back to you. You can like us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If there’s anything you need to know about our product, we’re more than happy to answer any of your questions. Like I said, once you try it, it’s a face paint that you can, it just comes, wipes right off with a wet rag. There’s no scrubbing, there’s no alcohol, gasoline, you have to get it to get this face paint off. Give us a try and we have a testimonial page. Write about us, let us know what you think. Any way we can make our product better or help you become more successful, that’s what we’re here for. Thank you.
Bruce: Brian, it’s been a pleasure to have you on as a guest on Whitetail Rendezvous today. So wishing you well in your business, and we’ll be watching to see how things go. We’ll be watching for your increase in pro staff members, and again, it’s just been a pleasure.
Brian: I really appreciate it. Thank you for the opportunity.