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Exclusive Interview And Story 215″ P&Y with Ethan Featheroff
We’re heading out to Ohio and we’re going to join up with Ethan Featheroff. Ethan is a special guy and that’s why this a special episode. He is special because he took up a 215-inch buck and came out number two in Ohio. That makes him a special hunter, but he’s a special person because as you will learn on the show, he’s gone through some things that a few of us will have to go to. Ethan, welcome to the show. Let’s start off with your story. Let people know how you got to now and what you had to overcome.
It started in 2014. It was when my life changed. I got in an accident at work. A door hit my face and I almost lost my life. I’ve been dealing with a lot of surgeries ever since. That is what you could call a humble beginning. It led to me having the opportunity to take my deer. I didn’t know where it was going to go. I had a messed-up shoulder as well and I had a torn bicep and a separated shoulder. I was thanking the Lord that I got that deer on the first day of bow season because if it had gone any further, I would not have even been able to pull back my bow and get that deer. I had surgery immediately after on my shoulder and I was still slinged up. If you get on the internet, you can look me up in North American Whitetail. You can read a little bit more on that story there as well.
Ethan, what’s the name of the story?
It’s Hunter Postpone Surgery to Shoot Giant Non-Typical. If you put in Ethan Featheroff Buck, you can see it there and you’ll see me slinged up with my buck in one of the pictures. It’s a neat little thing there. I’m blessed to be here and to be able to have these opportunities to share with everybody. Thanks for having me on.
It’s my pleasure. Let’s go back to 2014 when your life changed. Were you married then or not?
I was on the process of getting married. I was engaged and that was one of the testaments that I had with my wife. She told me, “It doesn’t matter what you look like going into the wedding, I’m still marrying you and I’m still going to love you just the same.” That brought tears to my eyes when I was sitting there in the hospital because when you look like that. It’s a life-changing thing. It was like, “I don’t know if I’m ever going to recover from this.” To her, it didn’t matter. She was there by my side the whole time. I’m thankful. Now I’ve got two awesome children. I’ve got a daughter that’s about to turn four and it’s Cami and my son, Bo, he is two. It’s been awesome.
How many surgeries did you have to reconstruct your face? If you’ve seen this on YouTube folks, you can’t tell what he’s been through.
Just on my face alone, I’ve had eight surgeries. I’m going for another consultation. I’m probably going to have to get more bone grafts, so I can finish getting my implants for the rest of my teeth that I have lost, but it turned out a lot better than expected.
What did happen? Did a door just fall on you or come apart?
It’s called an airplane hangar door and there are wires that pull it up and folds into itself. One of those wires snapped and it shot a bar out and that bar went through the left side of my face and ripped it all open. They said I was fortunate that I was as tall as I was because any taller or any shorter, it probably would have gone to the top of my head or through my throat. I was honestly just the right height that I’m still alive and I’m here now.
I think the big guy upstairs has something to do with that. That’s my take of it. There is a reason for everything. Sometimes we don’t understand that. As you’ve shared because of your surgery, you had a lot to come, then all of a sudden you tore your bicep, your shoulder went, but you still went deer hunting. Let’s start telling the story about your wonderful buck and how you knew he was there.
I started off with my typical routine. It was getting close to summertime. I was like, “I’m going to go to my most trusted places, put out my cameras and see what’s out there.” It just happened to be the farm that I’d been hunting all my life and I’ve never seen this dear prior to this year. At least, I didn’t recognize him. He was coming out with a deer that I recognized from previous years and had footage of. I let my camera go until about the beginning of July, I checked it and he was the first buck on there. Once you see a deer with that caliber, your heart drops. I have a serious opportunity here. My next mission was I waited until it rained to go back in there because I didn’t want to put a bunch of sitting there. That’s something for me that I always do. I wait for a good rain to go in there and keep my scent down. I started trickling the camera a little bit farther back off the bean field.
Was your initial camera right on the edge?
Right on the edge of that bean field. I caught him out in the bean field. From that point on, I started trickling the camera’s farther back trails, hoping that I could find his bed. I found him on several different trails far back in the woods and I was able to pinpoint where he was bedded. Once I found that, I stayed out of his bedded area. I got him coming out into the field. I put a little bit of food on the edge in the field just to see if I can get them coming to it. He did for a while but the closer it got to the season, he knew that he could pick up my scent there and he wouldn’t come to it.
I set up farther off of the food. I would say about 50 yards from where he was coming out into the field. I was fortunate to the big eight pointer that was with him. I came out first and I had to watch that deer forever. It wasn’t forever, it seemed like an eternity when you got two monster deer. The eight points are close to 160 and the 200-inch doe was right behind him. I tried to sway my camera arm around to get some good footage of the kill shot and they both looked right up at me and my heart dropped. I knew I was ahead at that point. He started to turn to walk away and I drew back. I had ranged to this spot and this field over and over again because I almost knew exactly where he was going to go. I stopped him at 35 yards.
How did you stop him? Did he grunt?
I just gave him the little classic mat. Thirty-five yards he stopped and turned and looked back at me and I let that arrow fly. I have seen it go perfectly behind the shoulder. It didn’t go all the way through. It caught the other leg because he was quartering away. The arrow snapped off perfectly in his heart and he went about 30 yards up into the woods and fell over. I heard him crash. It was an emotional moment. I started crying. I was like, “This is everything you ever dreamed of to happen.” At that point, I started to climb down out of the tree and sit there and take some breaths. I called my dad and I let him know. I was like, “Dad, I did it. I’ve got a 200-inch deer.” I’m fairly confident that the shot was perfect and I told all my family members. My best friend, Kevin, was the next person I called. I let them know I did it and I was teared up. They didn’t even understand what I was saying half of the time. They were like, “You did what?” I was like, “I got him. I got the deer that I was after.”
I never imagined in my lifetime that I would harvest a deer of that caliber. I waited a while, probably about half an hour because I knew the shot was good. In my head I knew it was good, it looked good. I walked over to the edge of the bean field where he was last standing. I found little bits of blood and there wasn’t much on the air. I knew I heard him go down right inside the woods. I was like, “I’m going to peek my head inside the woods here and check if I can see anything.” He was right there. He was laying there all curled up and that was even more emotional.
I started crying and had to thank God for the opportunity to even see a deer like that, let alone harvest it. Here I am now talking to you guys. I’ve been fortunate to travel around. I went to the ATA this year and got to share my story with a lot of awesome people. Hopefully, more great things will come and I’ll be able to continue to share my story and success and inspire people. That’s the biggest thing is I want to inspire people to chase their dreams and realize you can do it. I’m just an average guy. If I can do it, you can do it. Anybody can do it. You’ve got to put in the time and the effort. It doesn’t come easy, but it will come if you want it to.
One thing that I dislike is it interject. You cannot kill a 200-inch deer if there’s no 200-inch deer on your property.
I wouldn’t say for anybody to go out and only try to hunt a 200-inch deer because for me, I’ve shot a 115-inch deer. That meant as much to me as that 200-inch deer. I’m not one of those people that thinks you need to go out and shoot a big deer. You can only take what’s available to you and at the end of the day, you’ve got to shoot what makes you happy as a hunter. That all that matters. You shouldn’t try to please anybody else or anything like that. Every animal you harvest is a trophy. That’s how I look at it. Some people don’t. They think you’ve got to go after that big buck. I’m fortunate to live in Ohio where we can see a deer like that.
Let’s go back and talk about that. The first time you saw it on camera was in July. When did you set your cameras out?
June was when I set my cameras out.
Just on the bean field, on the edge. You knew there are deer. You could see the signs.Every animal you harvest is a trophy. Click To Tweet
The crazy thing is as anybody that goes out with me, I set cameras and stands, they think I’m a mad man because I’m obsessed about hunting. I knew exactly where I was putting that stand before I even set the camera out. I set the stand up the day then I set the camera out because there was a property that I’ve hunted so much that I knew the habits of the deer and I knew where they were going to go and where they were coming from. Every suspicion that I had and where this deer was bedding already. He was there and this is just my knowledge based off of past years hunting this property.
Where do you think he came from because in the previous year he wasn’t on your hit list? You didn’t recognize him. All deer have characteristics. If you spend that much time as you do, you would have picked them up, you would’ve gone, “He’s an up and comer,” and configuration of his body, all different things.
I pegged it him as a five-year-old deer. He could have been there the previous years. He could have been there at the time, maybe just been a mainframe ten and then that one side, something happened and it blew up. If you look at some of the pictures you can see when I turned him like one side to normal, like a mainframe ten. The other side is actually 13×7. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you because most of the property around there is either my friends or family. They own it and they never got pictures of that deer there. I honestly believe that he was a deer that was on the property that I didn’t recognize. I’m going to have to go back and do some homework, look at other cam photos and give you a better response to that. I may look at that and say, “I do recognize him. He’s in this year.” It’s crazy.
We got the cameras out in July and he pops up there then obviously he became your hitlist number one. Your stand is already set up and then you went to confirm his bedding area. Why did you do that?
I went to confirm his bedding area because I wanted to make sure I was set up in the right spot. If I wasn’t in the right spot, I was going to move that stand somewhere else. Our season starts September 29th, by that time, sometimes the deer come off their feeding pattern and they quit eating in those fields regularly. They’ll come to them but with time change, it’s starts getting darker when they get out to that field. I had thought, “Maybe he’s not going to come out after dark. Should I find the trails that he’s using from his bedding area and get back in the woods and just beat him before he even gets to that field?” That was the first thing in my mind, but the trail cam pictures that I was getting of him, to close to the season started was still between 3:00 and 6:00. I knew there was plenty of daylight hours that I could harvest this deer.
There’s no pressure on your part.
Only the pressure that I put on there. I learned from previous mistakes of hunting big deer not to check your camera so much because the more scent you put them there, the more they catch on to you. I was fortunate enough, one other time to hunt a deer that scored 198 inches. I’m not exactly sure what happened to that deer. My friend ended finding him dead in his backyard. We were thinking that he might have got hit by a car and wound up dead there. I was hunting him hard and I can tell you that I did see him on the first day of the season, but he knew exactly where I was at. I had put way too much scent there too often. I knew this time around it’s like, “I’m going to check my camera, at the max I would check them two weeks.” Sometimes I would wait three weeks before I would check them because I wanted to keep that scent out there. I knew he was hanging out there. I knew though, the least pressure the best.
You mentioned also using a rainstorm. Did you go in before the rain so it would wash away or did you go after the rain so it would absorb your scent?
Most of the time I would go during the rain and we had a lot of rain this summer in Ohio. When it rained, I would go in there and check my cameras because I’m a firm believer that rain keeps your scent down and washes it away.
It washes it, there’s no question about that. I categorically say that it’s like you taking a shower and it dissipates it and disperses it. That’s just what happens.
A lot of people will say I’m a madman but when I went in there, the wind was blowing right in both of those deer’s faces. They didn’t know I was there based on scent. They only knew I was there when I let them know I was swinging the camera when I’m around. I was fortunate though that there are oil wells in the area that I hunt and those oil wells almost mask the scent of anything in there. It was like the smell of the air was the oil well blown right into those deer’s faces.
The sound, are the arms clanging?
Yes, but it doesn’t bother the deer. They’re so used to it. I use that to my advantage because it takes away some of the noise that you’re making and it covers your scent. They’re so used to that smell that it’s a great scent cover. Use whatever you’ve got in your surroundings to give you an advantage. That’s the way I look at it.
The oil particles are masking your scent and mixing it up. They can get a whiff of you obviously. Why do you think they looked up at you?
They saw the flash of that camera coming around my side because I was putting it on my left-hand side and I put it almost down low. I figured I was probably going to be taking the sitting down shots. I wanted my cam below. I reached around and I swung it around. As soon as I pointed the camera towards them, it flashed in the sunlight because the sun at that point was beaming right at me. I was like, “This is just all bad.” The big eight was the closest one to me and he looked up and it alerted the other one. They started to walk away. I didn’t know for sure that they were going to leave the field, but they were walking in the wrong direction. I knew it was now or never. I was confident in the shots. That was one of the shots I practice regularly because I knew he was going to be in about that distance where he came out. The deer of that caliber or any mature buck, once they get out into that open field they’re scanning, they’re looking, they’re sniffing. They want to see what is going on there.
They are in full radar alert. Everything’s going that can go. They’ve lived long enough to know that they can have surprises.Chase your dreams. Don't give up on it even when people laugh in your face. Click To Tweet
The neat thing after I harvested that deer, there was a lot of bucks in that field. I would say fifteen to twenty different bucks coming out using that field early season. None of those other bucks wanted to hang out on that side of the field where that buck was. As soon as I harvested that buck, those other deer started creeping down and taking a risk territory. It was neat to see that process. Those deer wanted nothing to do with that when he was down there.
He was the guy. He was the dominant buck. He was the bully buck. He was the buck.
The big eight that was with him, he disappeared the day after I shot that deer. He showed up one time on camera and I’ve never seen him again. I’m hoping he comes back next year because he’s an absolute beautiful deer. I don’t think I could pass them twice. Unless he has another 200-inch deer with him, which I’m hoping maybe he will.
My good friend, Josh Honeycutt from Real Tree, shot a 160, 170 something. Early season, in the velvet eight pointer. Just a huge eight point. He said that was such a thrill to see a big eight like that. They’re monsters. You get your story and then all of a sudden, your world blew up because you get a little viral on social media. Tell me about that.
I posted that picture and as you can tell from my picture, I was no professional. I was a redneck taking pictures of my buck I was super excited about. I posted the picture and next thing I woke up, it had 240,000 views. It was getting shared all over the place and people were calling me saying, “We want to hear your story. How did you get this deer? Is this legit?” I said, “It’s legit. I got him on the first day.” I briefed him a little bit on my story and ever since then my social media has been crazy. My friends’ list at one point on Facebook maxed out at 5,000 just from other hunters messaging me or wanting to see my deer and stuff like that. I had my webpage, FeatherNett Outdoors. I had that running for about four years now and it never got big until this year. I started another webpage Born to Be Wild. I thought that name was more catchy and other people could relate to it. The first one was something I started with my friends when we were younger. It was like, “Let’s make a webpage, share our deer and tell funny stories.” We’d never thought it would become anything and now it’s becoming something. It’s humbling and it’s awesome. I don’t know what else to say about it. Hopefully, everybody comes and likes my page.
Let’s tell people how they can find you on social media.
You can find me on Facebook, Instagram @FeatherNettOutdoors or Born to Be Wild Outdoors. Click on the link and like our page and give us a shout out. Share your animals. We love to see anybody’s animals. It doesn’t matter the size. Everything has a story to it. That’s more for me. What I like to see is people’s story. What got you into hunting? Why did you start? I could share a little bit of that for me. What got me into hunting? My dad got me into hunting when I was four years old. I was as a rabbit dog chasing rabbit around for him. He’d give me a little black BB gun and I thought it was just the coolest thing. As I got a little bit older, he started me off with a single shot twenty gauge. My dad said, “I’m not going to give you a pump because you need to learn how to shoot.”
He said, when you consistently kill animals with a single shot, then you’re going to get your pump. I shot my first year. It was a button buck with a single shot. He gifted me a bow that was my grandpa’s that had passed away of a heart attack. I was the only other person in my family that was lefthanded. That bow meant so much to me to have that. I remember my dad went out and sat in one spot and he told me to get on and sit on the other spot. I shot a pretty big twelve pointer with my first bow kill. At the time I was still using a Luna arrow with my fingers pulling this bow back down to draw length. That was way too big for me at the time and I shot a nice twelve pointer. To me, that got me absolutely hooked on archery. That moment I shared with my dad and shot that deer with my grandpa’s bow. To this day, that hunt meant more to me than shooting a 200-inch deer just because of the story behind it. It’s molded me into the hunter that I am now.
What do you think about social media? I’m sure you’ve seen that sometimes people aren’t very nice. What’s up with that?
Some of it can be jealousy. People don’t realize that we’re just humans that have been fortunate to shoot a big deer and we’re doing the same things they are. I had many people instantly message me saying that was a pen-raised deer or you purged it or those types of things. I’m an average working-class man. I can’t afford to spend the money to shoot a big pen-raised deer like that. No pen-raised. I don’t know why people want to hate. I don’t know if it’s in their blood or what. They feel like they can do it because they’re behind a keyboard. It’s unfortunate. The worst thing for me that I see is when a hunter posts an animal that makes him proud, but maybe it’s not the biggest.
People get on there and they’re so rude to you. That frustrates me to know because that deer or whatever it is means something to that person. If they’re happy with it, then I’m happy for them. That means the world to them. One thing that I love to do when I see a hundred posts, something on my page, I’ll personal message that person and tell them, “Congratulations, how’d you get it?” I want to hear the story. I don’t want to say they look up to me. Maybe they do, I don’t know. They see my deer and they think that I’m an accomplished hunter. Just another average person like I am, they respect that. It means the world and for someone to sit and listen, that’s what I love to do. Inspire, I don’t know where I’m going with it.
How did you get connected with Nick Percy?
First off, let me say Nick is an awesome dude and I’m so thankful for him. He gave me some opportunities, taking me to the ATA, allowing me to share my story with people. I met Nick through social media. What my partner Noah Barnett, he’s the one that runs my social media accounts. He contacted you as well and set up this interview for me. I got to talk to Nick. He said he had some partners in Ohio and he introduced me to them. Nick came down here and met my family. He played with my kids and met my wife. He came to my house.
That meant a lot to me, to have somebody that was going to be a potential sponsor or a partner and friend of mine, to come down and get to know me. It wasn’t just about my deer. That was awesome. Nick is sharing his story with me and where he came from and how he started. He’s a very inspirational guy. He’s inspired me to do so much. I’ll be with his team at the Ohio Deer and Turkey Expo. Hopefully, I’m fortunate enough to share my story with some more people there. If you don’t know about Killer Food Plots, look them up. They’ve got everything you need for food plots. They have scent sprays and all kinds of awesome products that could help you out. That’s how I met Nick.
Is there anything you’d like to share before we close this up?
I want to tell everyone, chase your dreams. Don’t give up on it. People laughed in my face when I told them, “This is what I’m going to do.” I feel like I’m a living proof that you can chase your dreams. If I can do it, anyone can do it. I want to inspire kids to reach for the stars. If you need someone to talk to or you want help, reach out to me, Ethan Featheroff. You can message me on my personal page. I’m willing to do anything to help a local hunter or anyone out in general. We do a lot of giveaways. Everything that I got from the ATA, you might have seen me going around, going boost collecting. I gave everything that I had away because I see many local hunters around here, little kids. I see them out shooting their bows and stuff and I’d go up and give them something. Just to see the smile on their face was so much more than me having that product. That’s what I want to do is give and inspire is what I’m trying to say. Thanks for having me on the show. This means the world to me.
It’s my pleasure and I look forward to connecting down the road. With that, we say thank you for tuning in to another successful hunter in more ways than one. Big bucks are fine, but this is all about people and it’s all about our stories.
- Hunter Postpone Surgery to Shoot Giant Non-Typical
- Real Tree
- FeatherNett Outdoors
- Facebook – FeatherNett Outdoors
- @FeatherNettOutdoors – Instagram
- Killer Food Plots
About Ethan Featheroff
My name is Ethan Featheroff. I am a husband to Kaylan Featheroff and a father of two my daughter CAMI Featheroff 4 years old and my son BO Featheroff 2 years old.
We are a family dedicated to Christ and the outdoors hunting is our biggest passion that we all share together I’ve been so blessed to harvest a 215 inch deer the opening day of bow season and it’s opened many doors and has slowly been taking me out of my normal role of being a construction worker to running my own web page.
FeatherNettoutdoors and born to be wild outdoors along with attending many shows and telling my story of my deer and the journey that brought us here my main goal is to share my love for the outdoors with everyone and inspire my children to chase their dreams and be what they wanna be and what better way to show them than to watch there dad do it not only do I want to inspire my own children but I want to encourage and touch the hearts of many across the world and just let them no I love and appreciate there support and they can chase there dreams as well.