This is another early season special, this will be aired sometime on a Saturday in October. But I’m with Hayden Krimmer. Hayden is a product specialist, product manager, product team member at Legendary Whitetails in Slinger, Wisconsin. If you haven’t heard about Legendary Whitetails, well, you need to because they sell, if you will, the hunting tradition, they sell apparel, it’s an online apparel company. Hayden, welcome to the show and I’m excited to hear about your early season success with Mr. Wonderful.
Hayden: Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.
Bruce: Let’s just jump right into I’ve had a number of people, Josh Honeycutt from Realtree has been on, and I had, let’s see, Ryan Nordahl was on from Osseo/Hixton, Epic Whitetail Habitat. And, you know, they’ve had early season successes. And talk to me about yours in Southeastern Minnesota.
Yeah, so I went to college out in Southeastern Minnesota and hunted the public land out there for the time I was there, and then last year was my first year out of college and didn’t hunt Minnesota for that year, mainly focused on Wisconsin. And going into this year I had the plan of going back to Minnesota to hunt some of the old stomping grounds that I explored while I was out at college. And turns out that the Hunting Public team ended up planning a public land deer tour that they were going to do in Southeastern Minnesota, focusing on the main piece of public land that I hunted while I was going to school there. So naturally I was excited for the trip and said I’d tag along for sure. It was with Hunting Public, DIY Sportsman, The Hunting Beast, and myself, and Alex Comstock from Whitetail DNA, too. So a big collaboration of a bunch of YouTube DIY public land hunters who really know how to get it done on public land.
And I went out two weeks prior to the season opening with one of my friends that still goes to college there, Parker Holmstrom, and he was talking to me about this property that he found that he was really excited about. He knew of people who had trail camera pictures on neighboring private properties that had very big deer on them and asked if I would go scout that specific piece with him. So I went out that day and we went way back to this piece and go to the top of the ridge and ended up finding this big flat full of apple trees with apples all over the place. Thick cover, good bedding, so we knew it was a good location. So we backed out of there, we didn’t really mess around in there too much. We jumped a couple deer and found some beds, but backed out of there. And immediately I knew it was one of the better areas that I’ve found while out there just in terms of the amount of deer beds and sign and overall good habitat for a big buck to live.
So that was my plan going into the deer tour, was, “I’m going to go there my first morning.” And originally I had planned on going in there and just hanging a tree stand on the top of that ridge back there, but when I got in the camp Thursday night Zach and I were hanging out around the R.U.T. wagon and he was just talking to me about his approach to ground hunting and trying to kind of convince me to be more open to ground hunting as opposed to going in and hanging a tree stand in there. And I was listening to what he was saying and took it to heart, but still had in my mind when I fell asleep and when I woke up in the morning that I was going to…that I was still going to hang a tree stand out there.
But when I got up in the morning and I got to the parking lot, I was a little concerned about being able to set up before daylight broke with how far back the location was. And the wind was just ripping, it was really windy that morning. So it was really good conditions to still hunt and hunt from the ground. So I decided to just sleep in my truck until daylight broke, and then started still-hunting my way back to that ridge top.
And when I woke up in the parking lot, there was actually three trucks of small-game hunters parked behind me, so there was a number of other people in that piece of property. And I saw them. They got out of their truck actually, one of the groups, and started working to the south instead of going towards…I was going to head north. So if they would have walked to the north, I probably would have backed out of there and went to a different piece of property. But thankfully they went to the south, so I started still-hunting my way up towards this location that I had in mind.
And I was going really slow. It was really windy, so I wasn’t making a lot of noise. And every now and then if I crossed a place where it seemed like there would be some good deer traffic, I would slow down and sit down for a little bit, and at one point I even took another little nap out there. So I was just really slowly working my way through this piece of property. And I got to the top of the ridge where these apple trees and thick bedding cover was and the wind was coming out of the northwest and it was coming over… The ridge runs east to west, so it was coming over and creating a leeward side on the south side of the ridge. So that was the leeward side of the wind. So I figured bucks would be bedding on the south side of the ridge overlooking that valley where human access could come from and having the wind blow over their backs.
So I swung around and climbed the ridge on the far east side and started working from east to west on the south end of this ridge, just working really slow, glassing a lot, looking to see if I could see something bedded. And checked a couple spots where we did find beds when I was out scouting before and really slowed down around those areas and took my time, but didn’t end up jumping anything. And I worked pretty much through the entire portion of that ridge and went…cut through some of the bedding to go up to the north side just to see if I could find some fresh buck sign. And I found some rubs within the bedding cover around the apples. And then I also checked…the fence line runs up to a neighboring private property where there’s…I was checking what crops were planted, and there was alfalfa and corn, so there was a mix of agriculture right neighboring by.
And at this point it was around 11:00 and I’d made the decision to start just working my way back to the parking lot and I was going to go do a similar strategy on a different piece of property nearby. And I came around the ridge and I crested this knob. And just down to my right I could see a big body of a deer. And I knew it was a mature buck right away just because of the size of the body, but I couldn’t see its head because it was behind a tree. And this was around 11:15 at this point.
So it was 11:15 and there was a mature buck on its feet feeding on acorns, was what I believe, there was a number of oaks in the area. But I’m assuming he was bedded somewhere near that little knob on the ridge. And he was just standing up out of his bed and browsing a little bit, just having a midday snack. So I crouched down real quick while his head was behind the tree, so he never saw me, never heard me, never smelled me. And nocked an arrow real quick, drew back. And he was about 30, 35 yards when I first saw him, I never had the chance to range him because it happened so quick. I just…I left it on my 20 pin, I use an HHA single pin. So I just left it on the 20 pin and held high. And within seeing him and releasing the arrow was probably 10 seconds. So it happened super quick, I felt like I made a really good hit on him.
So I gave it some time, I made a few phone calls to my dad, and then a couple of the guys from The Hunting Public just trying to let them know what happened. And then I went up to the impact site to try to find blood or the arrow and couldn’t find blood or the arrow right at the impact site and started getting a little nervous. It felt like it was a good shot in my head, but as you go through and you’re not finding what you want to see you get those doubts about what really happened and replay the whole situation in your head. But I ended up finding blood about 25 yards away from where I first hit him, and then right after that I backed out because the guys, Zach, Jake, and Logan, were on their way to come help me recover him. So I was just going to back out and give him time to lay because I wasn’t really sure where I hit him or how hard he was hit.
So I circled way around and backed out and on the way out I actually ran into some of those squirrel hunters that were right in the bottom of that valley from where I shot him. And I asked them…I went and talked to them quick and just said, “Hey, can you…do you mind staying out of this area? I just shot a deer over here and trying to let him lay, I’d really appreciate it.” And they were cooperative with the whole thing and started working the other direction. But ended up meeting The Hunting Public guys in the parking lot and we worked our way back and went way wide of the deer again just to be cautious. And got to the top of the ridge and took up the blood trail and he wasn’t 60 yards from where I shot him, he piled up against a tree right there. So it ended up being a good shot.
And then we were quite a ways back there, so we ended up actually quartering him out and packing him out of the woods because of how steep some of the ridges were. So that was a pretty cool experience, as well.
did you double-lung him? Tell me about the shot. Where was the shot placement?
Yeah. It was a little bit quartering away. And I definitely double-lunged him. It was pretty close to hitting his heart, but just missed it. But it came out… In my head when I was a little concerned and playing the shot back in my head, my only thought was, “If anything, it was a little back.” Like the height seemed perfect, it seemed a little back, but I thought he was quartering away. And it did enter, I mean, right on probably the back end of his lungs and came out right behind the shoulder right where you want it to. So it ended up being a perfect shot.
Atta boy. Congrats, man. And the deer will be up, you know, on the podcast, you’ll be able to see it when I post the blog of Hayden’s buck. Now let’s talk about, okay, you were still-hunting. You really weren’t set up in a blind, you hadn’t put a gillie suit on, you were still-hunting. And it’s amazing, folks, how close you can get to deer if you do it right.
Now a couple things from my experience. One, if you think you’re moving slow, you’re moving fast. You know, and I know this…a gentleman, Marv Clyncke, https://www.comptontraditionalbowhunters.com/marv-clyncke tremendous traditional archer . And he would say it might take him an hour or more to go 100 yards. If he instinctively knows he’s in the game, he might move inches. You know, and so, folks, the biggest thing that I can tell you about still-hunting for whitetails and for elk is that, you know, slow is your friend. And if you think you’re going slow, you’re going fast. Because, you know, there’s no time constraints.
And that’s the hardest thing. And I want your two cents on this. Because, you know, everything we do is fast. I mean social media, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, texting and instant, you know, turnover, you’re at work and you got to do everything, and we do it way too fast. You get in the woods, everything has to slow down. Your thoughts?
Yeah, I think there’s definitely cases where you have to slow down a lot,
Yeah, I think there’s definitely cases where you have to slow down a lot, I also think there’s cases where you can move fast where the initial goal when you first start still-hunting is you want to find fresh sign, or you want to find where the deer are now. So if you find…if you’re moving at…I mean, not fast, but just at a decent pace, and then you start getting on some good, fresh sign, then you really slow down, like you’re saying move very, very slow and methodical with what you’re doing.
But the main goal initially going in is… Especially on public land when you don’t either know the ground well or you don’t know how other people are affecting where the deer are in that given time. They could be here one week, and then the next week, because a squirrel hunting came through that area, they could be a mile away over here. So it’s locating the deer first, because you got to find where they are, and then after that you really slow down, like you’re saying move step by step. And just be really observant, too. Know what’s going on around you, use your ears a lot. I think people underestimate how important it is to really listen to what’s going on. And just be really observant to what’s going on and take your time.
So find that fresh sign, and then really slowing down, knowing when you’re in them and you find that sign is key.
Now what about a strategy of setting up underneath a tree, brush in a blind, ground blind? What did you find from Alex or any of the other guys that you were talking about?
Yeah, I mean as long as you have good back cover, I feel like you’re in a good spot. And when you’re still hunting through a piece, too, you want to…if there is a generally open area, you want to map out the cover that you’re going to head to moving next. So you see a good bush or a lot of underbrush that you can really tuck into well and observe that area for a little bit before moving on to the next place. I think it’s just important to find good back cover, is the main thing. And then just planning that out before you start your move is huge. Because you could start moving in a direction and you see a deer, and all of a sudden you have nowhere to hide around you. So you have to be able to find cover quick, I think is the biggest thing.
Never get in the sunlight, never cross an opening where the sun is. Just go around and stay in the shadows and always have, you know, just like Hayden said, always have something breaking up your silhouette behind you. Because I’ve literally, you know, in my career I’ve had deer and elk, you know, almost walk up to you and all I’m doing, I’m just tucked in underneath a big spruce and…you know, or a bush or whatever, and they don’t know I’m there because the wind is in my favor. You know, so, and I’m not moving, so they can’t…there’s no movement. So they really can’t see me and they can’t smell me, so they don’t know I’m there. And, you know, it’s…that’s fun. You know, trying to get a shot is difficult because you can’t flick your eyes on that.
Let’s switch from your hunt, and congratulations on a very successful early season hunt. Let’s switch up to the hunting tradition. And your dad started you off when you were 10, 12 years old and you headed up north in Wisconsin, and that alone is a hunting tradition to the family cabin. So let’s talk about that.
Yeah, so I grew up in Milwaukee, which is not a very rural area. So there wasn’t a lot of opportunities to hunt around where I was, but we have a…my family has a cabin up in Tomahawk, Wisconsin on Somo Lake. And when I was 10 I started going up there and hunting with my dad and my uncles and my cousins, they all both gun hunted and bow hunted. Gun hunting was obviously more numbers, but pretty much everyone in my family did bow hunt, as well.
So I started off sitting with my dad during gun season initially. And I started actually hunting when I was 12 when it was legal in Wisconsin and started bowhunting when I was 13. And once I started bowhunting, I immediately fell in love with that, just being able to get a lot closer to the deer. But, as we were talking about earlier, up in Norther Wisconsin when I first started hunting the deer numbers definitely started to decline. It was a good weekend when you saw a deer or two. That was how you could tell if you had a good weekend, is if you just saw a deer. Which, as we were talking about before, I think that really helped grab me into the passion for hunting. Is just because when I did see that…those deer on those unique occasions, it was really special and it really got me fired up.
So that was something that I attribute a lot to my passion for whitetail hunting. Another big thing of why I fell in love with it is just the hanging out with my uncles and my dad and my cousins at camp. And my family is big into food, too, we always had great food when we were out there. That was one of the highlights, was just, “What’s for dinner to tonight?” So that was a big focal point of camp. And then just hanging out with them and talking about old stories from when they had been hunting in the past. And even not hunting, just stuff that they’ve experienced over their lives. And sharing those stories with us is what it’s really all about, it’s just having a good old time at camp.
And hunting traditions, that’s how they’re passed down. And that’s been doing that… You know, I’ve spent some time with the Inuits and their history is passed down basically by words, by conversations. And the elders just share and everybody just shares. It’s kind of like, you know, our grandmothers sharing their best recipes with their daughters. And, you know, and then in the hunting community it’s the dads and the grandfathers and the uncles sharing, you know, about, you know, the various stands and how the deer move and everything. But it’s the comradery and it’s just something amazing. And that’s part of hunting that people who don’t understand hunting or have never hunted, they don’t get the tradition of just hanging out with a bunch of, you know, family and friends and being together and having those great meals and just spending the time.
Yeah. And it was my unique…my situation with the food being such a big aspect of it, too, those recipes being passed down, and then you’d take those recipes and go share them with other people you hunt with in the future. So that’s a big part of the tradition that goes along with it. And I think a lot of people that don’t hunt don’t understand the real connection there is to when you eat venison of a deer that you harvested, there’s just something really special about it and it really makes it mean a lot more.
what’s your one big thing
Say, what’s your one big thing that you know now that you wish you knew, you know, when you’re…you know, 10 years ago when you started hunting that would have made you a better hunter?
is that scent control is not as important as we’re led to believe
I would say the main thing, and this is a new theory to me too, is that scent control is not as important as we’re led to believe. This is the guys at The Hunting Public and The Hunting Beast are big proponents of this. And I’ve followed them for a while and known that they were very successful on public land without really caring about scent control. Or not…I shouldn’t say “caring,” but just not having that be the first thing that they worry about when going into hunting.
I think a lot of the industry is full of people who are just pushing scent control and saying, “Oh, if you don’t have scent control, you’re not going to be able to kill big bucks.” And I just don’t honestly believe there is a true way to fool a whitetail’s nose, I don’t think it can be done. With ozone, some of that stuff maybe, there may be something there. But as far as truly being able to fool a whitetail’s nose, I don’t think there’s a solution for it, it’s their best sense. I think there’s other ways you have to…
2. really think about how the deer bed based on the wind and
3. not so much worry about trying to beat the deer’s nose,
4. because I think that’s a battle you’re going to lose every time.
That’s interesting because I think the Benoit brothers out of Maine, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/16/whitetail-fear-benoit/14051381/ and they were trackers, and how they hunted, they knew a mature deer’s track, and then they got on it and stayed on it. And, you know, they wore wool, plaid wool, and that’s how they hunted. And they stayed on the track until they got the deer. Because the deer will circle… Once they know somebody is on their trail, they’ll start looping. That means they’ll go up and they’ll go either left or right, and then they’ll let you walk by. If there’s snow, you can see when they start looping. If there’s not, then you got to be able to read sign.
So it’s…you know, you get into the science of deer hunting and it’s unbelievable. Because the deer are there. Okay? Guaranteed, the deer are there. It’s our job to figure out, “Okay, where is ‘there’?” You know, and it’s just such a wonderful chess match. I mean, and you get schooled, I get schooled every year and I hope I continue to get schooled by mature bucks. Because, you know, you go, “Dang,” you know, “He got me.” He was right there, he knew you were there, you knew he was there, and you just can’t close the deal.
And the good hunters of today are closing the deal more and more. Why? Because we’re getting smarter, there’s podcasts. And Alex Comstock, you know, Whitetail DNA, just a great young kid that, you know, is doing a great job and learning, and then sharing it. And just like this podcast, one of the missions of it is to share the hunting tradition and bring the tips and techniques, you know, to the public. So everybody becomes a better deer hunter, so they enjoy it more, and, you know, that’s good for the sport.
Hey, let’s talk about Legendary Whitetails
Hey, let’s talk about Legendary Whitetails. You know, you went to college in 2013, here it is 2018 and you’re working for a great brand. You know, tell people, one, how you got into it. Two, why you love it and where do you think your career can go.
Yeah. So I got into it because coming out of college I knew I wanted to do something in the outdoor industry. And I had been a fan of Legendary Whitetails, they made great apparel, and I noticed they had a job opening right around the time that I was really looking hard for jobs. And put in an application and wrote a good cover letter about why I am so passionate about hunting and why I thought I would be a good fit for the job. And got offered the position and it’s been great ever since. My roles here are mainly to be the product representation when working with the marketing teams.
So I work closely with the catalog teams, with Marc and Darcy, to actually put catalogs together. That’s how Legendary Whitetails started, we were a catalog apparel retailer years ago and we’ve kind of transitioned more to e-commerce models. But still creating multiple catalogs every year, so I’m the merchant representation in creating those.
As far putting email campaigns together, I select products and promotions for e-mail campaigns, decide where to put products on the website, and just kind of am that utility man when it comes to where there’s different product needs within other departments. So just working with other departments and making recommendations based on product.
I also work on just other random off-the-path tasks. So The Hunting Public, who I’ve talked about, I’m handling their apparel line, so that’s been a really fun adventure. As well as our HuntGuard line is something that I’m the manager of. So our HuntGuard line is…we’re mainly a lifestyle apparel retailer, so we create…our niche is those…the clothes you don’t wear when you’re hunting. Just to kind of, like you were saying, support the tradition of hunting, kind of display to other people that you are a hunter, you love whitetails, and that kind of helps you connect with other people.
But I’m in control of the technical hunting apparel line, so we have a small grouping of base layers as well as a jacket and bib set. And the whole vision with the line and how I positioned it is to be the simplest line you can buy where it’s not you have 10 different shirts to choose from and 10 different pants. And it’s “this is what you need to wear early season, this is what you need to wear late season.” We don’t want to make you have to buy a bunch of different pieces.
And then our jacket and bibs are some of the warmest jacket and bibs I’ve ever worn, so I’ve been a real fan of that. That was the product that was here when I got here and I was always the guy who’d bundle up like 100 layers underneath a light jacket that I’d wear all season. And then once I started wearing the jacket and bibs from Legendary, I was really impressed. I mean you don’t have to wear more than two, three layers underneath it and they’ll keep you warm in subzero temperatures, so it’s pretty neat.
the main goal of Legendary Whitetails and our mission is to promote hunting and get more people involved in hunting.
So yeah, I mean one of the…the main goal of Legendary Whitetails and our mission is to promote hunting and get more people involved in hunting. One of the cool promotions we have going on right now is the Hunt On Us promotion. So we’re actually…anyone who has a deer license of any kind can submit a photo of their deer license at huntonus.com and we’ll send…Legendary Whitetails will send that person a $25 gift card to spend on our site.
So we’re actually trying to reimburse hunters’ license fees, up to a million dollars for this season is the target. So trying to take some cost that people are putting into hunting and allowing them to spend that, whether it’s on themselves or on a gift for a loved one for the holiday season. Just trying to promote people to get into hunting and support conservation. Because, as you know, a lot of the license fees are contributing towards our conservation efforts here. So just trying to get people involved and make it easier and more attractive for people to start hunting.
That’s great. So, folks, that’s a 25% discount on $100 of product, so visit Legendary Whitetails. And talk about visiting, how do people get a hold of you?
Yeah, so you can just google legendarywhitetails.com and you’ll find out website there. We have a great customer service team. So if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to customer service, they’re a great help. We are only online, we don’t have any brick and mortar stores, we’re all e-commerce retailer. So you can… But one of the great features is we offer free returns. So that’s one of the big hurdles for people buying apparel online, is they’re worried about whether it’s going to fit or not. We’ll return anything completely free on us if it doesn’t fit. Even if you bought it two years ago and you decided you didn’t like it two years later, we’ll still accept that return. So that’s one of our policies, is satisfaction guaranteed, like it or send it back.
Now you’re on Facebook? Where are you at in social media?
Yeah, Facebook and Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/legendarywhitetails/?hl=en we’re at mainly. Our Facebook following has been around for a while. And Instagram is something we’re just starting to get into a little bit, so it’s still in the infancy stages but it’s starting to gain some traction. So Facebook is the main place to find us, but Instagram is an avenue that we’re looking to pursue more in the near future.
Yeah, and you can go to Legendary Whitetails on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LegendaryWhitetails/ you’ll see over a million people have touched their page. Good for you.
With that, folks, we’re going to wrap up another episode of Whitetail Rendezvous. We’ve been talking today with Hayden Krimmer from Legendary Whitetails https://www.legendarywhitetails.com/home/ . Thanks so much for being on the show.
Thanks for having me, Bruce. Appreciate it, it was fun.
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