Craig Warner and Chad Stenglein weren’t the typical hunters during Saturday’s Minnesota firearms deer hunting opener.
And it wasn’t because they weren’t hunting with firearms.
The Brainerd residents are among a fairly small number of archery deer hunters in the field during the firearms deer hunting season. Still, in the last two years, these haven’t been their typical hunts, either.
Warner and Stenglein are a team of pro staffers for “Midwest Whitetail,” a semi-live online hunting show also televised on select stations in the region. So now when they hunt, one carries a bow and the other a video camera.
“Not since I was picked with ‘Midwest Whitetail’ (last year),” Warner said of the last time he has just hunted, without the video camera. “There are a lot of people who watch the show. They’re interested to see how we do. They might not know exactly where we’re hunting, but they know it’s in the Brainerd area and there are a lot of people from Brainerd who watch. So if I just go out (without the video camera) and end up shooting an eight-pointer, it’s like ripping out the last chapter of a book.
“We bring the camera on our hunts. Today I’m hunting and he’s shooting,” Warner said after a few hours in the field with his bow Saturday morning, Stenglein on the video camera. “We take turns. If we get a deer (Saturday) it could be on (‘Midwest Whitetail’) next week. If not, they don’t air it.”
They hadn’t gotten a deer as of about 11:30 a.m. Saturday. They said they saw a doe and a fawn on the private property they were hunting just north of County Road 49 north of Brainerd, but nothing that warranted a shot.
Warner and Stenglein, who have hunted together for years, they said, participated in the firearms season in the past, but solely bow hunt now.
“I’ve been bow hunting since 1985,” Warner said. “I used to do firearms all the time. From 1989 to 2003 I gave it up and then started again. But then I decided last year not to buy a firearms tag. I was spending too much money (on the firearms hunt) and seeing no results.
“But it bit me in the butt,” he said of last year’s hunt. “I had a 13-pointer at 55 yards.”
That’s out of range for a bow, but “you could have easily shot it with a gun,” Stenglein said.
But, Stenglein added, “That’s part of why you archery hunt. It’s not a slam-dunk.”
Indeed. Shut out Saturday morning, they expected a challenge in the afternoon, too.
“I expected to see some bucks looking for does,” Warner said of Saturday morning’s hunt. Conditions in the morning were sunny and balmy, but also blustery. “We’re still formulating that (a plan for Saturday afternoon) based on the wind. We’ll probably go back to where we saw the doe and fawn.”
Warner said he and Stenglein did about six segments for “Midwest Whitetail” in their first year and have done four segments this year.
“We don’t get paid for the stuff we turn in for the show but we get an opportunity to sell commercials for commission, else it’s non-paying,” Warner said. “We get sponsor discounts. So when you factor in the discounts, I say I’m getting paid. ... I don’t plan on quitting.”
Stenglein nodded his head in agreement.
“We were talking about doing hunting videos before (joining ‘Midwest Whitetail’),” he said.
For more on “Midwest Whitetail,” go to www.midwestwhitetail.com.