Heartland Bowhunter, in my opinion the most stunning and high quality hunting production on TV, recently announced a contest on their website to choose a new team to join HB in 2010. Avid hunters across the country scurried to put together their video applications with the dream of joining the HB team and filming their hunts for the world to see. Now a winning team has been announced and three brothers are the lucky winners. Matt, Scott and Nick White will be joining the Heartland Bowhunter team in 2010 and they seem to be a great fit. I had the great pleasure of speaking with Matt last week and I can honestly say that I am pumped to see them on the upcoming season of HB. These guys are certainly bowhunters and they honestly can say that they hail from the heartland. Check out my interview with Matt as we discuss their journey as bowhunters, how they came to be on Heartland Bowhunter and much more. If you’re not familiar with Heartland Bowhunter, check out the “Heartland Bowhunter Updates” post to learn more and see some clips too.

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So Matt, how did you guys get into chasing monster whitetails?

It probably started with Nick, our oldest brother. He got into bowhunting at about 14 years old. Our Uncle Danny got him into it, Nick said he remembers being seven years old thinking he only had seven more years til he could hunt. We’d always watch Uncle Danny come back with his deer.  Nick’s first season he shot a 165” ten, with a 40 lb Bear bow, shooting fingers, as just a 14 year old kid! He’d missed a spike the night before and then shot this buck the next night. Bowhunting really sunk its teeth into him after that. Then for me, through high school I waterfowl hunted, but Nick was always on me to try bowhunting. Finally my freshmen year of college I tried it, that was 9 season ago, and since then it has been an amazing obsession. It’s definitely our whole life. What’s neat about bowhunting is you can make it that way, it’s all year between shed hunting, scouting and then the hunting season.

Scott actually started hunting the year before me, he has one more season than me but he’s two years younger than me. And ever since then, we’ve killed I don’t know how many bucks. My little brother Scott, he shot a 201” last year and a 187” this year. So he’s had two very fortunate seasons. He’s says he’s shooting a management buck this year, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

How long have you and your brothers been filming your hunts?

We’ve been filming for a couple years now.  We bought a GL2, which a couple years ago was a lot of money for us for just a hobby. We ended up being successful filming some hunts, we filmed 5 or 6 good 140” + bucks and getting those done over the years was great. We’ve got to the point where we are comfortable with the camera in the tree and all the thousand variables that adds. We were hoping to take it to the next step and the timing has been just perfect. We saw Heartland Bowhunter put their application on the website and I edited up a video for us and sent it in. They liked it, so here we are.

When you saw the contest on the HB website was it a big decision to make or did you know right away that you wanted to do it?

Once we all had watched their footage we knew we wanted to be a part of that. They portray bowhunting exactly how we do it and like to see it portrayed. You get to see the whole thing, it’s not just some guy that gets in a stand and kills a buck. They show the whole lifestyle. They were successful at putting our lives on TV and I just loved that. Now we get to be a part of that and we are just so excited.

So when is filming starting for season four?

Well the Heartland Bowhunter guys are coming here this spring for a turkey hunt and they’ll be giving us a film hunting school, in addition to one that we’ll be doing one up in Kansas City soon. So the turkey hunt will be on Season Three and all the fall stuff will be on Season Four. I didn’t think we’d be on Season Three, cause we’re late in the game. But turns out the turkey hunts are on Season Three, so we’re excited about that.  But we have so much to learn about these cameras. You know before, we ran our cameras on auto settings. But at Heartland, and by the look of their video, you can tell they run everything on manual settings and they really know what they are doing. That’s the great thing, we get to learn from these guys. They’ve done all this work and studying and research and we get to benefit from it right away. When we got to meet them in Kansas we got to learn a little bit, but we’ll have a couple more film schools coming up. They sure do know their way around a camera.

How did you guys find out that you had been accepted as the new members of Heartland Bowhunter?

Well Mike called us and said that they had narrowed it down to three teams and that they wanted to meet us all. We set up a time and we went to Kansas City thinking that we would get to meet everyone and the other teams and then maybe get a phone call later. It’s kind of funny, my grandma lives in western Kansas and she was going to bring us to Kansas City anyways, so she was with us when we went to meet them. She was planning on sitting up stairs and waiting. But Shawn Luchtel’s dad told grandma that she was going to want to go downstairs to see what would happen.  So they talked to us for probably 30 minutes about pretty much the same stuff we are talking about right now and then Mike finally said “well guys we didn’t really call you here to meet you and the other teams, we called you here to tell you that we picked you and you’re going to be part of Heartland Bowhunter”.  I couldn’t stop smiling, my face was about to cramp. We then sat there for probably three or four hours talking and we could have sat there forever.

After meeting with these guys just once, I was like “those guys are exactly like us”. It felt like we knew them for 10 years. They are just so nice and they are a young group of guys too. Ages range from 21 to like 35, so it’s a fairly young group. I just can’t wait to hang out with them and get things started.

So what’s next, what is the timeline for you guys and the HB team?

Well I’m not sure what everyone is doing. But the team is coming here the second weekend of April to turkey hunt. We’re going to have three video groups filming. Then in May we’ll be going to Ontario for the black bear hunt. Then in September we’ll be going to the mountains to film our mule deer hunt and then probably a spot and stalk antelope hunt in later September in western Kansas. Then the rest of the year will be dedicated to whitetails here in Kansas. We are very fortunate to have some really nice deer and have access to them and we hunt on all private land. We’ve had some great relationships with some farmers for maybe 10 years now. Public land is just getting pounded, so it’s so nice to have that private land. Land acquisition is just getting tough, we are just so fortunate. We cherish those relationships and we make sure to treat those farmers right. They won’t take money, but we make sure they don’t have to cut fire wood or anything like that. We’re very lucky and we are definitely aware of it.

What can we expect to see from the White Brothers on Heartland Bowhunter that would be unique to you guys?

I think part of the thing that we can bring is the do-it-yourself mountain hunts. We only do public land, limited draw units and bivy camp for five or six days at a time. I haven’t seen a hunt like that on HB yet. I think people would eat that up, I mean every bowhunter in the back of their mind wants to do something like that. Between one of us every year, we always head out west to hunt elk, mule deer or bears. We go out west a lot just to shed hunt, scout and then hunt. We are only about 8 hours from the mountains, so we can bomb out there for a long weekend to scout and find sheds, and then be home right away. This year Nick is going to Ontario to bear hunt and also thinks he’ll be drawing a great mule deer tag in Colorado. So we’ll be carrying those cameras all around the mountains and Canada.

Another thing we can bring is giant whitetails. We may not kill those deer every year, but we will certainly get footage of big big Boone and Crockett whitetails every year.

And then just the whole brother thing. We don’t get along all the time, usually we get along great, but I’m sure people we’ll get a kick out of our interactions. It’s cool with my brothers, there’s no asking if they want to go hunting with you, it’s just expected. It’s part of life. We are so fortunate to always have someone with that camera in hand, that you trust and have hunted with forever. You know how they will react and that they won’t complain. We are all in it together, it’s really great. Not very often do you get three people with the same vision and be able to maintain it year after year. And the obsession has only been getting worse for us. Every year I think I can not possibly hunt any harder, but then the next year you find yourself taking it to the next level somehow.

You know we also hunt sometimes with recurves and that’s something you don’t see on TV often. My older brother killed a 150” buck and got it filmed last year with a recurve. He’s pretty dead set on hunting with recurves from now on. He’ll probably hunt with a compound in the mountains where long shots are needed, but for whitetails and turkey it will be recurve.  My other brother and I will probably use one too if the situations are right. It just takes a lot of dedication and practice. It’s 50 arrows a day or at least 25. July through the end of the season it’s at least 25 arrows a day. So many people say that using a compound bow is like firing a gun, you just pull back and it goes where you aim. And yea, maybe that’s true when you are target shooting but when your heart is going 150 beats per minute and your vision is blurred because you are freaking out. You just gotta have that muscle memory from thousands of shots to be successful and accurately kill game. You have to know that your body knows what to do, because your mind isn’t going to help you right now. That one time a year I get a deer in Kansas, it is the most excited I am in the 365 days every year. It doesn’t matter how cold you were before, afterwards you could run around in your shorts.

What would be your words of wisdom for other whitetail hunters out there?

I’d say persistence. I have a quote, from Thomas Jefferson, it says “I’m a great believer in luck and I find that the harder I work, the more of it I have”. I love that quote and it so fits bowhunting. So many people say oh it’s just luck, you sit in a tree and they walk by you and it’s luck. Well kind of, but you know what, the harder you work the more luck you’re going to have. You just gotta stick with it, you know some people will hunt years and years before they get a chance at a big big deer. But it’ll just mean more when it happens. It’s just persistence, don’t give up on those deer. And if you’re hunting a particular big one, don’t give up on him, no matter how stressed out he makes you!

And I would also say, practice with your bow a lot. Even physical fitness, cardio and lifting weights. And it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a tree all the time. Being in better shape keeps your mind stronger and you can use that in the tree when you’re sitting stagnant. And obviously when you go to the mountains, you gotta be in shape. You’ll be miserable if you’re not. Yup that’s it, practice and perseverance. You can break it down that simple.

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For more info about Heartland Bowhunter or to purchase their DVDS, visit Heartlandbowhunter.com.