How Hunting Changed My Life

Joe Keckeisen is the owner of New Order Productions focusing on the outdoor industry. He has filmed with many outdoor television shows including The Buck Commanders, Sporting Dog Adventures, and Sheep Shape TV airing on the Sportsman Channel in July of 2015. You can check with him on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter 

Have you ever gone on a hunting trip that through some amazing events has inspired you, strengthened your passion, or perhaps changed who you are today? I’m talking about a trip that you look back on and still to this day impacts you in some way. Hunting is undeniably a powerful past time! Powerful in how it impacts us in such a positive way! I am sure you can relate. Every hunter has a story or many that they love to tell because of the experience. It is stories like these that make us cherish this great past time. Looking at the old photographs or videos that bring back memories that literally stand the hair up on your arms. To say I am fortunate having several of these stories is the understatement of the century. I think one of the most profound things is to watch how hunting has changed people’s lives because of specific hunting trips. Witnessing someone’s first time in the woods, re-lighting the hunting passion that has left someone, and even a couple of baptisms in camp! I re-visited one of the stories this past weekend.  I attended a wedding of some good friends that I have hunted with for quite a few years. At that wedding was another old hunting friend that I had not seen for some time. Jake had moved out of state for a new job and bounced around a little but is now back home in Wisconsin. A few years back I had the pleasure of getting to know Jake on a whitetail archery hunt. He was along to filming his hunting partner while my cousin and I did the same. Little did I know what would transpire over that long weekend would be so inspirational. You see this was the first time Jake had been back out in the woods in over 10 years.

Jake group 1The plan was to spend a long weekend in northern Wisconsin at Summit Lake Game Farm where we would have the opportunity to hunt pheasants and chukars but most importantly hunt the vast hardwoods of the free ranging whitetails. The reason this was Jake’s first time back in the woods for some time was due to his father falling out of a treestand and sustaining a spinal injury that left him disabled without the use of his legs. The impact on Jake was devastating and lost all of his desire to hunt. Like a duck to water, Jake climbed the treestand with his now father-in-law with watchful eye as he captured everything by running a video camera for a outdoor TV show. Everyone was seeing deer, enjoying the time in the woods, the comradery back in camp, and all the familiar good times he had experienced years ago. You could see the fire was rekindled and a breath of new life was given to Jake. After 2 missed opportunities at a couple of deer, Jake’s father-in-law looked at him and said “it’s your turn now” as he handed him his bow. That evening with bow in hand, Jake watched a nice 8 point buck circle behind them only to come out 20 yards with a clean broadside shot. The wireless mic set picked his trembling breathing as he came to full draw. He released the arrow and found itself to the vitals of the first ever buck Jake had ever shot at with a bow. The emotions felt by everyone in camp was overwhelming! And to put a cherry on top of the trip, Jake also helped an injured bald eagle from a fight it was in with another bald eagle.  Not only did Jake return to the woods for the first time after a long hiatus, he harvested his first ever deer, and buck at that. His love for the outdoors had been restored.

That hunt took place back in 2012. Seeing Jake now, a few years down the road, he has since not missed a hunting season regardless of what state he was living in. He has also continued his success and added a few more shoulder mounts to the wall. To sit back and watch Jake’s transformation take place cannot be expressed in words. So I asked Jake how he thinks that hunting trip has impacted him yet to this day.

Looking back several years later, how has this trip changed you as a person?

My past was rich and deep in hunting and being an outdoorsmen in general. Due to some very unfortunate and tragic events in my life many years prior to this trip, I took a step away from hunting (bow hunting especially). My father’s bowhunting accident impacted me more on a subconscious level than I had ever thought possible. Which in turn looking back made me make more conscious decisions to step away from something I loved and shared with my Dad.

Our connection was limited in our relationship but this was one thing, hunting, that kept some sort of connection between us. Along with me coming of age, graduating high school, moving out etc… I lost touch with something, that at the time, I did not realize how much it had an impact on my life, the way I lived it, morals, and seeing the finer, smaller, simple things in life we all often take for granted.

As I write this and think about that trip, can I really say it has changed me? Or has it more so brought me back to who I truly was deep inside?

It has forever molded me, striving to be a better person, outdoorsmen, friend and family member. That trip has made me realize that it was more than just hunting and being an outdoorsmen, but at the same time what hunting and being an outdoorsmen does from me inside.

It’s truly spiritual, emotional, getting me closer to God strengthening my Faith each and every time. We are given the gift of life each day, what a blessing to be able to spend it in nature, reminding me to enjoy the little things in life, the finer things I have taken for granted during the time of my father’s accident and that trip. It has realigned my life and has reset my moral compass. So I guess it has changed me! It has also brought me 3 of the greatest guys I could have ever possibly met.

Jake deer 1

 

Has being re-introduced to hunting brought something into your life that was missing? If so, what has it brought into your life that missing?

It has brought back my moral compass, focus, faith and it truly has me more in-tune, and self-aware of the impact it has on my life. I choose to surround myself with those who share the same passions and motivate me for good. Good influences and becoming one are what we should all look for and strive for.

Also helping to guide others who may be lost, along the way. 

It helps me to accept, understand and see life in the big picture. It has brought back compassion and understanding, also taught me to stand up for my beliefs and not fear my convictions.

As the saying goes work hard, play hard – that isn’t so much for me anymore, at least the way society takes working hard and playing hard to be. I work responsible and play responsible as I should to contribute as an example for others under God. I often fail at this, but its a fight I will never give up on, working to be better every day. That drive and focus was missing in my life during that time.

Looking forward, how do you think that trip will help you in the future?

That trip will always be a reminder to live to the fullest each day that I can. I will not take the simple things in life for granted…second chances don’t come around often, if ever. It’s so much more than hunting – it’s a lifestyle that can only bring out the good in a man, and build an unspoken bond between other true outdoorsmen and hunters alike. I will be sure to share my knowledge of this culture/lifestyle with my children, carrying on a tradition I have been so blessed to have passed on to me. I believe it is absolutely vital to my relationship with my expected daughter and what family really needs. I look forward to growing more and being more involved in the hunting community, conservation and the industry. Using it as a tool to teach and help others who may be less fortunate than me.

I hope to someday live it fulltime – hunting, filming, conservation, that is my dream career and life I want to live. We are each given a life…only a few years to make our mark…what mark will you make?? Will it be a positive impact or negative impact on your life and those around you? Start making the change for the better now, because this IS your second chance right now, today.

 

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