The Price for a ‘Whitetail Fix’

What's it like to film a high-quality whitetail hunting show while still working a regular job for a living? Even more difficult and demanding than one might think

By: Lynn Burkhead

Price for a Whitetail Fix

(Photo courtesy of “Whitetail Fix” TV show)

Many of us dream of hunting whitetails all of the time each fall, maybe even taking that passion to the next level and chasing big bucks as the primary way that we make our daily living.

A day-to-day reality for some within the outdoors industry and hunting community, such an endeavor is a little more complicated for others like the various members of the Sportsman Channel’s TV show, Whitetail Fix.

For these hunters – Matt Bullins, Ernie DeSantis, Steve Filley, Jesse Fulwider, Mike Martsteller, Jose Del Otero, and Chuck Weldon – getting a whitetail fix and filming it at a high quality level is quite the challenge.

And then some. But then again, they learned to do so from the best, Mark and Terry Drury.

“The guys at Whitetail Fix began our journey as amateur contract field producers for Drury Outdoors in 2010,” said Bullins. “After being selected for the highly successful Dream Season: Workin’ Man show, (we all) began this journey together as a team and founded Whitetail Fix in 2012.”

Today, the crew chases whitetails, primarily in the Midwestern U.S., but also in other big buck hunting places scattered around the country from the Eastern seaboard all the way southwest down into the fabled brush country of South Texas.

“When we’re hunting big whitetails, the most successful state for our team – collectively speaking, that is – has been with a doubt, Missouri,” said Bullins. “There’s just something special about that state.”

As one of the top overall white-tailed deer hunting states in the country – and home to the current Boone and Crockett Club non-typical world record whitetail, the 333 7/8-inch net scoring Missouri Monarch discovered dead near St. Louis in 1981 – there is certainly something special about the Show Me State’s deer hunting.

In short, it’s a great place to get a whitetail deer hunting fix, not to mention film a TV show about the subject.

While some whitetail show hosts get to spend all of their days each fall dreaming and scheming about taking another big whitetail on camera, even in such a good deer hunting state as Missouri, such a task is more complicated for the Whitetail Fix crew.

“We all work full-time jobs outside our roles within Whitetail Fix,” said Bullins. “None of us really knew each other until we started the show, and we argue like brothers now, but everyone has their own niche within the company.”

That’s important since to pull off a show like Whitetail Fix, there are many different team members wearing many different hats, camo or not.

“Most highly successful shows out there focus their full-time engagement (and energy) on their respective shows,” said Bullins. “However, since we all work fulltime jobs, we must make and find time to run the business, to hunt and to film in our spare time.”

Because of that, Bullins indicates that team members must work hard, paying attention to dotting the proverbial Is and crossing the proverbial Ts.

“We’ve got to pay very close attention to details in the field, while we’re filming hunts, and being able to ensure that the best pieces of footage are what’s used within the show,” he said, noting that it’s important to not only tell a great story, but to also do so through several different types of lenses and field shots.

Filming such a show – again, at a high-quality level – is far more time consuming than many might expect.

“To produce one weekly episode, it varies depending on the specific hunt, the time traveled, etc., but normally, we spend hours and sometimes even days wrapping up the filming process after the hunt,” said Bullins.

“For myself personally, I’ve spent 23 hours on the road driving one way and then sometimes two weeks straight in the stand (hunting and filming),” he added.

And that’s the high cost of getting a whitetail fix and taking that fix to the show’s dedicated fans.

As you might expect, hunting and filming the way the Whitetail Fix crew does demands careful attention to details while out in the field.

In fact, there are three things that Bullins says that show crew members have to do and stay conscious of, things that can also help the average deer hunter heading out for some big buck hunting R and R.

“First, you’ve always got to be conscious about the wind (and its direction),” said Bullins.

“Next, you want to hunt (the right wind around) predominantly doe bedding areas during the rut because most mature bucks will check the downwind side of those bedding areas,” he added.

“And third, you want to hunt tight to bedding areas and food sources during the late season and try to limit your hunting to the afternoon hours.”

That’s good advice for all deer hunters, not just those trying to work a day job and film a top shelf hunting TV show.

Why all of the energy, effort and hard work to do all of this?

“The best part of the job is knowing at the end of the day that the business and TV show is growing in the right direction and the fans and manufacturers are pleased,” said Bullins.

“And the worst part is trying to ensure that the wheels keeping turning and going in the right direction.”

Which is all worth it every time that Bullins and his hunting buddies take careful aim and prepare to get another whitetail fix.

With the hunting action – good, bad or otherwise – recorded for all of the world to see.