The Hunting Stories Podcast

Ep 098 The Hunting Stories Podcast: Will Cooper

April 29, 2024 The Hunting Stories Podcast Episode 98
Ep 098 The Hunting Stories Podcast: Will Cooper
The Hunting Stories Podcast
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The Hunting Stories Podcast
Ep 098 The Hunting Stories Podcast: Will Cooper
Apr 29, 2024 Episode 98
The Hunting Stories Podcast

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When Central Texas whispers its call of the wild into a young boy's heart, a lifelong hunter is born. Will Cooper, our esteemed guest, weaves a captivating narrative of his evolution from a bright-eyed youth, taking his first shots on family land, to his present-day role as a raconteur of the hunt and a steward of the outdoors. His journey through the tapestry of tradition to his current position with GSM Outdoors and HuntStand isn't just a story; it's a legacy that we explore in rich, resonant detail.

Understanding the essence of the hunt goes beyond the prey; it's about the choices we make, both in the wild and within the walls of our daily grind. Will and I uncover the tough calls that define us, from standing our ground in the workplace to the unity and meticulous orchestration behind each hunting expedition. These are the moments that forge unbreakable bonds and shape the anticipation that electrifies the air as we prepare for the pursuit.

Our adventure reaches a crescendo with the recounting of an elk hunt that tested our limits — a showdown with nature where strategy, stamina, and sheer will against the elements wrote a saga of triumph and transformation. But it's not just about the hunt; it's about how these experiences carve into our very beings, influencing our approach to everything from our diets to our most cherished roles as fathers and husbands. Join us for an episode that transcends the mere act of hunting and ventures into the profound realm where the wild outdoors molds the course of our lives.


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Will
HuntStand
Hunting Stories

https://linktr.ee/huntstand

COACH - YOUTUBE

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When Central Texas whispers its call of the wild into a young boy's heart, a lifelong hunter is born. Will Cooper, our esteemed guest, weaves a captivating narrative of his evolution from a bright-eyed youth, taking his first shots on family land, to his present-day role as a raconteur of the hunt and a steward of the outdoors. His journey through the tapestry of tradition to his current position with GSM Outdoors and HuntStand isn't just a story; it's a legacy that we explore in rich, resonant detail.

Understanding the essence of the hunt goes beyond the prey; it's about the choices we make, both in the wild and within the walls of our daily grind. Will and I uncover the tough calls that define us, from standing our ground in the workplace to the unity and meticulous orchestration behind each hunting expedition. These are the moments that forge unbreakable bonds and shape the anticipation that electrifies the air as we prepare for the pursuit.

Our adventure reaches a crescendo with the recounting of an elk hunt that tested our limits — a showdown with nature where strategy, stamina, and sheer will against the elements wrote a saga of triumph and transformation. But it's not just about the hunt; it's about how these experiences carve into our very beings, influencing our approach to everything from our diets to our most cherished roles as fathers and husbands. Join us for an episode that transcends the mere act of hunting and ventures into the profound realm where the wild outdoors molds the course of our lives.


Instagram
Will
HuntStand
Hunting Stories

https://linktr.ee/huntstand

COACH - YOUTUBE

Support the Show.

Speaker 1:

Howdy folks and welcome to the hunting stories podcast. I'm your host, michael, and as usual, we got a good one for you today. Today we're actually connecting with Will Cooper. Will is a friend of a friend. We both went hunting with Jermaine Hodge this year and, of course, we both put down bulls of a lifetime. I want to thank Will, of course, for coming on the podcast. It was a pleasure chatting with him. He had some amazing stories and I hope we get to hunt together sometime here in the future. But beyond that, guys, please make sure you check out the show notes, one of the stories he told today. There is an awesome YouTube video on and I encourage you all to go check it out. But yeah, man, let's go ahead and kick this thing off and let Will tell you some of his stories, thank you, thank you. All right, will. Welcome to the Hunting Stories Podcast, brother, how are you?

Speaker 2:

Good man, appreciate you having me on and thanks for the invite.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, man, of course, of course, I was telling you before we started recording. We both come from the same school of elk hunting, which is the school of Jermaine Hodge. We both were lucky enough to have him guide us in the the elk woods this year and we both put down some pretty awesome bulls, yeah, um. So congratulations to you, man. Your bull was was beautiful and it was a for the people who don't know well, it's an amazing video that he captured the entire hunt.

Speaker 2:

It's super cool thanks, dude and dude, congrats on your bull too, um, which, yeah, man, that was a heck of a hunt and man getting to do the stuff that we've done with jermaine this year. I mean, uh, it's not a whole lot of people that are willing to go out there and uh do what he did with us in the elk woods this fall. Um, yep, a lot of people, you know they, that's it. That's a pretty precious time of year for a lot of elk hunters and for him to share that with us the way that he did, that's pretty special man, pretty freaking special.

Speaker 1:

He's a pretty special character. Let's take one step back before we dive back into that. Why don't you introduce yourself Will real quick, so that people know who they're hearing some stories from today.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so name's Will Cooper and I am the social media director for GSM Outdoors, in addition to the content marketing manager for HuntStand. So that's where we got to film the hunt with Jermaine. It was a HuntStand original, but, man, I have been hunting Shoo. I'm going to age myself a little here. About 25 years now I'm 32. Okay, wow, little here. About 25 years now I'm 32.

Speaker 1:

Okay, wow, you started early.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, real early, born and raised in Central Texas and it was all thanks to, of course, my dad.

Speaker 2:

But I had an aunt and uncle that owned about 100 acres here and I don't really remember how we got invited to come out there because it was so long ago, but I just remember we went out there one weekend it was around the holidays, you know, thanksgiving, christmas time and just started sitting in the blind with my dad. You know, I think he shot a couple of does and you know my aunt and uncle had some other kids so of course they got to shoot all the big bucks and everything as soon as season started. But I started going out there with my dad at a young age. My brother I've got a brother who's eight years older than me and we just started going out there, man, and when I was eight years old I actually got my first two deer in the same sitting and I guess this kind of gets into the hunting stories side of the podcast, but that's also my intro Shooting a 22-250 sitting on my dad's lap and we had some deer come out, had a doe that dad picked out for me.

Speaker 2:

He said, all right, shoot that one right there. So I shoot All the deer run off. He looks at me and he goes. Well, he goes, you missed. I'm like what do you mean? I missed he's, like you missed Deer, don't run when they get shot with that gun. And I'm like, well, I guess I just suck he's like oh, don't worry.

Speaker 2:

You know, that's what's going through my head. I'm like dang, this hunting thing is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. So we wait. Deer come back, picks out another doe and he's like all right, that doe right there halfway up behind the shoulder, squeeze it off. Boom Dropped her. So we walk up there, you know celebrating everything. We walk up there. Dad looks at her, he tells me congrats and he looks off to the left and he goes oh shit, I know where this is going.

Speaker 2:

I'm like what, and you're like I'm an eight-year-old, like what, what's wrong? What happened? He goes. Well, you did get the first deer and I look over there about you know 20 yards. She had just run through the trees where we couldn't see her and had two deer. So there you go. That's where I guess you could say the seed was kind of planted for me for hunting. I guess you could say the seed was kind of planted for me for hunting. I mean, went fishing all the time as well, but that's where it just really ignited for me and bow hunting for me really just kicked off. Probably I think I was 13 or 14 years old, found a recurve in my dad's closet and that's where I mean everything just kind of took off, and so you know grew up small, did he hunt much with archery or was just like some dusty old thing that he never really touched, or did he inspire you at all with that?

Speaker 2:

he did before. Uh, he had kids really I guess you could say you know him and his father. My grandfather had bought 10 acres out here before I was born and he did a lot of bow hunting on that, a lot of recurve. He had like the traditional. I think he had a PSC in an old Fredbear compound with the wheels and like the metal cables.

Speaker 1:

I know what you're talking about. That's cool.

Speaker 2:

So he had that for bows and I found all those in his closet and that's kind of where it kind of happened. He's like yeah, you're too young to pull back on it. You, I tried 65 pounds as a 14 year old, couldn't get it, couldn't get it back. But I had a friend um at the time that his family owned a few hundred acres out here. He would invite me out. He had a compound bow so got to shoot it a lot then. So I mean it just dude. Of course I did sports stereotypical texas kid, you know did football, basketball, track kind of deal, um.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, bow hunting, just deer hunting in general, was, was my jam man, um, and then even when I got into turkey hunting not long after that, I was obsessed um, a lot of people that I went to school with were like, man, you're weird, like why are you so obsessed with all this hunting as much as you are? I'm like I don't know, I just love it. I could care less. I mean, I played video games at times but I could care less about video games. Yeah, um, I just wanted to be outdoors, I wanted to be chasing deer. I can remember driving up the highway like as a kid through you know, different parts of the state. Looking off into pastures, I'm like man deer blind would look good out in field. I bet there's some deer that come out there Like that. That was the level that my brain thought at that time and actually still does. Like, oh, we'll be driving somewhere and I'll just look down a clear cut or something. I'm like man deer blind might look pretty good there up in that tree standard.

Speaker 1:

I play when I'm driving down the highway. I play where is the, the, the stand or the, you know, the, the box, and I just try and find the different places that people are hunting, cause there's more of them out there than you'd think. Um, and I'm always looking just like you, ma'am.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, I mean, went through, you know, junior high, high school, um, just ate up with it. You know I, I, my parents had a cam quarter that me and a buddy would go out. Parents had a camcorder that me and a buddy would go out. We'd go crawl around on the ground chasing after deer on his place and stuff, thinking we had like a hunting show. Um, and so did that. And of course women came into the playing field to disrupt the, the obsession with hunting for a little bit and you know, what's funny is that is such a common theme with my guests.

Speaker 1:

It's like started when I was young. High school sports and women got into it. Somewhere in college got back into it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's how it happened. And then I found out I was really good at running fast in circles track and got recruited to go run a college track.

Speaker 2:

So I did that. And you know, same thing, sports hunting just kind of took to the back burner. You know, when I'd go home for the holidays I'd go hunt, I'd shoot a doe, maybe a buck as well, and you know, just so, I had some meat in the freezer. Poor college kid beating me and my roommates. So I would do that. But then I guess, where you could say, things kind of pivoted for me. I was just kind of on this route where I wanted to be high school teacher, football track coach. That's what I thought I wanted to do at the time, cause you know, of course, like I'd loved hunting but I didn't know how the heck I could get a job in the hunting industry. I thought it was kind of like.

Speaker 2:

I got to know somebody, to know somebody, to know somebody. Um, which is true to an extent, but did that man and I actually got hurt at a track meet, tore my hamstring, couldn't run anymore.

Speaker 1:

That's brutal.

Speaker 2:

There's a video of it out there somewhere. I was feeling great. I kind of pulled it early in the season, but things were going fine. We had a meet leading up to a pretty big meet called texas relays down here I don't know if you're familiar with it.

Speaker 2:

No, sir and uh, coach, had me get warmed up, put me in the hundred and um, got about 50 meters in and was about little little even with everybody else in the race smidge ahead. I'm like, okay, I'm feeling good, let's, let's do normal, let's do what I'm used to. About that time I felt like somebody took one of those cattle prongs and just struck me in the back of the leg, shot up in the air, um, landed. They had to come carry me off. I'm like god, I've never had this happen before. Like I feel like a freaking fool. I'm embarrassed. Well, it looked like somebody had taken an eight ball off a pool table and shoved it up under the backside of my leg.

Speaker 1:

Because the muscle just like balled up into that one spot. It just detached and just ugh ugh gross.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I've torn my Achilles. It sounds familiar. I think the Achilles is not quite as violent as what you did, but man, it's not fun.

Speaker 2:

No, it's not fun, no it's not. And so went through pt and everything, um, just couldn't really get it back to where I wanted it. Went to a doc over the summertime and he's like here's the thing he goes, we can do some surgery and you might be as fast, or you can just let it naturally heal and you might have to take up distance running like nope, I'm a sprinter, I was a 100 to 400 guy anything over 400 meters, count me out.

Speaker 2:

So that's where track career kind of ended. But growing up I did fishing, did a lot of bass fishing was in a small tournament club with my dad and at this time college bass fishing was kind of taken off and so dad was like, hey, why don't you start a bass team? I'm like, oh, nobody's going to want to do a freaking, nobody's going to want to be in a fishing club in a small town, texas college. I was wrong.

Speaker 1:

Everybody wanted in the club. Well, I walked.

Speaker 2:

I walked in the library that night. A couple of my buddies you know we were having to study for whatever class walked in there and I look at the computer. I'm like, what the hell are y'all doing? That's not what we're here for. Like, oh man, we thought it'd be funny to make some fishing jerseys and make people think we started a fishing team. I'm like, well, screw that, let's actually do it. I mean, fast forward six months. We had a club chartered, we had bylaws, we were parking bass boats on the quad, you know, doing the whole nine, nine yards, and by the time I got to my senior year, we were competing at nationals, which was freaking awesome. That's super cool, man.

Speaker 2:

Yeah man, I walked, walked the stage in 2014 and got to go to college bass fishing national championship in alabama, um, and because of that it got me into the outdoor industry. I met Wade Middleton, who owns Carrico TV and, long story short, that's basically where I got my foot in the door in the outdoor industry, worked for him for a while doing outdoor production, tv shows, filming, hunts, fishing, filming, fishing shows, fishing tournaments, and then, from there, kind of did oddball things, from managing an archery shop in Austin, texas, or bee cave. And then, most recent, before I came to HuntStand at GSM, I worked for Pneuma Outdoors, which you're familiar with. Got to go to Total Archery Challenge, went to a bunch of elk shape camps and that's what led me to meet our man Jermaine.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think were you at the I want to say it was two years ago, the one. I'm sure that you were there, but I was there too the elk-shaped camp in Fredericksburg. I think it was the first one that they had there in Fredericksburg. So funny story. The one where they cut up the big critter I'm trying to blank on what it was the Neil guy. That's it, yeah.

Speaker 2:

So I set up that camp but left Numa shortly before that.

Speaker 1:

Oh, okay.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, things just kind of you know shit started hitting the fan. You know CEO left at the time Somebody else comes in and they start waving their big stick saying we're gonna do this, we're gonna do that. I'm like no, hold on, like it's not what I signed up for.

Speaker 2:

um, I didn't want to do that and they're like, well, we're just gonna do this until we get a new ceo hired. The next thing I know, um, I'm essentially kind of getting demoted in a way. I'm like no, I said I want to do this. They're like, no, not gonna happen. I said okay, hold on. Went to my truck, put a box on the desk and I'm like Like no, I said I want to do this. They're like, no, not going to happen. I said okay, hold on.

Speaker 2:

Went to my truck, put a box on the desk and I'm like deuces I'm out of here.

Speaker 1:

Good for you, man, good for you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's. You know, for anybody out there that's listening, you know like there's a lot of people that you have to put up with shit at work, sometimes just because it puts food on the table. But sometimes you know, if you put yourself in the right situation or if you can, um, it gives you the leverage to do something like that, and you know, after that I talked with my boss now, josh dalkey, over at huntsdan and uh, some things have kind of let up that he knew I was looking and so as soon as I called him he's like yeah, man, let's make it happen.

Speaker 1:

So here I am. That's awesome man. I uh, I actually recently quit my job. My wife and I wanted to move from Texas back to Colorado and I couldn't do it with my current job, so we just said deuces and headed up. So now I'm here looking for a job. We'll figure it out. It's not a great market. So if anyone listening is looking for a software sales rep, let me know.

Speaker 2:

Well, man, things happen for a reason. Dude, I will tell you that I agree. Things happen for a reason, I agree, I agree. Yeah, I mean there's no telling where I'd be if I'd kind of stuck in that shit storm, for lack of better terms.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, good for you, man, Good to see the writing on the wall. Kind of your story reminded me of whenever a new coach comes in. They got to get their guys in.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's what it was. That's what it was.

Speaker 1:

It's not comfortable for the old regime and that's just how it is. But also that's the end of that hunting story. Let's move on to the next one, right, yeah, I think so.

Speaker 2:

You want me to talk about my favorite hunting story.

Speaker 1:

Or whatever. That is, whether it's because you did something awesome or you did something stupid, or somebody else did something stupid, or hunting with dad, or you tell me whatever is an important story in your life is what we want to hear.

Speaker 2:

Dude, I got a lot of them, but, honestly, the one that uh was probably the most pivotal for me um was because of my hunt with Jermaine this past year. I'll say that that's probably the one. You know Jermaine and I had been talking for shoot. I met him in 2021.

Speaker 2:

So yeah we'd been talking for about two, three years yeah, two years and you know we've just been sitting in touch, you know, talking about stuff, um, you know, and we just kind of got to the point where I had understood from him that he was going to be retiring. So part of what I do at HuntStand is we film stories, like we do some cool stories on on people.

Speaker 2:

And then when he told me he was retiring and I knew what he had been doing, you know, with everything with his wrestling career and the world team that he does, I'm like man, that'd make a pretty dope story A guy's world elk cone champion. Knowing everything he's done, I'm like I'm gonna do this. Contacted him early last year. I'm like, look man, I want to do this. Contacted him early last year. I'm like, look man, I want to do this with you. What do you think? Um, I said I'm still trying to get my first elk. Like we want to do it on you, we want to do it on trying to get my elk. And he's like, man, let's get you an elk. So we tried and we looked at, you know, with everything we do at hunt stand, we're like it's got to be a rifle hunt. Uh, we already had an archery hunt figured out for that year due to our commitments with matthews, and so we're like let's do an elk hunt so we tried to pick up some tags.

Speaker 2:

Same area you went and did your elk hunt. So we were like, let's try and pick up a rifle tag. Didn't draw one, tried, secondary, didn't draw it, um, tried. I don't remember how many weeks, dude, I played the leftover list with him um, yeah him yeah, I, I don't want to divulge too much information, but like, let's just say I didn't get the tag um had some super close calls.

Speaker 2:

Don't know why I didn't get it but didn't get it, and our our basically last ditch effort making this happen was like all right, we're gonna just have to do a second rifle season over the counter hunt um that's tough season.

Speaker 1:

That's the most time, whether that's what most hunters out there it's a tough time to hunt a tough time to hunt and we knew that.

Speaker 2:

Um, we had some information on units both of us did. Um, his was probably more concrete than mine and we're like dude, we're just going to Hail Mary, it, we're just going to go.

Speaker 2:

We're going to do it. So it's like all right. Well, the whole tag process trying to get one dude, that was step one in wearing me down. Step two when we film as big of a production and project as we did, you got to get a film permit. Um, and dude, trying to go through the us forest service on, that was a pain, pain, just the amount of people I had to deal with.

Speaker 2:

Left hand doesn't know what the right hand's doing, and it was. It was hard, it was tough, but like we got it, we got it and so drove up to colorado, met jermaine. We had a cameraman flying in colorado springs, picked him up and, uh, we're gonna leave early or no midday, I don't remember the date, but anyway we knew there was gonna be a dusting of snow. Jermaine's like oh yeah, just give me a couple inches, nothing to worry about. All right, dude, I'm not kidding you. A couple hours before we're about to go up the mountain, we're watching the TV Weather people for Denver and Colorado. They're like yeah, for this part of the state, winter storm warning. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm looking at jermaine. I'm like well, I'm glad I brought some chains.

Speaker 1:

He's like you know, jermaine he's like yeah he gets off work.

Speaker 2:

You know, we went and double checked um zero on my gun and we jet up there, man, we get camp set up in the dark there we drove past I don't know how many camps in this area. We're like, oh, this isn't good, this isn't good. So we set up camp, eat some dinner. We crash. 2 am 3 am in the morning I can hear the snow hitting the roof of the wall tent. I'm like alright, there it is. I'm like that doesn't sound like it's too bad, so I pass back out.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's getting real.

Speaker 2:

Dude, we wake up for morning one opening day of second rifle season and there was about a foot of snow on the ground and me, being from Texas, dude, you know we see a couple inches of snow a year.

Speaker 2:

You know the whole town shuts down if we get a quarter inch of ice, or just even the chance of ice, they'll cancel school or delay school the next day. So it's like, oh, this isn't good. And I'm like, dude, jermaine, what do you think? He's like nah, man, we're good, let's go. I'm like, all right, I'm following you man, that's Jermaine, exactly.

Speaker 2:

And I'm like following you, dude, like I'm not going to question anything, I'm not gonna voice my opinion on anything, because, a I've never killed an elk before and, b I'm here to learn from him, I'm not here to inject my opinion. Um, this guy's taking time out of his you know his work schedule, time with family to do this with me. So I'm like I'm just here. I'm here, I want to tell a story. We're gonna kill some elk, hopefully. I mean, that's going through my mind, but I'm not gonna say anything.

Speaker 1:

So I'm like let's go. You know, what's funny about that is I felt the exact same way out there with Jermaine. I'm like I'm going to keep my mouth shut, I'm going to absorb everything I possibly can. And I went with that for a few days until I was so tired that Jermaine's like let's hike that mountain. And I'm like hold on, I mountain, that's not the top of that mountain, that's kind of over here. And so it was. Fortunately, we ended up killing an elk because of kind of my laziness is what I'll call it. But I just was like struggling to keep up with jermaine, um, but you know, he's like let's, let's climb that mountain and call let's climb that mountain and call. And I'm like hold on, I'm not a professional athlete like you, man. So, um, yeah, I, I, uh it's. It's funny that you said that that was your attitude, because that was exactly what I did for as long as I could. Yeah, but go ahead.

Speaker 2:

So morning one we had talked about this, you know, night before Like all right, hey, we're going to scout and hunt at the same time. We don't know where the elk are. We have areas that you know. We had done some e-scouting on HuntStand. We're like we have some areas already picked out. We think we're going to go. They look good. So we get up, we start driving around. You know, we're just doing the cat road shuffle for a little bit, bugling into drainages, seeing if just anything wants to talk, cause you know we're at the very tail end of the rut, rut's pretty much over, but there might be a couple of receptive bulls in the area. So we're just trying to yeah yeah, curious.

Speaker 2:

We were just like let's just check that off, even with the snow we don't know.

Speaker 1:

But I mean it was just calm morning snowing um I mean, he's honestly also jermaine, he's, he's gonna bugle in turkeys in april that guy's just gonna bugle all day oh yeah, I mean it was.

Speaker 2:

It was just kind of when it was like picturesque mornings, like in the back of my head like man, like what's happening is?

Speaker 2:

I wanted in my head like I have a actual list, a bucket list of I wanted to kill an elk with a rifle in the snow in colorado. I'm like, okay, this is cool, this might happen. Um, so didn't hear anything, we hadn hadn't seen anything. We're like, all right, let's go check this other area. So we go, start driving down the road and we had the road had dead ended, um, at a um trailhead. So we had three trucks come out while we're going in and just before we get probably a good half mile to the end of the trail, I just happened to look over to my left on the side ridge. It was looking really good, it was a good open face and I'm like I caught a square, rectangular body, brown. I'm like, hold up, stop. I see something, look final's up elk. And it's a bull, legal bull. We're like, let's go.

Speaker 2:

I mean this book is probably 800 yards off the road. We're like let's go, we're gonna drop down a little bit. There's a nice like gradual, um, just a nice gradual, you know tapering ridge system. I'm like man, if this is how my first elk happens, like I don't want it to be this fast, but at at the same time.

Speaker 2:

It's like I'm here filming a show. Uh, we're telling Jermaine story Like we got to get something on the ground right. You know you got that pressure, so we're driving down, or you know, we get down there, we walk. Well, one burl hole turns into two bulls, two turns in three. Next thing we know we're staring at seven bulls on the side of his face and we're like, holy crap. Well, while Jermaine and I are trying to get stable, finding a good rest to shoot and everything, and getting lined up with the cameraman, we're trying to find the elk. It's been snowing and I'm not kidding you, man, I finally got one of these bulls lined up broadside. Cameraman cannot see him because it's starting to just snow too thick. And by the time I'm like dude, are you on him? He's like no, dude, I can't shoot, I can't get it shooting through the snow. It's trying to focus on the snow. I'm like crap.

Speaker 2:

He's got like I think he had a 300 or 400 lens on, and so it just didn't happen. We elected to go back to the truck, wait till the snow decided to burn off for a little bit or not burn off, but stop and we were just going to go in and um, we refer to this area as schitt's creek, um, it's not the actual name of it, but we just call it schitt's creek, um, for reasons I will not, uh, bestow on the podcast listeners. And so we can, we can, we can take some guesses ask jermaine about it later.

Speaker 2:

and so we just dive bomb like we don't take the long finger that wraps around. I'm looking at jermaine's like no, we're going now, we're not taking the long way around, we're going down this steep, steep side and we're going back up to the other ridge to get where they are. So we go down, cameraman busts it snow. I mean the camera gets full of snow and I'm like, oh crap, trips over. We're gonna have to pull out some kind of camera, because he was like shooting fx6, which is like five thousand dollar camera with slow-mo and everything, everything's good.

Speaker 2:

Get up to the top, elk are nowhere to be found and it it starts downpouring snow on us. Man, everything was getting wet. Jermaine was getting cold, I'm getting cold. We couldn't get a good fire started. So we just were like, screw this, it's day one, we know there's elk here Back out, so we do that. Snows all day, snows all night. Next morning we wake up, there's another. You know, there's a foot and a half of snow on the ground, basically. And so Jermaine was kind of the thought of like you know what, with all this pressure we have up high, let's go low to some lower country and let's look around and see if we can find some. We found nothing but mule deer on day two.

Speaker 1:

No elk.

Speaker 2:

So we kind of go to town. You know we're like all right, we still got four more days left of this hunt and we went up, chopped some more wood because it was supposed to get down in the negative teens that night.

Speaker 1:

I'm like dude, what, what did I get? I've done that in a wall tent before. It sucks, it sucks.

Speaker 2:

What did I get myself into Like this I've done that in a wall tent before. It sucks, it sucks.

Speaker 2:

What did I get myself into like this you know, cool, but negatives man yeah, and to kind of back it up, you know we had seen that in the forecast and I had some zero degree bags because originally when I was looking, you know a good week or two in advance, I'm like zero degree bag wall tent will be fine. Well, the day before jermaine's like dude, did you bring any other uh bags? I'm like no man, just have those zeros. He's like you're gonna have to double up I had to bring it for the camera guy too.

Speaker 2:

So went sportsman's warehouse. Found some negative 25 degree bags on sale ended up being good that night.

Speaker 2:

Um, we woke up that morning. Everything's iced over inside the tent and we got a fire going, got the sunflower heater going, everything's warming up and we're like what's the plan? You know, negatives it's going to be a clear day. Hopefully not. A whole lot of these other hunters are going to be out on the road because it's so cold and we had all the snow that had iced over.

Speaker 2:

We're like let's go find see if those elk are back where we had seen them on day one. You know, that's the only thing we have to go on right now, besides just driving around and glassing. So we go back. No elk on the same face that they were on on day one. They were another ridge, further down at the bottom, working their way up. Same group of elk. We're like go time. So we went down schitt's creek. Um, jermaine, just got that dude, he got that. Look in his eye. He's like let's go, we're going now. They're working their way up. They're going to be on the back side of that third ridge and we won't be able to get to them. They're going into some dark timber. Um, and dude, we booked it, we booked it. When I say that man moves like a billy goat up those mountains like I can only imagine how fast he moves when there's no snow on the ground.

Speaker 1:

But when there was a foot and a half of snow and we had to drop.

Speaker 2:

I think it was 700 feet in elevation within about a 200 yard range, so like 200 horizontal, but we're going down that. And then we had to go back up another.

Speaker 2:

You know the same amount so we could shoot across. I'm so I mean, we're having to move over foot and a half snow, with downfall and burnt timber in the area. We get up to the top and the bulls were nearing the top and, dude, I'm like the whole time in my head I'm like what the hell did I get myself into? We get up to that ridge and jermaine and I had kind of talked about like if we get into some elk like this on a face, we may try and do a double. So he's like you're going to shoot first, cause he he also had a tag. Um, he's like we may try to do a double. And um, he's like when you, when we do that, you're going to have to count down. So that way. Well, we sit down and we had I'm trying to remember the whole bull. We're looking at this bull and I'm seeing three bulls crossing. I know there's more elk down here to the right because we heard them. You know you're hearing them like mewing and everything.

Speaker 2:

So we were just like not sure where everybody else was, but we just had these three. So I'm looking and I see the third one in line, going know, going into this hunt. I wasn't like I want to shoot a 350 or 320 or 300, I was just like I don't care what it is, I just want it to be a legal bull. Yeah well, just so happened to be the third one I look in line is just a tank and because that was the one I only had, that was the only one I had a shot on. The other two had already started moving into timber. And I look and I asked the camera guy I'm like, dude, are you on him? And he's like, yeah, I'm on him. And I told your man. I was like, all right, I'm fixing to shoot Bull.

Speaker 2:

Gets right into the clearing sent sent the 28 nozzler across the canyon, dropped him. He starts rolling down the hill, gets up a little bit, stops in one spot, go to shoot again, miss. Well, then he starts rolling down the hill again and eventually he gets to where he eventually expires. Um, and you can see the first shot. It's a good shot. And then I just decided to send another one just to end it, and so he died right on his feet.

Speaker 1:

Why not?

Speaker 2:

right, yeah, um, and so he. I don't, you probably saw the images, but I mean he died in just the crappiest spot. We had a deadfall that there. You know, it was like the deadfall was going across this little creek drainage, so there was space underneath it that he got himself log jammed in at an angle.

Speaker 1:

Meanwhile.

Speaker 2:

Jermaine had tried to shoot another bull, missed and um, dude, just like the wave of emotions that hit you, you know, like after you get that first bull, like I've been trying to kill one for three years at this point, so this was my fourth try, um, and of course I've been trying to do with archery equipment so it makes it tougher. But at this point I was like man, I just want to get some meat, I don't care the means or method. So I mean, of course I'm going to try and go with archery equipment this year, lord willing I get a tag. Dude walked up on that bull and was just like just soaking it in. Man, I had very few words and man, like it's emotional when you think about it, just all the hard work you put in and just everything that led up to that moment.

Speaker 2:

And for Jermaine, to be there with me, having a camera guy too to do it. It hits you, man. I mean we just soaked it in, we started a fire. I think Jermaine had uninsulated boots on, so his feet were a little cold, so he had to of the dogs up.

Speaker 2:

So we got a fire going, got everything warmed up and just got to work on that bull man. Um, got it skinned, quartered, everything cut up, gotten bags and um, got the hide rolled up because this was a big bull, uh, way bigger than what I was expecting to kill for my first elk.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome.

Speaker 2:

You can see the axis buck above me here. That's about the size of what I was expecting to kill for my first elk.

Speaker 1:

I was like, if I kill something that big, yeah, a raghorn.

Speaker 2:

I was like dude, I don't care if a raghorn or a barely legal bull comes in. That's what I was expecting. And to kill 300, 303 inch bull like I did, Woo Hell yeah.

Speaker 2:

Dude, I got that. We got the hide rolled up head on the back of my pack. Uh, you know I talked on me doing college track and sports growing up. Um, did a lot of hard workouts, a lot of stuff that, like you know, kills you puking, exhaustion, dehydration, you can't walk, kind of stuff. Packing that elk head out and hide is the toughest thing I have physically ever done in my life 100%.

Speaker 1:

Man Jermaine was like no, it's like less than a hind quarter and I'm like no way.

Speaker 2:

No.

Speaker 1:

It is less than a hind quarter because they did that same shit to me. I mean, yours was tough because you had to go up a hill in the snow, like no doubt yours was harder For me. They put the antlers down and I was going through an open field with bare brush, just dragging on all this brush the entire walk out, and I was like this sucks. Oh yeah, let alone the 120 pounds because he saves. I'm assuming Jermaine cut it up for you, he saves a lot of hide and that's heavy, thick skin.

Speaker 2:

I mean, we we both worked on him and, yeah, when we got that hide rolled up, uh, and then we got it tied on top of my pack dude, it was we had to, I think as a crow flew from where the carcass was to where we had parked the truck. If I remember correctly it was about a mile and a half, but we had to go down, up, down again and then up Schitt's Creek to get back to the truck. Ugh, and him and the camera guy each had, I think they took out a quarter, yeah, they took out the shoulders, I think that evening Maybe the hams, think that evening maybe the hams. And so I had the, the head on me and dude over downfall adding a foot and a half of snow, burnt timber.

Speaker 2:

Um, it was freaking tough man like there were thoughts that went through my head that was like why the hell did I do this? I don't want to go on another freaking elk hunt in my life screw this, screw elk hunting.

Speaker 1:

I don't want to go on another freaking elk hunt in my life screw this.

Speaker 2:

I don't want to do this anymore. Um, and, like you know, when I started to get to be where, I was about a quarter mile from the truck. I mean, jermaine and the camera guy beat me by about an hour the truck so they got the truck okay they needed to.

Speaker 2:

Um, I mean I would have to.

Speaker 2:

I mean, like when we went through some some serious stuff, like I would have to climb for 10 yards and then sit down on a tree and like if you go watch the video, you can see a point.

Speaker 2:

Like coming up out of the first 30 yards of shit creek, there's little pine saplings I was having to grab onto so that way I wouldn't fall back down to the bottom, like it was that gnarly. But then, like just all the downfall that we had to navigate, I got to a quarter mile out and the thought went through my head was like I'm gonna drop this son of a bitch, I'm gonna drop it and I'm gonna go back up to the truck, get rehydrated, warm up a little bit and come back and get it. That's what I wanted to do and I was like no, do it, just keep going. Couple times where I was like shit, I think I'm going the right way, but I'm not sure because I would yell at jermaine and the cameraman. I'd be like yo, just so I could hear them. So I wouldn't knew like which way to begin going.

Speaker 2:

So I'd be like yo and then I hear jermaine go hey, and I was like all right, they're that way, so I can start going that way, because I I got to the point where it's like I don't want to dig my phone out to look at hunt stand man. I was like I just didn't want to do it and yeah any extra effort anywhere is just not acceptable.

Speaker 1:

I get that.

Speaker 2:

I get that it's the toughest thing I've ever done, man it is, and I guarantee mine was easier than yours that deep snow is awful well, yeah, I mean, I felt like I would take two steps and go back four. Um, yeah, and then, to top it off, I shared a trekking pole with the camera guy because I felt bad for him, because he had camera gear and he was you know, this guy had the balls to take out some meat too. Um, it's not a lot of camera guys are gonna do that for you. Um, and he did that for us, and so I gave him a trekking pole. So I'm down to one trekking pole on this shit that makes a difference big time, man.

Speaker 2:

And you know, eventually I finally get to the point where, um, there's not much light left before it's gonna be getting dark. I'm like shit. I hope jermaine's not worrying about me um, and actually I got to the point where I was about 200 yards out from the truck and I could actually see the truck at this point. I see jermaine get out and he had the key in his pockets. Like if you have one of those trucks with, uh, the remote start and all that, it'll double honk when you, when it senses you getting out, it'll close it so he did that because he was getting out to put everything back on to come help me and he's like god dang it.

Speaker 2:

He's like if I have to go help will carry this damn thing out. He's losing some stripes on this one and he's like we're gonna make will earnest stripes.

Speaker 2:

And about that point I think he had finally seen me. He's like oh hell, you're almost here, but, dude, I got to that truck and they got that thing off my back and I, best feeling ever, dude, not only is it the best feeling, you can barely walk and I'm like all right, what the hell? I'm like all right, I'm ready to do this again, man. Like I'm ready to go kill another elk. Like screw those thoughts of not ever wanting to do this again. Like I'm ready for the next one because jermaine had a tag in his pocket yeah yeah, man, we got, we got that back.

Speaker 2:

Um, next day we went, got back the rest of the meat and, uh, jermaine still had that tag in his pocket so he got another bull and so we got three days worth of packing out elk meat. So it was a lot of time and I will tell you, like packing out the quarters loose meat and everything wasn't near as challenging as it was packing out that head and what I'm getting at there was a longer, easier way to get to where our carcasses were, because we went back and Jermaine's bull was only 200 yards from mine in the same drainage where he killed his. There's a much easier way to go and it was a way that I wanted to go when we first saw those elk on day one. He was just making me earn my stripes and go through that hardship because when we packed out the rest of the meat it was much easier going this other route, taking a long finger back up to the truck.

Speaker 2:

But the reason I'm telling everyone the story is my mindset has significantly changed since that hunt, as I'm sure it did for yours, um, you know I'd been elk hunting with my brother, elk hunting with my dad, like we'd all go together and there would be times that we'd see elk way off. Right man, those, they're just too far, too far. We don't have the stuff to get to them. Then we're gonna have to pack out at night. You know, you just make all these excuses in your head.

Speaker 2:

And what happened with Jermaine? If I would have seen those elk by myself, I would have been like oh, let's just drive up further and watch these elk see what they do. We'll come back tomorrow. We don't want to go and disturb them. Let's see if they're Closer to the road the next day. Um, that was the way I used to think. But now, since going with Jermaine, it's like no, screw that. We're going after these elk, we're going to go kill, we're going to go make an opportunity For ourselves and we're going to go Earn our stripes. And not only has that changed and shifted my mind for elk hunting, it's changed it for deer hunting, it's changed it for turkey hunting. When I start going through physically tough stuff like going through workouts I actually just went on a recent turkey hunt in Minnesota in some crazy mountain country that made me feel like I was on an elk hunt again when I start to hurt a little bit. I'm like dude. Elk hunt was way worse than this. It was way harder than this.

Speaker 2:

This ain't nothing compared to that. So it's like my mind level, my mindset level, just got turned up a few notches because of that hunt, and I have nobody to thank except for Jermaine on that few notches because of that hunt and I have nobody to thank except for Jermaine on that. So I mean it's, it's not, not even just from a hunting or workout perspective. I mean it's even just like the way that it's changed my thought process, like for work, things in life, being a father, being a husband, all that stuff like it's. It's changed all that. So I mean, um, it was a life-changing experience, for lack of better terms that's, that's awesome man, that's.

Speaker 1:

Uh, I do feel very similar. Um, I remember being up in some crazy places with jermaine, like I said I got mine. I didn't get mine on day, we said three or four, I got mine on day eight. Um, and there were some times where he's like if one calls down this valley, we're going.

Speaker 1:

He's like this will suck and it's like it doesn't matter where it is, you just go and you put in the effort and, uh, you know, when it was all said and done, I was like you know what? That's the big difference right there? Yeah, he's a phenomenal caller. Uh, the elk we killed, we didn't call in at all, we just spot stocked it. Um, but it's the effort. It's about putting it in and getting after it and just being like, yeah, this is gonna suck, this is probably the hardest thing you've ever done. Oh, yeah, but there's, there's value to it and you'll, uh, you'll, you'll never forget it. Like you said, man, this story means a lot to you. It just happened and, uh, you learned a lot and you'll probably every story from now on will involve a little bit more suck.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, yeah, it'll always involve a little bit more suck. I mean heck. I'm already hopefully going to get the tag that I want for Colorado this year, Hopefully going to go back and see if I can go with a buddy and my brother and see if we can get some elk down, so that way we don't have to call in the backup with Jermaine to get her done. I want to show Jermaine like hey, man, here's what I learned from you and I went and applied it to this and went and got it done.

Speaker 1:

I want to be able to show him that I really do. Yeah, I'm sure he'd be proud, as could be. I mean, the name of the movie that you guys put out was Coach right? So, like he, I'm sure couldn't be more proud if you went out and did it by yourself, and probably the same if I do as well. So, um, that's, that's my goal too. I mean, if Jermaine's available, I'd love to hang out with him at camp, cause he's a fun. He's a fun dude.

Speaker 1:

But uh yeah, doing it myself would would mean, I think, a lot to not only me, but well so I'll tell you the funny thing about sharing camp with him.

Speaker 2:

Um, you know the camps that I've been in and that, like we do, I always come prepared with like I'll pre-make meals, so that way, all I have to do is warm them up in water.

Speaker 2:

You know like put them in a food saver bag, boil it, warm it up quick meal. Or I'll do like mres, like you know, your peak refuels, your mountain houses, all that crap. And uh, when I was talking to jermaine about this beforehand, he's like nah, man, we're gonna cook. We're gonna cook, all right, I'll bring some of this stuff. So that way, if we get in a pinch and you know, we get back late one night, warm it up. Long story short.

Speaker 2:

Dude got to camp, uh, and I told him we were talking just kind of like uh, he was just we were just shooting the shit, you know, asking each other stuff about hunting, camps and this and that. And he was asking me, like you know what do y'all normally do for food and stuff? And I told him you know what I just told you? And he's like man, you know what that is, I'm like what he goes. You just lazy, you're just crazy. He goes around here by camps. He's like we cook, we cook good and we eat good. He goes we ain't eating none of that crap. And man, I'm telling you we ate oh, dude, jermaine Hodge Ratatouille, we ate on. He cooked some mousse up for us elk one night. We had some smash burgers for lunch one day.

Speaker 2:

And because of that I went and got you know some better camp cook stuff. Because I'm like man. He really did have a point because like I felt so refueled and just better when I ate wholesome food versus just like a freeze-dried rehydrated 100% warmed up hot bag, you know um, I mean, the thing that sucks is you got to do dishes.

Speaker 2:

But I'm like you know what, dude, if it makes me feel better and have more energy, I'm all for it, dude. So like I'm thinking about that stuff, so like I'm hoping jermaine hears this. Um, because like he straight up was like dude, you're lazy, you're lazy at camp. He goes. That's why you aren't killing any elk that's funny.

Speaker 1:

Well, we cooked all night. Every night too. I remember he cooked. Uh, I had some wild hog that I brought up from Texas. We threw that and some elk into some spaghetti and he's half Italian, so he killed that spaghetti. It was so good. And then another night I had brought up a bunch of like eggs and hash browns and then he threw some steaks. They just brought a whole bunch of steaks with them. So, and like that was just me and him, some whiskey and hash brown steak and eggs, and I was like that's the best meal I've ever had in the mountains, dude, it was so filling and we killed it the next day.

Speaker 1:

So, yeah, that guy, he knows how to, he knows how to refuel yeah, especially when he makes that red and white sauce oh yeah, I don't know I don't know if he did that for y'all. Yeah, and then uh yeah, some jim beam yeah yeah, weren't we didn't have Jim Beam? I don't remember what we had.

Speaker 2:

I think we had a little bit. He had a little bit of a bottle left over from stuff y'all had been drinking on. It was um oh.

Speaker 1:

Paul Masson, or if that rings a bell. I'm not sure if that's what it is, but yeah, he had some woo. Okay, we're not, we're playing for keeps Cause, like a hundred proof.

Speaker 2:

So it was fun. Yeah, it was fun, man. Yeah, the the. I think it was the night I killed my elk. We got back to camp and dude, oh man, we were, we tied one on that night.

Speaker 1:

We tied one on that night and then got up early and jermaine killed the bull the next day right yeah, dude.

Speaker 2:

I mean, we went back and, um, logan the camera guy, um, because I told I told I'd kind of divulged information to him. I was like, hey, if we have time and the opportunity, we're probably going to try and kill two bulls. I said, but no promises. I said, main thing is we just need to get one. And so, like the next morning he was hurting pretty good. And um, he's like, hey, you think jermaine's gonna try and kill bull? I was like, dude, if he kills bull, we're gonna kill bull. Um, he's like bro. I was like, hey, we're just gonna have to go. I was like, yeah, secretly, like it's gonna suck. But uh, dude, we're, we're building the brotherhood right now, yep, and we're going to go kill another one, and that we did that's awesome, that is awesome.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Morning after I killed mine, I was like no, I'm sleeping in. I was like this is day nine, I'm going to sleep in one day. And then I went back out and sat my carcass, hoping because I had a bear tag, and sat the carcass of my bull no, and sat the carcass of my bull no, bear had come in, it didn't even stink or anything like that. But I was just playing around with some mouth calls and I called in another giant bull to like 60 yards and was like shit, he's going to run over me if I don't stop. And I didn't have a tag at this point and Pat Luttrell did. So I was like okay, I got to stop, I got to sneak out of here so pat can come hunt this in the morning.

Speaker 1:

Because that was our hope and pat went back but they didn't see anything there. So damn. But yeah it was. It was another monster bull. I got some videos of it. Just I called it into the middle of a giant field and it just went up to like this one pine tree and just ripped the shit out of it, just just tear it into it, tore into it, ripped all of the pine needles off and was like looking for us and I'm like I just gotta lay down, I want to get stomped.

Speaker 2:

No joke, dude. No joke, yeah, but yeah man that is my, that is my hunting story, man. Um, probably. I mean, I told you the two ones that probably were the most pivotal for me. Uh, one with my dad. You know those two does you know? That's essentially lit the fire, um, and then you know there's a bunch of other ones leading up to it. You know good stuff, stupid stuff. I mean we could probably sit here for an hour right?

Speaker 1:

well, I tell this to everybody. I'll listen as long as you'll tell stories, but I know I only booked you for about an hour and we're coming up on that. Um, so up to you if you want. If you want to share any more, please do. And if not, then why don't you tell the people where they can find you? Man?

Speaker 2:

Man I'm not going to take away from from those two, um, you know, just with, with Jermaine's hunt being the most pivotal for me in my hunting career, um, it, you know, only poured gas on the fire. Uh, you know, already got a pretty good bonfire going, but that just took a few, you know, a few, of those five gallon jugs and chunked them on there.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

No man. If folks want to find me, they can check me on Instagram. It's at will T Cooper? Check me out on Instagram, see everything we do there. And then, if they want to see some of the cool projects that get to do with hunt stand, you can just check us out on instagram. It's at hunt stand, then youtube page hunt stand as well, where they can watch the coach film and they can see the whole thing that we've been talking about yeah, yeah, I'll put links to all that in the show notes and I strongly recommend everyone check out the coach film.

Speaker 1:

um, of course, there's all of the hunt that you talked about, but there's also a lot more about jermaine and his retirement and his time in the army and time as a coach and it's uh, you made him tear up.

Speaker 2:

I didn't even mean to man. Um yeah, dude, we were just talking about it at.

Speaker 1:

You know, just kind of doing an uh uh impromptu interview there and, uh, yeah, it got him, man, it got him. So I out HuntStand to check out the coach YouTube video as well. So well, man, this was fun, thank you. Thank you for jumping on, especially on such short notice, and I'm sure we'll have you back in the future to tell some more stories, maybe some some access to your, some Texas hunting stories.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, man, I'm all for telling some whitetail stories. We can definitely do that again.

Speaker 1:

Perfect man, perfect Well, thanks again, man, perfect Well, thanks again. Appreciate you and we'll have you back soon. Heck, yeah, man. All right, guys. That's it. Another couple of stories in the book. So thank you guys very much for tuning in. I really do appreciate it. Make sure you check out the show links so you can see all of Will's information there, as well as the video of the actual story he told tonight. Of course, will, thank you, of course, for coming on the podcast. Couldn't have done it without you. It was a lot of fun to meet you and you're obviously a great storyteller, so thank you for that. Man To listeners, make sure you guys refer people. If you know someone who's got a great story, send them my way, make sure they give us a follow, and I'd love to have them on the podcast. And then finally, guys, we do have our 100th episode giveaway coming out here in about two weeks I think so pay attention for that.

Speaker 1:

We're going to be giving away a couple hundred, maybe even a couple thousand dollars worth of stuff. I'm not sure exactly, but check out our Instagram if you want more information for that. But that's it, guys. Thank you again for tuning in. Now get out there and make some stories of your own.

Hunting Stories Podcast With Will Cooper
Career Changes and Hunting Exploits
Elk Hunting Adventure Explored
Changing Mindset Through Elk Hunting
Life-Changing Elk Hunting Experience