The Making of Monster Bucks XI

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If you thought the Realtree Monster Bucks X videos and DVDs were the best yet, then this year’s Monster Bucks XI are really going to make you howl with excitement and laughter, too! Here's a sneak peak behind the scenes of the making of the newest Monster Bucks edition, plus other trials and tribulations!

Who Want's The Archery Competition?
One thing that we’ve found out about our consumers is that they have really enjoyed the archery competition segments in the last several MB videos. The reason we started those competitions was to get away from the boring segues from yesteryear. Guys, we found were fast-forwarding through all that boring stuff and getting right to the hunting action. So when we initiated the first archery competition it was put together on a very, very low budget yet it went over fairly well.

Since that time the popularity of the competitions has really increased over the years. We have in turn started to put a lot more time, effort and money and into the making of the segues. This year, while I was at the NWTF in Tennessee, I had two different people come up to me in the Realtree booth and tell me that they fast-forward through some of the hunts just to get back to the archery competition segues! And they were definitely being serious! They simply love the archery competition.

Last year we brought on Travis Turner to play the part of T-Bone—the cousin/uncle of Willy from The Incomplete Deer Hunter, played of course by Jeff Foxworthy. Throwing these guys into the mix was really popular with our consumers. I don’t think Bill or I realized just how popular the hilarious additions were going to be. MBX was a great opportunity to introduce the dynamic duo to our audience.

About the Shoot
We started talking about the archery competition shoot last fall. Lots of preparation went into it. We decided that there were some things we could do differently and add several features to the competition that would keep the excitement and interest levels rising. One thing we decided we needed was a firearms segment of the competition. Obviously, everyone that watches Monster Bucks is not a bowhunter—So this year we added more targets on each volume. One is a 180-yard rifle shot with a Thompson Center Encore .280 out of a tri-pod stand. As viewers will see, Willy really knows his way around that Encore! There’s also a new free-handed, 90-yard muzzleloader deer target on one of the volumes. That’s a pretty challenging shot with no rest!

Steve Finch, our technical director decided that for the “competition’ shoot we were going to bring in a larger crew to catch all the new exciting action. He also decided that we were going to edit the video on the fly—on location in the truck, which has a built-in editing suite.

Steve and Travis found the perfect location to shoot from on Rocky Branch Plantation, just down the road from our offices. Ranch owner Glen Garner was nice enough to let us use his property. Finch and Turner found a really nice part of the property, parked the big truck, ran the hundreds of feet of necessary cables, and set up all eight targets in a huge circle around the truck. For this shoot we hired extra cameramen, five different guys in all. They tried and succeeded in getting all of the great camera angles to be had. Also, we had one camera at all times dedicated to the taking a close-up of the target we were shooting at during the day. The crew members caught every conceivable angle! They worked hard for sure!

This year’s event has a tremendous story line with Willy and T-Bone coming back with a vengeance. There’s more action with Bill, and Mike and the boys. Crew call was at 5 a.m. The cameramen stayed at Rocky Branch, had an early breakfast and were ready to roll. The camera crew was on location by 6 a.m.—prepping cameras, running cables, etc. Bill, Michael and I showed up around 7:30 a.m. Jeff showed up around 8 a.m. We had the opportunity to do a little practicing before the cameras started to roll. We had a practice target set up in a nearby food plot. We dialed in our bows, took several shots each, but mainly the practice session turned into a trash-talkin’ session. We found out later that all of the smack was caught on film by cameraman Mark Womack. His camera was to be used for nothing but “behind the scenes’ footage. That is some of the best video of the day and can be seen as bonus footage on the DVD versions of Monster Bucks XI.

Around 10 a.m we started. Normally the beginning of these shoots start out really, really slow. Everyone tries to get used to working together and get acclimated to their surroundings. Energy level is always a concern with Bill, Michael and myself, but we never have to worry about Willy and T-Bone. Those two are always on! Those guys are truly awesome, a blessing to say the least.

So we shot the first couple of targets. People don’t realize that we don’t shoot the targets in order that they appear on the final cut. We shot a bunch of the targets out of sequence because of logistics. So it was quite hectic to try and figure out a running score to find out which team was leading. But it all worked itself out in the end.

When we broke for lunch we had only shot three of the eight targets. We were way behind schedule. I was stating to sweat bullets. We were talking major money when it comes to overtime with all the workers and equipment and such. At lunch we sat out by a nearby lake and T-Bone decided to do a little fishing. Bill happened up on T-Bone while Willy got distracted by Michael. He chatted with T-Bone long enough to bribe him to throw the upcoming annual grudge match. This story I can assure you has a very interesting turnout.

After lunch, things started rolling a lot smoother. But by the time we were shooting the final target, we were losing light in a hurry. By the time the truck got packed up and headed back to Atlanta we were looking at a 16-hour day. There’s so much that goes in the Archery tournament shoot, which we are now calling the Annual Grudge Match.

My hat goes off to all of the camera guys for doing one heck of a job. We all had a fantastic time working on this project. I can’t lie, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to do. The only casualty of the day was Bill’s finger. I was climbing down a tri-pod stand and Bill had his hand on one of the rungs of the ladder below me. I smashed his finger pretty good. We didn’t grieve hardly at all. He didn’t get much sympathy from anyone out there that day. Hey, it’s a grudge match! Guess who wins? You won’t believe it until you see it!

Specs On Monster Bucks XI
Each volume should be roughly 110 minutes each. It will be a two-volume set. We sat back and we edited all the hunts from 2002. We wound up with 20 to 21 hunts per volume. Last week our crew decided that if we are going to keep each volume to under two hours that each hunt will only run approximately 3 minutes. Three minutes was just to short for some of the hunts we had this season. We like for our hunts to editing a little longer so that each tells more of the story, instead of a deer walks up and bang it’s over. So we simply went through and cut out 4 or 5 of the weaker hunts on each volume. Believe me, they made the first cut so they were good hunts, but they didn’t make the final cut. We decided that it was more important to show quality than quantity. Ultimately, each volume will have 17 hunts apiece. Bow, rifle and muzzleloader on all of “em.

We really don’t have any celebrities taking deer this year on Monster Bucks XI. Jeff Foxworthy didn’t kill a deer with us this year on camera. So as far as celebrities go, we don’t have any. Be sure to check out Foxworthy’s reasoning for not taking a buck on camera this year. His story about the making of The Incomplete Deer Hunter 3 will be the focus of an upcoming Online Journal.

Headliner Hunts
The headliner hunts this year are many. Michael’s awesome bowkill in Kansas is amazing. He took a 160-inch buck coming into a decoy setup. Bill’s hunt at the Halff Brothers Ranch in Texas was also unbelievable. Bill slammed a 171-inch monster taken on a ranch that had never been hunted by Realtree before. David Morris at the El Cazador Ranch killed the first Boone and Crockett buck Realtree ever caught on camera. That I can tell you is one unforgettable hunt! My 160-inch Alberta buck was also a pretty amazing tale. Tyler Jordan took a really nice 8-point in Texas with his dad.

One hunt with T-Bone this year was also pretty amazing. He killed a good buck with his old bow that he used in the archery competition last year. He’s lobbying for a new bow for next year really hard. In fact, we’ve heard some rumors flying around about writing T-Bone’s old bow out of the script next year. But there are many, many more outstanding hunts on Monster Bucks XI. All in all, MBXI should be a huge success.

BY THE NUMBERS
110—Number of days spent editing for MBXI.

150--Hours of raw footage taken in 2002-2003 season.

25,000+--Total man-hours needed to produce Monster Bucks and Realtree Outdoors television show.

45--Successful-Video kills in 2002-2003

110—minutes per volume of MBXI

5—Cameramen needed to shoot the Annual Grudge Match.

TOP HUNTING BLOOPERS
John Tate misses giant buck in Montana with a rifle.

Bill passed up two monster bow bucks in Wyoming on opening day.

Will Wallace from Summit Treestands missed the same deer 3 different time in Montana. He was shooting his bow instinctively.

Editor’s Note: Monster Bucks XI will be available via mail-order catalogs and at your favorite sporting goods store in early spring 2003. Also coming soon is Jeff Foxworthy’s Incomplete Deer Hunter 3! It’s a laugh-riot you won’t want to miss! Look for behind-the-scenes action in an upcoming Online Journal.