May 31, 2012
Just 5 short years ago I, Blake Hagemeier, began waterfowl hunting. Just the drive through the canal to get to the blind in the dark was enough to get me hooked. Whether it was a successful hunt or one where we came home empty handed, I still enjoyed every second of every hunt. From the social aspect of sitting in the blind to the breakfast cooked on a camp stove, every aspect of a waterfowl hunt was awesome! A lot of what I enjoyed about the hunt was portrayed on television hunting shows, but a few things were missing. As I watched shows on TV, the constant limit-filling hunts were great, but lacked variety and there was no story to the hunts. Guys were driving across the country, climbing in the blind and putting birds down every episode. That’s not how I experienced waterfowl hunting. We busted our tails off trying to find birds and gain access. Some days we would go to the blind drawings at a local state park and get turned away. None of this was portrayed on these shows. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching all the birds fall, but it was hard to relate to these shows because it wasn’t “real” waterfowl hunting.
With some experience filming deer/turkey hunts and the “gap” in waterfowl hunting videos I developed a plan to show the whole waterfowl hunting experience. I pitched my ideas to my hunting buddies and Fowled Reality was brought into it’s infancy stages. We set out to show the whole story that goes into waterfowl hunting. From the scouting to the long drives and the disappointing hunts, we were going to show all points of a
waterfowl season. Since the waterfowl hunting is largely dependent on the weather, we knew that the storyline of the migration was out of our hands, but it was a great topic to frame our videos around. We are located in areas of Illinois which have long standing traditions of waterfowl hunting. From the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers that load up with migrating ducks to the goose hunting industry that is southern Illinois, we are surrounded with great possibilities to make our vision come together. Being just a mere hour from prime locations in Missouri and a few hours from Arkansas allows us to expand our hunting locations to other states in the Mississippi Flyway as well.
We chose the web based option as a way to constantly be available and because air time on outdoor television is way out of our price range. In this day and age, the internet is just a few steps away. Computers, tablet, and smartphone are typical household items and the internet is always within reach. TV shows are limited to three showings a week unless you have the show DVR’d, but our videos are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Fowled Reality team is comprised of hunting buddies, and buddies of hunting buddies: Blake Hagemeier, Chris Walters, Kevin Haddock, John Limestall, Scott Arkebauer, Ryne Wade, and Scott Madison. Everyone plays an important part in Fowled Reality. Whether it’s trying to setup the weekend’s hunt, Chris running our Twitter and business end of things, or Ryne learning how to use a camera to improve on our ability to capture each hunt, we all work together to produce what we feel is “real” waterfowl hunting. Our locations are scattered across the southern half of Illinois which gives us a large area to locate and gain access to migrating waterfowl. We all have the passion waterfowl hunters are known for and our objective for each hunt is simply getting a field and enjoying what mother nature has to offer. Most of our team has a regular 40+ hour a week job and our hunting mainly takes place on the weekend. We all spend countless hours and hundreds of dollars in gas to locate birds. In order to be successful at what we do, we spend just as much time scouting as we do hunting. Our hunting generally takes place on private ground where we contact the landowner to gain access. We also have access to a small duck and goose club located near a power plant lake and occasionally take the invite to hunt with other friends around the state. Our hectic schedules, families, and jobs limit our ability to hunt every weekend, but most weekends we are able to get at least a few guys together to chase waterfowl.
The waterfowl season is full of ups and downs. The weather is a huge part of successful waterfowl hunting and we show the effect it has on our hunting. If we have a few bad hunts in a row, we are going to show it. It’s what waterfowl hunting is all about! Just this past season, the weather was warm through most of December. No matter how hard we scouted, the hunts just wouldn’t come together for a great video. Sure we were putting a few birds down here and there, but we were snakebit! It doesn’t make for action packed video, but it does make for stuff that many hunters can relate to. By combining the good hunts with some of the bad ones, we’ve experienced an incredible response to Fowled Reality. It’s stuff that guys out there experience every season. We have tried to combine the full waterfowl hunting experience with aspects of what went wrong and what went right with each hunt. We are constantly moving and pulling decoys to try and get the best video and birds feet down in our face. In our videos, we talk about how we set them up, how many we had, and what worked. We want our videos to be both relatable and informative.
For all the years to decide to begin filming waterfowl hunting videos, this was not the year! Abnormally warm temperatures dominated our season and limited our ability to film what we set out to. The duck hunting was great early, but quickly turned sour. Just as the ducks continued to stage north of us as the season went on, the geese did as well. We had to adapt to what mother nature gave us and chase snow geese without the use of an e-caller. They were the only birds around to hunt in January, so we loaded up nearly every weekend with close to 1000 decoys in search of some of the wariest birds out there. We enjoyed some pretty good success for having to use mouth calls to lure in a few birds out of thousands flying in flocks overhead. It doesn’t sound like much, but if you’ve ever snow goose hunted, you know how smart they can be! When all was said and down, we were able to put together 9 8-12 minutes web based shows. Not quite as many as we had hope for, but for the way the weather was, we faired pretty well.
Fowled Reality doesn’t want to be known just for videos. We want to be a source for information for waterfowl hunters. Since nearly all of hunts occur in the Mississippi Flyway, our content caters to hunters located throughout the midwest. We’ve developed a site full of not only videos, but also migration reports, tactics for more successful hunting, and the latest waterfowl hunting gear. Our use of social media has furthered our web presence as we continue to grow our content library and hope to some day be a trusted source for everything waterfowl hunting just as Ducks Unlimited is.
For anything waterfowl hunting you can find Fowled Reality at www.fowledreality.com, Facebook, and Twitter. Our videos can be found on our site, as well as YouTube and Vimeo. You can contact the Fowled Reality team at firstname.lastname@example.org