The #HuntTheNation Profile series on Sportsmen’s Nation highlights hunters from Instagram whose photos from the field made us pause and take note. Sharing a conversation with the camo-clad Instagrammer, we dig deeper into the photos that grabbed our attention and the stories behind them.
If you are a die-hard sportsman with a story to tell, tag your favorite photos with #HuntTheNation for a chance to be featured on the blog.
Today we are featuring Stephen Krippner. Find him on Instagram as @arrows_north
Tell us a little about your background. What got you into hunting?
My family treated the firearm whitetail season like a holiday, and the 40-acre chunk of woods in central MN where my dad and stepmom lived was party headquarters. My uncles, aunts, and cousins would come and stay with us for two weekends every November. It was, and still is, my favorite time of year; better than Christmas. My love for the sport of hunting grew from these memories, and as I got older I wanted to collect more of them. I started some of my own traditions with friends and began chasing after different game species, but all my hunting passions and pursuits stem from those two weekends in November.
What is your favorite species to hunt and with what equipment?
Hunting whitetails with archery equipment will always be my favorite hunt. I enjoy spending time shooting my bow year around and relish the calm silence of still hunting.
Tell us about your hunting season last year. What did you get after, and did you find success?
2017 was a good year, and my best hunting year to date. In spring 2017 I went on my first turkey hunt. I was in southeast MN hunting with a buddy on his family's farm. After 3 hours of running and gunning and chasing down distant gobbles, we called in a pair of charging tom's to our decoy set on the edge of an alfalfa field just as we popped into the treeline and out of sight. My buddy dove in a little too deep and was unable to get a shot off, but just as the pair started to spook back into the trees, I took one shot and downed my first turkey. As a deer hunter, the call and response aspect of turkey hunting was an amazing experience, especially, when it worked out.
Fall 2017 brought a double buck harvest. My two best bucks to date. Well... one and a half bucks. On the morning of November 1st, a heavy wet snowfall brought a doe to her feet and the buck chasing after her brought her passed my tree stand. As the buck stepped into my window at 32 yards, I made a mouth bleat, he stopped, I shot. My stomach sank as I watched my lighted nock sink in about a foot back of my intended target point directly behind the shoulder. My shot was back; in the liver. With the snow, it would have been a tough track job... BUT fortunately, my dad was in the woods with my that day hunting the same wind as me. The liver shot buck stumbled passed my pops at 20 yards and he put a perfect shot on the buck dropping him within sight of his stand. So, there we have it. We each had half of what would have been either of our biggest buck with a bow. More than happy to share a deer with my best hunting buddy, my dad, I was still excited on November 11th when a buck we had no prior knowledge of was chased off of a neighboring property and ran right by the stand I was sitting in; the same stand I was sitting in on November 1st. It was shotgun season now, and one lucky shot with the Remington pump landed me my best shotgun buck, and my second buck out of the same stand in a week and a half. 2017 was a good year.
It’s great that you continue to share the hunt with your dad. As hunters and land owners do you do any kind of habitat work or other strategies to try to improve your odds of success during hunting season?
Our hunting strategies have evolved over the past few years. As we start to acquire more equipment and have expanded access to information, we have really tried to put in more work to manipulate our little whitetail oasis. We have run micro food plots (1/4 - 1/2 acres) for the past 10+ years, but in the past two years we have added a larger wildlife specific 2 acre food plot on the wood line edge of our agricultural fields, we bull dozed a water hole, and last year spent a good part of the spring with the chainsaws out hinge cutting trees in an identified bedding area. We really wanted to improve the 3 major factors (food, water, cover) for the whitetails in our area. With a focus on bow hunting, it seems like we are constantly tweaking stand locations 20-30 yards at a time to get ourselves in a better shooting position. We have also deployed some wireless game cameras to give us real-time updates on the wildlife movement through our property.
Your Instagram page Arrows North Outdoors @arrows_north looks like a group effort between you and some hunting buddies. Could you tell us more about that? What are some of the things that brought you all together as hunters and how do you keep that connection going strong year after year?
The @arrows_north account came about when a good friend of mine and I realized that we had a shared passion for photographing the hunting lifestyle. We would get together for a hunting weekend, and have more photos than we felt comfortable sharing on our personal accounts, so we setup @arrows_north as an outlet for those excess photos. My friend and I manage the account and the photos we post are photos that we have personally taken, or photos that have been sent to us by our other hunting buddies. With the account, we really strive to positively reflect the hunting community by posting images that might resonate with hunters and non-hunters alike. Sure, we post the classic "grip-n-grin" photo, but do our best to minimize blood and gore. Probably for lack of success on our part (feel free to laugh at our pain), majority of the content consists of images from our hunting life style. Our posts attempt to tell the story of the hunting process, and capture the memories we are making in the field, more than it aims to showcase our end results.
What are your goals for the upcoming year?
2018 turkey season came and went by in a one day hunt that I spent taking photos. We had a chance at 3 toms in the final hour of the hunt, but a clear enough shot never presented itself to the hunter I was with so we ended up meatless. 2018 whitetail season brings a major focus on getting more friends and family involved in harvesting some of our excess doe population. We will need to focus on balancing the already "doe heavy" herd numbers by making sure we do our part to further the sport and share our land with friends and family that are looking for a doe hunt. We will spend our time this summer trying to relocate last year's target buck "Mr. T”. We got a number of daylight photos of him last year, but were never able to spot him from the stand. It seemed like he always came past the downwind side of the stands we weren't in because of that day's wind direction. We have a decent strategy set around him from last year, and will further explore that once we start getting photos of him again this year. In regard to other hunting, I will plan a couple weekend trips to chase pheasant, ducks, and grouse.