Deer Season Special - Bill Thompson

Show Notes

This week's guest of the Deer Season Special bonus episodes for the Pennsylvania Woodsman is Bill Thompson from Spartan Forge.  Bill recaps his recent elk hunt this fall and the highs and lows which transpired.  We go into detail about the recent update from Spartan Forge which includes lidar mapping.  Bill shares why he has chosen the Spartan Forge team he works with - work ethic.  Out working those around you and surrounding yourself with hard working individuals provides a greater opportunity for success.  We wrap up discussing some of the greatest "ah-ha" moments over the years observing whitetail deer collar data and developing deer movement prediction models.

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Show Transcript

[00:00:00] You're listening to the Pennsylvania Woodsman Podcast Deer Season Special. These bonus episodes revolve around deer hunting stories and experiences from a host of deer hunters. These whitetail hunting BS sessions will be launched every week during the 2023 hunting season, adding fuel to your fire in the deer woods.

Be entertained and hopefully learn something along the way. The title sponsor of the Deer Season Special Series is Vantage Point Archery, home to the toughest machined one piece broadheads made in the USA. BPA products are built to last, which is why they have a lifetime warranty, and if you're not completely satisfied, you can send it back, which I highly doubt will occur.

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The Pennsylvania [00:01:00] Woodsman is also brought to you by radox hunting home of the emcor cell camera stick and pick camera accessories and much more. Also, brought to you by Vitalize Seed, a 1 2 planning system designed with diversity and biology in mind, making it the best food plot available. And lastly, by Huntworth Gear, quality hunting clothing at an affordable cost.

Makers of heat boost technology. This week's guest is Bill Thompson from Spartan Forge. Bill and I recapped the recent elk hunt that he did out west with Lee Ellis from Seek One. Then we get into the new updates from Spartan Forge, including LIDAR maps and what that has meant to many of the people that he works with on the Spartan Forge team.

We discuss work ethic and what it takes to get on good deer each season. And then we wrap up with some of the biggest aha moments that Bill has had over the years, watching GPS data, following radiocar deer, and using the system in which Spartan Forge has developed. So tune in and hope you enjoy.[00:02:00]

Hey, joining me today on this week's show, I've got Bill Thompson from Spartan Forge. Thanks for, uh, making the time to, to come on and chat with us. How you been? Uh, good. Thanks for having me on Mitchell. Yeah, you, uh, just came back not too long ago from a hunt out west and I want to hear all about it. Yeah, it was my first, um, kind of elk hunt ever.

Um, I, I'd been on like some rifle ones when I was younger, just helping people out, but never. Nothing like this before. This was a, a totally different experience. Obviously we were dealing with the bow early season. Um, I was with, uh, Drew Carroll. He's, um, one of the two members of Seek One. And, um, yeah, we, Drew's like a dear friend of mine, and, and, um, we kind of just became, through, through, you know, us trying initially, and it didn't happen right away, but us just happening to, to fall in with the Seek One guys and wanting to work with them.[00:03:00]

Drew and I just kind of built a friendship separately from all of that. And I told him a couple of years ago now that, you know, I've always wanted to do a, um, Alcon out west, um, obviously you can do it in Pennsylvania and other places, but um, I wanted to do like, you know, out there, alone and unafraid in the middle of nowhere, you know, Montana.

So, we, we, he actually married my wife and I. Um, a little over a year ago and, um, and like a small, uh, thing we had in D. C. And then right after that, he had told me like, hey, we're going to do this elk hunt. We're going to get it done. Like, let's go do it this year. So, um, we went out there and it was public elk out in Montana.

Um, we really had our eyes set on, you know, a 300 plus bull. Um, and his goal for the first probably five days or so was just getting me on a bull. Um. We were [00:04:00] doing like 30, 000 steps a day for, which for me is a little over like 11 or 12 miles. Um, we were just going nuts, driving everywhere. Like we, we would get up at 3 in the morning.

We'd go and road call or like bugle call looking for, um, responses. At 5am we'd pick where we're going to set up at. We would hunt hard until like 8pm. We'd get back to camp. We would eat quickly, record some like B roll footage of like cooking and doing whatever, um, be in bed by 9 or 9. 30 and get up in six hours and do it all over again.

And we did that for... I, uh, you'll see it in the video. I ended up getting, um, an opportunity on like a 7x6 bowl, um, on like the 6th day. And right as I loosed my arrow to make the shot, like when you watch the video, you'll be able to see the elk. If you draw a line, kind of, of where it's critical area, like where it's backside of his lungs, [00:05:00] like, um, you know, I, I talked to Levi Morgan a couple of days before.

And he said, just aim like six or seven inches to the right of the crease. Um, and that's pretty much exactly where I aimed. Well, as I, as the arrow was loose, the elk took a step forward that moved him about two feet to the left and ended up hitting the crease in front of the back leg. Um, and the, there was a guy at a neighboring property that saw my elk two days later, and I believe someone shot him like two or three days later.

So he lived through it and was fine. And then, um, on the last day, we had, that first hunt was a pretty amazing hunt, like when you see the video, it's amazing. We had everything from rain showers, to rainbows, to hail, to being pinned down by like two or three smaller bull elk, um, until I finally made that shot on that bull.

And he was a 300 and then, [00:06:00] um, on the last day we had a similar experience, where I kind of mucked it up, just being a novice elk hunter, and um, I ended up not making a kill, I'm sure Drew will kill here in the next couple of days, because that's what Drew does. But yeah for me it was a bust because I had to get home I had a set timeline that I could be out there for I'm sure if we could have stayed out there for a few more days.

I would have gotten it done But yeah, there's my first outfit elk experience. It was overwhelmingly positive You know Drew's obviously one of the best guys you could ask for to go on one of those things extremely patient And, um, you know, teaching me the ropes and, uh, it was just an awesome experience that I'll never forget.

Yeah. So you've done your fair share of whitetail hunting across different parts of the country. But I know when I, the first time I ever went elk hunting, it was a completely different mindset. Like where, where, what was your goals and expectations of doing a trip like that? I mean, initially I don't want to name drop, but [00:07:00] like I was trying to kind of get a, um, sense.

Of what I should be doing, so I'd actually talked to Ike Eastman that I deal pretty closely with on one of our features called Tag Hub. Which is an integration that we use in the Spartan Forge app, which is kind of like a Western Draw Odds type of thing. And I talked to him and he's like, well, you know, you're a pretty seasoned whitetail hunter.

You should, you know, I, his thought was like a 280 or 270 is kind of like a 130 whitetail. And he's like, that's really where you should try to be. And so I kind of went in with that mindset and he probably overestimated my talents. But he, you know, he thought maybe I should try to be able to 270, 260, something like that.

So that was kind of my expectation going in and we actually passed on some bulls that were smaller earlier and you'll see it in the video. Um, and then I obviously took a shot on a, you know, what is somewhere around a 300 inch elk, [00:08:00] um, and just blew it. But, um, really, I mean, I, I sound kind of spoiled saying it, but Drew is a hell of a hunter.

Um, and I don't think... It's gonna sound counterintuitive, but the Seek One guys get a lot of shit, um, just because they've killed so many big deer that people think it's kind of like a, um, it's a given, or like they've got something going on that people don't know about or something, but really it's just they're willing to work harder than anyone else.

Both Drew and Lee. Lee, Lee never stops thinking about whitetails, um, and Drew's kind of grown his horizons. And not in a different, not in a bad way, but just in a different way from what Lee's trying to do. And now he's doing the Western game thing. Like he just killed a slammer of pronghorn here like a few weeks ago.

And it was actually what we were eating most of the time we were in elk camp. Um, so those guys are just extremely [00:09:00] talented and extremely hardworking. There's hardworking of two people that I've ever met in my life. And I say that with 22 years of military experience, like they're just always on. They're always after it.

They're never thinking about anything else. All of their energy goes into planning and execution of everything that they do. Um, so my expectation was I was going to learn something from Drew and try to kill something that was better than like 260 or 270. And that if we could do that on public land, that was success.

And I mean, Drew afforded me two opportunities to do that. I just didn't capitalize. But I also learned a ton while I was out there and had a ton of fun. So, um, kind of like the minimum expectation was that I was going to have fun and learn something. I achieved both of those. And then the other expectation was, I would try to kill something that was, you know, a little bit bigger than, you know, 250, 260, and I got the opportunity at that point.

So to me, it was a success all around. Like, if you go, if you grab a guy and [00:10:00] say, you know, I'm going to take you whitetail hunting, and his definition of success is, you know, seeing or killing a 130 and you put him in front of two 130s. You've had a good whitetail camp. Absolutely. So, I mean, I had that similar experience on the elk side.

Um, again, I had the benefit of, you know, Uh, working with one of the best in the game, but still it, it, it will, it was that, and it was a great time and I'll never forget it. Yeah. And one thing you got to do is you get to share it with people that you enjoy doing that with. Um, yeah, you're doing it with, with friends you're doing, you're surrounding yourself with somebody who you you've spoken highly of that has such a great work ethic and from all aspects of life that.

That just speaks dividends no matter what avenue you're looking at life, whether it's hunting or just, just daily life. And that's important because wherever you're at in life, like we were talking off air beforehand, uh, just about the, the chaos of work, life and family and everything else. And to, to be able to surround yourself in a situation [00:11:00] with somebody who's positive and hardworking like that in a fun but stressful environment.

Um. There's things to be said about that without punching a tag. And I think that's important. Yeah. Yes. And you, and you nailed it. I mean, Drew's one of those guys. He's also a family man and he's, I mean, he just balances it all so well. He's always focused on the goal. Um, he's truly concerned with the betterment of everyone around him.

And that's why I call him. I feel lucky to call him one of my best friends is because I don't meet many people like that. Like a lot of people will say that and they'll, and they'll give you that lip service. And I was kind of talking about it with a friend tonight who was actually over at my place, where, um, you know, I count myself as more of like an existentialist, which is not to say, you know, I don't believe in God, that's not what I'm saying.

Obviously I believe in God, but what I'm saying is everything to me is borne out and proved by people's actions. I give very little lip service to what people, [00:12:00] or I give very little credence to what people say with their mouths. When someone says they're going to do something that almost means nothing to me.

Um, until I actually see it come to fruition and them doing it. And if they keep apologizing and keep giving me excuses of why they're falling short or not doing what they said they were going to do. Like that to me is my, that's my, not to sound cynical, but that's my expectation of most people that I encounter.

Is that you're going to get a bunch of promises and not a lot of follow through, but they'll be the most earnest promises and they'll remind you all of the time and say all these great things. But, um, Drew, um, and you know, other people in my life, non whitetail, non hunting related that I count as being my best friends are people that when they say something, they may say it once, but if they do say it once, you know that it's happening, you're damn well sure that it's happening soon.

Um, and they follow through on their word, and really I only have like two or three people in my life who I can depend on in that way, and that to me is, you know, two more than I need. You know what I'm saying? Like, if you've got one person in your life you can [00:13:00] trust, like, you know, you might trust your wife, or I trust my wife, or, you know, a good friend, or whomever.

Um, that's a boon and then if you can find one or two more guys that are like that, that are just always there for you no matter what, um, there's really no measure to what you can achieve. So that, that's kind of, that's how I orient myself in my life. And that's fantastic because, um, You're in a very interesting situation just with the people that you've surrounded yourself with some of the best and best in the hunting industry.

Some people that we love to listen to and, uh, you're, you're building something that to me, I think is just an awesome, awesome product. And it's, it's being, you know, proven daily with, uh, I've been really happy with the update that you just brought onto the market with Spartan Forge. And I was hoping you could share a little bit about that because, um, that's come with blood, sweat, and tears and it's still in the working order.

So, uh, tell me a little bit about what, uh, this most recent thing was that, [00:14:00] that occurred. Yeah. So we just had a massive update and actually it was kind of on me why it took so long, because kind of, it's kind of, um, it's not easily understood probably by most that don't work. In, in coding, but we, we built a lot of dependencies in the application that, um, unfortunately first held us back internally, but then it held us back externally with the app source, but my goal with this update was to, I didn't want to just chase the other apps that were out there.

Like, I could have just gone and built every feature that like a hunt stand or a, or a base maps or a onyx had. And just try to provide the same type of value that they have. Um, and, and I really, from the beginning, made a conscious decision that we weren't going to just chase our competitors. That we were going to kind of build a baseline of features that we knew users needed.

Like measuring, tracking [00:15:00] feature, public land, private land. Like the stuff that hunters just really can't get by with. But then once we had provided most of that sufficiently, that we were going to start offering features. That the market really hadn't done a lot with and then continue to do that as we go along.

So a few of those features were like blue force tracker, which is, you know, essentially you draw some geometry and you can auto share pins in a location. So if you're, if you're scouting with a buddy or scouting with a friend or you're hunting with your father or your grandson or son or whomever. You could be auto sharing these pins in an area and it kind of reduces the friction in texting each other points back and forth.

But also, when you start talking about whether you're an outfitter and you're managing many people or you're a buddy that hunts. You know, I had public land in Maryland that I hunted with like five or six people at one point. It was untenable to try to text points back and forth. Um, but then also, you know, in the future there are other features where you're auto sharing location and there's chat.

Um, associated with [00:16:00] each one of those pieces of geometry. So that's kind of like the first one. The second one was this LiDAR feature, which, um, I wanted to make sure that we had LiDAR for at least 65 or 70 percent of the U. S. that was at least one meter resolution. That's to say, if there's a difference in altitude or of topography in the one meter area, from another one meter area, that you'd be able to see the difference and that the resolution was high enough.

So like, for instance, in Pennsylvania, We've got one meter coverage for all of Pennsylvania. So if you zoom into any area in Pennsylvania, you're going to get very high resolution coverage of that, of that, um, of that LiDAR imagery. And then, you know, we've got that for, as well for about 65 or 67 percent of the rest of the U.

S. and we're adding a couple of other states here in the next, um, few days. Um, and then just some features that we thought were necessary to update and to make a little more user savvy. Which is like our North up function. Um, we put the gear for configuring your [00:17:00] land a map on every, um, every one of the map instantiations.

We have the custom map, which, you know, the user can build to their liking. And then we have, you know, an aerial map, an aerial topo map, and a topo map, which are just other, um, uh, predefined map, um, uh, representations, so that if you just want to see a topo map quickly, like, if you do that, like, in a topo or a hunt stand, if you, if you build a custom map of your own, and then you just want to see a, a, um, topo map, You're going to be clicking all afternoon.

With us, you can just swipe over that compass or you can select that map from the bottom maps display. I mean, there's still some more learning pangs, um, getting, you know, to get people to understand the product. But by and large, when people understand how to manipulate the maps and switch between the maps, they love it.

And they love how quick it is and how, um, efficient it is. So, um, between that and like a couple of other just UI and UX, user experience and user interface pieces, that, those are kind of like the major [00:18:00] stuff. Like we have Pinshare in there. We've largely overhauled, there's a ton more private land ownership, there's a ton more public land ownership, and we've changed the representation, like public's not just blue now, it's different colors everywhere.

Um, we did the Eastman's Tag Hub integration, so really it's a different application from where it was the release before. Um, but it's done in the same vein, so, you know, tons of work, and I think people have tried it in the past and not like it. If they come back now, they'll see that as a, it's a totally different experience and there's a lot more in the application.

Well, yeah, absolutely. Um, one thing I want to kind of revisit a little bit, I'm always, when it comes to anything technology wise, Bill, I'm always a day late and a dollar short. And I was talking about the LIDAR feature with somebody, and of course they knew all about LIDAR and they had to explain to me how things work.

But I was hoping that if there was people listening to. To this that weren't familiar with LIDAR maps that you could enlighten [00:19:00] us a little bit more because I was impressed with how that worked and the things that that showed me about hunting areas, especially new areas that I was scouting. There's, there's a few particular areas that I'm trying to learn for, uh, whitetail and bear hunting in the state of New Jersey.

And when I use that application, I felt like that was just another. piece of the puzzle of understanding how certain swamps laid and even as much as seeing, um, old fence lines and rock walls and stuff just to break up to rain and topography and things like that. It was really eye opening just for going into boots on the ground.

And I was hoping you could kind of dive into that a little bit more in depth. Yeah, sure. So LIDAR is, I mean, I guess the simplest way to explain it. is everyone's been pulled over by a cop, or at least most people have been pulled over by a cop. And what the cops use are radars, and a radar is radio detection and ranging.

Basically what's happening is, is that there's a radio pulse being sent from the cop's, [00:20:00] um, radar gun that gets a, that bounces off your vehicle and then gets a return. And based on the amount of time Between the device being sent and the device receiving the signal back, they can do a calculation to determine how far away you are.

Well, it's the same thing with LIDAR. LIDAR is just the acronym now instead of radar or radio detection and ranging, it's light detection and ranging. So what LIDAR does is it uses, um, a method used for determining ranges for targeting an object or a surface using laser. Instead, a laser, excuse me, instead of, um, a radar or a radio, um, and it uses reflected light that comes back to the receiver to show undulation or changes in topography.

And like I said before, when you talk about one meter, um, light detection and ranging, you can really get a firm understanding of what a property is. So for anyone listening, I mean, we've got coverage for three [00:21:00] quarters of the U. S. But as an easy point of contact, if you just go anywhere, you know, in our application in, um, Pennsylvania, you can easily understand, or easily understand, you can see what LiDAR means by seeing LiDAR derived imaging of Pennsylvania.

So when you get into the mountains, you can start seeing paths. You can start seeing, um, uh, you know, clear cuts. You can see, even our buildings and the foundations. We're established, you can see where it's flat and where it's not flat, um, and it really helps the hunter understand how deer might be using topography in ways that aren't obvious by using a traditional topography map or a traditional aerial map because the level of specificity that's available in LiDAR, or how specific the imaging can get, is not a level that's available in aerial mapping, even our very high resolution aerial mapping, or in topography mapping because It's leaving [00:22:00] details, um, that LiDAR would otherwise expose, um, your eyes not able to see it with these traditional maps.

So, when it comes to micro terrain features especially, like these, um, old, you know, timber cut logging roads that deer use after the area has grown back, or small paths, or micro terrain features like small saddles, or benches, all of these things become very obvious. So, you know, one of the really neat things is when you get into an area that you've been hunting for a long time that you've kind of learned just by walking the woods, if you have high resolution LIDAR available in that area and you take a look at it, all of it becomes very obvious what's going on because You're able to see the ground in a way that people have never been able to see it before.

And that's really what LiDAR affords the user. So, it's not a method to replace scouting. It's a method to make scouting more, um, [00:23:00] efficient. So that you're not wasting, you know, a lot of people have limited vacation. And they can only take so much time away from their family. And they can't use... The 72 hours necessary to map every micro micro terrain feature on a particular piece of public or newly acquired private Um, and what lidar does is it allows you to identify a lot of those variables and map them out very quickly So you can take advantage and do the scouting that you need to do and focus on the areas that you need to focus on And then you know get in there and hunt when the time is right.

So that's kind of the focus with the um with the lidar layer with the team of Fantastic hunters that you've been able to surround yourself with. I'm kind of curious, have you gotten feedback from people who are just insanely, you know, into map scouting and, and very detail oriented with map scouting?

Can you talk about some of their thoughts and reactions to this? And it has this [00:24:00] changed, um, some of their philosophy with map scouting as when they approached the, uh, the fall woods. Yeah, well, I mean, I'd like to say that it's kind of turned all of the worlds around, but the, the secret here is that a lot of these great hunters were already using LiDAR.

They were just getting it from disparate sources or sources that you wouldn't otherwise associate with, with whitetail hunting, whether that's ArcGIS or state, um, offered LiDAR sources that they're plotting themselves in other applications. But then what they couldn't do is they had to do the... analysis at home on a desktop computer, and then pass the points to themselves in whatever mapping application or hunting application that they were using.

So, I mean, by and large, all of them, all of the hunting guys on my PRO staff were using LiDAR. They were just having to get it from separate places, and it wasn't as good from a resolution standpoint. It wasn't centralized. You know, it wasn't a layer that it could flip back and forth between other layers that they were using in your traditional...

Um, scouting program. So [00:25:00] really what it did for my, the majority of our pro staff was centralize it among other features and kind of nest it in one comprehensive mapping program instead of forcing them to go there and get it from everywhere else, but also it introduced them or showed them to the best, you know, we researched the entire U.

S., we found the best LIDAR and mapping sources for every area in the U. S. and some of them were surprising. Like some states, you had LIDAR that were better for neighboring states, just because it was part of an ecological or agricultural program that the other state participated in, but didn't have or didn't take the LIDAR from it.

So it might be like a North Carolina LIDAR repository had the best South Carolina LIDAR data, just because they were participating in the same study. So what we did was we went and found all of that best LIDAR data and then overlaid it in our, in our mapping, so we made the process more smooth. Um, for our hunters to integrate it, but it also was kind of like a secret among [00:26:00] the more psychotic users, um, like myself and the people on our pro staff where, um, now this data was centralized.

And we're kind of making it available for everyone. So for the majority of our pro staff, I would say it wasn't, it was a big game changer in that it's centralized. It made it available to them in a way that wasn't available for, and it also allowed them to take it to the field. But it was stuff that they were using in the past that we were just trying to put in more of a central location.

Hmm. That makes a lot of sense too. And like I said, when it comes to the map scouting things in the application I've used, I have not been near as in depth to it, but I have to say in, uh, in. And passing between the scouting in the big woods up here for bear or some of the new areas and swamps and stuff that I've been looking at in New Jersey really, really opened my eyes and it kind of directed me a lot quicker to certain areas and I really appreciate that.

You talked about, uh, Um, being efficient, and that's a big deal for us because, um, you know, for me, you know, crazy [00:27:00] kids, family and everything else, uh, time is of the essence. And, you know, we were, we were speaking about that earlier, uh, the amount of time and effort that you put into work and things, um, do, uh, do you find yourself, uh, ever able to take any time to go after whitetails at this point in, uh, in your career with Spartan Forge?

Yeah, no, I, I really haven't. I, I was a voracious whitetail hunter up until... I kind of went full time on Spartan Forge and now the way that I allow myself to sleep at night is by telling myself that I'm helping other people become better white tail hunters. And so I'm kind of like a meta hunter at this point.

So I'm, I'm, I'm the hunter who helps hunters instead of being the hunter who goes out and kills himself. Um, I mean, just like next door to me here is my trophy room and you can't see it, but there's, there's tons of whitetail in there. And, and, and, um, you know, what I've been able to do over the years as being a semi successful kind of hunter on my own.

All of these things that I'm putting inside of the application [00:28:00] are all things that I was looking for in kind of disparate areas, separate areas. Areas where there was research and there was data being presented that wasn't necessarily for whitetail, but benefited whitetail hunters, stuff like historical wind layers, stuff like the lidar layer, stuff like historical weather, um, uh, movement patterns derived from fawn recruitment studies.

All of these things that I used to look into when I was more of a voracious reader, when it came to the research associated with whitetail hunting, um, that I've kind of centralized and tried to put into Spartan Forge, I hope benefited other people, right? I know it's benefited other people, but it really hasn't benefited me as a whitetail hunter because I'm not doing it anymore.

I mean, I do it sometimes like we'll do like veterans hunts or like this elk hunt that I just did where I can carve out like a week and devote myself to it. But I mean, you know. October, second week of October into like the third week of November [00:29:00] would be a time where traditionally I'd tell my wife, like, whatever you need me to do throughout the year, I'm going to be doing it.

But come the second week of October until the third week of November, if I have a spare moment, I'm hunting. And that's gone now. So yeah, I'm not hunting. Like I'd like to be, I'm not out there getting after it. Like I'd like to be where I do like to think that I'm helping other people. I want to dive into that a little bit more because it's a very unique situation that you've, you've.

put on yourself. And, you know, in doing this podcast and doing a few hundred episodes and communicating with people, there is a motive that a lot of people do want to help each other and they want to share information, but there's usually a cap to that at some point. Um, you know, the, uh, Quality whitetail hunting information.

I feel like the amount of whitetail hunters that are out there, there's, there's a relative percentage of who's willing to share information. Right. And, um, I bring that up because, you know, I've been trying to find people who are really, really good bear hunters in the Northeast part of [00:30:00] the, of the country and.

It's almost non existent of people who do it on a regular basis and are willing to talk about it and share it to help people. And, uh, you're in a situation where you're helping, trying to help people to the point where it's consuming all of your time and there's zero time spent. You know, I think about from my point of view, Bill, somebody who's, you know, devoted their life.

You know, you, you were in the military and now you're home and you're, you're, you're. You're shifting gears. Like, I want to know like why, what, what, what's, what would possess you to go to that step in, uh, in your, your, your willingness to help somebody? I'm curious. I mean, there's really, what it is is it's a multitude of reasons.

There's not just one reason why I'm doing this, right? I mean, there's, there's plenty of reasons. And I, and I also don't want to sound like, um, the selfless. Saint here because it's not necessarily what's [00:31:00] happening. Sure. But there's, there's a different, there's a, there's a lot of things happening. I guess the first one would be, and it's not something I get into, but I, at least on podcasts, because I think people come here to hear about hunting and not necessarily about why some guy is doing things the way that he's doing it.

But I guess the first thing is it was my experience in dealing with the hunting, um, market. The providers of these other applications that hunters use is that they actually have a ton of disdain for the hunter. They don't necessarily like us and they also don't necessarily see the world the way that we do.

Um, and that was pretty evident to me, um, in dealing with these companies is that we kind of had this like we're better than them type of thing. But they also aren't hunters themselves. At best they would be like a fly [00:32:00] fisherman, or a snowboarder, or a tech person. None of these people were hunters. And they hired hunters to be like product owners and to tell them what they needed to put inside of their application.

But, um, it was a business. And there's nothing wrong with businesses per se. Um, because obviously everyone needs to engage in business. Uh, and the market needs to, you know, be strengthened by people making products to improve consumer experience. And then consumers are willing to pay for those improved consumers experiences.

I have no problem with any of that. But the problem I had was, was, was... Sorry, my, my bird dog here is on the floor, causing all kinds of trouble. If you can hear him in the background, I apologize. He's excited. He's talking... Yeah, he's excited. Yeah. And so, I don't necessarily have a problem with that. First, all of that stuff.

But the problem I did have was... There was a type of a chip on a shoulder and a holier than thou attitude when it came to, you know, I was being entertained by some [00:33:00] of these companies as I was leaving the military and stuff that I had started to build where they had kind of taken an eye to me early and said like They want there's a few companies that had reached out wanted me to work with them And my overall experience was a none of these people are white tail hunters They're trying to sell a product to the white tail hunter be there were hunters, but they were you know, Western focus hunters Which is fine Um, and there were, but there are a few of them.

And then C, they were more like the fly fisherman. Like to me, there was like a ton of guys who'd watched one too many episodes of Yellowstone and that had an idea of what they thought, like a rough and tumble type of person was, and that they were entering into that market, but they were doing to get it rich to get rich.

But then lastly, they thought they were better than all of us. And that's really, and then that was borne out by all of these companies. I would go and search. How are they funded? Who are they funded by? Who are the people that are buying into this? What is being done with the money from this [00:34:00] company? And it was always, you know, when you looked into some of the larger names, the people who funded these companies, they were anti bullet rights, anti American, anti First and Second Amendment people, um, that had actually funded campaigns that really don't like hunters.

That whole thing, and I'm not saying names, I'm not doing any of that, somebody wants to message me privately and ask me, I'm happy to tell them the names of who I'm talking about. But it's not me to say, I also don't like the buy my product because not because my product's better, but because these people don't like you.

Like that's not a great sales pitch to me. Like ultimately I'm going to use the better product, but that was my reason for not participating in the product development with these companies. Because they were, you know, blank heads as far as I'm concerned. Um, I don't know if you get a lot of swearing on your podcast or not, but, um, uh, they, they essentially were not the type of people that, um, I wanted to do business with.

So that was kind of a primary or a first motivation for [00:35:00] me to say, I don't like this. And then there were other ones where they were trying to lock me down for long periods of time. I wasn't able to compete in the market in other ways that I was building separate products. Um, they didn't have a genuine love for the consumer or generally for the country that I thought was necessary to be participating in the hunting and cultural hunting endeavor.

Um, and then on top of that, when it came to sharing all of this information and stuff that we, we came about, again, I, I, not to get on a big soapbox about this, but I am, uh, I ultimately believe that every situation fares better after all of the information is devolved. In other words, no matter what situation you find yourself in, the more truth that is told and the more things that are told about the situation, the more everyone involved in the situation benefits.

Kind of in the military, there'd be two [00:36:00] types of senior leaders. There'd be senior leaders that held information close to the chest and used it as kind of like a currency to, um, be like the guy with all of the answers. And then there was the person that I aspired to be, which was tell everyone everything and let them make their own informed decisions.

Um, and that's how I also address hunting. So when people have like secrets they're not willing to tell or... techniques, or things that they're doing that they don't want people to know about. Those people to me are information hoarders, and that's one method to go about life. The method I like to go about is give everyone all of the information, and then leave it up to the people who are willing to work the hardest.

Because even when you give everyone all of the information, they're still going to be lazy. They're still just, they're not doing it because they want to be the best all around hunter. They're doing it because they're looking for shortcuts. And the people who are looking for shortcuts aren't going to succeed.

They're not going to become [00:37:00] better hunters. They're not going to become better people. They're not going to become better husbands, or fathers, or daughters, or wives, or whatever. If you're just doing it because you're trying to, like, Oh, I need some tips and tricks to kill a big whitetail. The best biggest, the best, uh, tip and trick is to work harder than everyone else.

And you'll, and you'll kill. One way or the other. And I think one of the best, you know, any mayas on our process. And, um, Andy May obviously is a researcher and he does his homework and he looks into things. But the other thing he does is every free moment that he has to look into whitetail and the art of killing and harvesting mature whitetails, he's doing it.

It doesn't matter if it's like 7 minutes outside of a gas station, he's looking into it. Same with like Steve Shirk, who I think you've had on your show. If Steve Shirk's not spending time with his wife or family, or his father, um, he's pursuing mature whitetails. And not only is he doing it for himself, he's doing it [00:38:00] for other people, and he's putting other people on top of it.

In other words, yeah, Steve charges for his time, because we all have to charge for our time. Um, podcasters have sponsorships, and Spartan Forge has memberships, and everyone has things that they have to do to get paid for their time. So even Steve... Right. He gets people that pay him, but he puts people on mature whitetails in Pennsylvania public, which to me is the hardest place in the world to put anybody on mature whitetails.

But he, what he doesn't do is information hoard. He's telling people, here's why I selected this spot. Here's why you're going up here. Here's what I've seen on the camera. He's making people better by the proliferation of information. And that is essentially, and I hate being on these soapboxes, but that is essentially the American experiment.

And that's why the First Amendment is the First Amendment. We all need to be able to talk openly and share information in a manner that's good for everyone. And like the good man Christ said, um, I don't do anything in [00:39:00] secret. It's all done in the open. And everyone should benefit from it. Um, and, and so that is the spirit in which I build Spartan Forge.

Which is to proliferate all of the useful information surrounding the pursuit of Wild Game, and make it wildly abundant for a person that has a limited amount of time when they enter the field, so that they can participate in this culture, and they and their family can participate in it, and hopefully benefit it, benefit from it, by the taking of Wild Game and the sharing it, um, among people that they love.

And if I can achieve that end as the CEO of Spartan Forge, then to me this is a good day. I really liked that. And I want to dive a little bit more into something else. So you were talking about work ethic and, and the drive and you, you're, I've heard you talk about that from other applications late on in life and other shows, but, you know, thinking about, you know, you, we were name dropping here.

We talked about Andy May, Steve Shirk, Lee Ellis, all [00:40:00] people who you have a lot of respect for that work hard and, uh, have an insane amount of drive. Those are things that you can't. teach. I, I, like, I don't know how to, how to, how to improve upon those things like mental strength. Like, you know, we can go to the gym and physically, you know, improve our strength, but mental strength is one of those things that is, I don't know how you just flip of a switch, you improve upon that.

But I think you're somebody who has insight on that and you surround your people in the hunting industry that do like, what are your thoughts of that? Like people who are, um, Too prone to taking shortcuts, but want to work hard and want to succeed, like that's a tough conversation. Yeah, I mean the people who take shortcuts and want to succeed just want an easy, to me it's, and I'm not speaking for everyone, obviously there are, there are outliers on this distribution, but to me it's just people that want the recognition without the work.[00:41:00]

And that, and so when I talk to people and I say, look, you just have to put in more work. If they're not willing to do that, then probably whitetail hunting is not the thing for you. Like, in other words, you're just looking for some easy admiration or recognition for something. And in this case, it's killing a big whitetail.

Which people can luck out on and do, but you're not going to do it consistently. I mean, look at freaking Lee Ellis or Steve Shirk. And I put them in the same camp. Um, yes, Lee Ellis has a YouTube channel. He's got hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Um, if Steve wanted to, he could probably do something in the same vein.

It just doesn't interest him. What interests him is putting people on Big White Tails and sharing that experience. Um, and I'm not saying that Lee's bad and, and, and Steve's good, or Steve's good and Lee's bad, or Lee's good and Steve's bad. I'm not doing that. That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is, what drives them to make the sacrifice to do what is necessary to be successful are two separate things.[00:42:00]

But they just revolve around whitetail hunting. But they're separate things. So if you're not willing to make the sacrifices and to do the homework and to put the information together and then apply the work necessary to get it done. Like I said, 30, 000 steps, a day with Drew getting on Elk. If you're not willing to do that in a public land scenario to get on a mature elk, then go pay someone 20 grand to go put on a big elk, and then hang it on the wall and tell people how hard you worked for the money that paid for the elk.

But apply your energy in an area that keeps you interested so that you can apply that energy. And if you can't, if you don't find yourself doing it in Whitetail, then maybe it's just a, um, a passing interest to you. And that's fine too. We need people who have a passing interest in whitetail. They support the largest segment of the market.

Not everybody is going to be a psycho for whitetail. And nor should they be. Maybe they just want to [00:43:00] participate in it culturally. But those people shouldn't be upset when they don't harvest a mature animal. They should just be happy with the two year old buck or with the doe. And take it home and feed their family and have a good day.

But don't resent people. Uh, most of the hate that a guy like Lee Ellis gets is from people who resent him, who wish they could be him, or wish they could do that, or wish they had the drive to do those things. When people look deep down inside of themselves, at most times when you hate someone else, it's not because of the other person, it's because of something inside of you that you're making up for, that you lack, that you are projecting on that person in order for you to sleep at night, so that you can feel good about yourself.

You're just gonna find that thing that you hate about that person. So that you can ascribe that hate towards them, so that you can rationalize your own shortcomings as a person. Because if you were willing to work as hard as Lee is, and do as much as he is, then you wouldn't resent him for being successful as he is, because you'd understand what it took.

And you'd get [00:44:00] out there and do it. But all I'm saying is, if you don't have that, if you're not willing to bring that effort to bear, don't hate people that are, but also don't be upset with your mediocre results, and also don't even call them mediocre results! Just understand, hey, I'm just... I just want to harvest a dill or a, or a two or three year old buck, and if every once in a while I get a big one, then God willing, that's what it's going to be.

But, it's just, find your thing in life where you're able to put that kind of effort in. Whether it's your marriage, or your girlfriend, or your car, or school, or your job. It doesn't have to be whitetail, it can be anything else. But if you're not willing to bring that effort to bear, Then you should examine the reasons why you're not able to, and then go find a domain, a competence domain, where you're willing to put yourself all into it.

And that's where the meaning will be found, and that's where you'll be the best you are in life. Like that's where you'll be, that's where you will naturally excel because it won't feel like work. It'll feel [00:45:00] like, this is where I want to find myself, this is where I find deep meaning in what I want to do.

So again, I'm finding myself on a lot of soapboxes. Right. So I apologize for that for your listeners. No, no, I appreciate that because this is stuff that I think we all need to hear because let's face it, this time of year when you turn a podcast on, you put a hunting show on, everybody's thinking about kill content and strategy and all that stuff.

And I love that stuff too. And I know you love that stuff too. But these are the conversations that I think get pushed by the wayside that don't have as much, uh, pull in this type of media, but let's face it. Um, it's the most important thing because we're, we're, we're kind of looking into the nitty gritty.

details of, you know, human nature and the, the almost the heart of man in a sense, which is all important, even though the, the, the sole focus and center of our interest is just deer hunting or bear hunting or elk hunting or whatever. Uh, to me, it's really important. I think it needs to give us perspective on the goals and priorities we have each fall, because I've said this before.[00:46:00]

biggest things over trying to overcome the past few years has been the transition of this mindset, where I'm this, this awesome whitetail hunter and all my time and energy is devoted to this and transitioning to say, that's important to me, but it's not. My biggest priority right now, my biggest priority is figuring out how the heck do I do this dad thing?

How the heck do I do this thing? How do I do all those and still enjoy what I'm doing? And you know what, accepting the fact that I might not be the, you know, God's gift to deer hunting, like I thought I was X amount of years ago. And then how do I live with that and still be satisfied? And those are things that the majority of us live on a daily basis.

Yeah, and I, I was never that best whitetail hunter, but I also knew when I picked up a basketball, I was only going to be so good at that, and I needed to live with that, and when I did a football, I was only going to be so good at that, and then you have to examine what are the important things, and beyond being a hunter, the most important thing to me is first being a good man that's [00:47:00] dependable to the people that depend on me, and then being a good father to my children that depend on me.

That's the, that is the number one way, that is the, that is what I want to be remembered for in the final analysis. Hunting and application development is simply one mechanism that I try to use to realize that in my life. But it's not the sole drive of my life. And I kind of feel like that's where everyone gets, you know.

When you're below 40, that's a hard concept to grasp for people. But now that I'm north of 40, it's becoming a much easier concept for me to grasp. I don't, I don't... I don't roll my self worth or my thoughts about myself into my ability in the deer woods or in the basketball court or, I used to be a big basketball player, or, um, you know, I did roll it, the one thing I did roll it into was being a soldier, um, and, but also that is a young man's game.[00:48:00]

When you 40, if you're still a soldier, you're probably a politician by then, or at least you should be, and if you're not, then you should probably stop being a soldier. Because, you know, when you start getting into the higher ranks, those are political appointments where you get selected and you're a CW4 looking at CW5, um, which is a political position, or you're a two star general, or you're a command sergeant major.

You're now a political entity and you're no longer a professional soldier. Um, and that was something I was not good at, and that's not where my heart was, and that's why I left the military. Um, and it's the same thing when it comes to being a deer hunter, a podcaster, an academic, a teacher, a father, a mother.

Um, you gotta find a place where you want it and where you're willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be the best at it. Um, but then also recognize that some, for some people, they just don't want to put themselves in anything altogether. So, [00:49:00] I guess really, to put a bow on this whole conversation, this kind of early stage conversation that we're having here, to get to know yourself and to know what's important to you.

And then figure it out. And then once you've done that, apply yourself as much as possible and try to get the best end for you and the people around you that you love. And if you do that, you will be successful. Well, let's, let's shift gears a little bit too. So one of the things, I'm not sure quite how to formulate this question.

I'm gonna do the best I can, but I've always thought in my head, when I've listened to you talk about the development of Spartan Forge over the years, um, you were doing so much of this. background work for yourself and trying to put this into an application over time. But in the process, there was, there was drive towards the deer you were hunting.

Right. And there was a learning curve. And I would think at some point in time, you had to have maybe one, maybe multiple light bulb or aha moments or, or hunts that came to fruition that it just like things clicked [00:50:00] in, in your learning experience. I was wondering if we could unpack one of those before I let you go.

Yeah, I mean, the biggest one for me was 90%, 95 percent of whitetail will follow a formula, and you can figure them out by generally applying that formula, which is there are capuscular animals that are going to move mostly at sunlight and sun, sunrise and sunset, and that, um, you scout for, you know, early season, I'm looking for acorns, and into early mid season, I'm looking for scrapes, and I'm looking for bedding.

And then I'm looking for rut funnels, and then I'm looking for food again, and then I'm getting to the close of the season. If you stay by that formula, you're going to encounter a ton of doe, you're going to see a bunch of 1 3, maybe even some 4 year old, unpressured bucks. And that is the scope and the thought pattern that most hunters, unless they're willing to make that crazy leap that we talked about before, should really be focusing on.

And if you can just [00:51:00] do that... Um, and, and, and, and, leverage some of these tools in Spartan Forge, whether it's high definition imagery, or it's historical imagery, or it's the deer prediction. There's more than enough there for you to go and schwack three or four doe in a season, and maybe a good three year old buck.

And that, to me, is a successful season. Like, that is nothing better to me than putting down two or three, you know, doe, and having a ton of meat, and all kinds of recipes I get to make with my wife in the off season. And enjoy that, that, that, the communion that you get when you, you know, harvest a wild animal, then you're enjoying it with family.

That's my favorite part of hunting. That sounds very cliche. I know it sounds cliche. But it's really become my favorite thing is like, my wife and I doing wild game cookbooks and picking out recipes. And, and saying like, here's what we want to do with our next neck roast. Or here's what we want to do with this back strap and stuff like that.

Like, that is the full circle of hunting to me. That really makes it all [00:52:00] worth it. But I'm digressing. I'm getting off on a different path. The, to answer your question, the biggest kind of aha moment for me was all of that's fine for your one to three year old bucks. And with your does, when it comes to the business of killing four or five year old bucks and beyond that, throw all of that out of the window and focus on that individual buck and understanding what that individual bucks tendencies are deploy as many cameras as you can.

Um, Do as much research as you can, pay attention to patterns as much as you can, and forget everything you've known about bucks up until that point. Just focus on learning that buck. Now, there are things that you can learn about general bucks as well, general mature deer. But really, you know, for me the biggest aha moment was seeing, especially with the GPS data, all the GPS data that I've looked at over the years is they just don't follow the rules of the rest of the deer.

They just don't do it. I mean, whether it's they're locked down more, or they move differently, [00:53:00] or at different time of the days, or they react to different rutting scenarios differently, or they use benches differently, they use different terrain funnels differently. I've seen bucks that only wind terrain funnels, they never use them.

You'll never, I've seen bucks on GPS data where they simply use terrain funnels to wind because they know all of the other deer are using them. But they would never be caught dead using them. That that's mature. But that's a mature buck. That is an old gnarly warrior. That's been in the woods and it survived many guys like you and I, and has winded us.

And we never saw him coming and he's figured it out like an old dog, like an old bird dog that knows exactly what his owner needs. They're conditioned to their environment and they pay attention to the conditions of their environment and they react accordingly. So, you know, they may have built their patterns more off of what the hunting.

Um, the predilection of hunting, um, hunters in the area are, and not so much on their evolutionary, um, [00:54:00] programming. In other words, if you have a piece of public where hunters only hunt bedding, then you're going to see bucks choosing less, um, uh, uh, predictable bedding areas. They're going to switch bedding up all the time.

They're going to be, they might be bedding in the middle of an open field if they know that's not where the pressure's not at. But it's on you as a hunter who's going after mature deer to understand that they're not doing what the rest of the deer are doing. That was kind of my biggest aha moment. That was born out by the GPS data.

Looking through the GPS data made me realize that I cannot think about them. I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's the final thing I'll say about it. Because I can talk about all of these things for way too much time. Um, is, it's, it's useful to consider them a separate species of deer. Just don't even, like, it sounds cliché again, but I don't even think about them in the same context of white tailed deer.

It's like they're something else. It's like, it's [00:55:00] like, um, I'll put it this way. What does the general male have in common with a Marcus Littrell? Or like a, or like a high, a high, I'm trying to think of like a, A high functioning naval spec warfare guy. What, what are they doing the same as every other buck?

Every one, like, if you think of a one to three year old buck as your general human, your general man, and then you think of a mature buck as Rambo, or, that's a cliché term, but like, as your, as your naval spec warfare operator, um, that understands the woods in a way that the other deer don't, comports themselves in a way in the deer woods that other deer don't.

And use the terrain. Only as a way to educate themselves about other deer and hunters, and not about where they can select their bedding. In other words, a one to three year old buck [00:56:00] might be like, Oh, I like this bench. I can smell things. I can see things. It's good. And most hunters might, can rarely and easily understand that.

But then a mature buck will look at that and say, Well, I'm just going to use that as a terrain funnel to win other bucks that are bedding in that area, and I'm not going to have anything to do with it. That's the way to think about a seven or a six year old public land, white tailed deer. I've never heard anybody use that analogy.

That might be one of the greatest analogies I've heard for a long time. So hats off to you for that one, because that, that opened my eyes and, and, and horizons in thinking about the perception of a, of a deer of that caliber, because I believe, because I, and you've probably heard this too, but like, I've heard people say like, They're still deer.

They got to eat. They got to sleep. They got, you know, all this stuff and they got to breed And we give them too much credit and I think there's cases where I can understand the statement behind that But yeah, when you talk about Pressured whitetails getting to that [00:57:00] age class. I've always been something that believes that it's just the I think separating the boys from the men are the people who can interpret that and understand the lay of that and how the deer use it.

And then the other, the other aspect of this that, um, I I've chosen a different path is the time aspect. Cause let's face it, when you think about some of the people who, who do this constantly, they're, they're, they're hardworking, like we said, and they're putting a ton of time into it. And they're, that's a big part of it too.

Yeah, I mean, deer are going to make mistakes, don't get me wrong, like, you're going to have a mature 7 year old buck that's going to get locked on to a rutting doe, and he's going to follow her to a place that he shouldn't be, and he's going to get an arrow in the side as a result of it. Yeah, that happens, no question.

But, if you're talking about, everybody that I've ever talked to, and I don't know about these people that say what you just said, I'm sure they're out there, and I'm sure they could be right in some circumstances. Every mature, reliable, whitetail killer that I know that kills one or two mature whitetails every freaking year on [00:58:00] public ground, or even private ground, would all say, Yeah, they screw up every once in a while, but you can't just show up and rely on them to just do what you're doing and screw up and you're gonna kill them.

I mean, sure, maybe if you've got all of the time in the world. You can wait for them to make that mistake, and they'll make that mistake, but they're not making that mistake often. I'm sorry. I look at the GPS data, and I'm looking at, like, I'm plotting the temperature. I'm plotting the wind direction. I'm plotting where the other deer are bedding, and I'm looking at how that buck's using the area.

It's not the way that the other ones do it. I'm saying that empirically based on whitetail deer GPS data. Now, if you're hunting some private land bucks, yes, you can get some bucks that get very old and stay very stupid, because like a dog that's not been trained, they're not, they don't have a, they don't have a forced evolutionary response to become furtive with their movement because they have been educated by hunters.

They're on private land and they're gonna get dumber. As they get older, not dumber, they won't [00:59:00] get as smart as they get older. Sure, that's the case. But when I look at private GPS, or when I look at public GPS data, of mature, heavily sought after whitetails, they're doing crap the rest of the whitetails aren't doing.

Yes, they'll make mistakes. Yes, there's ends of that distribution where, yeah, they're going to make a mistake and someone might get lucky on them. And generally that person, you know, might be out in the woods more than other people are. So maybe they would say something like you said before, but, um, I do give them a ton of credit.

I do see a lot of thought going into, or not thought, a lot of evolutionary response going into how they navigate the whitetail woods and how, the how, I've seen bucks in GPS data that don't respond to the first rut. 6, 7, 8 year old bucks that don't even participate in the first rut. I'm not sure why exactly, but they don't.

And those ones live a long time. Those bucks die on a hill somewhere alone. Well, let's face it, there's, uh, we can [01:00:00] make the case that, uh, women have caused many other problems in many other ways, but we won't, that's a different podcast. We won't go down that rabbit hole. But I mean, I think a buck living to an old age class like that, that's, that speaks dividends to that topic.

Yeah. Yeah. And so I see what you're saying about like, you know, their deer, they've got to, they've got to eat. They've got to do this. Yes, they do. They absolutely do. And yes, they will make mistakes. But when I look at the mistakes made by a 3 year old, you know, 4x4, that's 110 inches. Versus a 7 year old 5x5, that's 140 or 150 inches.

Um, there's a ton of difference there. Absolutely, and I, I, I agree with that completely, and I think it's, it speaks loudly when you talk about the people who do it on a consistent basis because they're the ones that talk about these things with a fine tooth comb. And get you to think outside of the box when you're talking about those next steps.

Um, man, I've really enjoyed this conversation, Bill. This was, [01:01:00] this was a completely different avenue. What we're normally used to with hunting podcasts. And I love that. I think this is perfect for this time of year. So I appreciate that. Um, before we, uh, before we get going, anything you want to, you want to leave us with.

No, just check out the app. Let me know what you don't like about it. Let me know what you do like about it. I respond to everybody on social media. Like I said before, I love having white tail discussions with people. Um, I love hearing what they do or don't like about the app. There's a free version of the app that you can go download and just get an idea of how I think we're doing, or a horse of a different color.

And I think the free app illustrates that. And we see a lot of people get the paid app a year after they've had the free app. So go and check that out. It literally costs you nothing. Um, and it gives you free private or public land data and private land data, which is something none of the other, um, uh, people are going to give you.

That's your taxpayer money at work. You've already paid for that data. So it's there for free. Use the application. Let me know what you do or don't like reach out to us on social media. And I, and I hope everyone listening has a productive season. Fantastic. Appreciate it, Bill. All right, [01:02:00] dude. Have a good night.