Hunting, A Second Chance At Life

Show Notes

On this episode of the Nine Finger Chronicles, Dan talks with Derek Demun of Southern California about finding a passion for hunting after a life-changing accident left him in a wheelchair. Derek talks about his youth when he was a diehard snowboarder who traveled the globe looking for adventure at high elevations and snowy peaks.  When he was 21 he fell off of a roof while working construction, the next 3 to 5 years were an extremely dark period in his life. With help from his family and his faith, another life changing opportunity laid before him. Derek was invited on a Kansas deer hunt with his father and uncle, the results, going back to California with a new passion and a new purpose.

Show Transcript

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What's up everybody? Welcome back to another episode of The Nine Finger Chronicles. I'm your host, Dan Johnson, and today we have a really good episode and we're gonna be talking with Derek Deun. Now Derek, he lives in Southern California and here [00:01:00] is his. Here's the story you're going to hear. This is the abbreviated version, dude is, Uh, lives in SoCal.

Grew up surfing, grew up snowboarding, um, and like traveling all over the world. Snowboarding, being basically a snow bu a backcountry, uh, skier and snowboarder. And, um, he was headed in that direction in his life. He was working. Construction dude falls off a roof and goes through, he becomes paralyzed. Life is now in a wheelchair and he goes through five years.

And I'm talking five years. Imagine, imagine five years of this, of just a emotional darkness. Um, feeling sorry for yourself, feeling sad, um, feeling confused. You know, everything in your life now has changed in your, in, in some ways, kind of in a prison sentence, in, [00:02:00] in this wheelchair. And then through. Faith through family.

Uh, he got a kind of a second opportunity at, at life when his uncle invited him to Kansas for a deer hunt. And the rest, my friends, as they say, is history. So it is a really, really good episode, man. I love these conversation episodes where you get to learn about someone, uh, someone who is in a place that if I walked down the street and said, Hey, I'm a hunter, I would probably get shamed.

Right? Or, you know, some, some stuff like that. And the other, the other thing is the dude decided, you know, he pulled himself up. He had, uh, a great family system. He had a great family structure, and he ends up. Guess what? Finding a new passion that gives him the same excitement as his old passion. And, uh, he gets, he gets the job done.

So, uh, awesome episode. I know you guys are gonna enjoy it. [00:03:00] But before we get into today's episode, um, Kansas just recently passed a. Or is in the process of passing a law about banning baiting across the entire state for residents, for non-residents, for public, for private. They just passed a trail camera ban on public land this year.

So, um, a lot of things are changing in Kansas. And I wanted to talk with a couple people, uh, who have hunted Kansas in the past, or are non-residents and residents. So the first, uh, person that I wanted to reach out to was, uh, Justin Czar. Most of you guys know Justin Czar. He has been a guest on this podcast for, oh man, several years now.

And one of the states that he likes to hunt is Kansas. And so, uh, let's listen to what, uh, what Justin has to say about hunting in Kansas and the, uh, the, [00:04:00] I don't know, I got the potential law change. 

[00:04:04] Justin: Uh, for me personally, I don't really care. I've never really been a fan of baiting, to be completely honest with you.

Um, I, you just hear all these stories of, of people that live in places where you can bait, where it turns into like, well, I don't wanna bait, but if I don't bait, my neighbor's gonna bait and then he's gonna have all the deer, so I gotta bait too, and then I gotta put out more bait. And it's just like this vicious cycle, it seems like.

And I just think there's a ton of big deer that are killed over bait. And for me, like that's not really hunting per se. I mean, I guess we all do it for our own reasons personally, however you may feel about it. For me, again, personally, eh, it doesn't really bother me at all. Yeah. I never planned on hunting over bait.

Now I honestly, I've avoided going to Kansas with certain, um, outfitters that I've, that I've had relationships with or talked to where they kill all these giant deer over bait. I've had people that have bragged to [00:05:00] me that like, Yeah, we've got all these leases. There isn't a tree on them, it's nothing but grassland.

The neighbors have, you know, maybe some, some a little bit of timber or a creek line or something like that, that holds these deer. And he's like, we go out there and we just dump tons of food, you know, right off the property line. We put tripod stands and box blinds up, and then we shoot all their, their big deer over, over feet when we suck 'em off of their property onto ours.

Yeah. So like, I don't know, where's the, where's the fun and sporting adventure in that, like for me, like. Whatever, ban it, 

[00:05:34] Dan: it's not gonna bother me at all. Right. Um, one thing that I was thinking about, and I wanna get your thoughts on this, is some of these places that are pretty desolate, um, let's just say, uh, Kansas, um, and even parts of Texas or Oklahoma, where there, there, there really isn't a lot of food.

And the only reason that deer are in that area is because of year long, uh, [00:06:00] baiting and feeding, uh, of, of these animals. What happens when, if, if a law like this was to be passed in an area like that, what happens to the deer population at that point? 

[00:06:14] Justin: Do you really think that the deer population is being sustained or increased just because of vaping?

I. I feel like there's plenty of natural forage around mm-hmm. For them to eat. I don't think it, it's helping them survive. Yeah. Or thrive any more than they would be in the natural habitat. So I'm not worried about it affecting deer populations as a whole. Gotcha. All the populations may go up because they're gonna kill less of them.

Yeah. Could that's, you know, I would imagine you get a lot more food plots in the ground Yeah. In a lot of these places, you know, in the future if they, if they outlaw the 

[00:06:48] Dan: food plot in the bag. Yeah. Do you think that there is a direct correlation between, and, and this is an assumption at this point, because I [00:07:00] even, uh, uh, certain states.

As far as doing research on C W D I, I don't know if they've ever had the ability to say, Hey, this deer got C W D from a bait station, or something like that. Do you think there's a correlation between, uh, deer illness and sicknesses and, and baiting piles or mineral licks? Sure. I don't 

[00:07:23] Justin: know how there couldn't be.

Right? I mean, if you're talking about transmissibility between animals, anything that concentrates animals together, you know, where they're ingesting each other's saliva and urine and feces that are gonna be all around those areas. Sure. I promise you it would increase the spread, but I mean, as we've seen in a variety of places, like it doesn't stop it, right?

Maybe it slows it down. There's probably an argument that maybe it slows it down a little bit. But I mean, there's plenty of places that have C W D and that it's spread, you know, far and wide, that you can't bait or [00:08:00] feed. Yeah, so I don't think that is like a main contributing factor to it. I've never thought that like if you're gonna ban baiting in my mind, like it shouldn't be a C W D thing because if, if you got it, it's there, it's not going anywhere, it's gonna spread one way or another.

I think maybe they're just trying to slow down that that spread is kind of the excuse that they use. But again, we have plenty of proof. Illinois, for example, we used to be able to feed deer during the off season here as soon as they, we got C W D that stopped. And you know, in 20 years, C w D continues to get more prevalent and spread, even though we can't put out bait or minerals or anything.

So again, like it's not a solution to the problem. Maybe it's a temporary slowdown, but 

[00:08:44] Dan: that's really about it. Right, right. And let's, let's just say, with that said then, um, do you feel that, uh, like. Baiting should or should not be banned? Or are you just kind of, Hey man, I [00:09:00] don't give a shit. 

[00:09:02] Justin: I'm kind of in the, I don't give a shit category, you know, I, I'm one for less regulation personally.

So I mean, I guess if I had to err on either side, I would say just let people do what the hell they want to do and, and don't over-regulate meaning no more additional laws. But again, I'm not gonna cry about it or lose any sleep from, from my perspective of like what I think hunting is about and fair chase and you know, all that jazz.

Like, I mean, I don't know, it's kind of like the way a lot of people look at like a giant deer that was killed with a crossbow or with a rifle. Like everybody kind of looks at it as like an asterisk next to the next to it. Like, yeah, but you did this, but, right. You know, dude, there's a lot of giant bucks coming outta Kansas early season every year.

And they're all getting killed over, over bait piles. But nobody's putting the deer next to the bait pile [00:10:00] in their trophy photo. They're just posting that picture of that 180, 1 9200, you know, that they killed. And they're getting all their, you know, accolades and their attaboys. Yeah. But like, they don't like come out and be like, yeah, killed this one over a bait pile early season in Kansas.

Right. You know? So, I don't know. Again, I don't, I don't really care either way, but I would've to say if I was gonna err on either side, I'd say just let people do what the hell they want to do. Uh, like they want to bait, let 'em go bait. I don't care. It doesn't affect me 

[00:10:29] Dan: at all. Would, would you be, now let's just say I, I flipped the script and this whole thing was happening in Illinois.

And Illinois. Illinois is not ab baiting state. But what if there was legislation being introduced to, to allow baiting, allow baiting in Illinois? Are you pro or against? Is this 

[00:10:49] Justin: where I get to be a hypocrite and say I would be 

[00:10:51] Dan: against it? Yeah. Yep. 'cause Fair enough. Yep. You can, you can say whatever you want.

Yeah. I mean, if it's already 

[00:10:57] Justin: there, you don't have to get rid of it, but I don't want it [00:11:00] here. Yeah. I just, man, you just, I think you hear this and I, the two states that I think of the most are Kansas and Ohio, where it's like, every person that I listen to and every podcast that I listen to, they're like, if I don't bait, I don't have the deer because my neighbor's baiting and he's putting out just truckloads of corn.

Yeah. And you know, it influences deer movement and all this stuff. And, and just like, I just, I don't, I don't want that, you know, I don't wanna have to do that for one, I don't wanna have to spend any money. I mean, how much money are these guys spending on corn truck fulls of corn to put out there? Like, I got that money.

Right. So, yeah. No thanks. Keep it out. So I wouldn't mind being able to put out minerals. Yeah. Mostly just for trail camera data. Like, I'd love to have a spot that could concentrate some deer and that I could get pictures of 'em, especially during the summer months, you know? Right. But hunting over bait, 

[00:11:52] Dan: nah, I'm good.

So the, the question I have, and I, I want to talk in generalities here across the entire state, and I know [00:12:00] there's a lot of different ecosystems in Kansas, you know, to way out west where it gets real dry, almost deserty, no trees, types of types of conditions. And then we have eastern Kansas, which has more trees and ag and things like that.

Um, if baiting is banned in Kansas, do you feel that hunting would suffer or get better? I feel like coning gets 

[00:12:24] Justin: better. I think it gets harder for a lot of people, which in turn, I think makes it better. 

[00:12:31] Dan: So the next person that I wanted to talk with is actually a Kansas resident. His name is Brett. He's been on the podcast before.

And, uh, these are his opinions and thoughts on the potential Kansas baiting ban. 

[00:12:49] Brett: So it's kind of mixed emotions on it, um, as being a bow hunter and really trying to get 'em in close to me. 

[00:12:59] Dan: Um, [00:13:00] I, I 

[00:13:00] Brett: personally don't hunt over bait anymore. I used to, um, but I use it for my kids. Um, getting the deer in, in close for them, uh, 

[00:13:14] Dan: is, is huge and, and 

[00:13:16] Brett: just being able to have them, the opportunity to be able to see deer on a consistent basis.

As opposed to one or two deer just strolling by on a natural path. Um, and then getting 'em inside of crossbow range for a kid, or even even my dad who's 70 years old, um, getting, getting 'em in close to them. It, it's a lot easier to do when they're sitting in a blind as opposed to me who can run and gun and, and I don't need to sit over a bait pile.

I, I'd like to catch 'em off guard, but, um, that, that's kind of my [00:14:00] thoughts on that. I, I can see both sides of the fence there that, you know, whoever has the biggest bait pile and whoever has the most, uh, feeders out is usually gonna win. But at the same time, it takes away a little bit from the, the, uh, old way of hunting, I 

[00:14:20] Dan: guess.

Yeah. Yeah. Um, so you mentioned, you mentioned real quick that someone who's able-bodied and um, like you don't, you don't have a problem for it, for yourself. It's basically for, uh, your concern would be it, it definitely does help the youth get deer into shooting range and someone who is potentially el elderly.

[00:14:46] Brett: Correct. And, you know, my kids don't rifle hunt y you know, if, if we, if we rifle hunted, then yeah, of course. I mean we wouldn't need the, the corn powl 'cause you can reach out two, 300 yards and shoot 'em. But, [00:15:00] um, just for, for youth in general, and I think it, it, it will hurt our tags, uh, the amount of tags that are being purchased and the amount of deer that are being harvested.

If, if they do. Ban the, the baiting because you're gonna lose a lot of new hunters. You're gonna lose a lot of hunters that were on the fence that weren't diehard. They just went out to do it. And, you know, because they, it was more convenient than the diehards, like myself and yourself that really just like to 

[00:15:34] Dan: go after 'em.

Right now, the question that I, I have been asking myself is I talked to some guys out in Kansas, in certain parts of Kansas, certain parts of Oklahoma and Texas. Man, it is really dry out there. And so what I've heard from residents in those states is if we don't bait or, uh, feed [00:16:00] deer year round, there's there, there won't, there wouldn't be any deer in the area for us to hunt.

Do you think that's an accurate statement? 

[00:16:08] Derek: Uh, I, I think 

[00:16:10] Brett: they're just, I don't, in my area, I can't speak for everybody, I guess, but in my area there would still be deer, um, because I have not been baiting in my personal hunting. Mm-hmm. Um, but I, I live around a lot of crop fields and catch 'em coming to and from now.

I do, like when it gets super cold, I'll, I'll put out alfalfa bales for 'em. Yep. And just kind of help with their, their health more than anything. That way they can get the protein in the nutrients and not have to move very far. 

[00:16:50] Dan: Gotcha. Gotcha. Um, but that's typically after season. Yeah. So one of the reasons, uh, that I read, uh, for this potential ban [00:17:00] is that they are worried about C W D and other dear illnesses.

What's the word on the street in either your neck of the woods or in Kansas as a whole about C W D or E H D and things like that? We don't really have a 

[00:17:18] Brett: problem. I mean, I've heard of maybe one case out in western Kansas, uh, in northwest Kansas that had C W D, but other than that I haven't heard of anybody else.

[00:17:29] Dan: Right. Um, 

[00:17:30] Brett: E h D hasn't really been a problem either that I am aware of. Not like Iowa and Missouri, that they've had mass Yeah. Populations dying off. Um, we just have not had that, and I don't know if it's, we're very lucky, but deer congregate with each other anyways. I mean, they're, yeah, they're not a solitary animal, so whether you're a, you have a bait pile or you have a [00:18:00] field, a bean field or a food plot, they're, they're still gonna be there eating on the same.

In, in the same area. 

[00:18:08] Dan: Right. Right. Now, as someone who lives there, do you know guys who are religious baiters? Oh yeah. Yeah. And so what, and this is an assumption, you know, obviously you can't speak for them, but, uh, is there gonna be a lot of people pissed if this, if this law goes through? Yeah, 

[00:18:30] Brett: there's gonna be pretty much everybody.

I mean, unless you're just a purist. Um, the trad guys have really become the ones that are, you know, pulling for this, I feel like. But for the most part, they would be the only ones that I can think of that would be happy for it. 

[00:18:50] Dan: Right, right. And you know what other, what other areas I. Do you think would suffer if there [00:19:00] was a baiting ban?

I and I, I'm just speaking from social media here, um, there was a pretty, uh, a pretty big celebrity who came out and he's like, you know, here's a list of all the people you need to call to stop this from going through. Uh, because there's a lot of people out there who make their money selling bait and selling corn to ranches and, you know, deer ranches and mm-hmm.

And people who do that. Do you think that that would have a big impact on the economics of the state? Uh, 

[00:19:34] Brett: I don't know about a big impact, but it would have, it would definitely have an impact, um, whether it's in-state hunters or out-of-state hunters, it's gonna make it more difficult for anyone. And I mean, you look at your local Walmart to your tractor supply, to your, you know, Your local Cabelas.

Everybody is real. I mean, they're gonna feel it. Yeah. [00:20:00] Because when August, September, October, November rolls around, you can see people buying corn 

[00:20:09] Dan: anywhere and everywhere. Yeah. Yeah. And so based off this, uh, I want it like good, better, best versus, you know, uh, do you think that deer hunting will suffer or improve or maybe, maybe even stay the same?

I don't know. Um, once or if this band does go through, uh, 

[00:20:35] Brett: I think I, I think it would suffer a little bit because you're not gonna have near as many people out. Um, the deer, the dough population would increase. To where you don't have a good buck to dough ratio, I feel like. Okay. And then you, I mean, you're not getting the quality of, of [00:21:00] bucks.

Maybe I, I don't know. I can't, I can't do anything but speculate. Yeah. That's just my opinion. Yeah. And maybe, heck, you may have a bunch of monsters running around. 

[00:21:10] Dan: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, you know, I feel, and this is just my 2 cents at this point, um, people who are used to something and when there's a big change to their strategy, like a a, a law that's a, a change to their strategy.

Like, uh, the recent trail camera ban on public lands in Yep. In Kansas, somebody, if they want to continue to shoot high caliber deer Right. They're going to have to change their strategy up to, to do that. Yeah. Now, um, you take baiting away, the deer are gonna spread out more. Uh, mm-hmm. This is my opinion or congregate at other food sources because depending on what part of Kansas you're in, um, and I'm not a Kansas expert by any means.

Um, people with river bottoms or crick bottoms or that have the cover, they're not going to, they're gonna be the ones [00:22:00] with the deer as opposed to a big cattle pasture that has a gigantic, um, a feeder in the middle of it. And that's the only reason the deer are there. So, so it's gonna, like, from a strategy standpoint, I feel like those people are going to feel it the most, but as, as hunters often do, they find ways to adapt and, and make something else happen.

Maybe that means that, uh, food plots become more popular or, or turning cattle pasture into ag ground becomes more popular. Or even doing more habitat work, like planting trees and planting, uh, deer cover grasses for deer cover. Correct. And 

[00:22:40] Brett: I think you would just, You would take your, your everyday guy, your blue collar guy that can't afford to do food plots, right?

Or buy ground. He, he has permission and you, you would eliminate some of those guys and the. Hardcore. The guys with [00:23:00] money that can do all these things, can put in the food plots they're going to, they're gonna succeed a lot more. So, I mean, it's a catch 22 there.

[00:23:11] Dan: I did that little. Segment on very short notice. So huge shout out to Justin. Huge shout out to, uh, Brett for taking time outta their day to do that. Really appreciate it. Um, and now we're gonna get into today's episode, but before we do, I do have to run through some commercials real quick. Uh, I just wanna send a shout out to, to the brands that have supported me.

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Take care and good vibes in, good vibes out, and we'll see you on the back end. 3, 2, 1. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to another episode of the Nine Finger Chronicles podcast. I'm your host, Dan Johnson. We've got an interesting, uh, guest today. His name is Derek Deun. And, uh, you're [00:27:00] at a, you're outta Cali.


[00:27:02] Derek: Southern Californias 

[00:27:04] Dan: Southern California. So it, I, I, I'm, I love the direction that this podcast is gonna go because I think I've interviewed one other person from California who's, uh, like a, a hunting nut now. And like if I was to go to. Somebody and say, tell me one thing about California. They, they, they probably wouldn't mention hunting at all.

Or, or that's not where a lot of hunters go to hang out or, or live. But what it does mean that, and you're on the podcast, is that hunting is all over the place. And, uh, I'm really, I'm really interested to, to hear your story, so thanks man. 

[00:27:48] Derek: Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. Yeah.

[00:27:51] Dan: Alright, so, uh, like, I really like the timeline style of interviews and [00:28:00] you reached out to me on Instagram and you said, Hey dude, I got a, I got a unique story if you're interested. And, and I was like, yeah dude, let's, uh, let's get it lined up. And so have you, were you born and raised in southern California?

[00:28:15] Derek: Yeah, I was born and raised, uh, yeah, about an hour south of Los Angeles in a. A surfing community called Huntington Beach. Oh yeah. 

[00:28:25] Dan: Oh yeah, I've heard that. Heard about 

[00:28:27] Derek: that. It's a, yeah, there's a handful of hunters out here. Yeah. But, uh, it have to be one of 'em, 

[00:28:33] Dan: so. Okay. And so, like, as you were growing up, was there any hunting culture or anybody else that you knew?

Like who, who hunted with anybody that you hung out? Hung around with? Hung out with 

[00:28:52] Derek: not, not a soul. Not a soul mo. We got a killer fishery out here. Yeah. A lot of big, big fish to come up outta [00:29:00] Mexico with the summer currents. And, uh, that was about it. Everyone mainly focused on, on fishing, but I always had a, an inclination towards outdoors in the out outdoors world with animals.

And, uh, yeah, just being able to harvest my own food and stuff like that. So that's where. That passion kind of lied. 

[00:29:21] Dan: Okay. So it it's in there somewhere. It just didn't come out for a while. 

[00:29:27] Derek: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was a late, a late seed that had sprouted. There 

[00:29:30] Dan: you go. Hey. Better late than never. Um, so talk to me a little bit about your youth man, uh, Southern California beaches and surfing and, and, and hot Babes.

Wa was that it? 

[00:29:44] Derek: Yeah, it was pretty close. Yeah, I was, um, I just, I grew up surfing. I was captain of my high school surf team and then I got introduced into snowboarding and, uh, started tra right outta high school. Started traveling the world, snowboarding, jumping from [00:30:00] continent to continent, doing, uh, just chasing winter, being, doing a ski bum life.

But, uh, On my, uh, I got really into backcountry skiing, backcountry snowboarding, and when I, while I was back there, I would come across goats, um, moose, bears, elk, elk galore. And, um, that's, that's basically where, where that passion has start. I've always wanted to hunt, but actually seeing game up close and personal and able to get close to it was, uh, yeah, that definitely piqued my interest in, uh, gotcha.

Yeah. I didn't start hunting until, yeah. 

[00:30:40] Dan: So, but, but you're underplaying the snowboard thing, because it sounds to me like, I mean, was it part of your career? Like were you sponsored? Did, did, I mean, were you making money off snowboarding? I. 

[00:30:56] Derek: No, I was basically just doing the ski bum life. Okay. Just going from [00:31:00] resort to resort, finding a job on the ski resort.

So when you work for the ski resort, they give you a free season pass. Just, yeah, I was just going, going that 

[00:31:10] Dan: route. Okay. That's not a bad route, man. I, I, if I was to do it over again, I would probably live the bow hunting bum life to where if I really wanted to go shoot an elk, I'd move to Wyoming for, uh, a year.

Right. And become a resident. And then that, that would open up some more, uh, some more opportunities. Or, hey, if I wanted to go get an Iowa ta, you know, I'd live in Iowa, but if I didn't live in Iowa and I wanted to go get a Iowa tag, I'd move to Iowa and hunt big white tails there and things like that. And, and so it's cool.

Um, at that, at that time, what, what ages were you when you were living that, that ski bum life? 

[00:31:51] Derek: So I started about, Early, early high school. Okay. You know, 14, 15, 16. But then I [00:32:00] really started, as soon as I turned 18, I was like, why drive to the resort when I could wake up, go out in my backyard and just, you know, be, be on it right off the bat.

[00:32:11] Dan: Yeah. Yeah. Um, so I, I wanna ask this question because, uh, I've, I've seen videos like some of my, some of my, I was an eighties baby. Alright. So I, man, I was in the prime of the skateboard videos where I would, man, I would rent these, these highlight reels basically, of guys doing all these skate tricks. This was like even before Tony Hawk, where they always had the fish eyed lens camera and there'd be one guy.

On a, like walking or, or riding another skateboard, watching these guys do all the tricks on the skateboards. Did you ever film any of your, your stuff and put out videos? 

[00:32:55] Derek: Absolutely. I did a lot. I did a lot of that for the back country [00:33:00] snowboarding and stuff like that. And while I was like the terrain park and Yeah.

Yeah, that was definitely part of the thing. 'cause there was a, there was a point where I, I wanted to become a, a prominent figure in the snowboard world. Yeah. But then once I got introduced into back country skiing, that's all I cared about. And I stopped caring about what other people cared about and I just wanted to get lost in nature and just, that's awesome.

Just find the most incredible places I could possibly get to. And if, and if, you know, like whoever I was with that, that's really all I cared about. You know, make, yeah. Just making those memories. But yeah, I was. Yeah, it was 

[00:33:40] Dan: definitely in there. It's, it's the people, man, the people and the experiences are, is what I chase every, every year.

[00:33:48] Derek: Amen. Preach on that one. 

[00:33:50] Dan: So, um, this backcountry were, were you hiking in to the [00:34:00] backcountry? Uh, or were you, were you getting dropped? 'cause I've seen some of those, uh, some of those backcountry snowboarding videos where, or skiing videos where they're getting dropped out of a helicopter and, and then they're, they're making their way down this basically mountainside to get back to the bottom.

[00:34:17] Derek: Yeah, no, I was, uh, I was living off minimum wage man. I, I paid for my rent, paid for my food and the little couple things on the side, and that, that was about it. I would, I would hike, hike as far back as possible and get six, 10 miles in a day. And I. And, you know, you're going, you're going down and then you're hiking up and down and up and down and up and down and up, and then getting as far back as possible.

My goal was to get as far away from the anybody as I possibly can to where, you know, if I had a rifle on me, I'd able to pop off or shot not a sole here. 

[00:34:52] Dan: Yeah. Yeah. And that all, and that all that, that sense of adventure all started with snowboarding. That's, uh, that's pretty cool. [00:35:00] Now, I know you, you mentioned that it was in, it was in the back of your mind, but you never really got into hunting, um, or, you know, hunting for meat basically until, um, uh, after a pretty significant, uh, event happened in your life.

Why don't you walk us through what, what happened? 

[00:35:25] Derek: Uh, so like I said, I was traveling the world snowboarding, and then I, uh, I was working a s a small little summer job. I was only on it for a month just to earn a plane ticket to go down to New Zealand for my next adventure. And I just, I was working construction on a roof and I stepped back off the roof and it was a, a gravel roof and it was about 90 degrees outside.

That gravel got really slippery and then when I stepped back, it slipped and, uh, yeah, fell, fell off the side of the roof. It was only [00:36:00] a 10, 10 foot roof. But the way, the way I landed, I landed with my feet up in the air and I hit my shoulders, my shoulders first, and I, uh, I snapped my T eight vertebrae. I broke it in about six or seven pieces, and one of the bones got lodged into my spinal cord.

And, uh, yeah, put, put me in a wheelchair for, I. Who know, who knows how long. I, I don't put timestamps on anything nowadays, but, uh, yeah, we'll, we'll see where it goes. But yeah, in a wheelchair. And then, uh, yeah, that's where the journey began. Yeah. The real 

[00:36:36] Dan: journey. Yeah. That's crazy. Um, so you, you fell off this roof, you broke your spine.

Now you're paralyzed from whereabout, like chest down ish or Yeah. 

[00:36:49] Derek: Right. Yeah. Right. Right under the chest. Right under the chest. Top, top, 

[00:36:53] Dan: top rib. Okay, cool. Now, obviously that's a huge shock [00:37:00] to someone who's very active, uh, within your life, being able to hike back and, and do all these crazy, you know, things and ski and snowboard and obviously work construction.

Talk to us a little bit about like your mind state after that happened. Uh, like, are you that guy who, who just was like, Hey, you know what, this is my new life now positive? Or did you go through like kind of a dark period where, where it it was just shit for a while? 

[00:37:28] Derek: Oh, yeah. And the first couple years, I'd say the first about three to three years were extremely hard where, you know, I, I've basically given up, 'cause I had everything set out.

I had my, my career set out. I was paramedic, I was doing paramedic schools, I was, you know, back country riding. And in the summertime I'd be hiking way back in the back country with my fly rod and just camping out and just doing all that stuff. And, uh, yeah, [00:38:00] it was really dark there for the first three years.

And then I'd say even about about five, you know, you start coming out of it and realize like, all right, you know, like, I gotta get it handled. Yeah. There's a new life here. And, uh, What, so yeah, it was a, it was definitely a culture shock. Yeah. 

[00:38:16] Dan: What was that thing that brought you out of the darkness? Was there a person or was there, um, a, a thing that helped you?

[00:38:29] Derek: I'd say it when it was about, I probably, when I finally like fully gave into giving my life over to Jesus, I was, uh, I had, you know, like just being able to have faith in, in God and like have him like, and all these stories and about him healing people and being paralyzed and stuff like that. That was really what, what brought it out.

And then from there I was able to get into, [00:39:00] to hunting. Yeah. Finally able to do it. Finally having somebody with my, that being my uncle. Taking me out to Kansas just for, for a dough hunt. And after my first dough hunt, I got the shakes and the shivers and, uh, just back, back to that adrenaline dump. And, uh, yeah, I think I, I finally found my calling and where I wanted to start taking my life and my new direction.

[00:39:25] Dan: That's awesome, man. Um, like, I wanna, I wanna speak on this, this new faith that you had just for a moment. Um, and what, like, was there a person, uh, like I know your uncle helped you with, with the hunting side of things, but when, with getting you out of the darkness and finding, uh, finding the Lord and, and all that stuff, was there, was there a person or a church that came in and, and helped you or did you go seeking for that?

[00:39:55] Derek: So I, my mom, my mom grew me up in the church, but I, [00:40:00] I wasn't really, you know, I had a foot in the door. I kind of dabbled in here a little bit, but. As soon as I, you know, once that injury got hurt, then I fully started seeking, seeking God on my own. And, uh, really went out there and I was act actually, you know, I, like, I went to a lot of, a lot of churches and stuff like that, and I, not a lot of people really cared.

Mm-hmm. I mean, it, it sucks, sucks to say, but, uh, it was a, they, they were just like, oh, it's in God's timing, and it would just, would dip, you know, they threw a cliche at me and then bounce out, and it was really one of those self, self-taught or self-fulfilling things that I finally was able to get through 

[00:40:49] Dan: to it.

Yeah. Well, that's awesome, man. I, I'm glad because you hear stories of similar things that happened to you, that happened to you with [00:41:00] other people, and they go to the opposite direction. Right. They go down the deepest, darkest path. They go through drug use, they go through, um, alcohol abuse and things like that.

And, and you came out on the other end, which is, which is, which is absolutely awesome. So it sounds to me like you had a great support system in your life. 

[00:41:25] Derek: Yeah. My, my, my parents were, you know, they were there through the, through the darkest of times and they were constantly trying to get, you know, but it's, it's just like, like an addiction, you know?

I got addicted to being depressed and addicted to being lonely and sad and like that. But my parents were always there trying to get me out of it, trying, taking me places. You know, if I mentioned something they'd be like, Hey, yeah, let's go do that. They were, you know, I, I grew up with two, two loving parents, so they were That's awesome.

Constantly trying to help me out [00:42:00] with that. I was super, super 

[00:42:01] Dan: blessed. That's awesome. And how old, how old were you at the time of the accident? 

[00:42:06] Derek: I just turned 21. Okay. 

[00:42:08] Dan: Just turned 21. Okay. And how old are you now? 

[00:42:13] Derek: I just turned 35. 

[00:42:14] Dan: 35, okay. Alright, so we got this, this window. Uh, you said how many years went by from your accident?

Did you say like five years when you, when you went on your first Kansas hunt? 

[00:42:26] Derek: Yeah, five years. Okay. Post injury. Post injury is about four or five years after 

[00:42:29] Dan: that. Yeah. Okay. Perfect. Perfect. So your uncle says, did, was this something that you brought to him or did he bring it to you and say, Hey, you want to go to Kansas with me?

[00:42:39] Derek: Well, I, I knew he was a hunter and I had always, I'd had that passion to wanna go hunting and, um, I had, I had mentioned it to him one time, like, Hey, you know, if there's ever an opportunity like. Just to go quail hunting or whatever, just to get outdoors. Outdoors is what the main goal was. Yeah. And, uh, yeah.

And he, he had come across a family [00:43:00] friend who had some property out there, mentioned my story to him, and the guy, the guy was more than willing to let me get out there and, um, put some meat in the freezer. 

[00:43:09] Dan: Yeah. That's awesome, man. Um, so walk us through some of the, like, logistics of going on that first hunt, because obviously a guy in a wheelchair has to do something different than a guy with two legs.

Right. So, uh, like what, what did you have to do in order to find success on that first time? 

[00:43:34] Derek: Um, being able to, like, it was my first sense of starting off from scratch. Had to find the right hotel rooms, the right airplane flights. Never been on an airplane before. Um, And they just getting up into the aisles, into the airplane, they throw you in this little tiny chair where you have to strap yourself.

Felt like Hannibal Lector getting, getting taken through the, taken through the airport. Yeah. But, [00:44:00] um, it, you know, it goes from everything from that to the, to the hotel to just getting outdoors and finding a blind, having to get a blind big enough to get me a wheelchair, my uncle and my dad in there. And, and, uh, yeah, it was just at the very beginning, it was a lot of people having to do a lot of it for me.

Mm-hmm. And then eventually, like as time progressed and my hunting, my hunting experience grew, I stopped depending on other people for help. And, uh, I was really, really just took it, took it full on from there. And I. That's where I'm at nowadays. I'm pretty, pretty, pretty happy, pretty 

[00:44:43] Dan: stoked. Do you have, uh, a different wheelchair for the outdoors or is it motorized or do you have any, uh, like, uh, accessories that you have to add or take off of it?

[00:44:55] Derek: Yeah, so I got, I now, I got a, I got a special wheelchair. It's [00:45:00] got a, it's actually got a, a shock system in the back. Okay. So it's, you know, 'cause going, going over logs, rocks and all that, and having all that compression and decompression on your spine, I'd be, I'd be more in pain after going to and from a blind.

But, uh, I was able to do that and I put like big mountain bike tires on my, on my wheelchair as well. 'cause my, my regular street tires, you know, they're only. Inch, two inches at the most and a half and try trying to put that through, you know? Yeah. Sometimes mud and soft, you, you wouldn't go anywhere and it'd be a lot of, a lot of work for whoever was around me and me on my shoulders.

And so I, I eventually, as you know, the evolution of, uh, my experience and my knowledge of the, of the outdoors started using one of those chairs. And my, I don't have an electric one. It's all, it's all manmade. So that's why I am, I'm in the gym five, six days a [00:46:00] week with an emphasis on my shoulders just to be able to do that myself and not have to depend on 

[00:46:07] Dan: other people.

Yeah. So you customized your own wheelchair? Yeah. Awesome. That's awesome, man. Okay. You're in Kansas, right? You, you, you get, you get into the blind for the first time, like this is your first hunt ever. Did like, Did you practice much with, uh, a rifle before that at all? Or did you just kind of go and say, I'm gonna point and shoot?

[00:46:33] Derek: Well, I bought a 30 out six and my uncle had emphasized that, you know, get out there and practice as much as possible. So I, I was out there shooting paper targets, but I wasn't, I wasn't prepared for the massive difference of shooting paper to shooting a live animal. Not even shooting a live animal, but just seeing one in front of me and having the opportunity, I wasn't ready for, you know, the heart beating outta my [00:47:00] chest.

The tunnel vision, the, you you go deaf, you don't hear what anybody's saying. Yeah, that was, that was insane. 

[00:47:07] Dan: So I want you to compare it, right? Compare the adrenaline rush that you were having on this first hunt compared to when you were snowboarding or when you were, you know, doing your back country thing.

Is it similar? Is it more, yeah. 

[00:47:24] Derek: With No, no, not even close though. With snowboarding, it's, the adrenaline comes in long stretches at a time where you're going down the mountain and it's, and you're getting excited the whole time. You're hooting and hollering on a good run and you get down to the bottom.

But a, when I harvested that first d a massive adrenaline dump, just boom, like from zero. Well, I mean, you know, like you start off and you get, you get antsy and your heart's beating outta your chest. But after I harvested that dough and the adrenaline dump and [00:48:00] my hands were shaking my, yeah, my whole body was shaking.

I, I couldn't talk like it was, it was just a dope, but it was the first experience for me, you know what I mean? And it was the first time I had had an adrenaline dump of any kind of magnitude in five years since I got hurt. So it was, It was insane. I loved it. 

[00:48:21] Dan: That's awesome. And you, I, I don't know about you, but from my experience, you want, you instantly start wanting more of that, right?

I mean, I, I, I don't know about you, but I can remember shooting my first dough with a bow, and immediately I was like, I got, I wanna do this tomorrow. I wanna do this the next day. I wanna do this next year. I wanna do this every season for the rest of my life. 

[00:48:47] Derek: Yeah. Everybody, everybody I tell, I, I tell 'em I can hunt every single day, the rest of my life.

All day. Yeah. No, no problem. No problem. 

[00:48:57] Dan: So now I want to talk to you a [00:49:00] little bit about like, California. So you go on this hunt, you harvest your first dough, you, you come back to California. I mean, what is, what does other family and maybe even friends group in, in California think about when you go hunting?

[00:49:21] Derek: So a lot of, a lot of my friends and whatnot, they're, I only have probably two outdoorsman friends Okay. That I, that are even interested in that kind of thing. So a lot of them are like, oh, why can't you, why do you gotta kill a poor animal? Why can't you just go to the supermarket? And then I, I run through the spiel, you know, like, well, what, what is your supermarket?

And do you know what it eats? Yeah. Do you know they're getting pumped full of antibiotics? Do you know they're pumped full of this, that, this, and, and they don't care. They're perfectly content with that. But yeah. You know, like, I'm not, you know, I want the healthiest food. I [00:50:00] want my, I want my food to be top notch.

And, you know, like, so a, a lot of 'em, a lot of 'em are like, oh, cool, that's super sweet. But like, I would say a good amount of 'em are, Taken aback by it. And just like mo mostly the females. Yeah. I mean, I hate to throw 'em under the bus, but I, I've met some really cool girls since then. But right off the bat, the original girls that I grew up with had no, like, background whatsoever and harvesting any kind of animals.


[00:50:30] Dan: yeah. I gotcha. Yeah, I mean, if you're, if you're not around it, I mean, the, the, I can remember when I was a kid being, you know, like I was raised on a farm, like my babysitters were my grandparents, and so butcher hogs, butcher chickens, you know, Hey, let's load the cattle up and take 'em to the, the processor, or, you know, like things had to die for us to eat.

Right? And so when you're around that in the farm, you're, you're [00:51:00] desensitized by it in a way. And so when you're not around it, Y like, and you don't ask questions like, what these, like, these people aren't asking questions like, you know, how could you murder this helpless animal? Well, guess what? A pig and a cow, they're also helpless animals.

Right? And so, and so there really is no, I mean, it's just the method, uh, in which you kill them and, and where you kill them, that's different. It's like, you know, do you want your, you know, for hogs, like for, for, um, uh, if you're eating a pork chop or a pork loin, there's a good chance that they stuff seven of these big hogs into an electrical box shock 'em to death.

And then, then they go about their way on the processing, right? Like, is that kindhearted? But nobody gives a shit about that. They only care about what they see out in the world and then, uh, some person going and, and murdering them. 

[00:51:58] Derek: Yeah. For a lot of them it goes from [00:52:00] seeing the picture of a pig. Just seeing bacon on the plate.

Mm-hmm. They don't register any of that in between stuff, right? 

[00:52:09] Dan: Absolutely, absolutely. Okay. So you had the adrenaline dump, the first hunt that you went on was a success. Now what?

[00:52:21] Derek: Now I just, that's, you know, like, I figured that's all I wanted to do from here on out. So, um, being able to, being able to work and save up money every year, that's just, that's it was my main goal. And then I, I came across like just the animals I wanted, I wanted to check off my list and I just started slowly checking off what I wanted to accomplish in the outdoors and how I wanted to do that.

And uh, and it was in a constant evolution of animals tactics, um, areas, states, [00:53:00] You know, like species, all that stuff. So I wanted to started checking that off and, uh, 

[00:53:07] Dan: yeah, that's, so, so you started a bucket, you kind of put a bucket list together. Yes, sir. Okay. All right. So what was next after this Kansas dough?

What was next on the list? 

[00:53:19] Derek: I was able to, from the Kansas Joe, I, I did. So I did that for a couple years consistently before I started actually venturing out and doing animals. And I, the next one on the list was a, uh, kind of jumped up big. I went on a helicopter hog hunt down in Texas. 

[00:53:37] Dan: Love it. Down in Texas.

[00:53:39] Derek: Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. Out of a, out of a city called College Station. Yep. 

[00:53:44] Dan: Yep. Um, I look at that and I feel like a helicopter hog hunt is one of the closest. Things to fighting in a [00:54:00] war without fighting in a war, you know what I mean? Like hanging out of a helicopter shooting like big guns at running targets, like walk.

Right. Tell me about that experience. 

[00:54:12] Derek: Yeah, I, so our captain, or our pilot was an ex ex-military for, you know, helicopter pilot. It got up and so all I had, I had probably like a, it was about six inches wide, not six, but it was like about six inch belt, yellow belt that strapped me to the helicopter. I had both of my legs hanging out the, the side of the helicopter.

Um, that was the only thing that was holding me. And I was like, oh, this guy, you know, it's gonna be a mellow helicopter ride. We're gonna see these hogs. No, this guy, this guy bombing on. I was like, I like, oh my gosh. You know, like some expletive definitely came outta my mouth like, dude, like. You could have warned me a little bit, you know, but it, [00:55:00] it was, it was absolutely amazing, you know, and like, just going into the forest, rounding up the hogs and then they pushed the hogs out into the field and then it was just like, you know, you're, you're shooting 30, 30 round mags.

And I, I was just Mag mag Mag and I, people are like, oh, how many hogs did you get? I'm like, I lost track after probably 15, 20 of 'em, dude. Like, but yeah, it was, it was, it was cool too. 'cause I got to do it with my niece and she was kinda going through a hard time at the time. And, uh, she's a, she's the army medic and uh, okay.

You know, I was able, able to bring her along and bless her in a time of need. And, uh, yeah, we just, oh, that's awesome. Yeah, we, we were, we were stacking them, man. 

[00:55:47] Dan: It was cool. So, uh, so you re would recommend that to anybody? 

[00:55:52] Derek: Uh, hand. Hands down. Hands down. Yeah. It's a, it was a little pricey, but I, I am big fan of the outdoors channel and I saw a [00:56:00] guy doing it and I was like, no way.

I was like, I am on that. So, so yeah, we got this. I highly, highly recommended. That was one of the funnest things I've ever done 

[00:56:10] Dan: in my life. Oh, that's awesome. Um, all right, so you went on a helicopter hog hunt. I see you have an antelope and a nice white tail buck behind you. Tell me those stories. 

[00:56:23] Derek: So that white, that white tail, that's my biggest buck is 164 and seven eighth inches.

Um, that was the cool story. We're out in Kansas, same place. I got that dough and we get out into the blind. It's just me and my dad. We get out there around 12 o'clock. After, after the morning hunt, we went back, got a sandwich and got right back out there. Um, uh, we get back so when we're sitting in the blind and we have a corn feeder, probably a hundred, 120 yards in front of us.

And they, uh, this dough comes out of the, out of our left, our left peripheral. And, you know, I'm tapping my dad on the leg [00:57:00] so he don't say anything and he, he knows the cue of what that means. So a dough comes out, she's just moseying along, mowing along. She gets about 50 yards out to that feeder. And I catch something coming outta the same spot in the bushes, right.

Where she had come out. Was this, this, you know. Mm-hmm. The year I've ever seen in my life, you know, 164 For me, it's, it's a, it's no joke in my book, but it's, uh, He came down with his head down, licking his nose, sniffing, put his, put his nose up in the air, licking his nose. So from what, from all the research I did and my experience up until then, I felt like, you know, that that previous Joe was obviously in heat and this, this buck had known it.

And at that time in Kansas, it was about the 10th day in December. So it was around the second rutt out there. And uh, this guy comes out and he gets about 30 yards to the blind. And I go and he gets in front of me. I get [00:58:00] my cross hairs on him with my, with my OTT six, and I go, me and, you know, he stops and he looks over at me and I pull the trigger and it click, oh shit.

I'm like, oh my gosh, no. Like we had just gotten into the blind and it had probably been at the most when this dough popped out, and I hadn't even racked around yet. I was like, oh my gosh, I, I can't believe this is happening. This, this was about, you know, seven years after my. My initial deer hunt. So I was like, this is biggest animal I've ever seen in my life.

I'm about to blow it because I have a rookie mistake. Yeah. So I just, I slowly, slowly racked it. But that, so that buck, when he lifted up his head to look at me, and then he looked straight and he caught eyes on the dough. That dough, that dough saved the hunt. So this buck sees that dough and starts prodding off.

Wasn't at a full run, wasn't walking, but was, you know, slight, a slight jog to that dough. The dough sees the buck and takes off, full speed off. [00:59:00] Like, oh my gosh, I can't believe this is happening. The buck comes and he goes, right before he gets into the trees, he stops and looks back. You know, I'm, in my mind, I, he was thinking, you know, like, where was that other buck?

I heard earlier? I wanna make sure I've got some distance between me and him. I don't wanna, I. Going through his head, but when he stopped and looked back, I had those crosshairs dead to rights and put one right in the boiler room, 30 odd six, 180 grains. And, uh, yeah, he went about 40 yards and piled up. Oh my 

[00:59:34] Dan: God.

Now there's one thing about killing Adele, right? And, and you'll always remember your first deer, but you put horns on it, right? It's a bigger animal. What, what was that moment like when you, so you just shot a gigantic buck?

[00:59:55] Derek: So, at, at, at that, at that point, I was, uh, I was like, don't [01:00:00] get excited. Don't get excited. You know, like you've been, I've, so I've, I've. Nowhere near that size, but I've shot a buck and I've lost it. Oh, yeah. You know, wasn't able to recover it because it, it had ran into a body of water and the body of water was taller than its, than its antlers.

So I wasn't able to, we weren't able to find it until the water had seeded landowner went in there and was able to find it later on in the, in the winter. But, uh, so I wasn't allowing myself to get excited. I was just trying to stay calm as I could. And the landowner, we called the landowner, him and my dad went out into the field and they, they had run, they were only out there for 10, 15 minutes and they, they had found it, and they come back and they found it.

And then once, once they found it, like the, the emo the emotions and the adrenaline dump after that was just, yeah, it, it was absolutely incredible. You know, like you say, my, I was, my hands were [01:01:00] shaking. I felt like I was having a seizure. Like, yeah. So you, 

[01:01:03] Dan: it was off. You didn't go on the recovery. 

[01:01:07] Derek: Not, not right, not right off the bat.

Uh, the, and the, and landowners very, was very picky about making lots of noise in the, in, in the woods and whatnot. Okay. And, uh, he, yeah, that the wheelchair I had at the time was fairly loud. The, the shocks on it were very squeaky 

[01:01:26] Dan: and, gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah. Alright. And so when you, when you kind of go up to it then, and you're able to put your hands on his antlers for the first time, what, what did that feel like?

[01:01:39] Derek: It was, it was incredible. So, with me, where, where I'm paralyzed at, I don't have any trunk control or ab ab muscles. Okay. So my core, my core strength is very weak. I couldn't, it was so big, I couldn't even lift, lift his head up because of my Right. You know, the, the lack of [01:02:00] ab and trunk control, but, um, was able to, Yeah, just putting my hands on hard horns for the first time was, uh, it was, it was cool man, and just, I couldn't take enough pictures and yeah, I was just, I'm still giddy right now just talking about it.

I got a big smile 

[01:02:18] Dan: on my face. How many, so how many years ago was that then? 

[01:02:23] Derek: That guy was in 2017. 

[01:02:26] Dan: Okay. Alright. 2017. Good. Year five was a good year for you. Five. That's good. All right. Um, and then so any other, any other deer of that caliber, uh, that you've shot since then? 

[01:02:39] Derek: I have, I have not, no. I've shot in a couple, um, smaller white tail in the one, one thirties.

Yeah. One 30 range around there. But none, yeah, nothing, nothing of that size. Haven't had the opportunity to white whitetail hunt any, anywhere, uh, that has that kinda genetics. Yeah. 

[01:02:59] Dan: So, [01:03:00] so you've only hunted white tails in Kansas, right. 

[01:03:04] Derek: Yeah, I did a, I did a hunt out in, uh, Pennsylvania, but wasn't able to connect with anything, so.


[01:03:10] Dan: Okay. Um, pronghorn, is that a Kansas location too or is that somewhere else? 

[01:03:17] Derek: No, that's actually eastern, eastern Colorado. My niece's husband is a, a ranch manager, so he had access to a property that had a water hole on it, and it was the only good water source for several miles as a, not a lot of, there weren't a lot of other farms in the area, but this farm that we're hunting had a, a good water source.

We put the, put the blind out about 30 yards from the water hole. And, uh, that was a, that was a cool story too, 'cause we thought that, you know, we got a plastic, uh, decoy. It was just one of those two dimensional right ones with spikes in the ground and, and this [01:04:00] guy had come up over. Come up over the hill and he didn't, he didn't like the book.

So he left and he came back 10 minutes later. This was all at sunrise, right when the sun comes up and this guy comes up over the hill and, uh, he didn't like it. So he left, came back 20 minutes later, saw that thing hadn't moved. And I was like, and I was in the blind by myself at that point in time. And, uh, it was my first archery, my first archery hunt too.

So, um, so we were able, yeah, I was able to go and get this. Finally, my, my niece had come and she got done with her morning shift and she's like, do you need anything? I was like, yeah, you need to get rid of this two dimensional decoy and get it outta here. So she got rid of it, got brought it back in the blind, and this guy, this guy come, had come up, come back up over the hill and we had come up over the hill to our right and he just, he sky lined and his.

It was, it was one of the bigger, if not the biggest buck in the area. And, [01:05:00] uh, he came around behind us. I'm just super stoked to have my niece with me that she, she was able to look out the back window. She was able to tell me, all right, you can breathe. You can move. Don't move right area, don't move. He's looking, don't move.

All of that kind of stuff. And he got up, he got up to probably 40 yards up to that water hole. And, uh, he, he, so when, when we're in that blind, it's middle of August in eastern Colorado, it is about 95 degrees, just, we're just sweating buckets in this blind. And, uh, this guy comes up and the, the water, the water trough that had water on it was leaking a little bit.

So it had a little stream going downhill. And this buck had a, was eating the foliage off the, the fresh foliage out of that water and. He got about 30 yards turned, turned broad slide. And I, I, I let one slip right into it. And, uh, was that, he went [01:06:00] about, was that with a bow then? Yeah, that was my, my first archery 

[01:06:03] Dan: hunt.

Oh my God, I That's what I wanna talk to you about. I mean, that, that's awesome, man. Um, antelope is on my bucket list for sure. Man. I, I want to, I want to shoot an antelope so bad. I missed one in Nebraska, um, in 2014. And, and then I never went back there again. Uh, or I never went chasing an antelope again, but I, I definitely want to.

How, what was the, the difficulty level for you? 'cause I, I was thinking about this the other day after you reached out to me and, and the last night I was in the backyard shooting my bow and I use a whole bunch of different muscles to draw my bow back, right? Not just my arms and my shoulders, but I'm using my abs.

I'm using my back. You know, I'm even using my legs to position myself and things like that. Um, how difficult was it for you to move from a rifle to a compound bow? [01:07:00] 

[01:07:01] Derek: So, with me not having the ab, ab muscles and the trunk control, I have to, so I have to shoot at a 90 degree angle. My chair's facing one way and my body is facing, you know, 90 degrees in the opposite direction in order to, so like, I, I can't shoot shooting just straight.

I have to be at that 90 degree angle, or I would tip over. Yeah. You know, not having that trunk control with, and then the bow, the boat, no, it doesn't anything, doesn't have to be very heavy when you don't have trunk control. It could just be a couple pounds and it's just without having any trunk control, it's all, you know, I start to fall forward.

So I have to sit at a 90 degree angle. I. When we were in the blind, I had to just, you know, I have to lock and not move and I have to lean back, like almost to the point where I'm falling just to counter counterbalance. Yep. That weight of o and all that [01:08:00] setup. And, uh, yeah, so after get, getting that done and um, getting all those, because that, that's the, the, the evolution of most hunters.

You know, we start off with a rifle and then you move into the bows and things up there. So I, that's just something I wanted to grow out, something I wanted to get better at. And a, uh, yeah, once I'm sitting at, sitting at the archery range, our local archery range, um, 'cause where I'm at, you're not allowed to shoot bows within the city limits unless it's outta range.

Um, and uh, yeah, once I got down the technique and then there was just practice every single day. Every single day I was at the range put in work because I wanted to. At that point in time, I wanted, I just, I wanted to grow. And if I find something that I can't do from being in a wheelchair or being in my position, uh, with my level of injury, and people are like, oh, you can't [01:09:00] do that.

Oh, that'll be super hard. You know, it just puts that much more Oh yeah. Emphasis on like, all right, you know, let, screw you, watch this, dude, let's do it. You know? And 

[01:09:09] Dan: I've been that way my whole life, man, my whole life. I, you know, Hey, you can't go snowboarding in the back country. Watch me. You know, like, you can't, you can't, uh, go hunting in a wheelchair.

Watch me. You know, like, that's, that's, that's pretty inspiring, man. 

[01:09:26] Derek: Well, it's, it, yeah. And it's just constantly people looking down on you just because of your injury. And it's like, like, I'm still like the same person. I'm still a good dude. Like, yeah, but you, with you looking down on me, that just, you know, it puts a fire in your heart, fire in your soul.

It just, Yeah. To tell 'em to kick rocks and watch this. Yeah. 

[01:09:48] Dan: And so how long did it take you to get proficient at, to the point where you're like, I feel comfortable enough with this bow to go and, and start killing shit with it? 

[01:09:58] Derek: Uh, going, going to the [01:10:00] range every single day, I would probably felt confident of couple, couple months in, but, you know, at the same time it's like, all right, I'm shooting paper targets.

I'm on a, a flat surface. It's, uh, you don't really, you know, take, you're not able to really take everything into account that in the field and when you're shooting on like flat surfaces and whatnot like that, so, right. There's a couple things that I had to deal 

[01:10:30] Dan: with. Gotcha. So your first archery hunt was a success.

Now you're, now you're multi-species at this point, right? You got a, you got a antelope, you got a a, a white tail. Are you a, how many, how many archery kills do you currently have? 

[01:10:51] Derek: Uh, three. 

[01:10:52] Dan: Three. Uh, are and are all of those antelope? 

[01:10:57] Derek: No. Two pronghorn and one gator. [01:11:00] One 

[01:11:00] Dan: alligator. 

[01:11:02] Derek: Yeah. I went, I got a, I got an alligator down in, uh, lake Okeechobee, Florida.

Went down there and met up with a pretty popular guy on Instagram, uh, Python Cowboy. I don't know if you guys, if you've ever, anyone's ever heard of 'em, but, uh, yep. He does a lot of predation hunts down there. And he had come across some predator, some nuisance tags, and he, uh, you know, got in contact with them, flew down there and got on a boat and we were on, it was probably like a 19 foot center console boat.

And we went, and I don't know if anyone's, I. Listen's familiar with gator hunting, but we went out there and we had like a, a raw chicken and wrapped, wrapped some strong line around it. So we were going about 400 pound fishing test, wrapped it around this, this rubber chicken. And uh, we went out there glassing for the gators, and I had no idea what I was [01:12:00] looking for.

I was just seeing a bunch of bushes in the water and it was getting frustrating. And then once I saw my first gator, then my, my eyes were open and I started seeing them everywhere. And you know, like they, that area that we were hunting has more gators than anywhere in the, in America, right there. So, like my, my mind was blown just seeing all these animals everywhere.

And, uh, we were able to find one and we went through the, through the bale, open on, on the, on the rod, drove the boat about a couple hundred yards past the gator and. Flipped the lever and just started, you know, just started jigging, basically like bouncing that, that chicken up and down on the water. And the gator honed in on the vibrations and swam over to this chicken.

And the gator didn't have any, or the chicken didn't have any hooks in it. But with the alligator, with the, you know, they have their mouths and they have this flap that closes. So when they're, when they eat their, eat their food, water doesn't go down into [01:13:00] their esophagus. So he, he put the, the chicken in his mouth and then he threw his head back.

And when he threw his head back, that flap opened up and the chicken went down into his golet and he was able to, to go and digest it. So he went down and he swam down to the bottom of the lake and, and he was just sitting there. So we threw on the trolling motor, crept up quietly right on top of him, and was able to reel, reel the gator up as best as I could.

You know, I had a, I'd have a little bit of help on that one, not having the court, the Trump control and. He got up to the top and I shot, shot my bow. And um, so with the gator, you're supposed to put a small, there's like a small diamond shaped head right behind their eyes, and that's where the brain is.

You're supposed to go for the brain. Well, I, I had missed the brain quite significantly. Um, it went through the, my arrow went through one cheek and out the other, and that gator did [01:14:00] not like it. He started thrashing its tail, tail is bashing up against the boat. And so I'm not familiar, too familiar with boat language, but there's, I'm pretty, the hole is where, like the low part of it.

Yeah. And then there's that, that upper ledge on the front of the boat where, you know, people stand and bass fish from. Yeah. So we had, they had me up on that, up on that ledge and my dad was holding, holding me when that gator was. Pissed off, he started thrashing and our whole boat was moving around and everybody's holding on stuff for holding on for dear life.

And, uh, and after that he, um, the gator came around and the outfitter handed me a harpoon. So with the deal, the deal is, you know, you get line ape and they're in line B, so if line A breaks you have B and then line C and all those other lines. So he handed me this, uh, handed me and I, I was able to throw a harpoon from the boat and get it [01:15:00] into the gator.

And that, that gator was, uh, that, that got him, that harpoon was able to get 'em. And, uh, yeah, he, he moved around slightly after that. And then they have what's called a bang stick just to finish 'em off. It's like a six foot rod with a 3 57 magnum round at the very tip. And it's just like, kinda like a spear and you just, you jab 'em and like was able to jab 'em just to, just to finish 'em off, you know, so he wasn't, yeah.

Suffering too much. And, uh, yeah, he, he went belly up and we brought him on the boat and yeah, he was How long was he? He was a big old boy. 11 foot six inches. 

[01:15:39] Dan: That's ridiculous. That's crazy. Dinosaur man. Yeah, that's a fact. That's a fact. So you're now, you're starting to go into, uh, almost like the North American slam route, right?

Where you, in next couple years, you're gonna be killing everything from grizzly bears to, uh, I don't know, wild [01:16:00] Turkey and things like that. What, what's, uh, what's next on your list? 

[01:16:05] Derek: Um, with, with season coming up? I'd obviously love to get on a bull elk. Yeah. I mean, now where I'm at, it would be cool to get him with a rifle, but it would be absolutely, I.

A goal to get him with my bow, you know? Yeah. I've been trying to up the kinetic energy on impact on my bow, um, putting, putting, and I've been doing a lot of three D archery now, going up into the local mountains and getting into weird predicament shooting wise, like, you know, yeah. Ss and putting one wheel up on a rock and being tilted and just trying to put myself in real world situations and to be the most proficient archer I possibly can.

Yeah. Um, that's, yeah, so the elk, uh, my, my dream hunt is a river float moose. 

[01:16:59] Dan: Mine [01:17:00] too. Um, mine too. 

[01:17:02] Derek: Yeah, man. I'm sure probably a couple hundred thousand others out there as well. Uh, Yeah, so I'm, I'm save saving money for every, every piece I sell and every, you know, everything, everything I do, I, I save about 20% of that check to, uh, to my moose hunt and, uh, just would love to do that.

Elk, moose, you know, I, I have an opportunity at Turkey down in Alabama, this, this coming up Turkey season next spring and, uh, yeah, whatever. I was able to get a black bear actually too. I harvested a black bear out in Maine. That was a That's awesome. That was an intense story as well, man. 

[01:17:40] Dan: That's awesome.

I'm happy for you, man. I, I, it's, it's awesome that, you know, you could've went, you could've, so, so just to take a backward step for a living, you're a woodworker. 

[01:17:52] Derek: May I do woodworking and sports 

[01:17:54] Dan: photography. Okay. Alright. So like, uh, people playing sports, you'll take pictures of [01:18:00] them. 

[01:18:01] Derek: Yeah, mainly. So where I'm from, the biggest sport out here is surfing.

Okay. And since I already kinda have a background in there and friends and connects and Yep. Within that industry, it's mainly my main focus is on surfing right 

[01:18:14] Dan: now. Yeah. Okay. And then what's the woodworking that you do? 

[01:18:18] Derek: So, I'm, I've been fo I do what's called, uh, resin resin work and like with like resin river tables and Oh, yep, I've seen those.

Yeah. I've been doing a, doing a lot of those and I've been specializing in a lot of like, hunt mainly hunting and patriotic pieces. 'cause I've found you, that's where my heart lays. I'm sure I could make, you know, sell more pieces to another routes, but I, it's, you know, if you're not enjoying your work, then you're absolutely, you know, you're working so I'm, I'm doing something I'm kind of passionate about.

So. Sounds like you're busy. 

[01:18:54] Dan: I. 

[01:18:55] Derek: Yeah. It's a, it's an, it's an every everyday job. Yep. You know, and, and then on [01:19:00] top of, uh, on top of, you know, just trying to get more proficient in my, my outdoors life and Yep. That's, that's awesome. Working in content creating with that as well. Yeah, 


[01:19:11] Dan: That's awesome, man. I'm very happy for you.

Um, man. Hopefully all of the, the bucket list comes true. Man. I really appreciate you taking time outta your day to hop on and share your story. It's a good one and, uh, I'm so happy. That you found hunting man, and, um, and that you, you've, I mean, we share the same passion and you've fallen in love with it and, and are able to tell your story so that others, you know, if anybody else hears this, they can say, you know, share with a friend.

Hey, you may be in a dark place hunting, or The outdoors could, could help you, man. And so, uh, thanks again for coming on, man. 

[01:19:51] Derek: Uh, no. Yeah, I'm super stoked. That was my whole goal, goal on getting out there and, you know, putting out the word. Just, you know, 'cause where I was and where [01:20:00] I am, I, I. Hundreds of people who have been in that same position.

So yeah, if this reaches anybody, you know, feel free to reach out to me too. My Instagram is P eight underscore outdoorsman. If anybody's got any questions on how to do it, how to prepare for Hunts, how to, whatever, whatever the question is, you know, like send it my way. I'll, I'll an, I'll answer you in a heartbeat.

No worries. 

[01:20:26] Dan: Absolutely. Absolutely. Appreciate that. Alright, Derek, man, again, thanks for your time and, uh, keep grinding and, and keep me posted on, uh, on your success and failures throughout the, throughout the, uh, the seasons. Man. I, I wanna follow your story. 

[01:20:43] Derek: Thanks buddy. I'll be on it. I appreciate your time.

[01:20:48] Dan: All right, ladies and gentlemen, that brings us to the end of another episode, man. Huge shout out to Derrick. Huge shout out to Justin. Huge shout out to Brett for taking time outta their day, hopping on this episode and, [01:21:00] uh, and, and talking deer with us and, and hunting in general. And, and, uh, man, really what this is, is if you know someone who's struggling with just negative energy or needs to step away from their crazy life, man, take somebody hunting.

Take somebody fishing, take somebody on a hike, right? Do something out of the norm that gets them outside. I'm, I'm an advocate that being outside can help solve some of your problems. And, uh, I'm a true believer in that. So, uh, I just want to send a shout out to all of you guys for taking time outta your day to listen and download and, and just follow along and be participants in this community that we've created.

And a huge shout out to Tethered wasp, vortex Code Blue Woodman's Pal, and Hunt Worth. Please go out and support the companies that support this podcast. And as always, man, if you're gonna be in a tree, wear your damn safety harness. [01:22:00] Good vibes in, good vibes out, and we will talk to you next time.