By Gerry Rightmyer (Forever Wild Outdoors)
Two years ago, while attending the Deerassic Classic in Cambridge, Ohio, I had the pleasure of meeting a very special family. While promoting our television show, Forever Wild Outdoors Adrenaline Adventures, I was approached by Ed, Jeremy, and Jess Hupp. The Hupp’s were interested in starting a whitetail hunting operation in their home state of Ohio. Their camp is nestled along the famed Ohio River valley. Rolling hills, nutrient-rich soils, and oak timber, choked with honeysuckle and multiflora rose to provide the optimum habitat necessary to grow giant whitetail.
After meeting the family and looking at some insane trail camera photos, Ed and Jeremy made a business proposal. The Hupp’s wanted to promote their camp on a “large scale”. They felt an up and coming television show such as ours would be the best way to advertise their operation. Both Ed and Jeremy offered to host the members of our team on some whitetail hunts in exchange for promotion on upcoming episodes of our show. We discussed their aspirations, the facilities, the food plots, the stand set-ups and everything else imaginable. It was clear the Hupp family were dead serious about deer hunting, and even more serious about beginning a relationship with our show. Quite honestly, it was an easy decision for my business partner Steve and I. We both realized their passion for whitetails and soon we were preparing for an archery hunt in the legendary state of Ohio!
Upon returning home, we kept in constant phone contact with Jeremy. He continued to send trail camera photos over a three-month period. The pictures were more than enough motivation to schedule an upcoming hunt, as dreams of giant whitetail whet our appetites. We discussed the best weeks to film whitetail, and soon enough, we penciled-in the second week of November. The seven-hour drive from Western New York to Southern Ohio flew by as we headed into camp on November 10th.
I remember vividly the first day we hunted at Hupp Outfitters. It was Veteran’s Day, November 11th, 2015. It was one of those magical days in the deer stand. The weather was especially mild for the middle of November. My friend Ben and I sat the entire day, from sunrise to sunset, and witnessed a rut-crazed spectacle most hunters can only dream of. We literally had buck action the entire day. The longest span between deer sightings was no longer than 60 minutes. It was one of the best days deer hunting (sans killing a buck) I’ve ever been exposed to in my 35 years of chasing odocoileus virginianus. Needless to say, the deer sightings were abundant, but we were holding out for a “special” buck. We passed on every buck we saw that day AND the entire week! You’d think we would have been disappointed, but we knew that eventually if we were patient, a great buck was going to hit the ground!
We returned to Hupp’s during Thanksgiving week. I filmed my buddy Ben Lowe, arrow his best bow kill to date on the last night of our hunt. A beautiful nine-point any archer would be proud of! A month and a half later, we returned again for the late muzzleloader season. On the third day of a four-day hunt, I was blessed when a tall-tined eight-point strolled into view just before sunset. A well placed shot from my Knight muzzleloader, and we had our second trophy whitetail kill on film! Two well-earned bucks made for an exciting episode of Forever Wild Outdoors Adrenaline Adventures!
Fast-forward to 2016. We planned an archery hunt for November 6th-12th. Jeremy was posting trail camera photos on their Facebook page the entire summer. The size and number of bucks frequenting their farms blew me away. Dozens of “shooter” buck photos were being posted on their Facebook page daily. We knew it was just a matter of time before a good buck would present a daytime shot opportunity, especially during the peak chasing and breeding phase of the rut. Our entire team was anticipating an exciting week of big buck action!
Hunting the rut requires a lot of “hours on the stand”. Most of our team would patiently sit 11-hour days. Our attention would be focused on trails and bait sites. Glassing would be paramount as deer would sometimes enter and exit bait sites from all directions. Up close shot opportunities require attention, focus, and stealth. As the week wore on, the physical and mental stress from countless hours on stand began to mount.
As the morning of November 11, 2016 approached, FWO president, Steve Schicker and his cameraman would hunt a new location. In fact, it was the same location I was in the previous Veterans Day! As luck would have, on a bright, sunny, Thursday morning, a beautiful 10-point buck strolled in to view. Steve readied his crossbow, took careful aim, and slid the bolt through the buck’s vitals. It would be the first 10 point buck on Steve’s resume’, a true trophy, and another great buck taken at Hupp Outfitters!
Next, it was my turn. I wounded and lost a great buck two days earlier. After diligent tracking efforts, hiring a hounds man to blood trail the buck, we determined the buck survived the shot. (The buck eventually showed up on their trail camera a couple of weeks later and was killed by a hunter during gun season.)
The morning of November 11th, I received word that Steve killed a great buck. My hopes for seeing a shooter were high. I was hunting a new stand location. Daytime deer movement continued to pick up as the day progressed. I passed up three decent bucks during the morning vigil and felt it was just a matter of time before a good buck would stroll into view. My hunch paid off as a solid eight-point buck snuck into the bait at 1:15 pm. I put the crosshairs of my crossbow on the buck’s vitals and squeezed the trigger. The buck whirled and ran a short distance before expiring. It didn’t take long to find my deer, and I excitedly contacted Jeremy to let him know I had a “buck down”!
Our entire group hunted extremely hard that week. We persevered and logged a ton of time on the stand. Each hunter had opportunities to score one trophy whitetail, and that’s all you can ask for in an outfitted hunt. I would like to personally thank Ed, Sharon, Jeremy, and the entire Hupp family for all of their hard work and hospitality. Hupp Outfitters is a trophy whitetail destination in the heart of whitetail country! If you’re interested in a top-notch archery hunt for whitetail deer, please give Jeremy Hupp a call at (740) 416-5490. I guarantee a great time and a great hunt!