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Meet the Man Behind Huntography
If you’re a hunter who’s active on Twitter, you’ve probably seen hashtags like #DEERTOUR or #Huntography on your feed. Thanks to smart phones and social media, hunters have the ability to communicate straight from the stands, opening a new chapter to the way they interact. We went behind the scenes with Rudy from Huntography.com to find out what the Huntography movement is all about and how it got started.
Why do you hunt? Where did your passion for hunting come from?
I hunt because it’s good for my soul. I love everything about hunting. The preparation. The scouting. The gear. Practicing at the range. Watching the sun come up when it’s 10 degrees out. The deer camp stories. The friendships. The culture. The lifestyle. Shooting a deer. Gutting and butchering a deer. It’s a huge part of who I am.
My father brought me up hunting from a very early age. We lived in Manhattan but had a country property in upstate New York. Almost every weekend we’d be up there and in the woods. The locals called us city folks but we quickly became friends with all our neighbors and then some.
I was lucky enough to join my dad during deer hunting season at our camp, where I experienced a great camp culture from an early age. The older folks would gather and share hunting stories. They brought me their Outdoorlife and Field & Stream magazines, so I’d have something to do while they played cards.
What is Huntography?
Huntography documents the lifestyle and culture of America’s Hunters. Many call it a grassroots hunting movement, which I tend to agree with. It’s about combining your passion for hunting, photography, videography, geography, biography and topography all into one.
I started filming my own hunts and just deer in general when I was in high school. I still have many of those grainy 8mm and VHS tapes somewhere in a box. Since 2010, I’ve traveled the country and filmed numerous hunters, who I met online, at their deer camps. Nothing is scripted. Everything you see is how it happened.
I’ve published 2 DVD’s and are filming our third this fall. The Huntography family continues to grow each year as we add more folks to film. We also launched a hyperlocal blog initiative where we have Managing Editors and Field Editors who share what’s happening in the great outdoors in their neck of the woods.
How has social media affected hunting?
Social media has allowed millions of passionate hunters to connect with people from around the country and the world unlike ever before. Twitter, Facebook and blogs allow hunters to find people who care about what they care about much easier than traditional forums ever did.
The adoption of smart phones and other mobile devices and applications has allowed hunters to share what they are seeing and doing, LIVE, from the woods. That to me, has brought together a whole new subculture of voyeuristic hunters who love to share.
In the old days, we’d only be able to share what we saw with our immediate hunting circle and deer camp friends. Now there are no boundaries. The “mobile” deer hunter of today is better connected to the hunting community, better informed and more active then folks that do not use social media. That’s a great thing.
When did you decide to take Huntography on the road?
I’ve always loved filming and have had a camera in my hand since high school, which was many moons ago. I’d film everything. Some of my friends might say I filmed a little too much!
In 2010 my friend and former business partner passed away and when that happened, I told myself that life is too short not to do the things I wanted to do. So I took all my vacation time made a decision.
I was bored of what I was seeing on television, cable and DVD’s and just could not relate to it anymore. I wanted to challenge myself to do better than what I was seeing on the big screen. It was a huge task to try to accomplish but in fall 2010, I took my concept and belief to the road and filmed a few folks I had met online over the years.
For me, and for the folks I filmed, it was a life altering experience. Together we created something out of nothing. We shared an experience which has created a bond for life.
How has it evolved since that first tour?
Since 2010, Huntography in general has grown tremendously. Our second season, which became known as #DEERTOUR, grew from filming in 4 states to filming in 12 states. I filmed over 20 hunters last year in 28 days of straight driving and hunting. It was a hunting marathon that really kicked the crap out me physically.
This year, my focus will be filming America’s Social Media Deer Hunters. This means that I wanted to film people who were heavily using social media, Twitter primarily, and document how they used social media as hunters and much more.
The finished #DEERTOUR DVD, according to many, was a better production and a more complete story than our first DVD. I would tend to agree although I will always cherish every memory from season 1, as that set the foundation for what Huntography will continue to do for many years to come.
What’s in store for the 2012 #DEERTOUR?
This year, I will travel around the country again filming some of the most interesting online deer hunters out there. I’ll travel for 21 days straight, covering 7 states and 11 hunters. Season 3 will definitely be a November to remember.
What’s one experience from #DEERTOUR that stands out in your mind?
The most emotional moment of the #DEERTOUR happened last year in North Carolina while filming Lisa, the Writing Huntress. We went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a couple of hours.
We filmed Lisa shooting her first ever buck with her bow, on camera with her fiancé 20 feet up in the tree next to us. It was a very emotional celebration—so genuine and real. It touched me and many folks who have watched the DVD.
A short time later, as we returned to her home to celebrate, we had found out news that her dog Oscar had been killed. It was devastating for her and her fiancé, and I was in shock at what we were experiencing.
I was going to quit the #DEERTOUR and go home that night because I couldn’t handle it emotionally, but they urged me to continue to film the 4 remaining states. I did so in honor of their dog Oscar. That, to me, was something that I will never forget.
How do you choose which hunters you’ll visit each season?
I choose folks who I’d love to learn more about. People that I have talked to online. People who have a good story to share.
I have filmed some folks more than once as I will this year. I go to the hunters in their deer camps and film everything I can. The viewer sees what I experienced through the lens, exactly as it happened.
Where do you see this movement going in the future?
My goal is to continue filming America’s hunters, one at a time. This movement is about the hunters, for the hunters and by the hunters. Our authenticity and passion for hunting and each other is uncompromised.
The future is very bright, for the entire Huntography family. We will continue to shine the spotlight on hunters who we can all relate to. Our neighbors. Our Facebook friends. Our “Twitwits” as some like to call them and our blogging friends.
None of this would be possible without the great folks that I film. They are the heart and soul of Huntography. I just happen to have the camera. To them, I am forever grateful as this journey has really made a positive, lifelong impact on me and my family.