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The Good Old Days

The Old Days of Whitetail Deer Outfitting

As the President of IMB Outfitters I’ve been in the hunt industry for 14 years. I miss the good old days. I’ve been fortunate enough to kill 17 record book deer. I’m on 34 pro staffs in the hunt industry and literally today, after much grace from God and many dedicated employees we seem to be topping the charts in regard to quality among all Midwestern Whitetail Deer Outfitters. We care. I say this with all humbleness as believe me, we have had to learn things the hard way.

Just yesterday I hired what I refer to as an “Old School” hunt guide for employment. As I visited with him I found things with me I felt quite refreshing. Things I share also and have witnessed.

The truth is the whitetail industry is becoming old enough now for some of us to look back and remember just how it all started. While I love to see the smiles and tears of my hunters as they harvest the deer of their dreams, the truth is sometimes I wonder if some of us understand the “grass roots” of how the whitetail industry all began. I feel some of us may need a “wakeup call” in regard to what this industry of whitetail deer hunting is all about. Just a gentle reminder from time to time, as with the computer age and a vast array of new hunting products it is easy to lose the true focus of basic hunt strategies, expectations, and what is “real”.

I have shared many glorious moments that will forever be edged in my memory. I recall one client who hunted in Iowa for whitetail deer with IMB Outfitters as their Iowa whitetail outfitter. This whitetail deer hunter had terminal cancer with just a few months to live. He was a very young age. Perhaps 30 years old. He came to camp by his self and chose to hunt whitetail deer with us in two states. He went on a Missouri deer hunt, and an Iowa deer hunt. He began in Iowa deer hunting.

He told of how before he died, that he wanted to kill just one trophy buck. His 2nd day hunting for whitetail deer in Iowa with IMB Outfitters he hammered a huge 160 class monster. When he called us for assistance he was crying and could not behold the huge Iowa whitetail deer he had harvested. His dreams had come true. Then he traveled to Illinois and 36 hours later while hunting whitetail deer in Pike County, Illinois he took another monster 150 inch buck. He came for one monster buck but harvested two. These memories will be forever edged in my mind. A job well done by IMB staff that held true meaning for us.

I also recall an older gentleman that hunted Iowa whitetail deer with us as his Iowa whitetail deer outfitter perhaps 6 years ago. He called after he shot his monster 160 inch bruiser and when I got to him he was crying alligator tears, declaring the deer was a tribute to his recently deceased wife of many years. As corny as it may sound we hugged and he cried. The buck meant more than a net score. The buck represented an experience that some of us cannot comprehend. Moments that forever change the very existence of a person due to the hunter fulfilling a dream of harvesting a monster whitetail buck.

As a whitetail deer outfitter we live for special moments like these. Some of my most treasured times while hunting were not times I saw a huge whitetail buck at all. The real hunter is able to enjoy the outdoors without demands to some degree of grace. While I would expect to shoot at a trophy deer on a hunt with us, I would never expect to shoot a trophy buck every day I entered the woods.

I remember the first year we ran a Christian Whitetail Deer Raffle to raise money to change the community, and it worked. Single mothers with children were fed. Homeless were housed. Lives were changed by our deer hunters across the nation as they bought raffle tickets for a good cause with a chance to win a free hunt. Hunters contributed in vast numbers to help change our community and help those less fortunate. What they didn’t get to see was the faces of the hungry people they fed, and the homeless housed by using the Sport of Hunting to make a difference. I watched as hunters rose to the occasion in mercy and passion to use the sport of deer hunting to help others . (We are currently running the largest raffle ever for Christian Charities at to make the World a better place.)

However over the past 3 to 5 years I have seen the hunter demographic change. I believe this is a direct result of watching too much Outdoor Television that often times is not filmed under fair chase conditions. Just this past year at our lodge in Missouri the hunters were watching an Outdoor Show where they were showing tons of huge bucks, one after another on television . I made the comment it was a high fence show, to which everyone disagreed. I pulled out my laptop, googled the hunt outiftters, called the outfitter on speaker phone and verified to the entire lodge that indeed it was high fence. They gasped. I was amazed at just how much we have come to believe all we are seeing on television is real.

Hunter expectation of whitetail deer harvests and outdoor products are beginning to exceed what is reality. For example, we now have all learned after many years of purchase, that no magic clothing has yet been produced that literally prevents deer from detecting you as suggested. Google recent law suits on these issues. I cannot suggest company names. You can verify this. You’d be able to verify it better if the testimony was open to public viewing as it probably should be. (I knew this clothing wasn’t real when it came out. If you want me to be blunt, I could smell body odor of my own through the suit on occasions thus I knew if I could smell through the suit then deer could.)

I will literally never forget the big time hunt celebrities that came in with cameras and I watched them literally shake like kids when the monster buck of a lifetime came in. I watched them miss shot after shot. Meanwhile I watched hunters abroad adore them for their television shows, unbeknownst that those watching the shows were probably better hunters that the men and women they idolized. Many outdoor celebrities have approached me over the years and wanted me to film whitetail deer hunts in 20 acre high fences and swear we were in the wild. I turned them all down. I refused. While it’s amusing to watch the Outdoor Television Networks, their sure are quite a few famous hunters I’d like to hook up to a polygraph machine in regard to what they are hunting as fair chase and what are nearly domesticated animals in a small fence enclosure. (I realize this is raw, but it’s true. Of course this isn’t true of all the shows but many of them.)

I have watched magic potions to lure deer sold like medicine off the back of a carpet bagger’s covered wagon. Are you old enough to remember the old molassess deer lollipops that we put out and as the sun melted them we all thought the deer were eating them. I could tell you so much more if given the time. I have seen probably too much. In fact I’ve watched so many products that were not worthy of the shipping charges make millions of dollars that it sickens me.

What ever happened to the “Good Ole Days”, when we took to the field, chose a great treestand setup based upon knowledge and scouting like we do here at IMB Outfitters and relentlessly put our time in until a shot chance at a monster presented itself? The truth is deer hunting produces record buck kills only at the hands of sheer luck or highly driven people that have the “gift” of patterning bucks and waiting them out. Aint no lunar dial, or magic suit gonna kill record book whitetail bucks for any man on a consistent basis. Consistent harvest of record book bucks takes time, and work, or a great whitetail deer outfitter like IMB Outfitters as seen at .
In 2011 it seems everyone wants to have their own show on television hunt networks or wants to be an outfitter. Many fail because the hunt industry is too advanced. Their’s tons of Midwestern Whitetail Outfitters promising the world from cheap land leases with little knowledge. I’m not trying to brag on my company but after 14 years of full time service to the hunt industry we here at IMB Outfitters located know what it takes to run a “bug free” whitetail deer outfitting operation. We are not out to make a quick buck. We are here to stay and realize we are servants, not movie stars. We are here to do everything in our power to make sure you get the shot at a trophy buck and enjoy yourself with a refreshing experience. We know magic deer potions or clothing that promises you don’t have to worry about the wind direction anymore is not the truth. I’m not speaking bad about all hunt products but I’ve seen so many gimics and gadgets over the years that I laugh at myself for believing them at different stages in my hunt career. THE TRUTH IS TO CONSISTENTLY HARVEST RECORD BOOK WHITETAILS THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS. PRIME GROUND AND TRUE KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE IS WHAT IS NEEDED OF YOUR OUTFITTER. I try and stress this to every hunter we book here at IMB.
I don’t mean to run the hunt industry down with this article but rather expose the fact, that once in a while a hunter gets lucky but the truth is IMB continues to harvest higher success rates than any other outfitter in the Midwest. Our website is a never ending supply of real data to assist you and educate the hunters across America.

Don’t be fooled by counterfeit products, counterfeit television programs, or counterfeit whitetail deer outfitters. The guts of your success are literally dependent on booking with a good knowledgeable whitetail deer outfitter with much history and information. Putting your time in the stands we recommend. Don’t guide the guide. Practice with the weapon that performs the best for you. I hate to say it but you don’t need the newest camo and the best bow every year. I would rather somebody come into camp with a bow that is older that they know and trust than the most expensive super duper bow of the year. It’s fun to have toys , and I love them but to kill big deer we have to stick to the basics. Time, good ground, knowledge, etc.

The two biggest problems I see whitetail hunters continue to make that prevent them from harvesting a monster buck with us would be using cell phones and smart phones in the woods, and a lack of putting in time on stand. Lets face it, you can’t watch dvds and text message without movement. These high tech phones prevent the hunter from being on full alert to intercept the buck of a lifetime. If I had a twenty dollar bill for every buck the hunters didn’t see because the hunter was playing with a phone I’d be a very rich man. Cell phone should be turned off while hunting and used only in case of emergency. I believe more hunters are detected by the movement and decrease of concentration on their hunt by utilizing a smart phone while hunting than any one single thing you can take to the timber. It’s a good way to prevent boredom during times of lessor deer movement, but it’s also a good way to look up from a phone and see the buck of a lifetime sneaking by at 20 yards without you being afforded the shot of a lifetime.

If you give me a hunter that will gut it out and put maximum hours in the woods while hunting with us, I’ll show you a monster buck, and a happy hunter everytime. Just last year we had a man named Mike Stewart in camp that hunted relentlessly with us. He even bought more an extra day at the end of his hunt to make his stay longer, as he understood that you can only sit in the woods with IMB Outfitters for so long before being afforded the shot of a lifetime at a monster whitetail buck. Mike killed a 164. Mike is a great hunter. He knew he had to put his time in on stand or rely on luck and he was not willing to leave it up to luck. He’s a great hunter.

All in all if this article had a theme to it, I am suggesting that we need to return to reality and realize fancy products often times don’t work, and that good old determination and effort by the hunter with a quality whitetail deer outfitter is what it takes to kill the buck of a lifetime. While I welcome and encourage all women to hunt, the latest trend of the prettiest girl on the television makes the most money simply makes me laugh. I’d like to see an older broader woman being honest with real hunt suggestions instead of reading qcards. We have to take a look at strategy and tactics, and get back to the reality of what it really takes to kill free roaming trophhy whitetail deer or we will soon be lost in a bunch of “smoke and mirrors”.

I do wish I could tell all I know without getting sued but if you’ll pay attention and do some research you will see another hidden objective in the hunt industry is that many outfitters have obtained real estate licenses. This is the latest fad to take advantage of hunters. All I can say is watch out. When hunters come to these camps where real estate licensed outfitters are present, they are groomed and given special treatment to be suckered into a real estate purchase. Real estate licenses are public information. Be sure and check this out if you suspect foul play. My advice is to not hunt with outfitters who’s real objective is to sell you a farm instead of provide you with the hunting service you sought in the first place when you booked a hunt. In short, as a friend to the modern day whitetail hunter,……………………… wise, and remember you can count on IMB Outfitters. Also don’t forget to take a look at our Christian Hunt Giveaway at

Darrin Bradley

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