If deer could recognize a name, they’d probably know Larry Weishuhn, also known as “Mr. Whitetail”. Few people have bagged more stunning whitetail bucks than he has. Better yet, few have had as colossal of an impact on hunters for decades like Weishuhn. He’s a man of the earth who knows conservation and animal behavior. Currently, you can catch him preaching the good hunting word on the show he created for Sportsman Channel, A Hunter’s Life.
In addition to his extensive history with whitetail, he’s harvested numerous unique species like gemsbok, chamois, tahr and Sitka deer. Weishuhn’s life is steeped in hunting tradition: he’s been riding along on hunts since he was in diapers, received his first gun (an air rifle) at three years old, and took his first deer at 11. Read our exclusive interview with Mr. Whitetail below to find out how the hunting industry has changed since he entered the scene, his most memorable hunts, and his favorite places and guns for hunting.
Outdoor Hub: How long have you been working professionally in the outdoor industry? Is what you do now your dream job?
Larry Weishuhn: My background is that of a professional wildlife biologist with a degree from Texas A&M University. I’ve made my living from wildlife management, outdoor writing and hunting-related businesses all my life as a wildlife biologist, as an outdoor writer/communicator, occasionally an outfitter and guide, speaker on hunting and guns, author, and television show host. While an undergraduate in 1969, I took a position with Texas A&M’s Department of Veterinary Pathology Wildlife Disease Project working as wildlife biologist. I wrote my first national article in 1970 regarding research we were doing on desert bighorn sheep. I am living my dream and have been able to do so all my “professional life”. I still to this day can’t wait to wake up and go to work each morning!
OH: How did the show A Hunter’s Life start? Whose idea was it?
LW: A Hunter’s Life was my idea! In the past I had owned and or hosted/co-hosted many shows, including those done by Realtree, Bass Pro and others, and my own show Hunting the World which appeared on Outdoor Channel and I turned into Game Trails. In the past I (among others) also hosted the extremely popular World of Whitetail with Larry Weishuhn on Versus, which was one of the world’s top rated shows during my tenure. I created A Hunter’s Life, owned by Outfittersrating.com, when I left World of Whitetail because I wanted to do a show that would truly portray what a hunter’s life is all about. That said, at the end of 2012, A Hunter’s Life will go away and will essentially be replaced by my new show for 2013 Trailing the Hunter’s Moon, titled after a publicly acclaimed and internationally award-winning book I wrote in 2003. Trailing the Hunter’s Moon is a show I will once again own and have control over the production and the quality of the production.
Below is a preview clip of A Hunter’s Life before it aired for the first time in the fall of 2011.
OH: What do you do when you’re not filming?
LW: When not being filmed I spend considerable amount of time promoting hunting, the American outdoor way of life, and proper wildlife management doing personal appearances throughout the country. I also help promote my sponsors, particularly Zeiss, Hornady, Nature Blinds, Buck Natural and especially Ruger and Dallas Safari Club. I also write at least a hundred magazine articles a year, do a weekly blog, www.natureblinds.com/larry, co-host weekly radio shows including High Plains Outdoors with Luke and Larry on public radio, and Campfire Talk with Larry Weishuhn which can be heard on various southwestern networks and on www.catfishradio.com. I’m also working on my next book projects. In addition, I enjoy some sculpting (bronzes), including a joint venture between Mark James and I. I also spend as much time as possible with my wife, Mary Anne, and my daughters and grandkids as well.
OH: Tell me about your recent African and Kyrgyzstan hunts.
LW: I dearly love Namibia and hunting with Omujeve Safaris and Frikkie du Toit in northwestern South Africa. This time we hunted an extremely remote area in northern Namibia, hunting from tents and creating our own roads. It was part of a donation hunt to the Dallas Safari Club where I served as the host of the hunt. We walked many hours each day, saw a wide variety of game from black rhinos to African lions to leopard. I deeply enjoy hunting greater kudu and they alone keep me going back to Africa, even if all the other reasons did not.
I just returned from an ibex hunt in a remote part of the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia. We packed in many miles on horse, set up a base camp and then spike camped as well. The area was all above 10,000 feet in elevation. Game was really scarce and I saw only one ibex at great distance. I was also hunting Siberian roe deer and the only one I saw was shot by the guide before I had the opportunity to shoot. We filmed the hunt for my new Trailing the Hunter’s Moon show which will debut in 2013 on Sportsman Channel. In every way the hunt was a great and often-time dangerous adventure…but the trail of the hunter’s moon sometimes takes us to such places!
OH: What is the allure of Africa and the other far-off places you’ve hunted?
LW: I often tell hunters if they’ve never gone to Africa not to go…because once you do, you leave part of yourself there and it causes you to return many times! Africa is a great adventure: the many species of animals, the people, the varied terrain and vast country, that bit of danger that keeps you on edge not knowing what adventure awaits around the next bend in the trail or just over the next ridge. I dearly love it and can’t wait to return again next year and the years thereafter!
LW: I love hunting with Ruger’s single action Super Blackhawk pistols in .44 Magnum. I’ve used these guns on numerous big game species up to elk in size. My personal gun is one I got when the Super Blackhawk Hunter was first introduced years ago when I was the hunting writer for Shooting Times. When it comes to long, Ruger Number 1 single-shots and their various bolt action rifles including the Model 77 Hawkeyes and the new American Rifle are my favorites. I prefer .30-06 and .270 for most North American game and .375 Ruger on the upper end for big bears, moose, and even for whitetails.
OH: Name your favorite place and animal to hunt in North America.
LW: Frankly my favorite place and animal to hunt are always the next hunt I’m going on, no matter what it’s for or where it is. I hunt big game almost exclusively. It’s no secret that I love hunting whitetail deer. For hunting whitetails, there is no finer place than a well-managed ranch in South Texas’ brush country in the middle of December when bucks are responding to rattling horns. But I also enjoy hunting mule deer in the mountains and deserts, as well as Alaska for grizzlies and brown bear (a 10-foot-plus Alaskan brown bear to me it the finest big game “trophy” there is in North America, followed by big mule deer and “true” whitetails).
OH: What are some of the species you have harvested?
LW: Numbers have never been important to me…as to animals taken: whitetail deer (numerous subspecies), mule deer, Sitka blacktail deer, Columbian blacktail, Coues whitetail, brocket deer (central America), pronghorn antelope, black bear, elk (several subspecies), moose (several subspecies), caribou (several subspecies), javelina, mountain lion, grizzly bear, Alaskan brown bear, Rocky Mountain goat, red stag, chamois, tahr, roe deer, sika deer, fallow deer, Cape buffalo, African lion, eland, kudu (numerous), zebra (couple of subspecies), gemsbok, and numerous African plains game species. I’ve hunted North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and New Zealand. I have not yet hunted Australia (but it’s on my list).
OH: What’s the greatest difficulty you’ve run into on a hunt?
LW: I’ve been very fortunate when it comes to difficulties on hunts. All the obstacles, even though they may have seemed to be major at the moment, later were simply just little “hiccups”. I’ve had to deal with 22 screaming anti-hunters following me around on a British Columbia black bear hunt, but I smiled at them, was kind to them and told them how much I appreciated their presence to make my hunt all that more interesting. I’ve had to deal with being jerked out of a saddle the second mile out on a 14-mile pack-in horse trip and had my horse sit on my ankle and grind it into the rock. There I simply got up, tightened my boot as tight as I could get, crawled back in the saddle and for 10 days simply dealt with it. I’ve been on high mountain trips where the “guides” ate the food we had and drank all the water we had with us for a 2 or 3 day trip the first afternoon out. I’ve been charged by bears, by African lions, yet believe the most dangerous part of any hunting trip is simply getting there having to deal with planes, cars, and traffic. Life is an adventure!
OH: How has the industry changed since you first took a shot as a hunter?
LW: Many things have changed since I first started hunting, including the widespread wearing of camo (some believe you can’t hunt unless you are wearing the latest designer camo, a belief to which I do not subscribe) and great changes in technology, with equipment such as range finders and trail cameras becoming widespread. We’ve become gadget users, where technology and woodsmanship knowledge is at our fingertips, rather than between our ears. There have been changes in how we hunt and the values we put on animals, quite often putting too much emphasis on scores, rather than the personal hunting experience. Yet, all that said we truly live in the Golden Age of Hunting, never have we as hunters had better times than we do now, more game, better and reliable equipment and clothing, more hunting opportunities for all.
Special thanks to Larry Weishuhn for taking the time to answer our questions and Ryan Nolan for his help in organizing the interview.