Bassin’ buddies and big bucks

It’s been a whirlwind week that began with me shooting the biggest deer of my life followed by a trip to Missouri where I’ve been working with Tracker Marine and Bass Pro Shops in Missouri.

More about the deer later.

Tracker hosts a huge media event at Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake each year. There were 20 or more of the top media people there representing a number of media outlets. I spent each day doing interviews, photos and videos. I also spent time with dealers at the Tracker dealer meeting.

Other Elite pros at the event were Rick Clunn, Edwin Evers, Brian Snowden, and Ott Defoe, and they were equally busy. Tracker’s top walleye pros were there, too, and it gave us a chance to spend time talking fishing with several guys I respect. It was good to pick each other’s brains in a non-tournament environment.

It also was interesting in that the walleye pros quizzed us about spinnerbaits. Some big walleye events have been won by guys throwing big-bladed spinnerbaits deep. It’s a great example of how we can learn from each other.

One afternoon when we had a break while fishing with our media companions, Edwin, DeFoe and I found a big school of spotted bass off a point.

We piled right in on top of one another and threw at every fish that came to the surface. It was funny – three of the top 2011 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of Year finishers out there slinging lures on top of each other and catching fish! It wasn’t something we’d do to each other in a tournament, but we had a ball.

I really enjoyed getting to know DeFoe better. He won Rookie of the Year and the season ending Toyota Trucks All-Star Week, and you’re going to hear more from him in the future. He is the real deal. He’s got a quiet confidence about himself – not the least bit arrogant – and a hard worker who is passionate about the sport.

Now, about that awesome deer…

I was muzzleloader hunting in Kansas with Jerry Martin, captain of Bass Pro Shops’ Redhead Hunting Team. We were filming an episode for next year’s Real Hunting program. We were hunting with Tamarack Outfitters for free ranging whitetails.

My first evening was the most incredible experience I’ve ever spent in a deer blind. I saw about 25 big bucks, many of which were trophy deer by most people’s standards.

We didn’t shoot because we were after an ever bigger buck frequenting the area that had been seen on a trail camera. The next day I shot him, a typical 11-point that scored 174 7/8 and will make the Boone and Crockett Record book.

If that weren’t exciting enough, Jerry shot one that was of similar quality. I can’t share the details of the hunt, but it will make for an incredible TV show!

VanDam and Jerry Martin, captain of Bass Pro Shops’ Redhead Hunting Team (right), both shot impressive bucks while filming an episode for next year’s Real Hunting program.

I’ve never hunted in that area, but you can bet I will be back.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!