A Morning with Larry Weishuhn: Mr. Whitetail
I’m not exactly well-connected in the outdoor industry but have been fortunate to meet a lot of very skilled and educated hunters over the years. But when it came to whitetail experts, the opportunity to sit down and interview Larry Weishuhn was quite an honor; and with his extensive body of work in the world of hunting, media, conservation, and wildlife biology, I wasn’t sure quite where to start. I recently met up with Larry at his Brenham, Texas, home. After he greeted me at the door, I knew this would be less like an interview and more like a casual sit-down between a couple of fellow hunters and outdoorsmen. Weishuhn’s folksy and hospitable charm would make this an enjoyable and memorable visit.
There are so many aspects to Weishuhn’s long journey as a fixture in the outdoor industry. First off, it’s obvious he was destined for these roles, as he was introduced to hunting and fishing from birth. This was a childhood of hard work, digging worms for fishing sessions, and pursuing deer and other game in rural Colorado County, Texas. A good, honest life indeed. "My early days spent hunting are ingrained in my memory and as special as any of my outdoor career exploits, regardless of destination. I don’t remember not hunting and fishing,", said Weishuhn."
Known widely for his knowledge of and success hunting whitetail deer, Weishuhn has also taken a large number and variety of other big game in places like Africa. To put it simply, he is a complete hunter and outdoorsman - well rounded.
Accordingly, he feels strongly about the entirety of hunting as an activity - understanding the animals he hunts, cleaning and dressing them and preparing them as food. Known for his wildlife bronzes, he even celebrates it through art. "I like it when I have the time to sketch and write in the stand. To me, the artistic and creative side kind of closes the circle for my hunting experience and identity".
Larry The Writer
Weishuhn’s formal education started in the late 60s at Texas A&M University. With a degree in Wildlife Science, he was off to the races - with a subsequent array of published works about wildlife biology, habitat management, conservation, and yes, hunting. While many early works were technical in nature, more conventional writing soon followed. In 1970, Weishuhn had his first paid article published in the National Sportsman’s Digest. Since then, he has had well over 2,000 articles and columns published, not to mention countless photos. "I started when the typewriter was king, and those were special times." There was no internet or digital media channels."
Weishuhn’s written content has appeared in a veritable whos-who of hunting and shooting magazines including (but not limited to) Outdoor Life, Whitetail Journal, American Hunter, Guns & Hunting, Deer & Deer Hunting, Handgunning, North American Hunter, Shooting Times, Sports Afield, Petersen’s Hunting, and Realtree Outdoors. He continues to write for several publications today. Said Weishuhn, "With digital channels such as outdoor TV, online publications, and social media, written content in actual magazines is perhaps less popular these days. However, for me, it will always be a special part of the outdoor media space. It’s where I cut my teeth".
His writing career hasn’t only included magazine articles, as he has also written many popular books includingPear Flat Philosophies and Trailing the Hunter’s Moon - writings that not only provide hunting tips but describe in detail his passion for the chase. While the former offers lighthearted stories and essential tips from the southwest, the latter effectively describes the inherent adventure associated with a variety of big game hunts. For good measure, it includes beautiful illustrations.
Weapon of Choice and a Unique Niche
Images of Larry Weishuhn toting a rifle or pistol afield is familiar to many and, hence, I couldn’t help but ask him if he ever hunted with a bow. As no real surprise, he has hunted with stick and string but much prefers firearms. Said Weishuhn, "I think that bow hunting is awesome, and I’ve certainly enjoyed it in the past. You get so close to whitetails and can study their behavior. I see the attraction. I’ve written for Bowhunting Magazine." Grinning, he continued, "However, for me, there’s nothing better than the smell of gun powder, especially in the deer woods." In my mind, it’s hard to refute that.
But what about the pistol? I have always been fascinated with the television episodes I’ve seen of Weishuhn pursuing and taking giant South Texas whitetails with his Thompson Contender. It turns out that he didn’t seek out this exciting niche as a career move - far from it. He took it up early in life. "For me, hunting with handguns started in high school. I just loved the nostalgia associated with the wild west - six-guns and the like". As such, he has used it on a variety of game. This signature hunting style nonetheless has contributed to favorable television ratings. "After seeing me do it publicly, people seemed to come out of the woodwork."
A Household Name in the Whitetail World
There is a long-standing list of notable whitetail and deer hunting authorities - a whitetail Mount Rushmore of sorts. Charlie Alsheimer, James Kroll, Larry Benoit, Grant Woods, Al Brothers, Murphy Ray, and yes, Larry Weishuhn (to name a few). Intrigued, I had a lot of questions like do you whitetail icons all know each other? Is there like a secret club? Are there any rivalries there? Right away, Weishuhn humbly backed away from the designation. "I don’t know if I belong there or not, but I can tell you there’s not nearly enough room on Mount Rushmore for all the great whitetail authorities out there. I can tell you there is a ton of mutual respect, and I’m blessed to know these and many others. Many of them are good friends, and they’ve all had a huge impact on my work and career".
With a ton of research in his wake and a long-standing nickname like Mr. Whitetail, it’s safe to say he’s firmly implanted in this group. And what about the nickname? Yes, I had to ask that too. "In the mid-80s, the great J. Wayne Fears referred to me as Mr. Whitetail in the title of an article, and I guess it stuck", Weishuhn humbly replied. No frills, no fluff.
Larry The Advocate
When it comes to actual service in the areas of conservation, wildlife management, and hunting rights, it would be a crime to leave out Weishuhn’s vast footprint. He’s a co-founder of the Texas Wildlife Association and also actively supports several other mainstream organizations such as the NRA, Dallas Safari Club, the Boone and Crockett Club, and the Wild Sheep Foundation.
Most sportsmen are well aware hunter numbers are down, and it’s a crucial time regarding hunting and the shooting sports. In my mind, there is no better person to ask about the current culture and where we go from here. Said Weishuhn, "We live in a suburban community. There are fewer places to hunt and shoot. When you couple that with the growing reality of year-round sports in our society, it’s easy for hunting to be pushed to the side." We need youth programs to promote hunting and the outdoors.
A great example is the Texas Wildlife Association’s youth program. TWA’s Youth Program seeks to garner interest in the outdoors - and that interest can be exponential if we get the message out there." He added, "we’ve got to get ears in the classrooms to at least be aware of the message our kids are getting regarding the outdoors."
The issue of unnecessary in-fighting in the hunting community is also not lost on Weishuhn. "We’ve simply got to stop fighting over issues like legal baiting, bow vs. gun use, and high vs. low fence hunting." Additionally, he points to our need for an image make-over. This means avoiding grip and grins with bloody animals and over-the-top celebrations the second after an arrow or bullet makes contact with an animal.
"We need to be mindful of the impression we leave, but either way, we need to show respect and reverence for the animals we shoot in the first place. We are taking a life and we owe that."
When I initially set out to arrange some time with Weishuhn, I promptly got a message that read. "I’m busy tomorrow on the rifle range near Columbus. Thursday morning, I leave for Lubbock for an after-dinner speaking engagement at the local Dallas Safari Club (DSC) Chapter meeting. I should be available early next week but maybe recording for the DSC Untamed Heritage Podcast on Tuesday. I’ll be in San Angelo on Wednesday through Friday. Let’s try for Monday or maybe we can talk while I’m on the road. After that, it gets hectic". I chuckled to myself at the last part. Talk about a man who is in high demand and loves his work. I thought I was busy. "My work takes quite a bit. Luckily, I’ve always been blessed with a very patient wife. Mary Anne’s support over the many years has been paramount to the success of my career".
Whether speaking, writing, recording, filming, or hunting, Weishuhn always makes time for people. Heck, he certainly made time for me in a pinch. In addition to the stories, insights, and education, the most noticeable thing was his interest in me and what I had to say. Talk about humility. This made for animated descriptions, anecdotes, and a lot of laughter. "When I’m at speaking events and hunting shows, I like to hear from other hunters. After all, we’re the same in many ways. It’s astounding how much I learn from the fellow hunters that I meet".
For Mr. Whitetail today, the busy schedule continues, and he would have it no other way. Among other things, current projects include his popular TV show, DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon - an extension of his book from over a decade ago. Along with professional hunter Blake Barnett, the show continues to celebrate the big game hunting lifestyle around the world through action, adventure, and quality cinematography.
My parting question to Weishuhn was, what advice do you have for today’s hunters?
"First off, never stop learning from your outdoor experiences. After that, go hunt! You have no excuses. Don’t let the rain or anything else keep you out of the woods. You never know, that one buck might like the rain."
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