Hunters’ videos take aim at the big stage

Travis Theel is taking a big shot. But he has to make sure he gets it on camera. 

Theel and some of his friends are trying to take their hunting obsession somewhere few people get to take it: television. 

Along with his cousin and friends, they have created Buckstorm Productions. 

The dream was nothing more than hopes as recently as two years ago when Theel’s friends were tossing around the idea of creating their own hunting show.

“We said that we could sit around talking about this forever but until we do something, it doesn’t mean anything,” said Theel, a Wildlife and Fisheries major. “So we just went out and threw down some money and got it going.” 

While Theel had been shooting with a camcorder since he was 13, things got serious when Theel paid for $4,000 in camera equipment and video editing software this during summer of 2012. Last fall, every hunt was recorded with cameras, as many as four in all. In January, Theel and his cousin, Aaron Krumvieda, met with a lawyer and filed the paperwork to become a limited liability company. In short, the dream was finally real. 

Buckstorm mostly shoots with bows but does some hunting with rifles. The targets include deer and antelope, with turkey, duck and goose hunting on the side. Theel said Buckstorm recorded 600 hours of hunts last year and came away with 15 different harvests from the fields. 

“We’d be out there hunting either way,” Theel said. “It’s tough to balance it with school and it’s hard to drop everything and go out and hunt when you have a test.”

And to get it all done, Theel, his co-owner Krumvieda and friends head out in the early hours to hunt, beat it back to Brookings for class and then head out to the deer stand for as long as it takes. The weekends often include trips to northwestern South Dakota to hunt in Perkins and Meade counties. They believe their shots stack up. 

“I watch hunting shows constantly and I don’t like to brag much but some of the footage we got this year was unbelievable,” Theel said, adding that the prize of the season was recording a mule deer shot from two yards away while on an archery hunt.

Krumvieda, who operates his own construction business as well, takes care of the business and graphics that come with Buckstorm, while Theel pieces together the videos as producer. 

Austin Joachim is a friend of Krumvieda and Theel and usually goes out on hunts West River with the crew. The 22-year-old from Rapid City has been called upon to both hunt and film and sometimes do both at the same time. 

“It’s much harder to do than you think,” Joachim said. “You have to improvise a little to get the shot you want.”

The hunting show business is more than just point and fire. As the Buckstorm gang quickly learned, if the camera didn’t catch it, the shot never happened. Treel said it has taught the team a lot of discipline. He had one hunt last fall where he sat in the stand for 120 hours without taking a shot because he had his mind on one massive buck. 

“We have to pass up a lot of shots,” Joachim said. “It takes discipline.”

Much like his friends, he’s part of something he’s always dreamed of. 

“It’s always been a dream and we’ve always thought, ‘God, that would be awesome,’” Joachim said. “Now we’re trying to make it happen.”

The endeavor has not been cheap. Theel estimates that he’s put 67,000 miles on his truck in the 18 months and estimates that he and Krumvieda have spent at least $15,000 on the business. 

“We hope we’re done spending for a while,” he said.