Campfire Talk Part 29 With Larry Weishuhn

29 March 2013

This past week I had the opportunity to stop by the Nature Blinds facility in Kerrville something I try to do every opportunity I have when “going north”. I had several things I hoped to accomplish heading in that direction. I had capes and antlers I wanted to drop off at The Wildlife Gallery’s drop off point northwest of Kerrville. These included my desert bighorn horns, Coues deer cape and some other capes from previous hunts. The beauty of having The Wildlife Gallery do any taxidermy beyond the absolutely fabulous artistry they perform, is they have drop off points throughout the country, which makes it easy to get capes and racks to them. They also have a 3-month turn around time, so mounts get back to you fairly quickly, and as I’ve mentioned their taxidermists are absolutely the best. As wildlife biologist, someone who has “taken apart” more than a fair share of animals, and even now as an artist involved with bronzes, I pay particular attention to anatomy details, as well as expressions of animals and their behavior and I’ve looked at many, many mounts...and none do them as well as The Wildlife Gallery. Before leaving home that morning I also called Kim Hicks, an old and dear friend who happens with his lovely and talented wife, Robyn to own BOG Pod/BOG Gear. I wanted to see if there might be the possibility of meeting with them as well to talk about their new products, specifically their new “wide body” rest which I had used on my desert bighorn sheep hunt. And which they would be releasing to the public earlier this week. Kim suggested we have lunch together since they were having to come to Kerrville from near Fredericksburg where they live. Sounded like a great idea. After dropping off the capes and horns, I drove back into Kerrville to Nature Blinds. Their facility and manufacturing plant is big. And what’s interesting to me among many other things involving this company is that I have watched it grow tremendously. A few years ago I had a call from Tim Thomason, he had moved his family to Texas and wanted to start building hunting blinds, unlike any that had ever been on the market, utilizing skills he had learned in building movie sets and the like. At the time I was involved with another company that built highly mobile blinds and after visiting with Tim told him at the time I couldn’t do anything with him, but I liked what he was doing. A couple of years passed, several things changed and Tim and I again got together. He told me of is long-term “vision” and I told him, where I could, I would help. Tim, a truly devout Christian who not only talks the talk but walks the walk, started making changes, developing a product unlike any I had ever seen, literally. Soon he had several blinds built, and started looking for a new facility to expand. The good Lord often provides us with challenges, but also way to over-come them. I got a call from Tim one morning, telling me he had brought several people into the fold of Nature Blinds. “We’re going to rent the old Budweiser distributor building west of town to expand our operation. But I have no idea what we’re going to do with all that space....” A couple of weeks later I was in Kerrville to visit with Tim and meet some of the “newer” guys. They were occupying about one fifth of the building. Again Tim told me “I have no idea what we’re going to do with all this space...” I simply laughed and then said, “Tim, in a short time with the quality of the product you’re producing, you’ll have filled up this entire facility and will be out of room and looking for another and much bigger building.” I think he believed me because he smiled and simply nodded. Introduction of the new “Nature Blind” at the Dallas Safari Club show, followed with their first SHOT Show, and in the necessity of filling orders as a result of those two shows, I got a call one morning from Tim saying, “We’re moving...we’re totally out of space and need a much bigger facility... Think we found another and much bigger facility.” He told me where it was and I knew it indeed was a big facility and would provide a lot of room for growth, but also serve all their needs. Thus in a relatively very short time I watch Nature Blinds grow from a company no one knew abut to one that now is talked about throughout North America and even well beyond in Europe and Africa, as well as starting to be used there as well. When I stopped by the Kerrville Nature Blinds headquarters, I did so unannounced. I had tried to call Tim that morning but couldn’t reach him. I walked in and within moments ran into David Carpenter, one of the artists now involved in Research and Development. I knew David was working on totally revamping a “Stalking Shield” that would have my name on it, and once we have it where we want it will be released through a whole lot of sources. While I greatly appreciate the Nature Blinds, I’m one who likes to be mobile when hunting, where possible. And as such I have often and long used various “things” that I can set up quickly as a ground blind, or hold in front of me when stalking an animal. Thus when I first started truly doing some things with Nature Blinds, I suggested a “stalking shield” that would be rather lightweight and highly effective in stalking animals not only here in North America but also in Africa and elsewhere. I drew out my ideas on a large piece of cardboard, took it to Tim and he did a prototype, which I took to Namibia, and there stalked to within almost “spitting distances” of extremely wary animals, one or two which you’ll see in our “DSC Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” episodes when it debuts on Sportsman Channel later this year (either the last weekend in June or first in July, on Saturday mornings...probably 9:30 eastern and 8:30 central). We had such great success with the stalking shield that I let Corne Kruger, owner of Omujeve Safaris talk me into leaving it in Africa for them to use on subsequent hunts. From that first prototype we made some changes and I used the next version on whitetail hunts here in Texas, with fantastic results as well. I used the stalking shield as a ground blind and as a means to stalk to within bow range of numerous very wary whitetails. I was once again impressed. But there were also some changes I suggested to be made. Tim and crew listened attentively and made those changes as well as some others they incorporated. Now now to my most recent trip to the Nature Blinds facility this past week. Visiting with David Carpenter, himself previously a guide, but also a serious hunter, although these days with a bow, David and I looked at the latest version...then with a saw him hand made some minor changes to where the shield can be carried in one hand, be it either left or right, and set it up where from behind the shield you can shoot a bow, and either shoot from the left or right with either a bow or a firearm. In addition the newest version which will how they are manufactured, the “Larry Weishuhn Signature Stalking Shield” becomes somewhat of a modular model to which other shields can be attached should you want to put two or three together for a larger ground blind. By the time David and I finished a bit of “if we did this, and if we did that”, I think the newest version, which will also be the one that will be released to the public, later this summer, I think we definitely will have a WINNER! It will be durable and lightweight, plus be highly effective whether you bow hunt or gun hunt, whether you use the shield to stalk with, or use as a ground blind, and whether you shoot left or right handed. I’ll write about my experiences with it here, but also on my new facebook page, Larry Weishuhn Outdoors... and I’d like to here officially invite you to become a friend there...as well as like the page, if you like what you see! Until next week... Larry