Contributors to this thread:
Barry Wensel's Whitetail Bootcamps
I just wanted to thank those whitetail hunters from all across the nation who have attended my whitetail "bootcamps" over the last fifteen years. Yesterday was my final one. When I originally started calling them bootcamps it was because it entailed boots on the ground in a deer camp-like atmosphere. Nowadays I see all kinds of amusing celebrity, exercise, divorce (or whatever) bootcamps, etc. on TV. Sorry, no affiliations... I'm into whitetails. Although I only hunt with a recurve bow the techniques I handed down were for mature whitetail success, regardless of what weapon you hunted with. I have held up to six sessions per year with an average of four per year, three full days each. I closed the attendance at fifteen attendees per camp. Fifteen was a good number since it allowed for attendee feedback and yet not too many individuals to work with. Dealing with everyone from CEOs, to the unemployed, kids, to older men walking with a cane was interesting. A couple interesting facts surfaced. The attitudes were outstanding and I want to complement you on them.. People young or old were there to learn. And yet they gave feedback to the groups with their own personal opinions, findings and theories so that everyone could consider the options and make their own minds up on how the opinions might adapt to their own personal hunting areas back home. I always had the attendees fill out an info sheet to get an idea of their previous hunting experience; states they'd hunted whitetails in, etc. That sheet also asked if the attendee was a smoker or non-smoker. I found it very interesting that in fifteen years and many, many hundreds of attendees not one individual was a smoker. There might have been a couple that "fibbed" but no one admitted to being a smoker or smoked around the groups. I also tried to keep the camps affordable enough for most to at least consider. In fact, the original total price of admission was $895. and never went up in fifteen years. When you considered they were three full days of attendance, which included a total of eight full, home-cooked meals; three nights lodging in a great, modern host facility; and the entire weekend rooming with 15 other guys/gals with common interests, it was a fun package. At any rate, I just wanted to thank all you folks who attended over the last fifteen years for your great attitudes. I hope you take the woodsmanship skills I tried to teach and hand them over to your kids and hunting partners for all to share. I am truly concerned the younger generations of whitetail hunters think the only way to be successful is to sit over a food plot in a shooting house. That's up to them, but there's so much more fun and personal satisfaction/ reward derived when they put in the time slowly walking the timber putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, predicting what will eventually happen. Setting up the situation and backing off until everything is just right, then slipping in and patiently waiting until the scenario unfolds like you knew it eventually would. That's the legacy I want to hand down to future generations. Best of luck and thank you again folks. BW
One of my regrets in my hunting life is that I never made it out to one of these.... truly my loss.
I have a question Barry would you say there was anything you learned from any of your attendees that hit you as an oh wow moment... if so what was it?
Iowa Rocks. Well done! Whitetails are magic.
I regret it too. Maybe Barry will consider a farewell boot camp? You know, like those farewell concerts Cher does every year, only I don't want to See Barry's Midruff - and for that matter, I don't want see Cher's either.
Pat and Charlie, I bet if you two went out to Iowa to do an “interview” with Barry for the Bowsite, you would get your very own bootcamp. You cannot be around the guy and not learn something about bowhunting. He is truly one of a kind. Thanks for all you have done, shared, and given back to bowhunting Uncle B.
Barry - thank you for hosting these camps. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to attend one, I think in 2014. It was an enjoyable adventure and it was really a great time getting to know you and also the other men that were in camp that week. I share your concern regarding so many of the youth today. Yes, there are still many, many excellent young people to be found...but there are way too many that do not know what it is to work hard, invest of themselves and eventually reap a reward.
Far too many video games and smart phones these days to give their attention to and lost is the art of getting involved in the outdoors and having "real", earthy experiences that can be life long lessons. Thank you again for your many contributions to our great sport...whitetail archery hunting...and I wish you, and your wife, the very best. Even though you are a living legend, I found you to be very approachable and a real treat to be able to spend a few days in camp with. For a man with such acclaim and accomplishments, there was no "look at me" ego to be found...and I admire that. Thank you!!
One of my great regrets... came darn close last year , too!
Best wishes Barry
If i had known about them i would have gone to one.
Thanks for sharing all you have Barry. You and Gene are a great asset to the bowhunting world.
Barry- We met at the Montana Bowhunters Convention this year. Thanks again for coming up and thanks for all you've done for us bowhunters. Truly you have given back. We will carry it on as you have asked.
I just got back home from the bootcamp this weekend and saw your post, Barry. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to attend and learn from you. You could charge much more for these seminars and its clear you have a true interest in passing on your knowledge to the next generation. You and Susan are extremely kind to welcome us onto your hunting lands and into your home. Hearing you recount the stories behind your mounts is something I will never forget. The caliber of the hunters in attendance was not lost on me either, what a great group of guys both in terms of their hunting experience and sense of humor. Walking the woods with you and hearing your thoughts on your stand setups is something I will think back on often and I look forward to passing on some of your techniques/lessons learned to my family.
Thank you for everything, you & Susan really went above and beyond. It was an incredible experience.
SBH: No problem but we never met at the MBA convention this year. That was my brother Gene. Don't feel bad. We're identical twins so it's not that it's never happened before. Ha. bw
I attended in 07 and had my cousin Karl come along. Now Karl has been in the woods hunting literally his whole life, bowhunting in a tree (no stand, literally sitting on a tree limb) since he was two years old, but since Karl attended, 4 fair chase Boone and Crockett bucks have been killed with a bow based upon Karl's knowledge (so far). I have to say the things Barry discussed and demonstrated on the ground during those three days HAD to have had a huge impact on that fact. No telling how many mature whitetail bucks had met their demise as a direct result of Barry's Bootcamps. Thanks Uncle Barry!
Attending a Boot camp is like getting a master's degree in whitetail hunting. Thanks for all that you have done Barry!
Barry, would have loved to attended one of these. Bowhunting October Whitetails is still one of the best deer hunting videos ever. I know my dad thought you & Gene are two of the greatest whitetail hunters to ever lay foot on this planet. Always a pleasure to read your posts. Take care, Darrall Dougherty
Take a load off, O' Great One, you've earned it!
In Hinduism for example, the four stages of life comprise a student, a householder, hermitage or meditator and finally a renunciator or elder teacher. You're in the stage where knowledge of hunting that you've committed the better part of your life to is seen with great clarity. Thanks for being willing to pass so much of it on:)
Even though we may have vast differences in traditions, beliefs and backgrounds, we tend to adhere to the above stages. One reason many of us would recoil and be less receptive to a young gun (outdoor channel celebrity) in the "student" stage of life telling or teaching us how to hunt for example.
May you continue to enjoy to your retirement years............
Barry,Jimmie and I attended one of your bootcamps along with Dale from 3 rivers,about 3 0r 4 years ago.It was everything that you said,and more.I consider it one of the best learning experiences of my life.The food alone was worth the price of admission.Thanks to you and Susan for putting these on.My best to you both,Cliff
I've been wanting to do this for years and I finally had the privilege of attending the Boot Camp two weeks ago. I almost couldn't get out of Philly due to a spring blizzard but Barry convinced me to show up a day late, rather than miss the camp, and I am so happy I listened to him. We all know he's been at this for decades but I bet most don't realize the amount of time Barry spends in the field every season. The knowledge he's gained is simply priceless and the fact that Barry was willing to share it all, with no holds barred, is a real testament to the man. Spending time in the woods, going over all the details of his personal set ups, where Barry has actually killed many giant Iowa bucks was unbelievable. He even showed us a few stands where he's missed some giants (sorry Barry!). With the exception of his son Brad, Barry's wonderful family were also there to help us all enjoy the weekend that much more. I kept telling his wife, Susan and daughter, Laurel that I really came for the food! And by the end of the weekend I think they finally believed me. I've never had better camp food before. Jason, Barry's oldest son, was also just a pleasure to hang out with, both in the woods and back at camp. I've been reading Barry's new book and watching the new DVD ever since I got back home and they are both just fantastic. If any of you guys that wanted to do the Boot Camp but missed out, this is the next best thing and I highly recommend them both. As a young and very impressionable bowhunter back in the mid '80s, I watched "Bowhunting October Whitetails" over and over and over. Barry was my hero. Guess what? He still is! Thanks so much for all you have given to bowhunting Barry. You truly are a legend!
Barry, thank you for hosting those. I am glad that I finally got to one three years ago. Not only was it very informative but many fond memories were made. And thanks to Susan for her wonderful hospitality and great meals.
Barry- HA! That's funny, ya, your right....I didn't even pay attention! Gotta love that. I should have known too...I have twin boys so this aint my first rodeo. Thanks for clarifying. Matt
Absolutely one of my favorite memories since I have been whitetail hunting was one of Barry's camps. Learned, laughed, laughed more, ate well and had a great time!
The "reunion/farewell tour" sounds appropriate!
Are you sure you don't have maybe 1 more left in ya?
well this is one thing that I really wanted to do at some point. I just got done watching your latest video and I feel like it would have been a great learning experience.
I was just digging out from the Iowa snow last weekend, while shed hunting, with my friend,,, ha ha ha.........anyway I bought your dvd on crooked hat chronicles at the PBS gathering in Madison, although not a member, I went to see the vendor tables.
All the guys in Tama sure enjoyed it,,,,, nice video..................
Congrats on such a fine run in the whitetail community. I like many would have loved to attended one of these camps. I guess I'll have to make do with your videos. Speaking of videos, maybe you could put one together of your boot camp on tape? I think it would sell nicely.
I too only learned about these boot camps last year, and unfortunately couldn't do it this year. Obviously $ is not the reason you do these Barry, but if someone filmed Barry doing one of these Boot Camps, I'd honestly pay $50 for that video. I don't care if it was filmed with an iphone or an 8mm camera. It's been a pleasure to learn from you through the little you post on here, your books, and your videos. All the best Barry.
I believe Barry is coming out with a video of some of his most useful tips. Stay tuned later this year to Brothers of the Bow site. I went to his camp last year and learned a lot about detailing treestands and the much increased effort to keep from getting outlined. More times than not, it takes moving the stand lower than higher to go un-noticed. Mike
I am no expert,,,,, I shoot a lot of bucks, but am not in Barrys class by no means.... However I for years, got a lot of snickers, for using or one or two sticks, and the lightest hang on, I could find....................
The reason was my set up,,,,,,, quick, easy, less sweat time, no need for climbing ropes and junk that creates noise, easy to re set up, use the most of the tree you can for cover, and sit lower, and better shot angle.........
Present set up is a M7 hang on and 2 xop sticks,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, its a killer set up
I had the privilege to attend one last year with my son. I definitely learned a great deal but the best part was watching and listening to my son get excited about what we could and should be doing where we hunt. It's also fun watching Barry get excited sharing knowledge with the young ones. Barry, thanks for everything you've given to the sport.
I too, never attended the boot camp, but have met, and talked to Barry and Gene many times at the Eastern Outdoor expo in Harrisburg. What great down to earth embassadors of our sport. It was nice to share a laugh as well as wisdom, and they graciously donated to my Disabled Hunters Program. Thanks for everything brother!