Gear

Bringin’ It Home with Hazel Creek

Among the hordes of hunting DVDs swarming the market, “Bringin’ It Home With Hazel Creek” is one that stands out.

In "Bringin' It Home," Team Hazel Creek (HC), led by Hazel Creek Inc. owner and taxidermist Cally Morris (pictured above), covers a wide swath of North America in pursuit of wild turkey, whitetail and mule deer, elk, mountain goats and Stone's sheep-all while sharing the experience through the camera's lens. Along the way, viewers see 29 game animals taken with archery tackle, muzzleloaders, center-fire rifles and shotguns; as well as the invariable misses that accompany hunting, and behind-the-scenes preparation for the hunts.


At the conclusion of each hunt, while the hunter recounts the scenario in his or her own words, a split-screen view allows the audience to relive the "moment of truth." Shortly thereafter, signaling the end of the segment, is a poignant still image of the hunter(s) with the animal(s).


By using proper setups and techniques, Morris and crew often get very close to their quarry, capturing footage that is nothing short of spectacular. Of the species hunted, though, the wild turkey segments are particularly noteworthy. The turkey hunting imagery afforded through the use of the company's rugged, taxidermy-prepared decoys, the bread-and-butter of Hazel Creek Inc., is simply unparalleled. Viewers witness how wild turkeys-both hens and gobblers-respond to, and interact with other turkeys, including HC decoys.


Particularly helpful with regard to turkey hunting is a stand-alone segment entitled "Decoy Setup 101." In it, Morris explains the differences between one-, two- and three-decoy spreads, hen and jake decoys, and how a gobbler, or multiple gobblers, will typically respond. He also details the optimal distance between decoys and correct positioning for ideal shot angles. Footage from earlier hunts illustrates key concepts.  


While the techniques Morris teaches in "Decoy Setup 101" correlate nicely with decoys of other types, the value of HC taxidermy-prepared turkey decoys is readily apparent, particularly for archery hunting. In several of the hunts, the Real Decoy affords the hunter an additional shot or two, as well as movement without sending the bird running. The difference between these decoys and others is unbelievable.


Separating the hunts are short segments entitled "Taxidermy 101" and "The Grind." The former, provided through Morris' experience as a decorated taxidermist, provides invaluable information about properly caping, measuring and freezing of big-game animals for shoulder mounts, manikin selection, field-prepping wild turkeys and other tips. "The Grind" follows Morris and team from start to finish as they prepare world-class-quality mounts of whitetail deer, wild turkeys, a red stag and a desert bighorn sheep. Following "The Grind" segment are multiple static images illustrating the completed mount from various angles and heights.


There is also a wealth of extras, which are available by selecting "Special Features" on the main menu. "On The Road With Big Red" illustrates behind-the-scenes preparation for the annual National Wild Turkey Federation Convention and Sport Show. "Bonus Hunts" features an additional moose hunt in British Columbia, several Hawaiian turkey hunts and deep-sea fishing in the Aloha State. Then there are "Bloopers/Ugly Misses" and "Slam Dunks," which are a collection of the DVD's mess ups and kill shots, and "Bringin' It Home," which presents numerous trophy images, along with mounts of many of the animals previously illustrated. Rounding out the "Special Features" options are "Tips" and "Taxidermy," both of which focus on these segments scattered throughout the DVD.


A welcome feature in "Bringin' It Home With Hazel Creek" is the inclusion of hunters other than experts. Morris hunts alongside his wife, Annetta, cameraman Caleb Stewart, and a host of hunters with a genuine passion for the outdoors, as well as the quarry they chase-and it shows. There's a nice blend of novices and veterans, children and adults, and males and females.


From the imagery and editing to the personalities and tips, this DVD has much to offer. Not only does it provide hours of entertainment, but invaluable information from which all big-game hunters will benefit. See the difference for yourself. Go to www.hazelcreekinc.com.


For more, check out the DVD trailer and Taxidermy 101 with Cally Morris.


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