A Corporate Take-Over Taken Back

Deer and Deer Hunting magazine stands without peer in the world of deer hunting. No other magazine provides so much information to everyday deer hunters. (Photo by Steve Sorensen.)

Contributing Writer
Steve Sorensen

The deer hunting world has some good news. Deer and Deer Hunting magazine will not be closing its doors. Maybe you didn’t know that was a possibility, but the death of a great magazine has been averted because a corporate take-over has been taken back.

Before I go further, you might need some brief history. The seeds of Deer and Deer Hunting magazine were planted in the 1960s when two hunting buddies, Jack Brauer and Al Hofacker, dubbed their deer hunting camp in northern Wisconsin “The Stump Sitters.”

These two dedicated deer men wanted to learn all they could about deer hunting and loved sharing what they knew with other interested hunters. They focused on everything the name “Stump Sitters” implied about deer hunting — observing, appreciating, teaching, pondering, and more. In 1973 they established the Stump Sitters Whitetail Study Group. In 1977 they began distributing the information they were collecting under the name Deer and Deer Hunting, and launched the first national magazine entirely devoted to whitetail deer.

The Stump Sitters followed a classic path of humble, passionate, personal beginnings, discovered strong regional interest, and then national success. Brauer and Hofacker held the reins until 1992. But everything of value eventually finds its way into the hands of new owners. With retirement on the horizon, the two founders sold the magazine to Krause Publications.

Krause added Deer and Deer Hunting to its stable of publications for enthusiasts with a broad range of interests. The brand continued to expand and 10 years later F&W Media purchased Krause. (The letters F & W are a hat-tip to two of the company’s early magazine titles, Farm Quarterly and Writer’s Digest.)

Throughout its life Deer and Deer Hunting magazine has grown, and in recent decades navigated the various digital media streams including websites, online marketing, video production, television programming, and social media — without losing focus on whitetail deer.

Of course, profits are necessary to generate growth, and profits began to sag in the challenging media environment where more and more decisions are made at the corporate level by people distant from the readers.

That’s the history, and it brings us up to date. On the first of this month, Deer and Deer Hunting magazine turned a new page, one that’s true to the “stump sitters” tradition. After 17 years of corporate ownership, the humble, passionate, personal investment is back. Today’s names are Schmidt, Rucks, and Bartylla. These three, all serious deer hunters, have stepped up to the plate. A better metaphor — they have decided to go back and sit on the stump.

They’ve teamed up under the name Media 360, LLC to purchase the magazine out of corporate bankruptcy. Dan Schmidt has been editor-in-chief and will remain, managing the content and its creative delivery. Brad Rucks knows the marketing side of the business, and will work to generate revenue. Steve Bartylla will remain a major contributor to the magazine and continue to provide high quality content for print, television, video and digital media.

Together, they have more than seventy-five years of experience communicating with deer hunters, and they’re bringing a strong deer hunting staff with them. That means the magazine and media know-how are again concentrated in the hands of whitetail hunting fanatics. Their fingers are directly on the pulse of the nation’s passionate deer hunters, and they make decisions every day to serve dedicated deer hunters with the best information available about deer, deer behavior, and deer hunting.

This is big news for deer hunters, but for everyone it’s a lesson that big business doesn’t have all the answers, and that a few grass-roots guys who are committed to high standards and hard work can make a difference.

When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting , he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He writes for top outdoor magazines, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.

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Steve Sorensen of Russell, PA is an award-winning writer whose column, The Everyday Hunter®, offers hunting tips, strategies, insights and occasional humor. His byline has appeared in the nation's top hunting magazines and he is a field contributor to "Deer and Deer Hunting" magazine. Steve is also in demand as an event speaker, presenting programs on do-it-yourself Alaska moose hunting, whitetail deer, wild turkeys, and eastern coyotes, with new programs coming. E-mail him at EverydayHunter@gmail.com to invite him to speak at your next sportsman's dinner (or to tell him where your best hunting spot is).