By Rich Adams
Keefer Bros. Are Driven By Ardenaline, Quest For Challenges
They’ve been dropped into the wild with little more than the clothes on their backs, and challenged to live off the land while accumulating caches of additional equipment on their trek back to civilization.
The Keefer brothers, known for their collaborative Keefer Bros. brand, have been filmed as they plan the perfect whitetail deer season from start to finish, using the hunting techniques they have honed over the years in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Chris and Casey Keefer of Midland are well-known as outdoorsmen and adventure seekers through the airing of “Dropped: Land of the Living Skies” on the Outdoor Network and their YouTube series “Rival Wild.”
They took a step outside of the hunting fields when their newest adventure show, “Code of the Wild,” premiered on The Travel Channel Aug. 6.
“It’s about a lot of mysteries and treasures and the allure that surrounds them,” Chris said. “Casey and I go to treacherous places around the world and figure out if we can solve the mystery or find the treasure. It’s exciting for us.
“It took us out of the hunting realm for a little bit, and it’s a kind of adventurist, high-adrenaline show the puts us in some pretty amazing remote locations across eight episodes,” he added.
The brothers seem to thrive on adrenaline. Their signature style, #GoBeAlive, is a testament to that drive. “’BeAlive’ motivates us to squeeze the most life out of every moment of every day,” their website notes. “It’s a constant reminder to defy limitations, shatter expectations, and grow through all of life’s trials. We believe the reward is in the journey, not the destination.”
Then we figured why don’t we go for a month? And if we were going to go for a month we would have enough footage for a stand-alone show,” Casey continued. “Then we asked how could we challenge ourselves, how can we take it a step further, and decided we would drop in with no food and live off the land. And it kind of snowballed from there.”
Chris said the brothers are eager to see “Code of the Wild” run on The Travel Channel.
“I think the show combined Casey’s love of history and my love of technology, and for both of us our passion for adventure. It puts us on some pretty amazing journeys,” he said.
In their hunting episodes, the Keefers combine that love of tradition and embracing of technology. Chris said both methods are important in modern hunts.
“I think that technology has really given us some amazing advantages,” Chris explained. “I think there’s a time and a place for it, but I also think keeping those traditional skills and passing them on, especially to the younger generation, as we get further and further away from what used to just be deer camp.”
Casey said high-tech and traditional methods can work together.
“When it comes to hunting and even what we do with our productions and our shows and specifically in the sphere of hunting is where technology meets the field,” he said. “I don’t think anything will ever replace the traditional skills of being a hunter and understanding the landscape and the terrain and the animals. Technology enables us to hunt smarter, not harder, and that’s kind of the distinction I tend to draw.”
In one of their videos, Chris opts not to take a young deer, noting that it should be allowed to mature. While he supports growing a deer population with more mature bucks, he also understands why some hunters shoot younger deer.
“It’s very hard for someone to (pass up on an immature deer). If someone’s trying to feed their family and that’s part of what that means, then yes, by all means, take the animal,” Chris said. “Do what you want to do for that hunt to be enjoyable, especially when it comes to the younger generation, because we need for them to be involved, and if we can get them involved by letting them shoot a doe or a spike so they can have that experience, that adrenaline rush, I’m all for it.”
As the Michigan firearm deer season approaches, most hunters prepare by making sure their equipment is usable, and they have the proper licenses. The Keefers said hunters should be in good enough physical shape to achieve their goals, but the mental aspect of the hunt is key.
“I think it’s probably 70% mental and 30% physical. I think it’s amazing what you can do when you’re in the right state of mind and how far you can push yourself,” Chris said. “I think you have to get mentally ready for the hunt, especially when you have to spend all that time in the tree stand.”
Situational training is another way to prepare for a hunt, Casey stated.
“If you’re an archery hunter and if you know you’re going to have a shot uphill or downhill, then I think training needs to be thought of like that as well,” he said. “If you’re an archery hunter who’s going to be hunting from a tree stand, don’t just practice in the yard. Get up to an elevated platform, get into a tree stand and practice the scenario that you’re going to find yourself in.”
The brothers came to Midland after living in the woods near Gaylord in northern Michigan. They connected with their business partner, Jason Brown, in 2010 and made Midland their base.
“Jason had a smaller company here in Midland, and we were looking to get out of the woods,” Chris recalled. “We moved our families down here to Midland because we thought it would be a great place to start a business, and it’s turned out to be an amazing place to do business.”
Get Physical as Part of Hunting Preparation
With deer season approaching – early antlerless firearm season takes place Sept. 21- 22 – serious hunters across the state have already sighted in their rifles, spent time planning out their hunting fields and are eagerly awaiting sunrise on opening day.
While it is essential to have the right equipment in your blind, it’s also necessary to be fit enough to spend hours in a blind and carry out your venison, should you be lucky enough to bag a deer.
According to an article in Field & Stream, couch potatoes are 56 times more likely to suffer cardiac issues during heavy exertion, like dragging a deer out of the woods, than people who are in reasonable shape. It’s also more unlikely you will doze off after a round of heavy climbing and miss out on putting venison in the freezer.
If you’re not going to deer camp until November, you still have time to prepare your body for the rigors of the season.
Gary Shaffner, co-owner of Fasan Jager Upland Preserve in Midland, said getting used to walking in the woods, specific exercises and stretching could help build up the strength and endurance needed to hunt.
“You need to have the strength to pull a deer out when you get one, and to be able to negotiate the uneven terrain while dragging it,” Shaffner said. “If you aren’t in shape, you could have muscle strains and injuries to the back, neck and joints. If you are out of condition and have a pre-existing heart condition, the worst-case scenario would be to have a heart attack.”
“You might even consider getting a personal trainer a few months before the season starts,” he suggested.
To avoid cramping and discomfort in a deer blind, Shaffner said hunters in ground-based blinds can stretch their hamstrings, calf group and hips, but does not recommend stretches in a tree stand.
“Drink liquids with electrolyte solutions, like Gatorade, to avoid cramping,” he said. “You can also stretch before going to bed.”
Another exercise that will help if you have to follow a blood trail is doing stairs. The Elk Hunting Tips website advises placing a platform 6 inches to 8 inches high in a room to act as an improvised stair-stepper. Alternate your legs up and down until it begins to feel like too much, and then relax. Eventually, work your way up to 10 or 15 minutes to get your legs in shape.
For variety try bicycle leg swings. Place one hand on the wall or the back of a chair to help with balance. Move your opposite leg forward, down and back around like pedaling a bike, but in a big circle. Alternate legs and do three sets of 30 at first. You can increase the repetitions as your legs develop.
If you are using a tree stand, the American Physical Therapy Association says hunters should stretch for several minutes before getting into position, be it a tree stand or a ground-based blind.
Once the hunt has begun, the association advises moving or changing positions at least once every 45 minutes to an hour when the opportunity presents itself.
Another possible barrier to getting around during a hunt is avoiding numbness in your legs from staying in a single position during the day. While having proper back and lumbar support will help prevent dead legs, you can also try nerve flossing before you assume your position in a tree stand or blind.
According to Mossy Oak camouflage’s website, take a seated position and extend a leg out in front of you. Lift your foot up and down slowly, like tapping to music. Point your toes toward you and hold for three to five seconds, then put your foot down like you’re hitting the brakes or gas pedal. Return to the starting position after a few seconds, and repeat 10 times with each leg.
With these tips, you’ll have a safe and healthy deer season. Happy hunting!