Students hunt for TV success

By Gus Bode

When Jake Stocke pursues his prey, he ultimately hopes to capture it on film.

Stocke, a junior from Carmi studying radio-television, is one of two SIUC students who recently premiered reality-based hunting shows on the Men’s Outdoor ‘ Recreation network.

Stocke’s shows, “Adrenaline Outdoors,” as well as “Whitetail Freaks,” which features university junior Randy Birdsong, have each aired in primetime slots on the network in recent weeks.


Stocke said his decision to produce a hunting show was a natural one. He grew up hunting, he said, and was inspired to carry a camera to document his exhibitions after watching similar hunting shows as a child.

“I’ve been going to the woods ever since I was old enough to walk,” he said.

Stocke said his hobby slowly evolved into a serious occupational interest, and in 2003, he purchased the professional equipment necessary to produce the show.

“I thought I could teach myself how to do it, so I just went out and spent way too much money and kind of self taught myself,” he said.

In 2005, Stocke said he began filming and editing “Adrenaline Outdoors” in which he and 15 other hunters from across the country hunt deer, bears and wolves. Stocke also enlisted the help of his father, Kevin, to film and hunt.

“He gave me the opportunity to do the hunting,” Stoke said. “Now I kind of give him the opportunity to be on TV.”

Though he has filmed his hunts for years, Stocke said the experience is still nerve-racking.


“I consider this actual reality TV because you’re not guaranteed anything with this,” he said. “You can’t go back and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t like the way the shot turned out on TV’ and have the deer reenact it.'”

Birdsong, a junior from Marion studying business, said filming hunts for television is often a frustrating process. Birdsong, who said he trades filming and hunting responsibilities with a partner, said hunters often go long periods of time without killing a deer. Factors such as lighting effect whether he chooses to shoot at a deer, he said.

“It’s way more difficult than what people realize,” he said. “When they’re watching on TV they’re only seeing the best parts and the times that it was successful.”

Cory Byers, a radio-television instructor at SIUC, said the cost of the professional equipment associated with television production has decreased in recent years, making it easier for individuals and small groups to produce their own shows. Most of the necessary equipment can be purchased for less than $10,000, he said.

An increasing number of media outlets also make it simpler for a person with little formal training to access the industry, he said.

“With more channels, things may not be as professional as they might once have been,” he said.

Daily Egyptian reporter Joe Crawford can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 273 or [email protected].