BuckTracker: Antlered Advertising

Well, it’s been fun watching the tremendous buck footage that Wisconsin outfitter Scott Kirkpatrick shared with us last week. And I appreciated the many comments (minus the mean-spirited ones, of course) that piece of film evoked. When Scott first showed me this video, he told me he wanted to air it somewhere “so that people could see the kind of deer we have here in Buffalo County.”

As some of you noted, this is a smart move for an outfitter who wants to keep his region front-n-center in the minds of potential clients. And, I’d stress, Kirkpatrick did it in exceedingly honest fashion; he never claimed this buck was living on one of his properties, nor did he infer that a client might have a better shot at this dream deer than anyone else hunting in the area. He simply wanted to showcase a monster buck as an illustration of his area’s potential.

Some outfitters may not be so above-board. When we scan a brochure, read an ad, or visit a website, we imagine ourselves harvesting a buck like the ones pictured. So exactly what is appropriate advertising for an outfitter? Should only deer harvested by clients hunting with XYZ Outfitters appear in the promotion? What about clip art, video footage or wildlife photography (all of which can be bought) be allowed? How ‘bout harvest photos submitted by friends, relatives and/or employees of the operation, who may or may not be hunting the properties owned/leased by the outfit?

I don’t begrudge any outfitter trying to instill excitement and hope in a potential client. That’s just smart business. But there is excitement and hope, and then there is absolute fantasy. I’d like to know when you think an outfitter has crossed the truth-in-advertising line…