How did you originally get into hunting and then take it from a hobby to a sponsorship and part-time career?
It all started when I was really little about 4 years old. My dad was a big hunter. He took me out, got me into the woods and let me get involved with it at a really young age. From that point I really grew fond of it because of the relationship it allowed me to have with my dad. We continued to hunt and as I got older I started to hunt on my own and just became hooked. It’s a huge part of my life and as I got better with it over time, taking more animals, I really just wanted to take it to that next level.
As I watched hunters on TV, that started to become my dream – seeing those guys and seeing all the stuff that comes with hunting at the best places. In college me and a group of my friends who hunted said, “you know what, we could do that, we’re entertaining, we hunt on some really good land, we go places, lets film our hunts”. So we started filming each other with nothing but handy cams and it was just kind of for fun in the beginning but after a couple of years we put together a DVD. Season one came out of Outdoors Addiction and it was a bunch of guys out of northeast New Jersey mostly. This was probably around 2006. It’s been a long journey and after a few seasons of being successful with that a few television people had seen the DVDs that we were selling.
How did you get your hunting DVDs in front of customers?
We were handing them out and selling them at small sporting good stores and to pretty much anybody that would let us put them on the shelf. We had an individual in law enforcement, Brian Suschke a sergeant from Trenton, who really took us under his wing and we became the main figures on the team. We became really tight with Brian and he helped us just keep growing and progressing. Then Trent Cole (former Philadelphia Eagles defensive end) took some of our guys and signed them on his show, Blitz TV. Some of the guys went that way with the show, but I chose to continue Outdoors Addictions and tried to keep that going.
How many people are you working with at this point?
We had about 10-15 guys submitting videos, it was very low key and had minimal sponsorship at best.
What ended up happening with Outdoor Addiction?
When it got to the level of being serious, that’s when Trent stepped in and kind of cherry picked the best guys we had on the team. I wasn’t in the picture at that point which was fine, I was a little upset by it at the time but it’s all good, because everything happens for a reason. So I kept with Outdoors Addiction trying to keep that going and trying to turn it mainstream and then in doing so I was on a hunt in Kentucky where I met a TV producer and show host for a hunting show. I showed him what I was doing and he liked it. We hit it off and then he signed me. That’s when Outdoors Addiction kind of fizzled out.
It was around 2010 at this point, I was still in college, just working hard and trying to get sponsorships and take it to that next level. I invested some money in some really good camera equipment trying to get closer to TV quality, and I did. I had 3 really good seasons on the TV show called “Whitetail Journey”. I did really well there and took it as far as I thought I could for my platform. I eventually took a step back from that show in an attempt to not become too mainstream which actually allowed me to take more steps forward in the long run. It was a really big gamble, because now I’m on my own and I’m just “Craig Meyer”.
Can you tell me how the years of content and video you’ve produced might have helped you open up new doors?
A really good friend of mine Nate Hosie had just started getting really good on his platform on a show called Head Hunters TV. It wasn’t extremely well known yet because the show was just in its first season. We clicked at a trade show that was out here in Jersey. I had just watched a hunt he had done a week ago that I really liked so I went up to him, found out he was from Scranton, PA, I told him I was from New Jersey and that we should go hunting some time. So we exchanged numbers, kept in touch, and became good friends – it really helps to be at the right place at the right time.
Nate came out and did a hunt with me and filmed it as an episode of Head Hunters TV. After that hunt the trust for each other grew, Nate put me in touch with one of his best friends, and owner of his show, Matt Busbice. Matt and his family own several brands in the outdoor industry and they’re just big time. I spent time with Matt and we became good friends. He trusted me in the fact that I’m a police officer and really liked the videos and photography I had been producing for my social media pages. Matt wanted to bring me on his team, Plano Synergy, for social media marketing and make his brand put out an image consistent with what I’ve been putting out. This was about a year and a half ago and when things really started to take off for me.
Having it happen to me in this way has been good. It opened my eyes to many facts with being successful in the outdoor industry, there are so many talented and good people out there that will never get discovered. You have to have the right outlet or the right connections or friendships, or just luck – the right door opens and you step in that door at the right time makes all the difference in the world. It is crazy to me that with extremely hard work, a lot of sacrifices, some luck and clicking with the right people has gotten me to where I am.
As we’ve been talking you’ve mentioned a handful of names off the top of your head. Can you talk about how important networking has been to your success?
Oh my gosh, it’s everything! I’m extremely active when it comes to networking and it’s all about keeping yourself relevant and producing content. You have to create content that people trust and that works. You can plug product all day, but how does that product work and is it making you successful? So many of our brands are successful because I believe that we are making the best product. And then I show people this is how I’m using it successfully, and I want everyone to be successful. I want everyone to be successful and to take the best animal of their life so that’s why I’m showing people how I use certain products to be successful and that’s how I keep myself relevant. It’s how I give back to other hunters and keep positive relationships and continue to network.
Networking has been everything to me. I’ve clicked with the right people and I’ve become friends with them, we just get along and have a great time. If it had not been for certain individuals my hard work would still not have gotten me to where I’m at. I’m very humble in the respect that I know there are much better hunters out there, but it really comes down to how good of a people person you are. There are guys out there who are the best of the best when it comes to hunting but they just lack the social skills. In this industry you just have to be so well rounded. So I’m extremely thankful for certain people that have helped me and I think karma is a big thing. One hand washes the other and it always circles back. I like to think when you help someone out it comes back two fold.
Networking is huge. I go to trade shows a lot. I find out where big trade shows are, whose going to be there and what trade shows are going to be beneficial. You just need to stay relevant, be all over the place, be active and be working your tail off all the time. The wheel is constantly turning for me and I’m always thinking about what’s the next way to get a step ahead.
I saw you started your own hunting consulting business. Is that the next major step for you or is it just one piece of the puzzle?
It’s just one part right now, I’m trying to see where it goes. The style of hunting that I choose is very unique in the hunting world called the “beast style”. It’s not all like, “I’m a beast hunter”, rather it’s the absolute style and technique I use to take these mature whitetail deer. That style is what I teach, and that’s what the business is. It has taken me so many years of hard work and making mistakes that I like to share my knowledge with people and quickly add years of experience to their hunting belt. So by doing Eastern Whitetail Consultants, I will take you 1 on 1 and I will teach you how to hunt the best deer you can hunt, how to be the best hunter you can be and I want to take you to your apex level as a hunter.
Hunting is obviously no longer just a hobby for you anymore. Do you see yourself getting to a point where you leave your full-time career as a police officer to become a full-time hunter?
I love being a police officer, it’s a big part of who I am but it’s not everything. I grew up in a law enforcement family of cops-cops, who were just very proactive, with a lot of arrests, and they were good cops, but they were also good people. They treat everyone with respect – you treat the garbage man the same way you would treat the president.
But back to what the end goal is – this job is safe only in the respect that it’s always going to be there as long as I’m healthy and it’s got good benefits. Being a police officer isn’t necessarily safe because we know what we’re going though now a days. And in that respect I can’t not look towards hunting as an ultimate goal. Not getting shot at, or getting ambushed or having the stress from working night shifts when I’m doing the hunting thing is what I look forward to. I’m loosing a ton of sleep and it’s just the stress of being a police officer that takes a toll.
If the hunting goes the way I’m hoping it goes and the right opportunity opens up, and the right door…and it has to be a really good door, I would say I would take it. I would have to leave, and I swore it’s something I said I would never do, but I would leave law enforcement for a really good hunting career opportunity, it’s my dream! I love being a police officer but at the end of the day it’s not who I am, I’m a hunter.