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Memorable Hunt with an Even Better Encounter

A great Virginia buck was secondary to meeting Jim Crumley, inventor of Trebark camouflage.

Memorable Hunt with an Even Better Encounter

Traditional Editor Fred Eichler took this 8-point buck while hunting Virginia for the first time with friend C.J. Davis of Montana Decoy Company.

When I was 18, I worked in an archery shop. Well, actually it was a sporting goods store, but I worked in the archery department. In that archery department there was a poster of a man with a beard carrying a bow. He was dressed in camouflage, and that poster was advertising the first manufactured camouflage designed for hunters. It was called Trebark, and the man’s name was Jim Crumley.

I remember that poster vividly. I bought a pair of pants and a shirt in Trebark, because I had never seen anything like it. Nobody had, and I thought I was invisible when I wore it. This was back before Realtree, Mossy Oak or any of the other camouflage companies had come on the scene.

Fast forward to this past fall, almost 40 years later, and I was in Virginia hunting with my buddy C.J. Davis, the president of Montana Decoy Co. We were whitetail hunting, and I was excited because I had never hunted in Virginia before. We were using decoys and videoing the hunt.

As is the norm when I am hunting with C.J., he was seeing, or at least claiming to see, bucks every time he went out, and I was struggling to spot a few does in the distance. I still haven’t decided if he is just that good of a whitetail hunter or if he is delusional and daydreaming all these deer sightings.

The second evening of our hunt, C.J. asked what I had seen and I said one deer that didn’t come close enough for me to positively identify. C.J. said he had seen a really nice buck that he would have shot if it had come in range. That means a lot coming from C.J., as we hunt entirely differently. I am a shoot ’em all, eat ’em all hunter, whereas C.J., who loves deer meat as much as I do — especially if I am cooking — is more of a trophy hunter and lets all the little bucks pass.

C.J. picked up on my sarcastic look and suggested I go set up my stand in some trees where he had seen the buck. I asked why he wouldn’t set up on the buck he had seen and why he would let me go after the supposedly big mature Virginia buck. He explained that he was going to leave to watch his son play football and wouldn’t be back to hunt that evening. He’d return the following day.

C.J. is a very generous guy who also isn’t above joking around. So, I didn’t know if he was genuinely being super nice by offering me some intel on this big buck, or if I was being gar-holed because there was never a big buck in the first place.

Either way, I decided to set up a stand close to where he had seen the buck.

I had been settled in for a bit when, thanks to the amount of fallen leaves on the ground and the dry weather, I heard a deer approaching. I didn’t even care how big it was. I was going to shoot the first legal deer that cruised by, and based on the noise in the leaves, it was getting closer and the deer was about to be in view.

When I saw the deer’s legs approaching through the trees I started to get excited because it was already in range. When I saw the rack on the buck’s head I started shaking. It had to be the deer C.J. had seen. I lifted up my recurve and the Easton arrow was bouncing around like a small limb in a gusty windstorm. I tried to pull myself together, but the video shows I did a poor job because my bow, the arrow and the broadhead were all shaking around.

I managed to get a decent shot on the buck despite the spasm that it looks like I was having. I was fortunate the buck was only 8-10 yards away or this story would be about the big buck I missed in Virginia.

Of course, I had to call C.J. while he was at his son’s football game. I apologized and told him I did believe him about all the deer he said he saw. He then made me say he was the most amazing deer hunter I knew, but since we were on the phone, he couldn’t see that I had my fingers crossed!

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I told him I was going to break the deer down and pack him up. C.J. explained there was no need to as he would send Jim Crumley down to pick me and the buck up. I couldn’t believe it, and I happily agreed to wait.

Fred Eichler, Jim Crumley
For Eichler, a highlight of the trip was meeting Trebark camo inventor Jim Crumley, who helped him with his deer and then served up some fried squirrel after the hunt.

It wasn’t too long before a man with a white beard wearing vintage Trebark camo came driving down the little dirt two-track where I had dragged the deer. He jumped out of the side-by-side, congratulated me and admired the deer. He helped me load it, and we talked as he drove me back to my truck.

Jim is an amazing man. Even in his 70s, he is spry and has a huge smile that just makes a person happy. The way his eyes light up when he is telling a hunting story is something to see.

This humble legend from the hunting industry was kind enough to allow me to stop by his house and do a podcast with him that I have posted on my Everything Eichler podcast. One of my favorite parts of the interview is when he offered me some fried squirrel while talking about some of his fascinating history, such as how his first ad ever was in Bowhunter Magazine back when people placed orders on handwritten order forms. It’s funny how time flies and people you meet in your past can circle back later in life.

If you want to check out the video of my big Virginia buck (that C.J. takes all the credit for) you can find it on the MOTV series Just Shot.

For more information, visit fredeichler.com, and don’t miss Fred’s new show, “Everything Eichler,” every Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on Sportsman Channel.




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