Q & A with Terry Drury
Outdoors video and television pioneer and outdoor icon Terry Drury graciously agreed to participate in a recent interview with the NWTF's John Brasier to discuss his experiences in the industry. A young contractor with an engineering degree in 1989, Terry went into business producing hunting videos with his brother, Mark, a six-time world champion turkey caller.
The Drurys' videos were an instant success in a widely untapped market. With their success, they graduated to television, where they now have five cable television shows in addition to videos and merchandise sales. In addition to the hunting shows, Terry remains very much involved in his construction business around his home in Bloomsdale, Mo., about an hour south of St. Louis. Mark, 10 years younger, does more traveling for the shows.
John: Could you start with the beginning and tell us how Drury Outdoors came about?
Terry: In 1987, I had a construction company and Mark, who was still in college, was traveling around to calling contests. We saw some of the hunting videos that were out and said, "We can do this." We were just looking for a means to pay for a few extra hunts.
JB: Would you describe your preparation for your first hunt, including the preparation?
TD: In 1988, we filmed our first hunt in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. We bought a camera and we've never put it down. We kind of got our start in Jackson, Miss. We knew Wilbur (Primos) put out a quality product and we went down there and he kind of showed us the ropes. There were some good people doing videos - Wilbur, the guys at Mossy Oak and Bill Jordan (Realtree) were a few - but I'd hate to try to get into this today.
JB: Currently, you have five TV shows: "Wildlife Obsession," "Dream Season," "Bow Madness," "Natural Born," and "King of the Spring." In King of the Spring, which just began airing for the season, you compete against your brother in hunting and other tasks during Missouri's three-week spring turkey season. Without giving anything away, who is the better overall hunter?
TD: Mark. He has been and he always will be. He's a very talented caller and shooter with ice water running through his veins. Though it's a competition, the emphasis is on hunting turkey. We weigh in according to NWTF regulations.
JB: Where did you and Mark acquire your hunting skills?
TD: Our grandparents had a farm where we could hunt. My father worked two shifts, so he wasn't able to hunt that much. We're somewhat self-taught.
JB: How hard is it to get the harvesting of a prize gobbler or buck on tape?
TD: Mark and I are students of the game. We learn something on every hunt. We take every element into account when we go out. We expect to see a mature whitetail every time we go out there. But it isn't easy. In "Bow Madness," I once spent 60 days and bounced around like a cricket to different states before I harvested one on Mark's farm in Iowa. It's like the ultimate chess match with nature to harvest a mature whitetail.
JB: You and Mark have been innovative with your shows and videos - the head-to-head competition is an example - but what do you think has made your shows so successful?
TD: Consistency. That's what separates the men from the boys in this business. We're able to consistently capture a mature gobbler or buck on tape. We work with 40 subcontractors on our shows. Most of the faces haven't changed for a long time. They are loyal and some of the best hunters around.
JB: Could you explain "100% Wild, 100% Fair Chase Conditions," a phrase Drury Outdoors has trademarked?
TD: That's kind of our mantra. We have the utmost respect for the animal. We don't cross fence lines. We do everything ethically. All of our guys are pretty much cut from the same cloth.
JB: Why is "Dream Season," which features "dream" hunts with a terminally ill child, your favorite of the TV shows?
TD: It has a very profound, lasting effect on you. It pulls at your heartstrings. The child is able to be normal for a day.
JB: How has recording of the shows and videos changed most over the years?
TD: We started with a super VHS camera then a Beta camera, a mini DVD. We've been HD for a long time. It's getting harder physically with age. It's not so easy hanging upside down from trees like a monkey. By the end of deer season, we can barely get up in the deer stand."
JB: How has bringing your son, Matthew, into the business helped with the workload?
TD: Matt is our brand manager and he's helped us keep up to date. The tech side, especially video has passed me by. I spend a disproportionate amount of time on the shows and videos, trade shows, things like that. I'm still very involved in the construction business with the estimating and bidding process. Very, very few bids go out without me signing off.