Todd Pringnitz of White Knuckle Productions shares deer hunting secrets as he emphasizes the importance of safety. Letting us in on the businesses he is involved with, he talks about what has been going on in the company at White Knuckle Productions as well as on Wicked Tree and Tree Thrasher. Todd shares some products that
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Deer Hunting Secrets White Knuckle Productions – Todd Pringnitz P1
It’s been crazy. We sold one business and started a new business. Between hunting and property management and family life, it’s been pretty much a blur. I’ve been working really hard on the new company and on whitetails, it never ends. In 2017, I had the best whitetail season of my life. I killed three different seven-year-old whitetails, two with a bow and one with a muzzleloader. It’s a dream season I’ll never duplicate again.
I rolled my truck in the north of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and never hunted. I walked up the hill. I crossed the Chippewa River. I was heading up to Birchwood, my buddy’s farm. We had a wonderful ten-pointer on the camera. He was a big mature deer, everything you’d want. We had a strategy. He had guys that know how to hunt and we were going to hunt him. One of us should have had a shot, but I never made it.
I’m glad you’re okay. That’s scary.
It was scary, I hit black ice. I wasn’t cited for anything. The highway patrol said, “There’s nothing you could do. You hit it, your back end went and you were gone. We’re glad you’re walking out of here.”
You missed your hunt but you can catch up later in life.
Wherever you’re going, running early, running late, be smart and be safe out there. I tell that to everybody. With a flick, there was nothing I could do. I did the NASCAR thing. I folded my arms over my chest and rode it out.You missed your hunt, but you can catch up later in life. Click To Tweet
Black ice is dangerously scary. In regard to safety, it’s the one thing I always end any conversation, especially this time of year with any hunters is make sure you wear your safety harnesses. If you can, use lifelines in your tree stands because it can happen really fast. We’re all in a big hurry to try to get up in our tree stands and be ready for that big buck when it comes through or whatever. You can’t take enough time to be safe.
I’m hunting from the ground. I don’t know if I’ll get up in even to a double ladder. I probably will hunt from the ground, which is fine. Not a lot of epiphany. I’ve always been a believer in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit but it was like, “Why did you save me?” You had a dream season. How long ago did you start White Knuckle Productions? You were doing that when you had the other company, Wicked Tree.
I started White Knuckle back in the day. We were selling DVDs. We produced about ten DVDs over a few years. A few years ago, we stopped producing DVDs. With the way the web is, everything has shifted. We do a web show and a podcast now. I’m a whitetail machine, that’s what I was born to do. It’s been fun to use the new technology. It’s amazing what we have out there and the video side. It changes quickly. We started out doing DVDs and phased into the web stuff, but we’ve never looked at White Knuckle Productions as being a money-making business. It’s a business of passion and it helps support the companies that we work with, our sponsors as well as my companies that I produce a variety of products with. We’re able to keep it a little bit more down to earth and raw and it’s not an infomercial. We share our stories as they happen in a unique way. It’s far more relatable for any whitetail hunter and you don’t have to be crazy serious or not. We’re all a bunch of nuts but there’s a lot of great information, some great people and we kill some world-class whitetails every year. In 2017, I was able to kill a 190-class typical buck that is the biggest typical-framed whitetail I’ve ever seen in the woods. We got everything on video. We released the story and it has been blowing up.
What are the other businesses you’re involved?
The new one I started is called Tree Thrasher. It’s a new call. When people hear the beginning of the new product stuff, especially when it comes to new calls you’re thinking, “What gimmick is this?” I’ve been hunting in Iowa for a long time. I’ve hunted some properties that were completely unpressured and unbelievable several years ago. Deer would come in calling crazy, especially you could rattle deer in throughout the season. The deer had no pressure and they weren’t educated by other hunters. When I bought my farm at a different location, I had a lot more hunting pressure on me, a lot more neighbors.
Over the part of the first season I was hunting here I realized, “There are a lot of guys around and they’re calling aggressively.” I would listen to one neighbor rattle and can-call and grunt and bleat basically for their entire hunt. I’d go to the other side and listen to a different neighbor. I had three different encounters in a matter of a few days. I was like, “No wonder rattling doesn’t work here.” I’ve never been able to rattle in any mature bucks. It was a light bulb that went off like, “Now, I know why they’re not calling to aggressive calling,” so I had to change my calling strategy because I was not calling in these big, mature, five to seven-year-old deer that were on camera. I started figuring out I’m like, “They must have my number.”
That’s like elk hunting out here in Colorado since Wayne Carlton and Greg Pink started the diaphragm turkey call a long time ago. All I do is I’ll call at 3:00, 4:00 in the morning maybe for a locator and then all the rest is estrus calls and mews. That’s all I use. I call in more people every year than I call an elk. It’s fun except they walk in and they got an arrow nocked.Wherever you’re going, running early, running late, be smart and be safe out there. Click To Tweet
I came to the conclusion like, “My system is not working so I need to change my system.” It took me to stop carrying my rattling antlers. If I brought them along, I’d be tempted and sure enough I’d end up using them. What happens with rattling is these deer can hear it from hundreds and hundreds of yards and they pattern it. The problem with rattling is you can’t duplicate the sound of a real big buck fight. In many years of hunting, I’ve heard one big buck fight in the timber in my life and it was about a few years ago. We have the whole thing on video. We couldn’t see the bucks fighting, but we could hear them. When it started, I didn’t know what it was. I thought, “What is my neighbor doing driving a truck through the woods?” That’s what it sounded like, thrashing trees, breaking branches and a thunderous noise of two monster animals pushing each other around the timber. You could barely even hear the antlers. You could hear crashing of timber. The deer came running from all directions. Ten deer in 30 seconds, does, fawns, bucks, little bucks, everything came running to that sound. I and my cameraman are up in the tree stand cheering like, “Unbelievable, this is incredible.”
They knew it was real because it sounded real and it worked. Everything came in. They wanted to see what bucks were fighting. The does and fawns, too. They came from all directions and we were in a good area where deer were bedded around us. We were filming a beautiful four-year-old buck that we called Tuna Fish. He had come in and bedded by us. We were filming them bedded down and the fight broke out, he jumped right up, stood up and ran right to it. The problem with rattling is you can’t duplicate those other noises. If you’re up in a tree making the, “Click, click, rattle, rattle,” I can hear the difference and I don’t live in the woods and I don’t live and die by my senses. Imagine the way a whitetail buck when he’s lying in his bed and hears this, “Clickety, clickety, click, clickety, click,” and then 20, 30 minutes later hears the same sound coming from the same location. He knows exactly what you are and you will not see that deer.
A lot of guys have been calling in the same tree stands year after year with the same calling methods. I believe that the deer learns a lot of their instinct and their knowledge comes from their mother the first year of their life by following her around. They are imitating her actions, reactions, what she does, what she eats and what she’s afraid of. Then you can imagine a buck when he’s one year old or two years old, he separates from mama. He goes and starts living with other bucks. He’s imitating the head bucks and the alpha bucks, the dominant deer in those bachelor groups. These deer literally are learning from generation after generation of animals and that instinct is pounded into their behaviors. If you’re hunting a five-year-old deer, it’s not five years of knowledge that buck is carrying or possessing. They carry many generations of knowledge. If you have many generations of hunters that have been hunting the same land or property on field edges, the same ladder stands, whatever it is, the deer have patterned you. As soon as you start making those calls from those same locations, they know what it is and you won’t see them.
What I’ve found in my few years and 500 some odd episodes is that your first three sits are your best sits. You never sit the same stand in a series of three in any one year. The guys that are doing that are extremely successful because they don’t pattern them. They run and gun and they move their stand. They’re using hang-ups, even double ladders that can move or a ground blind that can move. I’ve gotten to the point I’m going to be able to hunt in a number of states and I’m going to hunt in threes. I’m going to use my ground blind and hunt in threes, and then see what happens. It’s going to be an interesting experience because of that.
Folks, if you’ve been hunting the Buckmaster stand for year after year because you shot during rifle season, bow season, muzzleloader season or whatever and your calling sequence doesn’t change, but we all have our own voice. When I elk hunt, I have my own voice. When I call coyotes, I have my own voice. When I call deer, I have my own voice. We all have our own voice, it doesn’t sound like the tape. You have to minimize that and do it and then do it at the right time. Sometimes you can rattle and it doesn’t work. Have you found that to be true? Not because of pressure.
In general and I’ll tell you why rattling doesn’t work as well. Everything is based on goals. My goal is to kill the bucks that are six, seven years old that nobody else can kill around me. If my goal was to kill any buck, then I would probably change my calling strategy. Those big ones have been around the block in order for them to survive to five to seven years old. If they were to come to calling, they would have died years before. For them to make it to that age, they’ve already survived the gauntlet of hunters around. They’re already call-shy. They’re not coming in. Their personality is not aggressive. Otherwise, they would be dead. It’s forced evolution is what I call it. My way of looking at things, I’ve had to change my system to these mature deer. If your goal is to kill these bucks, then you have to start from ground zero when it comes to calling if you have not been calling them in the past. I came to the conclusion many years ago that rattling just scared more deer than it attracted, so I quit rattling. Around that time, I started to see some of these big mature bucks.
A big mature deer walking around during daylight during hunting season is a rare situation anywhere. Huge farms, some of these big names that the deer are comfortable and they are up moving around. For the rest of us, big bucks don’t move that much during daylight. You’re trying to recreate a scenario of two big bucks that are up on their feet moving around during daylight that happens to meet and fight and that is such a rare occasion. In many years, I’ve heard of it once and I’ve hunt 100 different sets a year, 50 days basically of whitetail hunting. I’ve been doing it for many years hunting full-time. I’ve only heard one real big buck fight in all that time. When you start rattling, that’s a rare occurrence. There are not a lot of big buck fights out there. If you’re trying to kill that old mature buck, he doesn’t care about two little dink bucks clicking their antlers together. That’s not going to call him in. What gets under his skin is a dominance thing, is that somebody has invaded his territory.You can’t take enough time to be safe. Click To Tweet
That’s what you’re basically doing is you’re trying to piss off a buck, essentially when you rattle and it doesn’t. The other sounds aren’t there. You’re not going to dupe them. That’s where I started grunting and not more than a single time in a row in cadence. I don’t know where it came from but everybody grunts three times, “Grunt, grunt, grunt,” and then you stop or whatever. That’s how I was taught years ago and I came to the conclusion that’s not even realistic. A buck doesn’t stand in one location and grunt continuously. It usually will grunt once and that’s about it. Occasionally, you hear them grunt multiple times, but it’s always when they’re moving through the timber.
What about a tending grunt?
I don’t believe in all these different varieties of calls, all these grunts. You can go, “Urrrrppp, urrrrppp, urrrrppp,” and that’s fine but you better be running through the woods when you do it because otherwise, it’s not going to sound natural. You’ve got to have the other noise. A deer is always chasing. You’re always going to have leaves and breaking branches and all that stuff. I came to the conclusion for the bucks I was hunting, one grunt every 20 to 30 minutes and I always change it up. Every single grunt is different. I use a grunt tube, one call. The next call, I’ll use my voice. I’ll always project it in a different direction so it sounds like a different deer or different situation. No two grunts are the same. Why are you sounding the same with every grunt?
That was my point about everybody has a voice and the elk know my voice because I hunt the same basin.
This Tree Thrashing product came from necessity. I’d be sitting on the edge of these buck bedding areas in stands that I don’t hunt more than a couple of times a year. You spend all the time and energy getting those stands ready. In some cases, I spend ten to twelve hours on a stand, which is hard for some people to believe. By the time you’ve caught access trails, mark access trails, hang your stand and trim them all out. For self-filming, I’ve got to have good lanes so I put a lot of time in these spots. When I’m in there hunting and I’m sitting there and I know a buck could be better within 100 yards and my grunt strategy hasn’t been working and it’s starting to get dark, there’s no frustration like it. Because you know that there is a possibility you could call one out, you just don’t have a tool to do it. What I started doing over the years was using my rattling antlers like bringing one antler and rubbing it on a tree. Trying to create sounds that accompany a real animal moving through the timber, acting like a buck in the timber thrashing trees and breaking branches, but there was nothing available.
I started a few years ago, it came into my brain. I’m like, “If you could create a tool that created the sound of rustling leaves, breaking branches and the sound of a buck rubbing on a tree. Be able to use those sounds individually or together and accompany that with a single grunt, it would work because it sounds natural. That’s what a buck sounds like.” A buck doesn’t sound like grunting and standing in one location and not moving. Usually, when they’re making an audible intentional loud noise it’s because they feel comfortable, they feel safe in the area they’re in. They’re not going to be thrashing a tree and making all kinds of racket if they think a hunter is right there. That sends a signal. It’s a form of communication whitetails have where they hear that noise of another animal make an intentional noise, they know it’s safe over there. Sure enough, it becomes a hub of activity. They want to come and see what’s going on over there, what’s the ruckus about.
I realized if I could create these extra noises and not over the top, just a little bit of extra noise with a tending grunt or a buck grunt before or after some of these noises, I believe that it could increase the number of deer I would call in. It’s not some magic tool or some magic formula. It’s manipulating whitetails. I’ve successfully manipulated big bucks out of their beds early and brought them right past my stand with my grunting procedures over the years. Big bucks are like a cat. I never would have considered myself a cat person. We have a cat. My wife brought it home and it was forced on me and now I love the little guy. After watching cats and getting to know these things, cats have attitudes and so do big bucks.Deer learn a lot of their instinct and their knowledge from their mother the first year of their life. Click To Tweet
You’ve got to realize, when you’re calling at these big old deer, they’ve heard it all and they’ve seen it all. You’ve got to reach them instinctually and basically aggravate them. That’s how I describe my calling process. If there’s a deer within earshot, it’s specifically bedded within earshot of me. I want to pick at them throughout an entire hunt and aggravate them to the point where they don’t have a choice. They are going to get up and come and investigate because it drives them crazy. You can’t do that with over-calling. With a cat, it’s the same thing. If you try to force a cat to come to you or to do something, they’re going to look the other way. If you tease them, here they come. It’s the same principle. You’ve got to work these bucks, but you’re doing it in a way no other hunter before has done by adding some of these thrashing noises and the sounds of leaves. I generally am set in a situation. I pretend I’m a deer or a part of the herd. I’m like, “If I’m a buck, I’d walk up to a tree.” He either starts scraping or starts putting his antlers.
You’re in your tree stand when you’re doing all this?
I’m up in my tree. I use a ground blind. I called one of my 160-inch eight-pointer seven-year-old deer, called him with my Tree Thrasher in a ground blind situation. They work excellent in ground blinds because you don’t have to worry about any of your movement. You have to see the tool. It’s small. It’s compact. You can make a branch-breaking noise and a leaf noise together and then the tool itself you can rub on the tree. You can layer those different sounds and use them individually based on what your situation is. Every stand is different. Every hunt is different. The noise level in each stand is different depending on how dry the leaves are. There have been many times where I’ve been in excellent spots, it’s been dead quiet and the leaves are dry. I feel like, “If I call at all, anything that’s within hearing distance will know I’m a hunter because they don’t hear the other sounds.” They don’t hear the sound of an animal walking around and then a grunt. You’ve got to think of it from that standpoint.
All the Tree Thrasher does for me is it allows me to use a grunt call, my thrash noises. A whitetail hears those two things, puts two and two together and it increases the number of deer that come past my stand. The number one thing that surprised me in my testing, I used it dozens and dozens of times on a bunch of hunts. What is amazing are does are extremely attracted to the sound. I found myself making these thrashing noises, accompanying it with a grunt. Within five to ten minutes, I would have a doe within twenty yards of my blind or stand. It’s something instinctually they’re driven to that sound. They’re curious to it, “What is that? What’s the animal doing over there? Do I need to be over there? Is there food over there? Is there another deer over there?” It’s a social thing but it works.
This was a warm-up with Todd Pringnitz from White Knuckle Productions. It turned into a special edition. This will be part two of his episode which I invited him to. With that, Todd, we’re going to sign off.
- Todd Pringnitz
- Previous show with Todd
- Tree Thrasher
- White Knuckle Productions
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About Todd Pringnitz
CEO, Todd Pringnitz has been hooked on bowhunting ever since his first morning on-stand. Nearly 18 years later, Todd’s passion for bowhunting continues to evolve and grow with every new season and new business ventures within the hunting industry. It was Todd’s goal to create a
Todd’s straight-forward attitude and outgoing personality have allowed him to define who he is both as a person and as hunter like no other professional hunter before him. Todd’s approach is direct, aggressive, and different than what has ever been shown on-film. The goal was simple; show everything behind a kill – this is the White Knuckle difference!
Kyle Reenders of Six Ten Creative brought Todd’s vision to reality. Kyle’s background in the major motion picture industry as a professional cameraman and editor has enabled White Knuckle Productions to take their hunting production in a totally new direction. Todd realized from the beginning, video quality and film-style editing were essential for the creation of his vision. “Beyond the Kill” is this vision…
Longtime Team Member Jason Syens has been with the team since 2007. In July of 2016, Jason took over as the General Manager of the business. Recently Jason was promoted to President of WKP. Jason has a passion for bowhunting that has evolved over the years. Recently Jason took on the task of giving up his private ground to join the ranks of the Public Land Hunter. Jason is the Co-Host of the Podcast, as well as the Editor and Producer of the Podcast. If you have any questions direct them Jason’s way and if he can’t answer them he will find someone that can.