August 05, 2022
By Lynn Burkhead
There’s little doubt that the 1980s proved to be watershed years in terms of hunting white-tailed deer across North America, arguably among the most important decades that the sport has seen, at least in modern times.
Making a Mark
For starters, the nation’s leading authority on all things deer and deer hunting—North American Whitetail magazine of course—began its legendary run when the first issue of the famed publication hit the newsstands in the fall of 1982. With the likes of David Morris, Dick Idol, and of course, NAW editor emeritus Gordon Whittington guiding the magazine forward through its infancy and into an empire that would eventually have magazines, books, social media, and of course, a long running television show, the world of the whitetail was changing.
On the other end of the decade, and book-ending that 10-year period that saw deer hunting begin to change and move towards the modern era we know today, a certain whitetail buck was born in the latter part of the ‘80s. That whitetail would become legendary in only 4 ½ years’ worth of time, turning into a world class typical monster, an enormous giant that would rewrite the Boone and Crockett Club record book.
That deer, of course, was a massive 12-point typical that was downed a few years later on Nov. 23, 1993 when Saskatchewan farmer and deer hunter Milo Hanson made a shot heard round the world, tagging a 213 5/8-inch net typical. But the deer was born in the ‘80s before going on to become one of the most famous bucks of all-time, dethroning the legendary James Jordan buck and remaining the world record typical to this very day.
And what’s the third event of the ‘80s mentioned above? Well, right in the middle of those two events came the mid-1980s birth of Laden Force, the popular North American Whitetail TV show co-host and Outdoor Sportsman Group magazine publisher who, along with the rest of his NAW colleagues, is helping to report, record, and shape the future of deer hunting as it continues to grow deeper into the 21st Century.
Building a Legacy
It's also worth noting that just about the time that Force was born and the deer hunting world began to change, a name synonymous with the hunting industry also began to make a discernable shift as Browning—and its iconic Buckmark logo that hunters everywhere know and love—began to do more than selling some of the world’s best shotguns and rifles.
With technologies like Gore-Tex, Thinsulate, and more growing and turning a new generation of clothes into the hunt-helping duds we know and use today, Browning was one of the first companies to turn its attention towards new ways of doing things that hunters had grown accustomed to for decades.
Force remembers well how the legacy of the Buckmark emblem, and it’s growing role as one of the industry’s leading pioneers of top-shelf hunting gear, impacted his own hunting family in the American Midwest, a place where he grew up spending some serious time in the woods and on the water, learning how to hunt and fish.
It was a great place to grow up, a breadbasket region where the people work hard, love family and country, and get to hunt some of the continent’s biggest bucks. But it’s also a region where quality is revered by its hard-working residents, a place where carnival barkers shouting out the praises of a new gimmick will never succeed in pulling the wool over the eyes of the farmers, hunters, and outdoors savvy residents who live there.
A Stamp of Approval
And from the beginning, Force learned that when it came to quality, it was hard to top the familiar emblem of a buck carrying its antlers high in the Midwestern sky, the Browning Buckmark.
“Everybody from my dad to my grandfathers to my uncles, even my great grandmother, everybody in the family hunted or fished,” he recalls. “And hunting was a big part of what we did for the second half of the year leading into the fall and winter months.
“And right out of the gate I was taught by my grandfather and by my father what that Browning Buckmark meant when it appeared on a product, what it stood for, and what it told you about the product. It told you that was a high quality product.”
True for hunting firearms for generations, today, the Buckmark logo is equally at home with all kinds of other outdoor gear, including some of the industry’s best clothing systems that work from sweaty early season western hunts, to breezy midseason whitetail hunts, to the season’s bitter end as the cold deepens and the snow flies. With the latest camouflage patterns and technology, there’s little to compare to the Browning Ovix lineup of hunting clothes, no matter whether you’re in the first quarter of the season, or the final moments before the buzzer sounds.
“When it comes to choosing an apparel pattern, there's really four boxes that I try to check,” said Force. “A good base layer, insulation, protection from the elements, and a versatile camo pattern. The Browning brand name has been built by innovation and high-quality products for over a century. Their new big game apparel line and Ovix can help you check all four of those boxes.”
But technology is only one part of the equation when it comes to hunting clothes since a hunter also has to hide from the prying eyes of big, mature whitetails alert for the slightest reason to throw their tail high into the air, snort indignantly, and run like the wind into the next county. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen with the Ovix camo pattern.
“To me, what I'm always looking for in a camo pattern, whether it comes down to me sitting in a tree stand 20 feet up trying to pursue a whitetail or running across the side of a mountain in the Rockies pursuing elk or mule deer, is a pattern that has a good variety to it,” said Force. “I want a good mix of light midtones that are really going to blend in with those tones of earths elements. The sage brush, the grasses as the fall starts to turn and your foliage goes from green to brown to gray, I need those light midtones that are going to mix well with those natural elements.”
“And then I like a little bit of darkness mixed into it to give some depth to my camouflage. And even every once in a while, a little bit of green mixed in there, that'll help me blend into those environments where maybe there's elements of the foliage that carry their green color all the way through the winter.”
With Browning and its Ovix lineup delivering all of that and more, Force and the team at North American Whitetail rely on it as they continue to push forward into the future and see what the world of the whitetail hunting will bring to hunters across North America.
And no matter where that journey leads the NAW team, the Browning Buckmark will continue to serve as a symbol of excellence and innovation for them every fall, all the way into the next era of whitetail hunting.