Matt Alwine and I have never actually met. I came to know of him and his successes in the field by way of www.hunting-washington.com, a hunting community web site where I serve as a moderator. With each passing season, Matt has been a valued contributor to the site; posting photos and stories of his adventures afield. When I learned of his company, Alwine Outdoors, I decided to check it out. I learned that Matt, along with his wife, Shannon, and the rest of crew are staring down the barrel of their own TV show, debuting this April on the Sportsman’s Channel. With a love of hunting and video production, Matt is carving out a respectable career in the outdoor industry. To learn more, let’s get started.
PNB: So Matt, tell me how you got started in archery and bowhunting?
When I was 14 a woman moved in down the road from my family. Her name was Kathryn and she was a hardcore bowhunter! She ended up giving me my first bow that year and that fall I killed my first deer with a bow, a 4×4 in velvet. I immediately fell in love with archery and bowhunting, and that next spring I shot my first 3D shoot. I won that 3D tournament and instantly I knew 3D archery was the sport for me, and I have been competing ever since.
PNB: So, it sounds as if 3D & target archery has been a big part of your outdoor career. Tell me about some of the successes you’ve enjoyed.
I’ve never really had any major “life changing” wins like IBO Worlds or the Vegas Indoor championship. But, I have been fairly successful in the western states though. As a youth I took 3rd in Redding, CA at the NFAA 3D national shoot, I was a three-time IBO NW Triple Crown winner, three-time Washington IBO State Champion, and three-time WSAA State 3D champion.
After I graduated from the youth class I started shooting in the Pro division and have one IBO Triple Crown win, WSAA State field championship win, and WSAA State 3D Championship win. I also was the Montana State 3D Champion in both 2008 and 2009.
PNB: You have been very successful for your age. What do your attribute your success to?
The Lord has really blessed me with a God-given shooting ability, some amazing hunting and filming opportunities, and an extremely supportive family. My Mom and Dad have always been behind me even when I was spending more time shooting my bow then hitting the books in school. Then, when I decided not to go to college, they supported that decision as well. I have two older sisters, an older and a younger brother, and although none of them are into the outdoors like I am they have always been behind me 100% in my crazy ventures.
PNB: That is really great – family support is key in enabling dreams to become reality. So, are you a Washington native?
Yes, I was born in Port Angeles, and then my family moved to the Chewelah area when I was 10. I have lived in NE Washington ever since.
PNB: When did you become interested in filming your hunts and how did you end up in the outdoor video industry?
When I was 15 I met a guy from Tennessee named Brodie Swisher at a youth bowhunters camp. He was the guest speaker and he had a lot of hunting footage to go along with his seminar. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and ended up becoming good friends with Brodie. He came out and hunted for turkeys with me that next spring and we filmed the hunt. That footage of me killing a turkey ended up on Double Bull Archery’s TV show and that’s when I knew filming hunts was for me!
Life has a funny way of leading you places you don’t plan on going though and when I was 19 I found myself working behind the archery counter at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Spokane Valley. That is where I met Jim Burnworth, the host of the Outdoor Channel’s Western Extreme. He ended up hiring me as a cameraman for the shows he was producing on the Outdoor Channel. I spent about a year following him or one of his hosts all over the world from Alberta to Zimbabwe. The time I spent working for Burnworth is where I really learned the fundamentals in outdoor television.
PNB: Has filming your hunts changed your approach to bowhunting?
Definitely! Bowhunting is hard enough as it is, but when you add a camera man, tripods, mics and cameras into the works things get complicated fast. The hardest part about filming hunts is you have to be more dedicated to the footage than the hunt. This past fall In Montana I was at full draw on a 340″+ bull at 30 yards. In my mind he was as good as dead but because of how thick the timber was, where I was standing, where the bull was standing, and where my cameraman was standing, the bull wasn’t on camera. I was seconds away from releasing my arrow when Nik (my cameraman) said “I don’t have him“. That bull got away, and he will haunt my dreams forever. But, no one wants to watch a video of a bull being shot off camera.
PNB: What types of services does Alwine Outdoors provide for those looking to hire you and your team?
We offer several services in both editing and videos. We can edit your own footage or we can hire out an individual cameraman, or you can hire the whole crew for a full video project of any kind. Our primary arena is the outdoor (hunting/fishing) industry but we have also been known to do real-estate promotional videos and even weddings.
PNB: I’ve followed your hunts via Hunting Washington and Facebook. You and the crew have done very well on Washington whitetails in recent years. How would you compare Washington to other states in terms of deer numbers and quality?
Our whitetail numbers have been down in recent years but are on the rise again. I feel the quality of bucks in NE Washington rivals many of the more common traditional whitetail states. Mostly, we hunt public land and some small farms around the area and have had great luck. We did change things up a little this past fall when we went and hunted with a good friend of mine, Garry Greenwalt, of Wild Country Guide service. It was our first guided hunt in WA and it was an eye opening experience. They have a large piece of private land that has been managed for whitetails for close to 30 years. We saw over 30 P&Y whitetails in one day on their land and Shannon shot a awesome P&Y buck aged at over 8 ½ years. That hunt really proved to me the quality of animals we have potential for with some good game management.
PNB: Your wife Shannon is an accomplished bowhunters as well. When did she get her start?
Yes she is! She really makes me look bad and is much easier on the eyes then I am. This past season was only her second year hunting. When I met Shannon she was a cheerleader at Eastern Washington University, she had never hunted and I think hunting was the last thing on her mind. Hunting and I are a package deal and when she fell in love with me, she fell in love with hunting too. I have been amazed at how quickly she has picked up on things and how deadly of a shot she is!
PNB: Sounds like you married into some stiff competition! Aside from Shannon, who’s who at Alwine Outdoors?
David Miller has been a long time friend of mine and is now my right-hand man in this business venture. He is the true talent behind the scenes here. He’s been working with me since I got the idea for a TV show. From brainstorming to production, it’s David and I that have been burning the midnight oil on this project. We would be nowhere without his skills in video editing, Photoshop, and graphic design.
Nik Autrey has been filming for us for two seasons now. He is only 17 but is one of the best outdoor videographers I have worked with. Nik films the majority of the hunts we go on but has also been known to pull out a bow and tag some nice critters!
Dennis Alwine (my dad) is also a big part of things here. He isn’t a big time hunter and is terrible with a video camera, but his 32+ years of business experience proves to be a valuable asset on a daily basis.
PNB: I understand you’ve got your own show coming soon. Tell us a little about it, what’s in store for the debut episode?
Yes we do, and we are all pretty excited about it! It is going to be called “Trophy State of Mind” and will be airing on the Sportsman’s Channel beginning in April. Shannon and I will be co-hosting the show along with Jason Prince. Our first episode tells the story of how it all began and has some pretty killer bear footage from both Alaska and Idaho. Here’s a trailer we recently produced:
PNB: Looking ahead what hunts can your viewers look forward to in the coming year? What about next year?
This first season we have hunts from all over the world. A lot of DIY hunts and most of them are bow hunts. We will be airing hunts for Mule deer, Whitetail, Elk, Bear, Turkey and even some African game. We have some very exciting hunts for this season including a Washington youth hunt featuring several youth hunters from around the state. As for next season, we really want to focus on some of the western big game species that are a little less common, including Columbian Blacktail, Sitka Blacktail and Cous deer. We are just like everyone else though and the hunts we go on will depend a lot on the tags we draw for this coming season.
There are a lot of great shows out there right now. I feel like some shows are more focused on talking about the hunts rather than showing the hunts. On Trophy State of Mind we want to include interesting dialog and don’t want to take the personality of our hunters away, but we want our shows to be more focused on the hunt then the hunter. We hope that by paying attention to the critiques we get here in our first season we can develop a show our viewers really feel connected to.
PNB: Sounds like a good plan. With the increased political criticism around hunting and shooting sports in general, what do you feel is the largest threat to our hunting heritage is today?
Division – I get so tired of it!
The traditional archers bad mouth the compound shooters.
The compound shooters bad mouth anyone who wants to hunt with a rifle or crossbow.
The hunters who don’t bait have a problem with those who do.
The hunters that do bait are mad at those who don’t for wanting to take their baiting rights away. The hound hunters hate the trappers and the trappers hate the hound hunters.
If you ever hunt high-fenced area you’re not a true sportsman and if you use game cameras you are cheating.
If you are a skilled marksman and can shoot kill animals with a bow past 50 yards or with a rifle passed 500 yards, well that’s unethical!
If you get on any outdoor talk forum you will see it is rampant, outdoorsman beating each other down over every stupid little thing they can find.
It really concerns me! If we don’t start sticking together, the anti-hunting crowd is going to take away all our hunting privileges, one at a time.
PNB: I couldn’t agree more, Matt. Legal, ethical hunting should be our bond, regardless of personal hunting preferences. To wrap up, do you have any parting thoughts or advice for those looking to try their hand at filming their hunts?
Get a good tripod. I don’t care if you have a $200 camera or a $20,000 camera, a good tripod is what will make or break most footage. I have been shown video footage over the years that would have been amazing if only the camera had been put on a tripod. You don’t want to make people sea sick when you show them your footage.
PNB: Well, Matt it all sounds pretty exciting. I want to thank you for taking the time for the interview and providing our audience a glimpse into what Alwine Outdoors is all about. I also want to wish you and the team a safe and successful season, and best of luck with the new show.
Check out www.alwineoutdoors.com for more information and to keep up with all the lastest adventures from the crew at Alwine Outdoors.