When most folks see fall colors and frost on the ground and feel the cold winds rolling through the hills, it’s time to repair to the indoors.
No so for Brecken Kennedy.
The 2012 Manchester University alum joined long-time friend Ty Mills, a Huntington University and Northfield High School alum, in acquiring the Farmland Trophies Outfitting company, a service which brings clients in from around the world to Pike County in Illinois for deer hunting experiences, three years ago. And, as Kennedy admits, there isn’t a day that goes by that he would’ve changed the decision in taking over the business with his best friend.
“I grew up with (hunting),” he said. “I really enjoyed it with my brother, dad and family, and Ty has always been there, too. While I like getting a buck from time to time, it isn’t all about the kill for me … I enjoy seeing clients get big bucks and then observe the looks on their faces. It makes me feel good being involved and knowing how much work was put into reaching the point of them getting a buck of a lifetime.
“Honestly, when Ty called me about this three years ago, we initially didn’t know if it would happen,” he added. “Once we talked and figured out this might be something that we might want to do for a while in our lives, it just clicked.”
A normal day on the Farmland Trophies Outfitting grounds and lodging area consists of meals for hunting groups and the full experience of being taken out to a tree stand and dropped in for either a full day or a few hours. The ultimate goal is getting a buck with antler racks of 140 inches or wider.
“Once everyone from an eight-man group arrives, we talk to them about rules, what to expect and where they’ll be going,” Kennedy noted. “There’s also discussion about what to and what not to shoot. From there, we place them at the best spots through our work with trail cameras, food plot set-ups, general observations of the deer and wind conditions for scent control. Hunts range from five days for bow and three and five days for shotgun.
“It doesn’t stop with the scouting, either,” he added. “We do it all … field dressing and skinning them for the clients. The experience of having someone from Florida or the east coast be able to go on a Midwestern big buck hunt is what it’s all about … for most of them it’s a lifelong dream.”
Kennedy, who majored in environmental studies while playing football and golf at MU, is always reminded of his education and what he did to ensure success on and off the field.
“Managing a business is a lot like what I did having to take classes and play in two sports,” he admitted. “You have to plan your days out to make sure you address and improve upon things. With my background in hunting and then with the work in my major, I’ve always been environmentally aware. We have to be that way here … managing the food plots, the habitat, animal management and so forth.”
Kennedy and his business partner hope to grow the hunting service to other areas, too.
“There’s been talk about possibly adding a turkey hunt in the spring or even doing predator hunts for coyotes and so on,” he said. “We want to make sure it will be attractive to clients before we move forward.”
There hasn’t been much of a need for advertising, either. The two recent collegiate grads harken back to something most business people their age are using … social media. “We’ve put together six recent bookings because of Facebook and Instagram,” Kennedy said. “Word of mouth is also a big way we spread the news. It’s been working too with the re-bookings we’ve gotten and then new folks from our older clients.
“There isn’t anything else like this to me,” he added. “It great getting to know new people and making friends as well as being able to experience the hunt of a lifetime with them.”
Back in the outdoors … where he always wanted to be.