Up a tree with Swindle


The obsession started at an early age for Gerald Swindle.

"I wasn't old enough to carry a gun, but anytime Daddy would leave the house to go deer hunting without me, I'd throw a raging, tear-filled fit to my Momma," said Swindle, bass fishing's funniest man.

Swindle has spent most of autumn filming a new reality hunting show called "The Hit List." But for the G-Man, hunting isn't about making TV shows. Instead, hunting is a soulful obsession for the 40-year-old Alabama native.

"The more you fail, the harder you try," Swindle said. "That's the essence of hunting whitetails to me. The feeling of figuring out a mature whitetail's daily eating, bedding, and chasing patterns is every bit as exciting to me as figuring out how to catch a limit in a Bassmaster Elite tournament."

Swindle spends roughly 60 days a year hunting whitetails, and that doesn't count days spent planting food plots, hanging game cameras and moving tree stands around the woods.

"In the heart of hunting season, if I'm around home, I go to church with LeAnn on Sundays, and pretty much hunt the other six days," Swindle said.

With all those hours in the woods comes a truckload of whitetail wisdom. Swindle shares the following with sincerity -- and humor, of course:

" "I'm not the guy that buys the $3,000 rifle and tops it with a $200 scope. I'd rather be the guy that buys a $300 rifle and puts a $2,000 scope on it. Spend your money on the optics."

" "I order those chalk-filled wind-check bottles two dozen at a time from Mark's Outdoors in Birmingham. The guys I hunt with think I have a cocaine habit because I'm always covered in white dust. Nope. No drugs. Just religiously checking the wind direction. You're not gonna fool a mature whitetail unless the wind is in your favor."

" "The best friend a hunter can have is a giant Hefty bag to keep your hunting clothes stowed in and scent free when you're not in the woods."

" "When it comes to bows, buy the best you can possibly afford. You get what you pay for in the archery industry. You buy a $150 bow, and you'll be a $150 hunter. I shoot a Matthews Z7."

" "Deer fear anything that eats meat. So if you're sitting in your treestand with breath that smells like deer jerky, pork sausage or last night's cheeseburger, you're in trouble."

" "When it comes to treestands, don't place them overly close to where you expect the deer to travel. You're not trying to jump on their backs, and don't strip the tree of all the branches; the branches are your best camouflage. Most importantly, make sure you wear your tree stand safety harness."

" "The deer don't care if all your camouflage clothing matches. It's not a fashion show. You can hunt in your underwear and kill a deer if your bow is fast enough and the wind is in your favor, but I wouldn't recommend it."

Swindle concludes with a culmination of whitetail-laden memories.

"Some people play poker for fun -- I figure out whitetails for fun," he said. " And while I've been fortunate enough to shoot a few big ones, I still get shaky knees over a 110-inch 8-pointer.

"Just like I did when I was a kid. I can still remember & Daddy toted me on his shoulders through a Mississippi swamp. He was wearing hip waders and carrying a lever action .30/30. And I got covered in goosebumps the first time I heard those hooves splashing through the water near the island we were hunting."