Bobby Kendall is a country musician who hangs up the guitar as soon as fall rolls around. He spends half the year based in Lake George, New York, traveling for gigs, and the other half split between Kansas, Ohio, Illinois and Iowa where he maximizes every available whitetail season.
“If I hear they’re killing big deer anywhere in the Midwest, I’ll start knocking on doors, putting ads in the paper... whatever I have to do. I don’t wait for the big bucks to come to me. I’ll go to them,” Kendall says.
We asked him how many days he spends in the stand each year. He paused for a moment and said in his grinning semi-drawl, “Dude, it’d be a lot. I typically start with early muzzleloader season in Kansas, then into the pre-rut and rut in Ohio and Illinois. And then I roll into Iowa’s late season. I’ve never tried to count the actual number of days.”
When he was 19, he dropped out of pharmacy school to chase dual dreams of music and hunting. For years, he guided whitetail all fall and played more than 100 local gigs during the three-and-a-half months of summer.
The dreams have grown, and often bleed into one another. While music provides Bobby’s livelihood, we get the sense that hunting has a tighter hold on him.
“I wrote the song ‘Sweetheart’ in the treestand in the middle of the rut. I started feeling the lyrics and pulled my iPhone out and started writing. I already had it memorized by the end of the day. ‘Close to You’ is taken from my decision to leave home and try to make it as a hunting guide. ”
Accomplished as he is as a hunter, he’s something of an anomaly: he keeps very few secrets. When Bobby discovers a giant somewhere, he’s quick to share the knowledge and trailcam photos with the neighbors. But he has his reasons.
“I like to share that experience and let people know that this is what happens when we pass up four-year-old bucks that have great genetics and a solid score. My hope is that practicing and preaching this type of conservation will go a long way to protect and enhance the quality of the deer herd we share.”
Bobby finds most of his big bucks by their sheds, then patterns them throughout the summer. Closer to hunting season, he lowers his impact, keeping setups scent-free and never using flashlights.
“I’ll always walk two miles instead of 100 yards if it will avoid alerting a big buck to my presence.”
With the effort and time he invests setting up properties, shed hunting, scouting, sleeping on the road, living in treestands and singing about it, the last thing Kendall will compromise on is gear. His first experience with Sitka came at the hands of fellow Athlete Bobby Warner.
“I was in the stand with a buddy. He’d tagged out and we were getting pounded by a nasty, cold-chilled rain. We were wearing the Downpour Series and staying bone dry, so we continued to sit through weather that would usually have us indoors. When the storm broke, the deer really started moving and we ended up having a great encounter with a mid 150s deer. I was sold.”
We’re proud to call Bobby Kendall a Sitka Athlete, and we hope you get to meet him someday.