About Full Potential Outdoors LLC
Full Potential Outdoors LLC is first and foremost a Southern Iowa Outfitter service; but it is also an idea. An idea created out of 28 years of hunting successes, failures, and eye opening experiences. In 2012, I decided to form a new hunting service based on the ideal that the only thing separating good hunters from their ability to be successful is access and information.
For many years, like many hunters, I struggled to put myself in front of the kind of deer I was striving for. And for all those years, I failed to recognize what was holding me back. Until it was almost as if everything changed overnight. Now, it wasn’t that simple or fast, but in a very short time I went from struggling to success; and it was so obvious what had happened that it was almost embarrassing. Let me explain.
As a kid growing up, I remember every weekend going to Randy’s Video and renting any new hunting video I could. My buddies and I would watch each video and then reenact what we saw on the tapes. We bought the trinkets, played out the techniques, but never shot the deer. As I got older I realized something was wrong. The techniques and trinkets were not making a difference. I started reading articles published in the hunting magazines and tried those methods and gadgets; still nothing changed. We hunted hard, really hard. In fact I don’t hunt half as hard today as I did then, but I do hunt a lot smarter.
One thing I bought into heavy as a teenager was the use of all the different scents. The ones that really got me excited were the rut type scents. Every night I would sit in my stand and just envision that big buck walking down the scent trail I had left right to my stand. The reality was most times it didn’t work and many times it backfired. This lead to my first major learning experience as a hunter. So, let me tell the story…
I figured out basically that half the urine based scents I was using were old and smelled like ammonia. Common sense told me that if I wanted to use urine scents I would need a different method. Each winter I would collect snow/ice saturated with deer urine, melt it down, bottle it, and re-freeze for the next hunting season. It worked so well that my good friend and I started bottling and selling the urine for 5 bucks a bottle or something like that. We had no doubt our product was superior to what you could buy on the sport shop counter, but our business was going nowhere. We needed a distributor. We finally got a meeting with the area’s most prominent distributing company and it was THE top guy. We went in all prepared to show and explain why our product was the best in the industry. He politely put our product on the side, made a statement, and asked a question. He said “I don’t care how good your product is. What marketing have you done to get people to buy this product?” Over the next hour he explained to us very plainly that in the industry he represented marketing meant more than good products. We ended the business but learned a lot that day. And for the record, I still collect urine soaked snow to this day for use the following season!
After the urine collecting adventure, I went back to concentrating on deer hunting. For a few years we concentrated on practicing QDM on a 100 acre farm with all our neighbors still shooting everything that moved…so that went nowhere. We moved our hunting to the big woods of northern Wisconsin. Again, results were dismal. We moved around for a few years, tried some more trinkets and gadgets, but the end result was usually the same; long hours on stand and no big deer. I began filming my hunts. I figured if I wasn’t going to shoot a buck anyhow, I might as well do some filming. Over time I really took a liking to filming hunts. We got a few kills on film and really thought…hmmm, this might be fun. But still we couldn’t realistically film deer hunts shooting only does and the bucks we could harvest just wouldn’t make for a good hunting video. We didn’t realize fully what our problem was but we were about to find out. In the late 90’s we leased a farm in Buffalo County Wisconsin. We almost literally struck gold. The farmer we leased from was one of the original farmers in the area to start QDM after the blizzard of 1991. Over-night, we went from hunting very hard and struggling to hunting very hard and having results we never dreamed of. And over the years to come as we refined our techniques and style of hunting our success got better and better. And as our success got better we found ourselves buying fewer and fewer trinkets and hyped up products each year. This was my second major learning experience as a hunter! Products had done nothing to improve our hunting but access sure made a difference!
We kept filming. And one day we decided to try and be part of the outdoor filming industry. We submitted tapes to the best producers we knew of. One day, we got a call to compete on a reality hunting TV show with the chance of winning a contract to film. So here I was, a guy that used to run to the video store, and now I was getting the chance to make the videos. We competed and won. I was now filming hunts, on DVD’s, and on the Outdoor Channel.
As contractors, we were given the opportunity to hunt with outfitters for the first time in my life. Some were good, more were ok, and some were bad. Each time it was obvious to me that the good ones had the interests of their clients (the hunters) in mind. The bad ones were in it for the money or to stroke their own egos. Things were great, couldn’t get better?
My son turned 12 on December 1st 2007 and I was able to take him on his first hunt; a Wisconsin muzzleloader hunt. The second night out was awesome with snow, wind, and cold temps. It was perfect for hunting over a food plot. At quitting time a giant 8 point came in to the plot just outside a cattle fence to our south. I was filming the whole thing and told him whenever he was ready to take the shot. Time went by with no shot, and eventually the deer spooked. I was so busy trying to “get the kill shot” that I never realized my son didn’t have the hammer cocked back and he didn’t know it. That was the last time I filmed as a contractor! And, I learned another really important lesson that day. That I was probably filming for the wrong reasons…and that filming was starting to dampen my hunting experience.
It was right around this point that I decided to build a business different than what my experiences had been in the hunting industry. A business based on reality instead of hype. A business based on service instead of trying to maximize profits. And a business that would ultimately provide working class hunters with exceptional experiences in the deer woods. Full Potential Outdoors LLC was born.
Full Potential Outdoors LLC outfitting service is owned and operated by Tom Peplinski with his wife Amy, and children Forest and Lily.