My parents began with 56 acres.
Young, broke and just starting out, it was their blank canvas. The place they would raise row crops and kids on. The place they would grow a garden and fish on. The place they would watch thunderstorms roll in on during the summer. The place they would plow snow off of in the winter. It was at home.
Eventually, they bought more land and the farm grew right along with the family. They raised two boys, my brother, Tyler, and myself just north of the small town of Hamilton, IL.
Life and work and family all just seem to happen, and before I knew it, I found myself 500 miles from home, starting my own career and family in the mountains of North Carolina. But come November, there’s no place like the farm country I grew up in.
Each fall, I head back to IL to hunt deer and to see friends and family. As life and my career have become more demanding, it’s a trip that I’ve come to relish, even to hold sacred. Every year, sitting in a tree watching the rut unfold, I dreamed of owning my own piece of dirt in the heartland.
This year, I made that dream a reality.
I bought 40 acres with the help of my buddy, Tyler Sellens of Whitetail Properties. It’s exactly what I was looking for. Forty acres of timber with a food plot, right in the heart of whitetail country. A place I can call my own. A place I can design to hunt the way I want. A place I see unlimited possibilities in. It’s my own blank canvas.
I sit in front of a lot of blank canvases, dreaming of what they could look like with the right paint in the right places. This canvas of Illinois dirt is no different. The food plots, the stands, the bedding thickets, the access - all are things I now have the opportunity to create. And while my ambition is to own more property one day, this is my first. Like my dad buying his first piece, the acreage may be small, but my dreams are big.
At the same time I’m launching out as a landowner, I’ve chosen to launch out with a new partnership with Nomad apparel. We’ve designed a new line of lifestyle apparel that reflects values and the passion we all share: authentic hunting. I strive to produce authentic wildlife art for the hunter, and they strive to produce authentic apparel for the hunter. Combined, we’ve created a line of lifestyle apparel that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. You can purchase your own here. Also, be sure to look for it at select retailers, available now.
I’ve been asked a lot “Does art run in your family?” I’ve always thought the answer was '“no.” I never could see how my dad being a farmer (from a long line of farmers) and my mom being a postmaster at our small-town post office could be considered art. But looking back, I realize that they’ve taught me all along how to be an artist. I’m forever grateful that they taught me what you could do with hard work and a blank canvas.