By Ray Downs
By Lindsay Toler
By Lindsay Toler
By Chad Garrison
By Allison Babka
By Lindsay Toler
By Jake Rossen
By Lindsay Toler
On the seventh volume of Dream Season, released last spring and available at hunting stores across the nation, Mark Drury sits inside a camouflage tent alongside his wife, Tracy, and their daughter, Taylor. The family is holed up deep within a northern Missouri forest. A rifle is mounted on a tripod, and eight-year-old Taylor, with shoulder-length brown hair and her father's explosive smile, has her finger on the trigger.
Taylor is seen moments earlier nearly taking down a strapping buck, but she hesitates, and it trots away. Her father, the narrator, comforts his teary-eyed daughter. She missed the year before too, he says -- but that's the way it goes. The 38-year-old Drury sounds excited as he reminisces about his own youth, when he hunted with his brother Terry, his partner and co-star in Drury Outdoors Productions, the Bloomsdale, Missouri-based company that creates and sells hunting videos.
"Now I'm entering a new stage of my life," intones Mark as a synthetic rhythm fills the background, "and I'm watching my daughter Taylor start hunting."
The video cuts to a shot of two deer chomping on clover, then to a close-up of Taylor peering through the scope, her father offering quiet guidance. The deer graze, snouts buried in the greenery, blissfully unaware of their impending demise.
From 40 yards, the third-grader shoots from within the tent, and fur and blood fly out from the deer's stomach. The animal jerks and convulses, its stride turning into a hobbled gait. "You hit it!" enthuses Mark as the deer continues its painful trot.
"No I didn't!" responds the confused girl.
The deer turns its head toward the camera. "Shoot it again!" urges Mark. Taylor aims, and boom! A bullet whistles into the deer's ribcage. The deer bucks its hind legs and wobbles as if on a listing boat. "She's going down!" shouts Mark. The deer collapses. "She's down! She's down!"
"Yeah!" shouts Taylor, beaming.
Mark Drury can't contain himself. "You got your first deer, Taylor! You don't know how proud I am of you. She! Is! Down! Good shooting. You hit her both times. Give me five!" He giggles, beside himself with glee. "I'm so pumped up right now. Are you pumped?"
The video moves to a shot of mother, father and daughter in neon-orange vests and hats. They're running through the field toward the fallen deer. "Look at this doe," exclaims Mark Drury, poking his finger in the bullet hole as the camera zooms in. The young girl gently kicks the dead beast in the belly and steps back.
In 1987 Mark Drury was a 22-year-old college graduate with a penchant for turkey-calling. He'd rented a few turkey-call videos and figured he could do better. He went to Terry, his older brother, and conned him into splitting the cost of a video camera. As Mark recalls, "Terry said, 'You do the calling, and I'll film.'" Drury Outdoor Productions' first release, King of Spring, arrived in 1989. Some 66 titles later the company's still going strong, with Dream Season, an all deer-hunting series, one of its best-selling lines of videos. The Drurys also do a good business in turkey-hunting videos.
The company gained steam in 1992 with the production of Monster Bucks, its first whitetail deer-hunt video. All the footage was shot in the wild, featuring graphic kills. The scenes combine hunterly advice with the Drury brothers' zestful personalities and guide viewers through the thrill of the chase.
"Neither one of us has killed a buck off-film since probably 1990," says Mark. "If we're out there hunting, we're filming."
Today the brothers and their fellow warriors are minor celebrities. One night, while Pevely police officer and sometime Drury freelancer Steve Coon -- a.k.a. Coon Dog -- was working at the station house, a fellow officer hauled in a drunk. "The guys screams, 'Hey, I know you,'" Coon Dog recalls. "'I just seen you on TV! I just seen you shoot a deer!'"
For the past fifteen years, the Drurys have been having the time of their lives on camera. Where Mark has the unbridled enthusiasm of Nicolas Cage's character in Raising Arizona, Terry's more Tim Robbins in The Hudsucker Proxy, an energetic spirit ready to carpe diem.
On one video, 48-year-old Terry sneaks in and awakens his brother from a deep slumber. Later they're in the car laughing while Mark chomps on cheese doodles. They're roaming the western prairies looking for game. They're dragging a monster buck to their truck. They're constantly bumping knuckles and high-fiving. Their brotherhood is infectious, and the camera's invisible.
Over the course of the hunting season, hunters send tapes of their kills to the Drurys' St. Charles production facility, where a four-man team of twentysomething editors polish them until they're ready for release. The company presses an initial run of 20,000 to 30,000 copies, which sell for fifteen bucks apiece.
In essence, these are hunting snuff films where men, women and children, decked out from head to foot in neon orange and camouflage, roam the woods, climb trees -- camera and weapon in hand -- and gun down turkey and deer.