One hundred fifty years ago the noted philosopher, Henry David Thoreau traveled to Walden Pond where he wrote that he, “went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Although the setting may no longer be Walden Pond, but is instead Deer Creek Lodge at the Lake of the Ozarks, noted outdoorsman, Babe Winkelman, recently made a similar journey to the region to film two television productions to be broadcast on the Pursuit Channel.
Winkelman, who has spent over 30 years on television as the host of Good Fishing and Outdoor Secrets, returned to Missouri at the request of Bill Schumake and Royal Peterson who met Winkelman when he was inducted last year as a “Legend of the Outdoors” in the Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Babe and I had some mutual friends who were both at the induction ceremony,” Peterson who lives in Sedalia said. “We struck up a conversation and as we were talking I told him about our operation.”
Deer Creek Lodge is one of three facilities covering 2,100 acres owned by Schumake and manged with his business partners Paul Alpers and Peterson.
Located at the Lake of the Ozarks and Truman Lake the facilities offer hunting and fishing retreats as well as areas for corporate meetings and family vacations.
“After meeting Babe in Nashville, I saw him a few weeks later in Louisville at an ATA show and we continued our conversation and made final arrangements for him to come and film a couple of shows at the property,” Peterson added. “He and his daughters came and shot some footage for a couple of shows that will air later this season on the Pursuit Channel.”
Both Schumake and Peterson described Winkelman as an advocate for the outdoors who realizes the importance of man and his place in the environment.
“I’ve been doing this, (hunting and fishing) since I was a young boy,” Winkelman said by phone from his home in Minnesota. “It is in every cell in my body and I love it.
“I think it is my mission to learn all I can from the environment and nature and share it with others; it simply is my life,” he added. “I have come to the realization that anytime we think we are smarter than God we lose.”
Winkelman commented that the only way for life to exist is by something dying.
“I know others may not understand or want to accept that fact, but it’s true,” Winkelman said. “We have to share our experiences collectively because there are millions and millions of people out there who have never seen a blade of grass or who understand how an ecosystem works.
“I feel sorry for them and I hope through sharing some of my experiences with them through my work they can both understand and appreciate the outdoors,” he added.
Winkelman’s work is seen by over 300 million views on eight networks according to Peterson.
“Babe has an incredible intellect and he is extremely intelligent,” Peterson said. “He knows his history and is very, very well read.
“He is also skilled in his work and runs a very tight ship with his shoots and production company,” Peterson added. “I think more than that though he has a deep, caring personality and he understands the value of family and that is becoming increasingly more important to him.”
Inspiring families to spend more time together is a goal of Winkelman’s.
“I turned 67 when I was on my trip here,” Winkelman said. “I missed out on a lot of time with my daughters and family as I was traveling, and now I am fortunate that they can come with me and I can combine my work and family time.
“That’s what makes a person truly rich; spending time with family and sharing and teaching the experiences that one has,” he added. “Making those memories on both sides of generations is what is important to me now.”
Winkelman offered this thought to others when trying to bring families and people closer together.
“I don’t think people have to teach there is a God, all they simply need to do to see His influence and existence is to spend time outdoors and they can then realize the beauty and grandeur of all He has created,” Winkelman said. “The setting here at Deer Creek is evidence of that.”
Winkelman was so impressed with the facilities and the hospitality he was shown during his stay in the Ozarks that he plans to return in November during deer season to film additional footage.
“My daughters and I are coming back to film some episodes during deer season,” Winkelman said. “On the last trip we shot film for three days to get enough footage for the two shows.
“Hunting takes so much more time, about three to five times more to get enough usable footage,” he said. “For every one minute of air time there are 19 minutes of film that stay on the cutting room floor.
“The best thing is to have too much footage than not enough,” Winkelman said. “I’ve been working with the same crew for a number of years now and my producer has been with me over 30 years so we all have become a family.”
Winkelman said he has been fortunate to travel the world in his life, from Argentina to the Arctic Circle but feels there are still journeys to make.
“I can’t imagine having an existence where I go around dreading life,” Winkelman said. “I know there are people who hate Monday morning and spend all their time waiting for Friday night.
“I have to feel for them and hope they find something to inspire them,” he added “They need to trust love and feel secure in what they do and find something in life that they can share with others to find peace in their lives.”
For more information about Deer Creek Properties or to schedule a stay go to missourihuntingandfishingadventures.com
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484