Barry McNamara  |   Published May 03, 2016

Bow-hunting rock star

Story of Tim Wells ’87 is Wild Kingdom meets Duck Dynasty
  • Tim Wells ’87 speaks to the Midwest Entrepreneurs class.

When it comes to hunting, Tim Wells ’87 loves the thrill of the chase.

Along the way, the world-famous bow hunter has successfully chased down something else – a hit TV show and celebrity status as a hunter. Wells stars on The Sportsman Channel’s Relentless Pursuit, the No. 1 bow-hunting cable TV show.

Wells returned to his alma mater in April to share his entertaining story – and his story in entertainment – with students in “Midwest Entrepreneurs,” a 300-level business course team-taught by faculty members Mike Connell and Terry Gabel.

“As an entrepreneur, if you have a good idea and a work ethic, you can make it big,” Wells told the class. “Follow your passion.”

Wells has certainly followed his passion. He shared a story about his mother letting him stay home one day from kindergarten so he could hunt grackles. He also recalled sprinting off the school bus most days to get home, grab his bow and get out into the wild.

“I’ve always loved hunting, and I pursued it with a passion,” he said.

Wells didn’t pursue his passion professionally at first. But he said it took only one year of working for “the man” before he turned to entrepreneurism and began to open doors that led to working as a full-time hunter. The first door opened when he quit his mill foreman job and began an environmental consulting firm, which provided venture capital and also took him all over the United States.

“I made a ton of money, and I made it quick,” Wells said.

He also learned his valuable “first lesson” in entrepreneurism: “Don’t throw that money away. Invest it back in your company. I realized, ‘Hey, I can lose this as fast as I made it.’ When you finally hit a lick, you think that lick’s going to last forever, but it won’t.”

The “lick” that Wells has been on has lasted longer than most, which he attributes to his passion and divine intervention.

While working for an outdoor TV channel in California, Wells hunted grizzly bears in Alaska. It’s dangerous work, especially for an “instinctive hunter” like Wells, who gets very close to his prey.

“Bears kill humans,” he said, “because we taste like chicken.”

On an extremely close encounter with a grizzly bear, and with the video camera rolling, Wells launched what he called “the shot heard  ’round the world” – an arrow that struck the approaching bear between the eyes, killing it immediately.

“That catapulted my career instantly,” he said. “That video sold 300,000 copies. Life is about chances, and I believe you make your own luck in life.”

Wells credited the opportunity to his belief that God was watching out for him that day, as well as the skills he developed from shooting a bow “about a billion times.”

Relentless Pursuit is also the title of Wells’ first book, written 20 years ago. Wells, who also holds sponsorships with several major hunting product manufacturers, has since authored Demon in the Dark, a fictional tale of a hunter’s fight to save the last rhino from extinction, which is being considered as the basis for a Hollywood movie.

In a blog entry for the class, Cole Trickel ’17 of Bloomington, Ill., wrote about the “wild stories” that Wells told, and that he “also talked about how times have changed since 1987, when he was allowed to have his bow in his (dorm) room and string a buck up from the balcony (of Gibson Hall).”

To learn more about Wells’ story, go to http://timwellsbowhunter.com/.

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