From an early age Wayne Community School graduate Jeremy McCarty developed a passion for the great outdoors. Tagging along with his father John McCarty and grandfather Jerry O’Dell at a young age, he fell in love with hunting.
“When I was in school, athletics and hunting are the only things I loved,” said McCarty. “If a grade could have been given for hunting, I would have gotten straight As.”
McCarty says some would say he was ornery and even a troublemaker, but he credits hunting for straightening him out and putting him on the path to staying out of trouble. This realization inspired him and new ideas grew for ways of keeping kids out of trouble but also getting them outside away from the video games.
From this inspiration came Chasin’ the Rut, LLC and Turkey Reapers, LLC. While both are registered businesses, McCarty does not view what he does as a business but rather an enjoyment as he’s doing what he loves.
The first kid guided hunt he did was with Wayne Community senior Brooks Jacobsen, several years back. Being the son of a longtime friend and former classmate, McCarty was simply taking a kid out to share a hunting experience. He had no idea what would grow from that hunt.
From there kids began asking him if he would take them out to hunt. Those kids would then share their experience with their friends and it continued to grow larger and larger.
And grow it did. With both of his business pages on Facebook having a combined following of over 70,000 people. The guided hunts expanded to also including non-ambulatory and disabled veterans along with the kid guided hunts.
“Six years ago I got involved in a Veterans Hunt and it touched my life,” said McCarty.
This past April, Independence Corps/Spartan Alliance gifted a tracked all-terrain wheelchair to Chasin’ the Rut after his wife, Julie, wrote a proposal to the company. This allows McCarty to take veterans and others with mobility issues out on these once in a lifetime hunts.
“Jeremy is the most selfless human being I have ever come across, a man that is willing to do anything and go the extra mile to make others dreams come true and a man that gets satisfaction by putting a smile on someone else’s face,” said Jesse Gildea, whom he credits McCarty with the help of taking down a once in a lifetime deer recently. “I have personally enjoyed hunting my whole life, but since my spinal cord injury in 2006, hunting just hasn’t quite been the same until I met him. He has been able to get me out into some amazing accessible locations, which has allowed us to see a lot of deer and harvest a couple amazing bucks.”
If you view the Facebook pages you see many photos posted of hunting success stories. While many photos showcase large deer with racks to be proud of, that is not entirely what the experience is about in McCarty’s eyes.
“This is a mentoring program where we aren’t out there scouting for the perfect deer but rather a chance to enjoy the experience itself,” said McCarty. “When we take out a first-timer, every hunt is special and any successful hunt is a prize. It’s all about making them happy.”
Wayne Community student Claire Carpenter recently experienced a few hunting excursions with McCarty where she left empty handed. Carpenter knew McCarty as a friend to her parents and was able to take him up on an offer to go turkey hunting a few years back with her older brother Luke.
“He offered to take us and there was no way either of us was going to turn down an opportunity like that,” Carpenter shared. “We both got a turkey and we had a blast and ever since then I have always wanted to go deer hunting.”
With conflicts of schedules she was unable to make it work until this fall when they made plans to go hunting an evening after school. The first night she passed on does as she wanted one with antlers.
The second evening they spotted a nice buck but after two chances and two misses she came home empty handed. It was McCarty that encouraged her, telling her she could not give up. They went out two more evenings and once again didn’t get the buck she wanted.
On the last day of early muzzleloader season she knew it was all or nothing. With McCarty by her side and a buck sitting 103 yards away she took a shot as soon as he turned broadside.
The buck fell nearly immediately and she knew the last five days had paid off. This was just one of the many successful stories McCarty has helped others achieve and share in.
“I had an amazing experience with Jeremy and I will forever be grateful for the knowledge and memories I have gained,” Carpenter added.
Obviously anyone that hunts or knows the main goal, coming home empty handed isn’t as fun. Luckily this hunting season the guided hunts have seen much success, as they are currently 18 for 18. And some of those deer taken down have been titled “once in a lifetime monster.”
“This has been a really great year and we have taken down some great deer,” he added. “Even with that said, I am here to help teach, educate and provide an opportunity for them to harvest a deer. When they get that huge buck, it’s an added bonus.”
McCarty credits the relationships with landowners, stating without them none of this is possible. He also noted this wouldn’t be possible without the partnerships with reputable companies, which donate many products including ammo and gear and help with deer tags.
Of course deer guided hunts aren’t the only thing McCarty specializes in. Turkey hunts are also included and he has even done guided fishing trips with families and left the state to elk hunt, as he recently did with Marine Veteran Sean Simmonds in Idaho.
He has donated hunts to the Iowa Deer Classic and worked with superintendents of schools to get kids outdoors with him. Parents make calls to find a time in their schedule to get their kids out for the opportunity to be guided in their first hunt.
Working with groups such as Reunite the Fight, Wishes for Warriors and Big Game Wrestling Club, amongst many others and plans coming soon to work with Oath, McCarty has made a name for himself in the hunting community. Being an avid hunter, he has only been on two hunts for himself this season as his joy now has turned to seeing the success of others he is helping.
Two years ago, McCarty, with the help of his wife, remodeled his childhood home making it into a hunting camp. It is here where they meet up, find out the hunters skill level and take those that may be gun-shy out to practice shooting before the big hunt.
“Some kids may be scared due to the recoil and kick of guns and I want to be sure they feel safe and comfortable,” McCarty added. “We have special guns available with reduced recoil loads for the kids to use till they are able to get comfortable using.”
He is looking forward to the extended doe season Iowa passed this year. With this passing, he will have the ability to take even more kids out.
During the summer months, the McCarty’s make their home in West Des Moines where he does exterior work on homes. When the colder temps arrive, hunting becomes a full time job, as he is in the fields nearly daily with hunters.
“This wouldn’t be possible without the support and understanding of my wife,” said McCarty. “With the direction hunting is going it’s become money driven and taking away many opportunities, yet the continued support of so many people including my wife, landowners, friends and so many others I am able to continue growing and doing what I love.”