James Vandenberg and Brent Metcalf didn’t know each other during their years at the University of Iowa.
Metcalf was a three-time NCAA wrestling finalist and two-time national champ, finishing his career in 2010. Vandenberg was a Hawkeye quarterback from 2009 to 2012, starting 25 games his last two seasons.
They didn’t know it then, but the QB from Keokuk and the grappler from Michigan shared a common passion — bow hunting.
They met at an Aiming for the Cure charity event two-and-a-half years ago, hunted together and became friends. They also discovered another common passion.
“We had both kind of been filming” their hunts, Vandenberg said.
Antler Athlete was born and soon the two started making films together. Antler Athlete was created “to represent these hunters that will go to any length in order to have success,” according to a promotional release.
Sounds a lot like a QB from Keokuk on a football field and a wrestler from Michigan on a mat.
“This is more or less a hobby,” Vandenberg, 28, said. “Neither one of us wants to quit our jobs and hunt for a living.”
Vandenberg works for RBC Wealth Management in Cedar Rapids and Metcalf is on the Iowa State wrestling staff as a volunteer assistant.
”We definitely don’t make money,” Vandenberg said.
But they do make good videos, good enough to win the amateur-long division at the 2017 Kuiu Film Festival. That 14-minute, 21-second documentary is titled “Three Months a Bowhunter.”
Their latest film — “1000 Miles to Ivory” — is one of just 10 picked from hundreds of entries for a spot in the Full Draw Film Tour, which makes a stop in Iowa City on Thursday.
“The whole reason for this film is to highlight the differences of hunting in the Midwest and hunting in the west,” Vandenberg says in the trailer. “Why did we drive 15 hours through the night to beat ourselves up for eight days?”
Their film and the other nine will be shown at the Fin & Feather on Highway 1 in Iowa City. Doors open at 6 p.m. Thursday and the show begins at 7.
“Anybody who likes hunting is going to think this is a cool night,” Vandenberg said.
Vandenberg does all the editing and Metcalf runs the website.
“Everybody gets behind the camera,” Vandenberg said, noting other former Iowa athletes, like wrestler Mark Ironside, are in the films.
The two have five or six full-length documentaries (10 to 15 minutes each) and 20 to 25 shorter videos, including some “how-to” films. There’s “Face to Face with Lion,” where Metcalf “got up close and personal” with a Mountain Lion. There’s the “Best Ever Turkey Reaping Compilation” and many more. It’s all bow hunting, from turkeys to elks.
They sometimes shoot video by themselves, but, Vandenberg said, “it’s nice when we get together.” They have a trip to Montana planned in five weeks.
“We love going out west and getting away from people,” he said. “This is the kind of stuff we both already were doing.
“We just thought it would be really fun.”
Watching the videos, you can see these two — and others — are doing just that.
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