Lucas Apel is the youngest of Jeff and Esmeralda Apel's five children. He's also
the most famous.
When Lucas, now 14, was 11 years old his father took him bow hunting for whitetail deer in Ohio and Michigan. Jeff Apel took a few cameras with him, and over the course of three years the footage of Lucas' outdoors experience was made into a DVD devoted to youths entitled “The Journey Begins.”
"I'm a bowhunter and my son, Lucas, when he was 11, asked if I would start taking him hunting," Apel said. "That was when the idea struck us that we could use his experiences as he begins his outdoor adventures as a way to chronicle his time outdoors and use that as the basis for the production."
The DVD was produced by Jeff and Esmeralda's new production company, Straight Arrow Productions LLC. The company's motto is “Share the Passion • Share the Adventure.”
The Apels, who live outside Martin, Ohio, "brought this company out of the idea that we had to produce this DVD," Jeff Apel said. "With the general need in producing the DVD, we decided to form the company and do it right. That's basically why Straight Arrow formed, to get us started in the industry."
Filming of the DVD began in June 2006 and ended in January 2009. Editing and producing the DVD concluded in June. The DVD runs 92 minutes.
Apel said "The Journey Begins" is the first video of its kind devoted to youths.
"It is very unique in what it does," said Apel, who grew up in Big Bay, Mich., in the Upper Peninsula.
"I had all kinds of outdoor opportunities right out my back door," he said. "I grew up hunting and fishing, and it was something I felt really impacted my life and helped to shape who I am as a person. We are a couple generations removed from the family farm and there are so many kids today who are growing up without contact with the outdoor experience.
"Our desire was to come up with a resource that could help introduce young people to the outdoors and create an interest for them to start exploring it in their own way."
In the DVD, viewers watch as Lucas bags his first whitetail deer, which he shot from the ground using a recurve bow.
"His reaction was priceless," Apel said. "Mine was the same thing. It was really overwhelming to be there with him when we discovered the deer and to see the emotion on his face, to know all the difficulties he encountered to achieve that goal."
Apel said he tought himself to shoot the footage used on the DVD.
"I bought a camera, then another camera and then another camera," he said. "I tought myself how to use them, as well as the computer end of it. I bought a MAC-Pro computer and I took a one-week course in editing last year at the University of Michigan. The shooting, the writing and the editing, all of that I did myself.
"My wife is very creative and she helped provide ideas on what to include and also helped with the writing. I really couldn't have done it without her help."
“The Journey Begins” includes a world champion archer giving Lucas advice on making the pressure shot. The video also includes beautiful scenery, compelling wildlife footage, several professionally produced songs by Jim Bowman and an interview with Linda Ringer from the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
"We're very happy," Apel said. "We watched a lot of the videos that are on the market and set some high goals for the quality of our production. Judging from the reviews we are getting, we believe we've met our goals both in the quality of the video and the quality of the message that it delivers."
Apel said Straight Arrow Productions LLC will produce another DVD that will continue the theme of reaching out to young people.
"The next one will be called 'The Journey Continues,' " Apel said. "Basically we want to continue showing how an outdoor experience really impacts the life of a young person. There are many important life lessons to be learned in an outdoor experience.
"The whole experience producing 'The Journey Begins' with Lucas certainly has been a joy and has created a special bond between us through the experiences we have shared together outdoors. I can see that the outdoor experience is beginning to impact his life in a positive way, just as it has mine."
The DVD is $20 plus shipping and can be purchased at www.straightarrowproductionsllc.com or by calling 419-340-3013. A trailer of the DVD is also on the website.