It’s not often that I’m at loss for words (just ask my wife). However, as I sit in the solitude of my office and type this, I can’t seem to find the ones to adequately convey the weight of this day’s loss. As many have undoubtedly already heard, Todd Pringnitz, founder of White Knuckle Productions, Wicked Tree Gear & most recently Tree Thrasher, passed away early this morning due to injuries sustained slightly more than a week ago in an ATV accident. Todd was not only a pioneer in the hunting industry and a business acquaintance but also a long-time friend and hunting brother.
I met Todd in early 2005 at my very first ATA trade show. At the time he was a young, enthusiastic kid from Michigan who was absolutely ate up with chasing whitetails. Back in those days, he was chasing bucks on public ground before it was the en vogue thing to do. Being young, single guys with two things on the mind (deer was one of them) we exchanged info and kept in touch that year. In 2006 Todd sold his home in Michigan, packed up his belongings and moved to Iowa with a dream to chase giant bucks. While it seems like this type of behavior is more commonplace in today’s world, back in 2006 I can tell you it was very much unheard of. To be honest, I thought he was crazy.
Around that same time, Todd had a dream to start a different kind of hunting video production. One that focused on the real-world hunter, struggling to make it through the ups and downs of a season and telling their stories from beginning to end. With a little encouragement, Todd P managed to con Todd Graf and me into getting a couple Canon GL2 camcorders and filming our hunts for the very first White Knuckle Productions videos. While we didn’t realize it at the time, Todd’s inspiration (cleverly disguised as demands at times) spurred our interest in filming hunts, which later turned into an obsession, and has led us to where we are today. Sadly, I never got the chance to thank him for that motivation.
Thru the years, White Knuckle Productions & Bowhunting.com spent a lot of time together, working the trade show circuit. Anyone who has worked through the rounds of various “deer classics” and “buck expos” knows that aside from a hunting camp this is the next best place to meet fellow hunters who are just as crazy as you are. Through those years, and those shows, Todd met and impacted the lives of countless hunters across the country. Whether they were buying WKP DVDs or Wicked Saws, or just shooting the breeze in the booth, Todd’s infectious personality and enthusiastic smile were always on full display. This continued all the way up until his accident, as he had just returned from the Great American Outdoors Show, where he unquestionably made a few new friends and enjoyed a few deer stories along the way.
If you ever had the pleasure of meeting Todd it didn’t take long to figure out that the guy was crazy. Crazy about his love for chasing big bucks, finding shed antlers, making hunting videos, designing and building top-notch hunting products and just generally crazy about life. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of people through the years, and I can confidently say there’s never been anyone else quite like Todd Pringnitz.
When you look back on moments in your life, it’s easy to pick out the good ones that stand out the most. Although you often don’t recognize them when they’re happening, these are the memories where you can’t help but reflect back and smile. You may even let out an audible chuckle and shake your head. I have more than a couple of those moments in my own life involving Todd, including one of wearing out a jukebox of some no-name bar, somewhere in the middle of nowhere Illinois, by playing Ted Nugent’s “Fred Bear” over and over again. And I would venture to guess that many of you reading this likely have your own as well.
Todd’s passing leaves behind a void that may never be filled. Not for those who considered him a brother, and certainly not for his amazingly strong wife Katie and their young son Baker. My heart breaks for their loss and I only hope that they can find strength in knowing that Todd’s impact will live on through his life’s work and the passion with which he lived. For anyone who would like to make a donation to the Pringnitz family, there is a GoFundMe page which can be found here. As I write this, the total amount raised is nearing $40,000. The camaraderie of hunters and of the hunting community never ceases to amaze me.
Life moves fast, and it can be easy to get caught up in the daily grind. It’s sobering times like these that serve as a stark reminder that “things” aren’t what make life worth living. It’s the time we spend with those we love and the stories we leave behind that define our existence. So hold your loved ones close, enjoy every day and never take any of it for granted. And the next time you pick up a big shed or kill a big buck, let out a little “Yeah, buddy!” for Todd.