By Tony Hooker
When friends Cody Miller and Terry Costa used to look for products and information regarding Deer Hunting equipment, their options were usually limited. (pun intended)
So, the two lifelong hunters decided to do something about it, and from that frustration, their business, Limited Outdoors, came to be.
I recently sat down with the two budding entrepreneurs to discuss how they have been able to turn their obsession into a part time business. (Terry is Parts Manager at Serra of Champaign and Cody works in Whitetail Management and excavation, as well as farming with Hettinger Farms)
How long have you been partners in Limited Outdoors?
(TC) Three years.
How did it come about?
(CM) Basically, we’re hunting buddies. We always have been, and we were looking for something, I don’t know what it was, and we didn’t know much about it, and we wanted to go somewhere and talk to guys who knew about or had used what we were looking for and you couldn’t find it anywhere. Nothing against big box stores, but they hire who they can, and they don’t know what they’re trying to sell. One day, Terry said we need to do something with products that we use and if people call us, we can talk about it.
(TC) That’s how it got started, a lack of options for things that we thought we needed. If you do a little research at home, you already know more than the person you’re talking to in the store. We decided that we needed to do something about that.
How did you come up with the name Limited Outdoors?
(CM)<laughs>We both had limited time, limited funds, and limited supplies and so forth. One cool thing is that our logo is an antler off a deer that I was chasing for two years and finally connected the dots with in 2018.
What sort of products do you offer?
(TC) We offer a wide variety of things. We offer Banks Blinds, Rambo Electric Bikes, River’s Edge tree stands, black widow deer lures, Browning, Cuddeback and Reconyx trail cameras. We offer Antler King seed and Kunz engineering equipment for putting in food plots.
Do you do consulting? If I had a patch of ground and didn’t know how to put a food plot in, could you help with that?
(CM) Yes. If you come to us and tell us what your plans are, we’ll try to make it happen.
(TC) In no way are we professionals, but we give our best opinion. He works in the ag industry, and I worked at an FS dealer for five years, so I’ve got experience there.
(CM) A lot of guys get hung up on herbicides and shade tolerant plants. We know Antler King like the back of our hands.
(TC) We try to test the products. We plant some stuff here that we’ve never messed with before. My parents live 4 hours south of here and we’ve tried it down there. They don’t have soil down there, they have dirt (laughs) and if it grows down there in the rocks and everything, it will grow anywhere. We try random things that we haven’t planted to see what it grows like and what the deer do to it.
(CM) It helps us because guys from the south will call. It’s not just home (local) shopping. We ship it to Kentucky and all over.
Let’s take it back a bit. Cody, you’re a Villa Grove guy, right? Terry did you grow up here?
(TC) I moved to Camargo in 2007 and graduated from Villa Grove in 2000.
When did you guys start hunting?
(TC) As soon as I could walk! <all laugh>
(CM) I got my first deer when I was five years old. My mom and I went and did a hunter safety course, and that same year, I killed my first doe, with my dad. It might have taken 14 shots, but we got it done! <laughs>
(TC) I got my first deer when I was 12. My birthday is in November, so I got a shotgun for my birthday, and two weeks later I killed a deer with it.
What do you attribute the explosion in the popularity of deer hunting and outdoor market to? There are so many things that are available today that twenty years ago, we wouldn’t have dreamed of.
(CM) Television and social media.
(TC) Everyone is gear driven, it seems. You have to have the newest “whatever” it is.
We grew up watching the Buckmaster’s hunting show and Bill Dance fishing show and now there are so many more.
(TC) They didn’t even wear camo! <all laugh>
(CM) I think the big thing is that they just keep coming out with bigger and better products. Today, we’re shooting the best compound bows ever. They’re shooting 320 to 350 feet per second. They’re quiet. Engineering just keeps advancing. Honestly, there’s going to be so many hunters any more that in my opinion, the deer are advancing. You can’t get away with the same things you could get away with when you were twelve. My personal opinion is, and this is part of where Limited came from, there are so many products, look at trail cameras, for example. You can get a trail camera now that will send pictures to your phone within three minutes of taking the picture. I love it, but there are so many products out there. We’ve field tested so many products from multiple companies and we’ve just put them to the wayside, because we’re not going to sell products that we don’t use. I think they just keep throwing products out there that people will buy, just as a way to make a dollar.
Are there more hunters out there, or is there just a lot less ground to hunt?
(CM) More and more people are leasing property. People are letting it become a rich man’s sport.
(TC) It’s very difficult to get property to hunt without paying a bunch of money to do it. Illinois has been touted as one of the states to go to shoot big bucks, so you get an influx of people from out of state who are affluent, who have a lot of money who lease the property and hunt every year. Nobody leaves because there are big deer here.
(CM) I’m blessed to have properties that I have permission to hunt or own. I’m grateful for it, but not everyone has that opportunity. Last Saturday, I went out to do some scouting and there was a guy sitting in my tree stand. He had permission to hunt the neighboring property, but he was a hundred yards away from it.
Can the industry keep growing, or will it reach a saturation point?
(TC) I don’t know. I don’t see a limit. They’re coming out with a new crossbow that cocks itself and shoots 500 feet per second. They just keep coming out with newer and crazier stuff. They just keep cranking out stuff and people keep buying it.
(CM) We’ve seen it here. We only sell products that we use. We’ll go to shows and we’re offered stuff and we try it out and we think it’s going to be cool, and then a couple years down the road you can’t even get it.
How about Limited? What’s the future look like for that?
(TC) Eventually, we would like to have an actual store, but with both of us working full time jobs, it’s going to take us a while to get to that point. The first year, we were lucky to sell anything. We had a few items, but now we’re able to stock more. Now, neither one of us get paid, we just take our profits and purchase new things for the store to build up inventory. We try it ourselves and ask if we want to keep it in stock. Right now, most of our sales come from our Facebook page.
You sell the permanent blinds, right? Are they fiberglass?
(TC) They’re a polymer. We sell Banks Blinds. They’re the Cadillac of blinds.
Things like those blinds have probably increased hunters’ success, right?
(TC) For sure. Comfort. It will keep you out there longer, for sure. Without even putting a heater in there, the sun just comes and naturally warms it up. You’re not sitting in the rain. You can make it a hundred yards to your blind in the rain, but if you’re just sitting by a big oak tree, you’re going to get soaked.
(CM) They allow you to hunt places where you can’t put a tree stand. That’s where I personally use them. I’ve got one sitting in the middle of a 14-acre bean field. People think it’s easy, but it’s a challenge. You have to pay attention and know what you’re doing. We hunt with the windows closed, and we don’t open until the moment of truth.
Is there anything you would like to add?
(TC) It’s a great way to fill your freezer. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy a ribeye steak, because I haven’t seen a whitetail deer that can grow one of those <all laugh> but it’s hard to beat the rest of it, with a nine dollar hamburger.
(CM) My family eats a lot of venison, about three or four a year, but it’s all about what you want out of it. (CM) For a lot of people these days, it’s all about shooting a big deer. I say that if shooting a nice doe or a basket rack buck makes you happy, then go ahead.