April 07, 2016
By Mark Demko
It has been said, "Don't judge a book by it's cover" and how true it is. Who would have ever guessed that under Adam Vinatieri's Indianapolis Colts jersey is a died-in-the-wool whitetail hunter. Now we know!
Q: How did you get started in hunting?
A: Being a South Dakota kid born and raised, I always joke that I was born with a shotgun in my hand. On my mom's side of the family, there were a lot of farmers and ranchers, so we were very fortunate to be able to do a lot of bird hunting. In the Black Hills, on the other side of the state, you had great deer hunting and elk hunting and all that stuff. Being raised in a family where my grandfather, my uncles and my dad hunted, it gave us a great opportunity to hunt all different types of species. It's one of my three passions — football, family and hunting. The football thing will eventually fade off and the hunting thing will take a really close second to family.
Q: What led you to pick up the bow for the first time?
A: For me, it gave me the opportunity to hunt longer periods of time. In Indiana, we only have a couple of weeks of muzzleloader and gun season. Personally, that only gives me three or four days throughout the entire season to go hunting on my Tuesday off (from football). This way it gives me more time to be out in the woods, and there's something about when you're getting into 40 yards or under from a nice whitetail. If you're fortunate enough to get him, you really know that you had to outwit him, that you had to get in early and you had to worry about scent control and all that stuff. It gives me even more gratitude to know I took my quarry with a bow versus a gun.
Q: You're one of the most respected placekickers in NFL history. What's one of the things you've learned in the woods that you've actually carried to the football field?
A: Concentration, patience — there's a lot of things, I think, that have some similarities. I think the excitement and the heart beating fast and all that — buck fever if you want to call it that — a lot of those feelings are the same feelings that I get when I go onto the football field.
Q: You've made a number of clutch kicks in your career, including in the Super Bowl. What's more nerve-wracking, a game-winning Super Bowl kick or the moment of truth when you're at full draw on a big, mature whitetail?
A: (Laughing) Well, I would probably say you have slightly more pressure being in the Super Bowl. If you miss that big whitetail, there are not quite as many people relying on you. I've missed my quarry in the past, and I've missed kicks in the past. It's kind of the same feeling when you connect on your shot on a big whitetail or in a game. You have the same great feelings when you connect and you also have the same negative feelings if you miss.
Q: What's the most interesting experience you've ever had with the bow?
A: I went to Africa last year and shot a big, mature male lion at 26 or 27 yards. I tell you what, you want to talk about a pucker effect — that was pretty scary! Granted, I had a few people with big guns, just in case things went the wrong way, but being able to chase some dangerous game with stick and string is interesting, to say the least. I loved it. It was probably one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I've had in my life.