In The Beginning...
Like so many people, John and Jerry Wydner and lifelong friend Jim Barta had to learn the hard way that safety, health,
and life aren't guaranteed factors to be expected. It took a near tragic incident to show them that invincibility was restricted
to comic book characters and not the luxury of die-hard hunters.
Having hunted for most of their lives, killing a good whitetail certainly took priority for the trio over something seemingly as insignificant as wearing safety harnesses while in a tree. Falling always happened to someone else, right?
During a typical hunt for deer in 2000, John found his treestand crashing to the rocks below and himself clinging to the tree for his life. Sliding down a bark-covered trunk left the terrified hunter bloodied and shaken. All he could do was think about how close he had just come to severe injury or death.
Camp that evening was a buzz of ideas, sketches, and suggestions of how to make a safety harness easy to put on and comfortable to wear. Soon afterward, John located a sewing factory and began having prototype after prototype made until he was satisfied that he had designed a harness that would prevent a repeat of his previous experience. Thus began a new era for the three hunting partners.
John, Jerry, and Jim, each equal owners of the Hunter Safety System Corporation, began hunting together as kids growing up in a Detroit suburb. Too young and unable to carry guns within the city limits, the boys sharpened their skills at downing pheasants and rabbits with slingshots in the wooded fields near their home. Eventually, crude store-bought bows and arrows made of dowel rods from the neighboring hardware store took the place of slingshots and stones. Being typical boys with a passion for something other than school, homework had to wait each day until a quick tour of the local woods was conducted.
Graduation from high school and eventually marriage didn't dampen their love of the sport or each other's company. Getting together for a hunt now meant that whitetails would likely be the target. Bowhunting was in their blood, and its tools dominated as their weapons of choice.
John and Jerry eventually moved their families to Alabama where their parents had gone some years earlier while Jim remained in Michigan. Determined to remain as close friends, the two brothers would join their friend in their home state to hunt each fall while Jim traveled south in the spring to fish.
A lot of hard work, much prayer, and the help of a loving God have turned a youthful passion into a now multi-million dollar business. Hunts for these three much older hunters presently consists of cameras, cameramen and TV shows. Despite the more business-like atmosphere while afield, John, Jerry and Jim still find time to cut-up and act a lot more like the kids they were...In The Beginning.
But then, who says that you have to grow up?