In 1989 Vern Boer and his younger brother Wayne decided to buy some video equipment with the intention to start their own production company. Though not yet sure of what to film. Shortly thereafter an acquaintance of Wayne’s asked the brothers to film a wedding, the company “Video Works” was born. In 1992 Vern took over the business and renamed the company “Vern’s Video”. He soon discovered weddings alone could not support the business, so he opened the doors to video transferring. Soon there were phone calls wanting photos put to music and even for transferring old 8-mm films to VHS. Next came the transferring of foreign formats to video after that it didn’t take long to create a lengthy list of additional services. Soon “Vern’s Video” began to generate enough income to keep itself afloat. While Vern was building his business he was also spending time in the outdoors hunting and fishing with his son Jeff. At the time neither of the two gave much thought to taping their own outdoor experiences. Though placing both father and son in the outdoor programs on TV was, at that time, a personal dream of Jeff’s “Vern’s Video” and the great outdoors would not meet for several years.
Only after gaining some trust from Vern, did Jeff start to work with his father at Vern’s Video, this came at a time when the team was beginning to learn and gain more advanced skills both on and off the camera. The video editing industry was beginning to change from manual tape editing to computer editing programs. Vern decided immediately to jump on board adding computers to their editing arsenal. By now wedding and picture videos were starting to overwhelm Vern, forcing him to turn customers away while both he and Jeff dealt with the hurdle of learning new technology. By 1998 Jeff had Graduated from college with a degree in Graphic Communications with an emphasis in advertising & Design. He continued to work at the electronics store even after earning his degree. Jeff spent his time learning more about cameras and about the new digital formats being introduced into the market. The following year Jeff bought an 8-mm digital video camera for personal use and some recording for Vern’s Video, it never left his side.
By the fall of 1999 Jeff and another family member had developed a heavy interest in archery hunting, it didn’t take long for Jeff to discover the digital camera fit perfectly into a backpack. Every time they climbed into a tree the camera went with them. In an incredible stroke of luck only a few weeks into the season Jeff shot his first Whitetail buck on film, within a week the second buck was killed on camera. From then on the camera was with Jeff every time they went into the field. In the year 2000 Vern killed his first buck on camera. It was while editing the film, that Jeff jokingly mentioned they should start an outdoor show and keep filming their hunting adventures. It may have sounded farfetched at the time but he didn’t know what was just a couple years down the road.
In midsummer of 2001 Jeff met a customer while working at Karl’s TV who owned and managed a commercial pheasant preserve. While assisting the man in finding the right camera, the customer told Jeff his intention to film the large numbers of pheasants at the ranch. In order to show case the quality of his hunting operation. During the conversation Jeff brought up the idea they had for a local outdoor television show. The customer was intrigued by the idea and it didn’t take long before he said he’d back it. Jeff scrambled to tell his team the incredible news, that their dream might finally come true. They didn’t have a name or much of an idea what airtime would cost, or for that matter how to get on the air. So with a phone book in hand Jeff called every local T.V. station inquiring about rates for airtime and how to go about buying it. The only Station willing to give him a chance was FOX TV. A sales rep for the station, Sandy “Lasner” Ellefson went out of her way to drop off all of FOX TV’s information, and then stayed to answer all of his questions.
The first hurdle the show encountered was deciding on a name. Jeff and Vern’s first thought was; Wild Outdoors, a logical choice except that it was already taken. South Dakota is a diverse state with many different backgrounds, a strong Christian atmosphere and, a large population of outdoorsmen. The team wanted the title not only to capture the meaning of the program but the spirit of the group. Jeff recognized these facts and suggested Wild Dakota as the new name, the team voted unanimously. The name Wild Dakota by definition is...
wild ..."a natural state of existence"
dakota ... "friends, family, allies"
Wild Dakota ... "the celebration of existence of us and nature, creating memories
of a lifetime to be shared with friends, family, and people of like interests!"
“Vern’s Video” was going to be on the line taking all of it’s equipment and doubling its use for producing Wild Dakota as Jeff's ideas and dreams would shift Vern's Video into different directions, Vern himself would become the backbone (financial support) upon which the show would stand. The reality of television slowly began to sink in and the team’s next move was to select a time slot. During the this process several polls were taken and, finally 7:30 a.m. was chosen to allow both non-church and church goers the opportunity to enjoy the program. To secure their time slot the guys were forced to sign a contract obligating them to the deal and to start broadcasting within one year. Believing they had everything needed to start filming the contract was signed. Jeff contacted his customer turned financier, and was let down in a big way, finding the man all talk and no money. It was a dark time for the Wild Dakota team, spirits were at an all time low.
Late in the winter of 2002 Vern attended the local outdoor sports show in Sioux Falls. While visiting with friends after the show, the subject of outdoor T.V. came up. Vern noticed that many of his friends complained about how there really was no outdoor T.V. show focused on South Dakota. Eventually Vern was asked what had happened to the T.V. show idea. After telling the tragic tale Vern’s comrades rallied behind the idea and gave him a massive vote of confidence. His morale reinforced by friends, The team pulled back together to look for the advertisers and sponsors they needed to keep the show alive. The father-son team regrouped, armed with the confidence that came with knowing they had an idea that could and would succeed. The hunt began with Central Plains Taxidermy, the owner Terry was thoroughly impressed and signed on immediately. Next Jeff and Vern went to Gary’s Gun Shop, Steve and Tony gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. Their third stop was a local boat dealer who also gave a very confident yes. To their great surprise almost every business Vern and Jeff contacted told them if the show got airtime they would provide the backing. On August 3, 2003, at 7:30 a.m. was secured on local Fox KTTW 17. The light at the end of a long tunnel was beginning to shine, or so the team thought.
The first three years of the program put Vern, Jeff, and “Vern’s Video” into debt. It was only through side jobs and extra video work that they earned the cash needed to produce as good or better footage than any other outdoor program on T.V. Years 4 and 5 would determine the fate of the program. The fourth year was the first in which the show turned a profit it wasn’t much but Wild Dakota was in the black for the first time.
Year 5 is finally here, and Wild Dakota has reformatted it’s program to improve quality and expand it’s audience. The Show’s viewers now number nearly 200,000 and has countless internet fans. The show has a production quality that rivals any show on the air and is on track to have it’s best year ever. Vern and Jeff have created a new website that is second to none, It is designed to support the sports enthusiast and their need for quality products and services with excellent information on where to get them at affordable prices. The site’s articles are written by local sportsmen with actual experience in the field and on the water, and are another example of the excellent local information the Wild Dakota team provides it’s loyal fans. If you were to ask Vern or Jeff who is actually responsible for the creation of Wild Dakota, both will dig deep into their hearts acknowledging the humility all of their hardship has imparted upon them, and they would recognize the pride each takes in the show, and then all things considered will take every ounce of credit. More importantly if the Good Lord allows it, the father-son team and their ever growing number of friends, will continue to show hunting and fishing at its best and sometimes at its worst. Both father and son will put their passion for the outdoors into the show, and will continue to do what they love and love what they do.