By Brent T. Wheat
“Not only is this incredibly useful, it is incredibly fun,” exclaims Robert Arrington. “I feel like I’m shooting in The Matrix!”
Arrington, star of the Deer Meat for Dinner YouTube channel, had just hammered a steel target using his bolt-action hog-control rifle equipped with the latest FLIR ThermoSight Pro PTS233 thermal sight. Later that night, the video host would prove he not only knows how to eliminate the pesky porkers damaging his South Florida ranch, but also how to transform the hungry hogs into gourmet fare back at home. Such field-to-table pursuits have proven to be the successful formula behind Arrington’s popularity and over 400 highly successful videos.
A veteran of several outdoor television programs, Arrington has found his niche as part of the new breed of outdoor stars: an authentic, home-grown, homemade personality who leverages the power of YouTube to reach a vast audience. With over 170 million views and nearly 900,000 subscribers to his channel, Robert found a way to make a living doing what he loves without all the logistical and financial downsides of broadcast TV.
For Arrington, the ride in television was good, but the business realities were harsh.
“I actually went broke,” Arrington notes wryly. “Later, a good friend of mine called and he’s like, ‘Man, you should start a YouTube channel.’ I thought he was crazy, but as time went on, I started thinking, ‘Maybe a YouTube channel would keep my face out there and it’ll bring about another opportunity.’”
Once planted, the YouTube seed finally bloomed in his kitchen. “I was cooking dinner one night,” Arrington explains, “and kept saying to myself, ‘Well, what are you really passionate about?’ I looked at a cast iron skillet full of pan-fried deer meat and said out loud ‘Deer Meat for Dinner!’ It just rolled off my tongue!”
Borrowing $20 dollars from his girlfriend, Sarah (now his wife), Arrington bought the domain name DeerMeatForDinner.com. “Sarah was like, ‘This is not really smart,’“ Arrington laughs. “I disagreed. We started the YouTube channel and a little Facebook page and just started trying to make a few videos.”
Things went along modestly until Arrington made an alligator skinning video that did well. He then made an alligator cooking video that quickly exploded across the Internet. “I started to taste a little bit of success from it,” Arrington admits modestly, “I could see the wheels turning.”
The wheels of fortune have turned, indeed. Arrington now works full-time on his video production, editing the footage himself, while working on his other major project, a Florida cattle ranch. Now, with growing Internet success and fame, Arrington has a new role: Pro Ambassador for FLIR Systems, Inc.
Unlike conventional optics or even night vision devices that use light, thermal imagers detect minute temperature differences, amplify them and create clear depictions of scenes in any lighting conditions, from pitch-black darkness to full sunlight.
“What I’m most excited about with FLIR is the ability to see things from a different perspective, a totally different point of view,” Arrington says. With feet firmly planted in both the ranching and outdoor worlds, the YouTube star sees the clear benefits of thermal imaging in each.
Arrington highly recommends that all livestock producers have a thermal imager on hand like the new FLIR Breach handheld monocular. “Thermal imaging is used in a million ways you would never expect,” Arrington explains. “One of my buddies is a big-time cattleman and he knows the level of fuel and water in all his tanks just by driving by. Managing wild hogs (with a thermal-equipped rifle at night) on my property is very, very important during calving season. Also, being able to find your cows and calves at night to take care of them is critical,” Arrington notes.
In the outdoor world, where Robert can be seen capturing and eating everything from alligator to puffer fish, there are big plans for FLIR thermal imagers ranging from coyote hunts to safeguarding lives while fishing offshore. “When I’m in the Bahamas running offshore, if someone were to fall overboard, thermal is going to help me find them quickly. When I was a kid I really didn’t care, but now I care a lot,” says the husband and father of two young daughters.
The upbeat host, who also works as motivational speaker, couldn’t be more bullish on the future of his YouTube channel and his partnership with FLIR.
“I care a lot and my channel is authentic,” Arrington says to explain his success. “That was even in my agreement with FLIR. They know that it’s about showing the capabilities, showing the usefulness. It’s not about talking, it’s about showing how thermal imaging increases situational awareness while helping save people and their livelihoods. That’s why it’s a real honor to be a part of a company like FLIR and have the opportunity to wear that breastplate as an ambassador of such a prominent, respected brand,” Arrington proudly says.
Arrington has certainly come a long way since breaking the Internet while skinning and cooking an alligator on video. He credits it all to his personal motto, one that adorns the t-shirts he sells through his website: “All men die, but few ever really live.”
You can certainly add YouTube star and FLIR Pro Ambassador, Robert Arrington, to the list of those who are truly alive.