Physician/bow hunter launches wildlife food company

The Nebraska family physician links his love of the outdoors with his science background to develop wild animal feed.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted Sept. 26, 2011

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Kenneth Vettel, MD

Specialty: Family medicine

Location: Grand Island, Neb.

Company: Doc's Wildlife Blends develops and sells various nutritional products for free-roaming animals (link).

Annual revenue: Not disclosed, though Dr. Vettel says it is "not very much" at the moment. He expects figures to improve when the product line expands nationally in 2012.

Why he started the business: Dr. Vettel, a bow hunter and outdoorsman, wanted to see if he could develop better feed and mineral licks for the dozens of deer on his land. He wanted the feed to be both nutritious and something the animals wanted to eat. "When I started it was brain candy. It was just for fun," he said.

He starting working on the project with Tim Jones, DDS, in nearby Aurora, Neb. They realized that applying their scientific expertise to develop wild animal feed had commercial potential.

"We both have chemistry degrees, and we're avid outdoorsmen, so we're very familiar with a lot of the hunting products," Dr. Vettel said.

They launched Doc's Wildlife Blends in 2009. The product line includes mineral licks in apple and persimmon flavors, deer and turkey feed, and seeds for food plots designed to draw wildlife. The products are primarily marketed to hunters, who use them to create and attract healthier wildlife.

Doc's Wildlife Blends have been featured on several cable outdoor shows and are available from the website and local distributors.

Dr. Vettel and Jones are working with Aurora Cooperative, an agricultural company with annual sales of $700 million, to sell the products nationally in 2012.

Why he still practices: "I like it. I enjoy what I do. My partner says that I have the mind of a physician and the heart of a bow hunter."

Words of wisdom: "The best ideas come from something you're passionate about. They may be revolutionary. They may be simple but have a sound business basis for every decision you make."

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