An Average Joe’s Hunting Shows Critique

Television      Are today’s HUNTING SHOWS the new DC politicians? Have they (the shows) really become that out of touch? In this soapbox session I will do my best to explain why I believe they have truly lost their base!

The Hunting Shows Caveat

In the following critique it will seem at times that I have had no mercy on today’s hunting shows and while that may seem like the truth from the words put in front of you please understand that there is a need for this type of entertainment and I value it just as much as the next guy/gal. The purpose of this is to open the eyes of executives and producers at these television channels and let them know that there is just as much of a demand for educational programming concerning hunting and fishing tactics without all the hoopla of product placement, catch phrases and unrealistic dream locations we must all suffer through watching now.

Outfitters

hunting showsSo how many of you are able to get off at lunch on Friday’s, run out to your hunting camp, scroll through a couple thousand trail cam photos before picking the right stand and then hop into your Kevlar shooting house placed in the middle of a 3 acre turnip patch that has been perfectly limed and fertilized? Professionals hunting with professionally managed outfitters on lush/prime property where most could pay to get a big one carries some entertainment value sure, because we get to see a bruiser drop, but what does that really teach the average hunter about improving his/her hunting? Myself, I am pretty aware if I was able to plant the current brand name food plot mix in multiple locations around a few hundred acres I would probably increase my chances. Also entertainment can come in various forms, such as a professional hunter scouting Bankhead National Forest (a large stretch of hardwoods that is difficult terrain to navigate in Northern Alabama) for a large buck (which we all know live there) setting up a set he/she thinks will work and filming the harvest of a monarch. Now that is entertainment my friends…. plus we might pick up a trick or two in the process.      While we are on the topic of the hunting show and entertainment how many shows do you watch with the intention of laughing? The reason for the question is now consider how many hunting shows have footage of the hosts standing around camp doing their best to be goofy for the cameras; and how much of the shows film time this takes up. Now this may be somewhat harsh because there are some funny hosts in the hunting industry but there are also some sunny days in Seattle.

The Setup

Hunting Setup

When you first attain a piece of land how do you approach the oncoming deer season? Do you show up and hunt? Kill big deer doing so? Even before just showing up we all can relate to how tough it can be just to secure hunting land these days. For celebrities this may come easy but wouldn’t it be nice for a show to just show us how they go about securing the properties they hunt? I believe we all know that you aren’t too successful if your approach is just show up and hunt with no scouting. Why in hunting shows are we never shown the work that goes into a sight? Wait, I should stand corrected here. I should say we are never shown the work that doesn’t have the opportunity for product placement. If we as viewers cannot be shown what seed was put in the ground and what stand was hung then we don’t need to know about it right? Wrong! I would love to know how Terry Drury or Michael Waddell walk into a set of hardwoods and pick whether to start looking for sign at the draw in the bottom or the ridgeline up top and why they did that. Why they hung their stands around the red oaks rather than the white oaks? What kind of entry/exit trail they cut to the stand? I believe if I talked to you all we could come up with some real good questions on why the set up the way they did…. all we know is that it worked…. well great, but how?

Along the same lines as not telling us the work that goes into the land set up is the actual hunt set up. How many times have you heard this line or something similar in one of your frequented hunting shows “once we saw Crazy 8 we got a game plan together and put out the Reconyx cameras to know where to hang the Summits the next week”? See what happened there? Not only did we get a snazzy deer name thrown at us but two products as well. (Refer back to my first sentence, DC politicians)

Analyzing Deer, Hyperbole and Catch Phrases

Now before you gasp I am not going down the road of if it’s brown it’s down because I’m not….. I am a member of a QDMA club and firmly believe in Quality Deer Management. In my usual line of hunting shows I get so tired of hearing the analysis of deer antlers and age. The quotes like “well this buck has some nice brow tines, long G2s and he carries that mass all the way out to the G3s and just look at those kickers with these two stickers back here….”. Today’s hunting shows try to send the message that it’s not all about the antlers but at the same time promote their “record book” bucks which are based on antler size and even name the deer because of their antler characteristics. If the over-analytical antler tine jargon isn’t enough the immediate scoring is just as bad. The hosts who describe to you the number of 3.5 year old bucks on their farm who would only score 130” is enough to make me watch HGTV and I’m not in the middle of a remodel.

MONSTER, GIANT, ENORMOUS. We have all heard them before at ad nauseam. To not only limit the pain at the hyperbole our hunting show hosts like to throw in other terms like “BOOYAH” or “YYYEEEESSS, Give me a second folks” or my favorite and most common “Smoked him!”. Can we please not marginalize something as special as hunting to WWE type catch phrases? When I hear this garbage I start looking for the Nature Boy Rick Flair…. WOOOOO!!. Hunting is such a special act that it doesn’t need hyperbole or catch phrases and let me explain why. First we have the opportunity to be surronded by God’s glory on every hunt. If you can’t be satisfied by the beauty nature provides then your efforts would be better applied contrasting nature with man’s glory in the halls of the capital building (please don’t let that joke slip by you). Secondly, hunting is a tradition that has been passed down from generations thousands of years before us and we now have the opportunity to continue the transition of knowledge to those who will take care of this earth after us. Finally, it is unbecoming of us as masters of the game, not in the sense of sport but in the sense of game as in wild game. We are given control over this domain and to get on television and act a fool over taking an animal rather than show respect to the one who allowed that harvest and the animal is just unbecoming of a true hunter.

Table Fare

Table Fare

My hunting career did not start until I was 19 years old. My father was not a hunter…. no one in my immediate family hunted. I grew up very interested in hunting, watching shows and reading books but never had the opportunity until one day in college with a few friends. As we headed out to my buddy’s hunting land in Red Bay, AL I was so excited to be a part of an actual hunt….. it was everything I had always read about, seen on TV and dreamed of; the leaves, the woods, the smells, the chill in the air and the deer. That day I did not get to harvest an animal but my friend did and I was introduced to processing. As we gutted, skinned and processed the doe I gained a different respect for the animal that I never would have gotten had I not been there with my friend that day. Ever since that day I promised myself that I would not harvest an animal that I would not eat. Now I must be honest I have been educated on certain aspects of hunting and have ventured away from that rule by only one exception, coyotes but I don’t want that to distract the point. Today’s hunting shows do not concentrate on one of the greatest aspects of hunting and that is the table fare. Not only is wild game a nutritious, healthy, delicious way to enjoy the hunt but it is also very rewarding to know that you can provide for yourself and your family in ways that have nothing to do with a job or dollars and cents. I would love to see these shows just take a little bit of time to show the audience some recipes or tips for doing something not all folks might be aware of and it may even welcome new members to the hunting community.

So where do we go from here?

In closing I believe the improvements to be made to these hunting shows are sensible. Basically producers/executives give us more meat on the bones rather than attempting to get us to fluff your pockets. The hunting industry is booming and I understand there is a “strike while the kettles hot” mentality but as with all things cyclical please see the wave of true hunters you might lose if you continue down this path. We are your core and we need “Hunting shows with entertainment” too. I welcome any questions or comments to my twitter feed @BamahunterRTR !!  All glory to God and please remember to pray for our men and women downrange.

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Chris Wallace

About the Author:

Growing up my father had my little brother and I on the Tennessee Valley waterways in Northern Alabama every Saturday morning 30 minutes before sunrise. If we weren’t wetting a line then we were working around our place in the country. My father instilled a tough work ethic in all of us because that is all he knew, which is why I am so appreciative of him taking the time to teach me how to fish. Due to his work schedule we never got around to the hunting part. I was always interested in hunting; researched it, watched the shows, read about it and even watched wildlife I just never went throughout my time living at home. When I was 17 years old I convinced my parents that they needed to sign a waiver for me to enter the Army Reserves Delayed Entry Program (DEP). I became a 54 Bravo (Chemical Operations Specialist) and had the privilege of serving my country while attending college. At college I finally got introduced to hunting by a friend of mine. On my first hunt my buddy harvested a doe and allowed me to assist with the field dressing, skinning and processing. It was at that moment that I was absolutely overcome with the passion that is hunting. I served my time with the Army and was honorably discharged but will carry those lessons learned as well as the love of hunting with me for the rest of my life. The empowerment that comes with hunting is so rewarding. Now I am 32 years old, married with a son and work for a government contractor on a military installation in North Alabama. To know that on any given day I can utilize my knowledge of the outdoors to harvest a meal for my family and not just any meal but something nutritious and delicious welcomes a sense of freedom I hope everyone gets to experience. Hopefully throughout the information I disseminate you will find bits and pieces that you will carry to the field and find your freedom and expound on it as well. All glory to God and please remember to pray for our men and women downrange.
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