Since my wife and I had twins seven weeks ago (Well, she actually had them, I just cheered from the sidelines), all of my time has been spent helping the wife feed, change and console crying babies at night and discussing and editing hunting stories in the office during the day. None of my time has been spent actually hunting.
Besides the twins, another addition in my home is a new cable system—one that actually has the Outdoor and Sportsman channels in addition to Versus (my old one only had the latter). With the arrival of both, I decided what the heck, even though I’m admittedly not a huge fan of outdoor television, since I’m sitting up with the new additions through all hours of the night it might be fun to at least watch the hunts other people are enjoying. From a professional standpoint, it’s a good way to see what the big names in the business are doing as well, since virtually all of them—along with a lot of smaller names—have their own show now!
Well, after watching what probably amounts to about 70-plus hours of outdoor TV in the past month, I must confess, I’m still not a huge fan of outdoor television. Some of it is just straight out not very good. And for all of the great footage of wildlife that is captured, the emotional component of the hunt seldom shines through the glare of the television set. But that’s my personal hang-up and I accept it as such. I also recognize why a lot of sportsmen feel differently as with the flip of a channel they can be right there on a hunt for whitetails in Iowa, longbeards in Texas and cape buffalo in Namibia. It’s escapism at its best. And never before has hunting been so accessible on the TV, which is truly a good thing. You get to experience everything but pulling the trigger or tripping the release.
One thing I noticed after watching so much TV is that hunters are as predictable as the game they pursue, and the best example I can offer is what the successful hunter and his guide usually say as they crouch over their trophy at the end of each hunt. In fact, there are roughly five things EVERYONE says. Here they are in descending order:
5. Look at that, boy. Yes. Yes. Oh yeessss. (while high-fiving like they just won their office fantasy football league.)
4. What a beautiful _________ (fill in the blank—buck, bull elk, gobbler, ram, bear, etc.)
3. This has been the hunt of a lifetime. (Also a common end to many stories submitted to hunting magazines by inexperienced writers and, sadly, by even a few experienced ones.)
2. Buddy I tell you, it doesn’t get any better than this.
1. This is what it’s all about.
Remember that if you ever get the chance to be on an outdoor television show. With the number of programs out there, odds are, you probably will be.
And oh, again in the spirit of full disclosure, I have had the chance to appear on a number of outdoor shows over the years either as a hunter or to offer hunt tips. The first time I was ever filmed on a successful hunt, I was with Ray Eye, turkey hunting in Missouri. And when we posed next to the turkey I shot and I began to speak, instead of offering some clever, insightful statement about man versus nature and our hunt, I believe my exact words were:
“Yes. Yes. Oh yeesss. (As I high-fived Ray and hooted like an extra in Deliverance with new banjo strings). What a beautiful longbeard. This has been the hunt of a lifetime. Buddy I tell you it doesn’t get any better than this. THIS, is what it’s all about!”
Ray, just smiled and looked at me like the print media guy that I was, the expression on his face seeming to say “Rookie.”