Outdoors TV: The good, the bad, the indifferent

I had the privilege this spring to be a part of an Archery Assassins filming session about my turkey call company and spring turkey hunting. Up until this point I had done nothing other than dabble in self inking a few hunts.

A crew of three guys came into my small town of Front Royal, Virginia, from nearly 17 hours away in Kansas with hopes of harvesting a mature gobbler with their bows. No, we were not successful, but that’s not what this story is about.

What a learning curve filming for an actual TV show was for me. It seemed there were cameras everywhere and that was definitely a distraction from what I was normally used to.

As a kid, outdoors shows were a thrill for me to watch. Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston and Hank Parker filled Saturday morning with fish and laughs and guys like Roger Raglin, the Drurys and Michael Waddell got me pumped up to come of age to hit the deer woods. Year after year, these shows engage a young audience and even those not so young and encourage them to embrace and step into a life and hobby in the outdoors.

That what be the good part of this story, which leads me to the bad.

Needless to say I had always wanted to get to the point in my life where I was filming for a show, but a lot has changed since then. Not so much has changed with the making of shows, but perhaps more with me and my perception.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast with the Assasins and these guys do things well, but I couldn’t help but want to write something about some of the adverse effect this experience had on me.

Instant gratification is a term that makes me cringe when I hear it or use it, but unfortunately it is an unavoidable part of the society in which we live, and just as much a part of our hunting community.

Take whitetail hunting for instance. There are a few shows out there that go in depth enough and discuss what takes months of preparation, strategic planning and just plain hard work to bag a mature animal. Doing other than showing the parts leading up to the hunt shows the younger generation of hunters tuning in that all you have to do is hit the equipment, climb in a tree and 20 minutes later, boom, whack, thud, there’s a 160-score Boone & Crockett deer on the ground. I hardly think so, and if that doesn’t make you laugh, maybe this next one will.

The generation of hunters that we have now, mostly of the millennial generation (myself included) grew up with those same shows and shared the same dream I had of being on a one.

This has led to some — and I am not generalizing all — millenials, who are inexperienced in multiple facets of hunting and the outdoors and are now traipsing brought the woods with more than $1,000 worth of bows and hunting equipment and another $1,200 or more in hunting cameras and equipment to add footage to their YouTube channel, podcast or whatever else they may be filming for.

The point is, if perhaps there is a better way to set yourself up for failure — and I think there is not — trying to self film a hunt, expectations of huge bucks with minimal effort and thinking you will be the next big name in the hunting industry will often end in disappointment.

Which brings me to indifference.

I’ve always been a “I’ll do me and you do you” kind of guy rather than a “my way or the highway” kind of guy, and I believe that is reflected in my writing. I offer my opinions and often flutter back and forth on the line between theses types of things. I do not think this will be my last television episode or attempt, and it wasn’t an awful experience overall.

My hope in writing this was to restore a little reality in the hunters that may read it, and certainly not to destroy anybody’s dreams. So if you want to film yourself bagging that 160-score buck with your bow, go for it — and I would love to see that video. If you think you have what it takes to be the next big name in this crowded outdoor industry, prove me wrong about what I said, and I’ll beg for your autograph at the Great Outdoors Show in a few years.

Whatever you do, work hard, stay safe and shoot straight.


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