Recently, after watching about 40 hours of outdoor TV and screaming at the screen, I couldn’t contain myself any longer and had to write an open letter to outdoor TV “personalities” everywhere. Keep in mind, I host Petersen’s Hunting Adventures, but do not consider myself a “personality” or even good on camera, but at least I am not guilty of these Seven Deadly Sins.
This should go without saying, but if you can’t speak proper English, you have no business being on TV. When was the last time a news anchor dropped “y’all” or “I got me one”? Seriously, you’re on TV…at least pretend to know the language. There are a couple of exceptions—if you live far, far below the Mason-Dixon Line, I’ll give you a pass. Redneckese in small doses is homey and charming, but with Waddell and the Robertsons, we have our country vernacular pretty well covered. So, please, come up with a new shtick.
Stop Naming Deer
I don’t know why naming deer bothers me so much…but it does. I guess part of it comes from my Western upbringing, where animals were truly wild and most of the time you would only see them once, so there was no point in coming up with a name. This seems to be completely different for whitetail hunters.
It must be a written rule somewhere that any deer that may gross over 150 inches and has been spotted at least twice earns a nickname. But come on! Can’t anyone come up with more creative names? “Stickers”? “Wild Thang”? “Triple Threat”? Really? These are deer, not MMA fighters, so give them some respect. What’s wrong with Bob or John or even Raoul? Or if something catchy is needed, I would suggest adult film star names. “Hey, ol’ Lance Thrustwell is on the food plot again.” At least that has a nice ring to it.
Dress Like an Adult
Years ago, after a couple of beers, a buddy confided in me and said, “I don’t trust a guy in fancy pants.” I have to agree. Unfortunately, outdoor TV is full of “fancy pants.” Grown men wearing designer jeans with pocket flaps, decorative stitching, and carefully manufactured holes have no place in the hunting world.
On a country music star crooning to a bunch of teenage girls—fine. On a serious hunter? Not fine. If you top it off with a tight-fitting Affliction shirt and fancy cowboy boots, you’ve just become the ultimate Delta Bravo. The worst part is this is not a single host, but an entire culture. At the Archery Trade Association show it’s like a school uniform. Wearing this outfit in your 30s is bad, but do it in your 40s and 50s (which many of these TV hosts are), and it is a crime that should result in public flogging.
Don’t Pimp Your Ride
I get that owning a monster truck with a six-inch lift and 40-inch swampers is required to host a TV show, but do you really have to cover every inch of it with stickers to tell the world that hunting is your passion? Think about it: Your $40,000 pickup is now an unpaid moving billboard. You turned a truck into a NASCAR vehicle without the income.
And it is not just about the paycheck…you’re letting everyone know you probably have valuable stuff to steal. Not to mention anytime someone sees it parked alongside an old country road, they know you have a secret hunting spot. Try getting into Canada with this not-so-subtle ride…trust me, your stickers just caught the attention of the Customs folks. Make sure your filming permits are in order and be prepared for a full cavity search, just to be sure you’re not smuggling an extra shotgun shell somewhere.
Unless you are a licensed African Professional Hunter, you should not use the term. Period. Not only is it technically wrong and misleading, it is just plain arrogant. You may be a guide, a TV host, a marketing person, a CEO, a paid celebrity, a writer, or any number of other legitimate jobs in the outdoor industry, and you may happen to hunt pretty much full-time, but technically, no one is paying you to go out and shoot a deer.
OK, this is a touchy subject, as I have close friends and coworkers who do this, but please stop with the extensive face paint. A few smudges here and there is fine, but the next generation of hunters is going to think you have to look like Gene Simmons from Kiss if you are ever going to kill a deer. Face paint is like makeup on a woman…keep it light and subtle.
Fist Bumps and End Zone Dances
Can you imagine Fred Bear sticking a whitetail then fist bumping his buddy Glenn St. Charles before riding his recurve like a horse around the dead deer while slapping his own rump, then chest bumping his guide, pumping his fist in the air, and screaming at the top of his lungs into the camera? Of course not, that would be ridiculous.
So why does a version of this ritual seem to be the dance du jour for every TV host today? You know why Fred Bear didn’t do it? One, because he wasn’t a jackass. Two, he was a grown man. Three, he respected the animal too much for those shenanigans. Four, see points one and two. He was a seasoned veteran hunter. So take this advice: Act like you have been there before and pay the animal its due respect. A simple smile, a pat on the deer while you’re admiring the rack, and a moment of silence will suffice.
Well, that’s about it on my rant on outdoor TV. I don’t know about you, but I feel much better.