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Editor's Desk Hunting Culture

9 More Deadly Sins of Outdoor TV

by Mike Schoby   |  February 25th, 2014 35

In the November issue I ranted about Outdoor TV. It was going to be a one-off piece, but then the reader letters flooded in. What was remarkable was that every comment was positive. Except one.

Not surprisingly, the dissenter was a TV host (who shall remain nameless) who is guilty of many of the seven sins. Suffice to say, he was not happy, and since I don’t suffer fools well, the call didn’t last long.

So I decided to write a second piece on the subject. Keep in mind, this is not about Outdoor TV in general. I host Petersen’s Hunting Adventures, and our parent company owns the Sportsman Channel. This is about individual shows and hosts that negatively portray our sport. The original article included seven sins, but I have a lot more…a whole lot more.

Heavy Metal Music
This has been nearly a universal complaint from readers—heavy metal music on hunting shows. Nothing is as jarring as watching a whitetail sneak in to Megadeath…couldn’t it sneak to Clapton or Santana instead?

The Mean Face
You see it all the time in promo photos: hosts making a face that is an impossible mixture of excitement, fear, and anger combined with a painful bowel movement. The TV host who was so bent out of shape over my editorial actually practices his “mean face” in a mirror before autograph signings. Sad, but true.

The Tag Line
Michael Waddell is the king of the post-kill saying or “tagline,” and for him it works because it’s truly spontaneous and natural. Some other hosts actually rehearse their signature phrases. Here’s a tip: If you have to think of something catchy to say, don’t do it. Like wearing bedazzled jeans, you will regret it in 10 years.

The Management Buck
Let’s just call this for what it is: the price-point buck. The truth of the matter is the budget didn’t allow for a whopper buck, so instead of just saying that (which is something anyone other than our government can understand), we make up the term “management buck.”

“I’m here in Texas helping the rancher remove non-trophy deer.” Here’s the translation: “I’m here in Texas, and, gee, I really wish I could whack one of these monsters, but I can’t afford the sucker.” How do I know? Been there, said that.

The Poacher
This should go without saying, but if a host receives a poaching violation they should probably be banned from TV, and sponsors should run from them like the plague. It amazes me how many hosts have been busted and companies keep supporting them. I travel a lot, and keeping up on every regulation in every state is tough, so I can see how an honest mistake could happen.

If it was an honest mistake, and pretty small (e.g., wearing camo blaze orange instead of solid blaze orange), I could see getting a second chance. But if it is something egregious, something blatant, or worse yet, something you did intentionally and tried to hide, then tough, go find a job elsewhere!

High Fences
I have hunted deer behind a fence—once—just to see what it was like. Even though it was 10,000 acres, I didn’t care for it. But where I have a real beef with fenced hunting is when TV hosts pretend they are not behind fences. If you want to hunt behind wire, fine, that is your prerogative, but don’t try and convince me you’re the world’s greatest hunter because you just smacked a (tame) buck.

Excuse Makers
Why can’t some outdoor TV hosts just admit they are human? Misses happen. But instead of just turning to the camera and saying, “Man, that deer got me rattled, and I just couldn’t hold it together,” there is always a litany of excuses. Just admit it…you missed. It happens. Worse than the “excuse makers” are the folks who never show a miss. These egomaniacs must be the best shots in the world because they never miss anything…ever.

The Good Hit
The “good hit” is another pet peeve. The host shoots a deer, turns to the camera and says, “That’s a good hit. He’s going down right there!” Then you see the recovery—high noon the next day, deer stiff as a board, and a bit coyote-worn around the edges. He obviously didn’t go down “right there.”

The Cameraman Fist Bump
I don’t like it when the host and unseen cameraman have a conversation, but fist bumping this invisible entity is even more annoying. It’s like a punch to the viewers’ collective forehead. Plus, I don’t like fist bumps in general…on TV or off. I’m 40, grumpy, and an uncoordinated white guy. Therefore I don’t dance or fist bump…ever.

It’s real simple to avoid these problems. Just ask yourself one question: W.W.F.B.D.(What Would Fred Bear Do)? If the old man in the fedora wouldn’t do it, neither should you.


  • rjs

    Great piece. I agree with everything other than the hunter conversing with the cameraman. I actually like this. My pet peeve has always been the opposite, the guys who pretend they are alone when obviously we all know there is another person there.

    • Chris

      I’m with you I like the fist bumping and the excitement between the camerra guy and hunter (if you can call em hunters, maybe shooters)

      • Michael

        I completely agree. This article has some great points but I also don’t like when they pretend the cameraman is non-existent. The cameraman (or woman) is a huge part of the hunt and it could almost be argued that their job is harder than the hunter’s and they often have to work harder (doing some filming myself). To me hunting is more than just the kill. If I can’t get excited with my brother, friend or co-worker behind the camera when I shoot a beautiful buck I would rather just stay home.

  • Derrek Sigler

    Good piece, Mike. I agree with you. I get tired of shows where it seems faker than Pamela Anderson’s, um, tan. I like the hosts who are genuinely enthusiastic, like Waddell, and the one who fake it get me to change the channel pretty fast.

    I can’t stand the whispering to the cameraman the whole time. Do it as a voice over if you have to. One other thing too. I hate it when the deer has obviously been dead for a while and it gets paraded around and has yet to be field dressed! Kind of negates the deer as food argument, doesn’t it?

    You put it better than anyone I’ve heard yet. WHen in doubt act like Fred Bear would have!

    Keep up the good work, Schoby!

  • verbbaitum

    Seems like most of the worse shows all being with the same phrase, “Ya All!”

  • Ron

    Way to lay it out there Mike, I just shake my head and giggle this behavior that you see on tv hunting shows. I like the phony recovery’s the best, we all know that not all game goes down within sight.

  • Sherrill Philip Neese

    One of the things I hate about hunting “celebrities” is the “look” they portray. They are either trying to look tough or cool or bad or hard corps or grumpy or whatever. You see it in the pictures, the advertisements, the shows, etc. Give me a break… you get to HUNT for a living! Smile a bit. It’s not like you are in Kandahar or Fallujah or anything death defying. You are hunting. That’s it. Yes, putting on a show takes hard work and hunting does take a lot of skill, especially with a camera, but it is still just hunting. It’s supposed to be fun and you are living the dream… A smile is not going to kill you.

  • Danny Dodge


    You nailed it. I’m an outdoor cameraman, but I came from the other side… mainstream TV. When I moved to hunting TV I was amazed at what they were letting go on air. None of the normal production practices were being followed. It was as though someone with a camera and a computer went out, filmed a hunt, then put it together as best they could. I don’t blame them for trying their best, but it’s apparent that the first in the business of making hunting shows, had very little training. As the hunting show industry began to grow it became a game of follow the leader. Everyone started mimicking the other. Recapping what the viewer just saw, using music that just doesn’t fit the mood of the content, listening to themselves talk just to get face time on TV, the list goes on.

    Although production value has increased in the past few years, it’s nowhere near its potential. As a cameraman/field producer who knows the proper way to create content, I find myself up agains a brick wall trying to motivate outfitters and hunters to “make TV”, but always get push back because they want to hunt, not make TV. Although I currently film with one of the few hosts who actually strive to make good TV, I’ve for years wanted to “lay it on the line” and produce the ultimate hunting adventure. One that is well planned out, outlined, and shot for adventure and content…. not to please the hunter. However, I can’t avoid the fact that genuine production requires real budgets. And the hunting industry simply doesn’t have the funds to afford such an endever. Being such a small nich market, with so many shows vying for the same manufacturers sponsorship dollars, there’s just not enough $$$ to go around. That’s not to say that it can’t be done. In my opinion it would have to be a network original, and in that case non-indemic sponsors might just make it possible. But in any case, I urge the hunting TV industry to let go of the idea of mimicking all the other hunting shows, and try harder to create content that mimics that of networks like Discovery, NatGeo or History. Don’t let the talent call the shots, and don’t focus on long monologs. Instead, tell a story with action, multiple angles, good soundtrack choices that fit the mood of the content, and never ever make excuses for the reality of a situation. Let it be what it is. Hopefully some day, I will have the opportunity to create that “Greatest Hunting Adventure”, but for now I simply hope to inspire others to push ahead, and do whatever it takes to step out of the current mold of outdoor TV.

    Danny Dodge, Cameraman/Field Producer

    • TheWilltoHunt

      Danny you basically just described Donnie Vincent’s latest film The River’s Divide. Check it out –

      • Danny Dodge

        ThrWilltoHunt, Donnie’s film is better than what I was describing. Thanks for sharing. I’m betting you we’re involved in some way :-) I hope this is only a first I a series he will produce. I would love to see this hit TV.

        • TheWilltoHunt

          Glad you like it Danny! I wish I could take credit for any of it but my only involvement is promoting something that I think is freaking awesome! LOL, You are correct though much more to come from that team!

          • Danny Dodge

            That would be heck of a team to be a part of. I wish you the very best. hope sponsors wake up, and give you some good support.

  • Scott Earl Smith

    Agree to the extent that I thought you were reading my mind. The heavy metal thing – that ‘s why I’m glad I have mute on my channel changer.

  • Blaine Cooper

    I made a parody video of pretty much everything in your article on a slow day this past season. My son & I particularly make fun of the “management deer”. We call them “meat” and are thrilled to have them in the freezer. I suppose that is the difference between doing it for sport and for food and that’s OK too, it just comes off as silly and maybe elitist when I hear it said over and over.

  • Kenny Allison

    agree with all of the above One thing I hate is the Camera zooming in and out on it’s intended target. Your eye cannot zoom in and out and neither should the camera it’s completely unnatural.


    I agree with most of what you said and will add this: I HATE when they say “smoked him,” and they ALL do it. Even on a miss they’ll say “I thought I smoked him”…so annoying!!! With regards to hunting “high fenced areas,” you’re stretching things quite a bit to call the deer “tame.”

  • Jack

    Mike, I think you a jackass!! Who are you to say what someone should or should not do on their own TV show? You know what I do when a show comes on that I don’t like, I CHANGE THE CHANNEL !! Sometimes I laugh at it and pick out all the ‘mistakes” and sometimes I think how silly they look. BUT, I also envy each and every one of them for chasing a dream and doing what they want to do. I wish I had my own hunting show.

    I do not excuse the poaching end of things. I agree they should not be promoting our sport. But everything else, is of no ones concern.

    However, I do have an issue with writers that want to sit and critique other writers or TV shows. We are ALL hunters doing what we can to have fun and/or make a living doing what we love. Why on earth do you want to divide us? I am sure non of them insulted you personally while making their show, so why insult them? Actually, at the same time you are insulting these TV shows, you are insulting your parent company for having these so called “bad-shows” on their network. Your just another one of those “BETTER THAN THOU” guys that has to put someone else down for not doing it the same way you do. Petersen’s Hunting Adventures should be ashamed of you!!

    • mike

      Hi Jack, I am sorry if this article upset you, but I feel that all hunters represent our culture. It doesn’t matter if you are a TV host, writer, editor, or don’t work in the business at all – we are all hunters. The non-hunting public judges all of us by our collective conduct. We as hunters need to police ourselves, as no one else will. If certain folks are not painting us in the best light, then I feel it is my duty to say something. Just like if you see a rude hunter making an an ass of himself in public you should say something to him. We can either just “change the channel” as you suggest or we can police ourselves and make something we all can collectively be proud of.

    • Ron

      Dear Jack

      First off you should not use your name in the opening first sentence like that. As far as chasing a dream, I for one admit it’s a job, and we have to act as tho we are being watched by the whole world, do you go to work and fist bump all the co-workers as you walk by them? while they are rockin’ out to Metallica, all the while strutting your stuff in the bedazzled jeans? maybe, maybe not, why, cause most would look at you as unnatural. I for one do not sit on stand without a camera and fist bump myself (lol) jump up and down in sand, whisper to myself, make ugly faces, etc… you get the point. So why do it on camera?.

  • Haywood GoldenEagle Galbreath

    Nothing wrong with being a 40 year old uncoordinated white guy! There’s something wrong with boldly saying it as a badge of honor! Goes to a certain type of mindset! Reference to the fist bumping knowing what I know probably has to do more to do with the current administration! Then not lacking fist bumping!

  • Scottie La Botte

    If it up after you shoot it shoot it again. If it gets up shoot it again. If its moving while down shoot it again. This one shot crap is just that. I have seen several instances where i could have shot the deer they chased at least once more before it ran off.

  • JohnnyDunlap

    Awesome Mike.

  • Scott Mckay

    I dont call any of these “host” hunters, and how many normal hunters could afford to travel to some of these ” Buck Farms”! A
    ll of it has got so far out of reality it is a joke!

  • scottlinden

    Maybe you mentioned this in your first piece … verboten on my show, Wingshooting USA: whispering to the camera.

  • Petersons Sucks!

    Mr. Schoby you are an arrogant little BlTCH……Your first attempt at this article was annoying enough! Did you really need the material for this article so badly that you decided to just rip off the first few comments from the readers of your last article? What a pathetic little turd!

    • Mogambo

      Get a life pal. Mike is simply sharing an opinion and many people actually agree with him…

  • fred

    FRED BEAR nothing else said

  • Bill

    the comment about hunting behind a high-fence probably applies to more big deer shot on these shows than most would expect and I agree with your comments. I was really surprised when a well-known deer hunter who’s first name is Bob, who had appeared in a “public service” ad saying real hunters don’t hunt behind high fences, appeared on a hunting show shot in South Africa where he and another real hunter were hunting lions in South Africa.
    There may not have been a fence in sight but I promise you that neither of the two lions shot had ever eaten anything the killed or that was killed by another lion.
    These lions, like every lion shot in South Africa, were bred to be killed by hunter’s and were raised under very controlled conditions.

  • Roger

    There is one other issue that no one has mentioned and that is the influence some of these shows might have on younger hunters. What I am referring to are the unrealistic expectations a young hunter can have after watching most outdoor TV shows. Because every show seems to end with the harvest of a B&C buck some kids will assume that their hunts will end the same way and when that doesn’t happen they could easily be discouraged from continuing in the sport. Everything today seems to be about instant gratification and some of these shows promote this to the extreme. Where I hunt one is lucky to see even one “trophy” buck in an entire season much less every time out. Don’t get me wrong, I would still rather watch the worst outdoor show than suffer through even one episode of Keeping Up With The You Know Whos.

  • Logan the Scot

    Mike: I’ve got more than a couple of years on you; I wholeheartedly agree with your comments. My father taught me and my five brothers and my sister how to hunt, especially how to have a great day without killing something! The adventure was in the hunt, sharing time in the woods with relatives and friends. I have spent many great days hunting with my son (had to disown him, he moved to Texas).
    As far as never missing, I have missed deer that my grandmother could have killed with a frying pan. Isn’t that the way it goes–make the shot of a lifetime and nobody is around to see it; miss one at 30 yards and you have an audience! I teach firearms safety for the state and I tell my students that if someone claims to be a hunter who has never missed that they should never lend him or her money, nor buy a used car from them.
    Keep up the fight!

  • KRC

    Jack! You were taught in elementary school not to call people names! You know better! Shame on you! Mike is right on the money on both of the articles that he wrote about outdoor TV shows. I could not agree with him more. And, yes, we all can change the channel. That’s obvious; however, changing the channel is not the answer to the problem. The changes Mike is referring to is the answer. He has a right to express his opinions like anyone else. So Mike does have the right to evaluate outdoor TV shows like anyone else. Go Mike! You rock

  • doug wituik

    I absolutely hate when I hear “we have been hunting hard for that …..” fill in the animal but most likely its a whitetail. It isn’t hard, you are not climbing to the alpine every day, you are sitting in a box over a field. Spare us the hunting hard, be honest say you have been putting lots of hours in but it is very far from hard. Digging a ditch with a shovel is hard, pulling the trigger in a green field isn’t.

  • Sebastian Landin

    Love this article, first time I see this. Keep up the good work!

  • Britspanman

    Mike Schoby, you could not be more correct in your assessment of the current crop of outdoor TV shows. The fake drama, inappropriate music and over-the-top atta-boys all contribute to trivializing a great outdoor activity. Do we hear mood music when we are in a tree stand, busting brush behind a couple pointers, sitting in a duck blind or drifting spawn bags for trout and salmon ? Hell no! Then why use background music for a hunting or fishing show? This from a 72 yr. old buck who has fished and hunted for over 60 yrs.

    My favorite outdoor show is Michigan Out Of Doors, a statewide TV production of Michigan United Conservation Clubs. It shows where, when and how to pursue fish and game, and shows both the successes and failures that happen.

  • Charles Peele

    Two more deadly sins to consider. A bolt rifle comparison that does not include a Rem 700 gets an incomplete. Videos of hunters taking rock solid shots at standing deer should show DRT shots rather than deer running away after the shot. That is not what I call a “solid hit”. Don’t professional hunters know where to aim?

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