Maybe it's just the time of year or the weather. You know, opening day seems far away and it's too darn hot to do much without playing with heat exhaustion. So you think about hunting, plan hunts, talk hunting, read about hunting and watch hunting shows. Whatever the reason, every year about this time I start getting the "itch to hunt". It never goes away, it just lessons a little during late Spring and Summer, but knowing opening day is around the corner, makes it worse after I've had a few months off to recoup.
Which brings me to the meat of this post/rant. I was taking it easy today and turned on the Outdoor Channel and watched a few hunting shows. I honestly don't watch that many any longer. I have probably 2 or 3 that I make somewhat of an effort to watch. Most are pure rubbish and nothing more than glorified marketing in my opinion.
But anyway, one was about a Husband/Wife team hunting in Illinois on opening day. There she sit in a tree all dolled up talking about how hard she'd been working getting ready for hunting season. I thought "Yeah, like what? What kind of logo you're going to wrap your jacked up 4x4 and equipment trailer in?"
I could go on and on about some of these bozo's who pretend to be hunters. Which is about 99% of them on TV!
I understand the business side of it. As a marketer myself, I understand the game and how it's played. But I sincerely believe many of these so called, self described "Celebrity Hunters" are nothing more than shooters. And when you watch them and some of the stupid things they say/do, it only proves to drive the point home.
Like today when one of these Super Hunters is walking around a Ranch in Texas and comes up on this bush with a stem about the size of his thumb and there's a little rub on it. He then blurts out "Yeah, this was a real nice buck that made this!" I was like "WTH, really Dude?"
I guess my gripe stems from my opinion that hunting is something that is sacred, at least it is with me. I mean, after all you're taking a life and that should mean something. It's not like you're trying to score a goal or hit a ball with a piece of wood, although many manufacturers and Celebrity "Shooters" seem to treat it that way.
I also do not think it's healthy the way many beginners of this sport idolize these Celebrity Shooters. They don't understand that these people's claim to fame is the fact that they have a knack for marketing, not deer hunting. I mean, really folks, how many of use couldn't put an arrow through the boiler room of a nice buck on some intensely managed land if a Guide didn't walk us to a stand and say "Sit here and shoot a good buck for the camera"?
I'd love to pack some of these so called "Hunter" up and drop them off at a local WMA during any deer season of their choice (Archery, Muzzleloader or Rifle" and give them a week to kill a 6 point or better buck, heck, I'll give them the full 16 days of Muzzleloader and Rifle season! I'd imagine that only a few out of the dozens and dozens on TV could actually do this.
I remember years ago someone asked the founder of a deer magazine and club why him and his crew only hunted high fenced ranches or only used high dollar outfitters and his response was " One...We have to hunt these places to shoot big bucks. If we don't no one will watch our TV show. Two...we don't have much time to make these shows, so we have to use Outfitters and Ranches". Well now, at least he was honest about it! For him, it was (and still is I guess) all about the kill. But it made me sad to be a Charter Lifetime member of that Club and their magazine hits the trash as soon as it arrives in the mail these days. I really don't mind that they hunt these places, it's when they start thinking they're a "HUNTER" because a 170 class bucked walked by the stand their Guide had been holding for them all year long.
I've also noticed in the last half dozen years or so that they tend to show the Deer dying more and more. I don't see the point in this as I see it several times first hand myself every year, I don't need to watch it on TV. But the biggest thing is it turns of non-hunters. My Wife actually likes watching a few of the shows until they show the Deer run off and stand there until it tips over and starts kicking. She has asked several times "Why do they have to show that part of Hunting?" I've heard that question asked quite a bit from others as well. In the past, it was something that wasn't shown on hunting shows. Now, it's like the TV program isn't complete if they don't show the actual death of the Deer!
My reply is "Because it sells Deer hunting gear. I guess those newbies and people who've never killed a Deer haven't seen one die before."
I'm betting a few of you remember all the crap Dan Fitzgerald use to get for showing some of the shots he showed in his videos. Now days, people wouldn't even bat an eye at some of the shots he used to capture on film. And by the way, he's one of the few who I think can actually "hunt" instead of just "shoot" deer. It must have been all those Blue Jeans and Red Flannel hunting shirt endorsements that made him successful!
Nothing illustrates the fact that Deer hunting has been turned into a business model better than a couple who bought a farm in Iowa. Not just a few acres, but an actual farm! And if that wasn't enough, they also lease more farms. Their "food plots" are actual fields of Soybean, Corn and whatever seed blend they're being paid to market. They do this with monster tractors pulling full blown farm implements. These aren't your 1 acre food plots! These tractors and implements actually make some real farmers envious!
And this is their business model and it has allowed them to buy farm ground, plant the "food plots" and then shoot big Deer in order to market everything from seed and supplement blends to camo, bows, arrows and whatever else.
Are they Deer hunters or do they simple kill Deer in order to market all these products?
If they didn't kill any Deer, do you think some of the biggest manufacturing names in the industry would pay them to market their products?
Do you think beginners and Average Joe Deer hunters would flock to the retail outlets to buy they latest product they're pushing?
I think not.
As much as I hate to admit it, they're one of my favorite hunting shows, but I watch them because they're entertaining, not because they actually know how to hunt Deer. In fact, I can honestly say that I have not picked up one hunting tip from them in all the time I watch their show.
These type of people have turned Hunting into a business model and I for one don't think it's good for our sport.
Hunters seem to forget that these shows are nothing more than marketing shows. Sure, like I said above, some of the people are actually entertaining. But at the end of the day, they're marketing gear to you and they wouldn't be on TV if they weren't capable of driving people into Sporting Goods Stores or Online Retailers to buy whatever it is they're pushing. Remember that the next time you start to idolize one of your favorite Celebrity Deer Shooters and start to buy something because So and So on TV killed a big buck using it (or did they just say they were using it to get you to buy it??!