“You’re so lucky! All you do is travel throughout the world and hunt. Must be a great life! I wish I could do that!” He hesitated then added, “Don’t you feel a little guilty about having it so good, compared to the rest of us who like to hunt?”
I smiled, having just finished an hour long talk capped off by an additional thirty minutes of questions and answers at Dallas Safari Club’s annual convention.. From their actions it appeared the audience had had fun! I knew I did! I immediately replied to to his question, “You’re right I am indeed extremely lucky and blessed to get to do what I do. I dearly love it! And, you’re right it is indeed a great life I get to live! Wish everyone who loves the outdoors, hunting and guns could do what I do.” With that I thanked him for coming to my presentation, watching my shows, and reading my “stuff” then turned to the others waiting to visit with me, have a photo taken with me, get an autograph or to tell me their hunting stories. An hour later finally got back to the Ruger booth. I was helping work, there I continued visiting with hunters. Those who wished to have their photo taken with me, I grabbed a Ruger rifle, usually a Number 1 (because I dearly love Number 1s) handed it to the person who wanted a picture of him or her and me, got them to hold it in his hands for the photo a friend of was taking . With a Ruger Number 1s in their hands I could talk to them about that particular gun. Then I could tell them what was great about Number 1s and other Ruger guns and why they should own such guns. Quite often before they left the booth, they are ready to buy a Ruger! This sort of thing continued until the show closed for the day. Then it was off to the evening events and auction. Long day and night! day after day after day after…. Tomorrow would be much the same.
Let’s back up to that morning’s events. It had started at 3 am, up early to get an article written that had been assigned a couple of days earlier and was now due to the editor. Back up now even farther to the day before, it had been much like this day, late night and up early that morning to write a column that was due. Two to three hours of sleep per night for days on end.DSC’s Hunter’s Convention (in my opinion DSC is the finest and best hunting show in the world, but not only their “show” certainly also their organization. With it completed I was again on a hunt, a whitetail hunt we were trying to finish on a ranch southeast of Dallas. I had hunted the ranch for 5 days earlier in the fall, saw some nice buck and got some decent footage. But I had not pulled the trigger on a deer. The reasons were many…because there was not enough light, or the buck had been too far away, or the buck charged in while I rattled horns and the cameraman was either looking the other way or had not yet turned the camera on. So I simply watched the deer as it left unscathed. Whereas had I simply been hunting hunting the 150 class mature buck I had rattled up would have been headed home with me.
Nothing to this tv show hunting, get to the place, go out to hunt, shoot the animal, grip and grin, on the way home in less than 30 minutes. Right? After all most TV shows do an entire hunt in less than 30 minutes. How difficult can such things be? Right?
Actually…WRONG! There’s hunting and then there’s hunting for TV, and frankly, the two have very little to do with one another. other than you’re in the woods. When hunting for the TV you get into the woods; you set up the cameraman where he’ll have the best angle for the best possible footage. The hunter, he has to set up where it’s difficult to get on any deer that might come in to the area. Camera take precedence over real hunting. When a buck does appear, from the cameraman it’s “Don’t shoot, I’m not on him..” Don’t shoot we don’t have enough light!” and a thousand other reasons for the hunter not to shoot. Not a complaint, simply a statement! But all part of doing a TV show.
One of the things I hear a fair amount of, “Ah you TV guys, when you go some where you hunt in only the best spots. The guide probably have a deer “tied up” for you.!” My reply to that is “I wish!”. When I go on a hunt, I let everyone else in camp choose where they want to hunt, then I take the area no one wants.
I wish I got to hunt sure things! I try to do so as much as possible. But that’s not very often. Some facts….good cameramen/field producers demand a salary of at least $650 per day plus expenses. I have t pay for them and their travel expenses, plus my own expenses (travel, licenses, permits, lodging, meals, rental cars and gas and the cost of the hunt itself, tips to guides and others). Frankly, I pay something on every hunt I do… Yes, I try to get the best possible price because of the promotional value the outfitter/guide will get from the tv show, articles, blogs, word of mouth, etc that I do on their behalf. But again I pay for a lot of hunts, same as any other hunter. And TV show expenses don’t end there. It costs a lot to have each show produced usually between $5,000 to $10,000 per show. Then you have to buy airtime from a network to air your show. By the time the year is over and you think you might have made some money on the show, then it’s time to start hunting hunting and filming again, and there goes the profit, because you have to invest it into “next year’s crop of shows”. In a lot of ways doing a TV show is not a whole lot different than being a farmer!
Great traveling around the country and beyond? It is! I dearly love people and in doing so, I get to meet a tremendous number of good people.
Between hunting trips, personal appearances at stores, events, outdoor/hunting shows, doing promotional work for sponsors I travel about 300 days a year, sometimes more, and rarely less. Again not a complaint, merely a statement! Throughout the year I do between 15 and 20 major hunts a year, so we end up with top-notch shows. I’m in and out of airports, sometimes in an out of foreign lands. Some of that is an adventure, some of it is downright aggravating and some of it is even dangerous! And all of it is downright tiring! Most of my days start no later than 4am and seldom end before 11pm. Again just a statement of fact.
A few years ago I had a friend of mine who thought he really wanted to do what I did, and this guy was a go-getter, I invited him to “run” a couple of weeks with me part of the time hunting, other parts traveling and doing an in-store promotion. At the end of day 7 of a 14 day trip, my friend came to me and told me, “You’re crazy! What you do is no fun, day after day of hardly any sleep, yet still you’ve got a smile on your face. I wanna go home! I don’t want to do what you do…I just thought I did. All sounded and looked so exciting and fun. I had no idea! I’m going home. You can have it! I’m taking my Ruger Number 1 and going hunting on my own. I’m outa here! ”
I smiled. I dearly love what I do.