Recently on social media (which has no doubt helped to recruit young and millennial hunters, but which has also done plenty of disservice to our sport and way of life in my opinion, though that is a topic for another day) there has been an inordinate amount of bashing of TV hunters or “celebrities.” (BTW, I do not like that latter term; just because a guy or gal hunts on TV that does not make him or her a celebrity or, God forbid, a “professional hunter,” another moniker that really peeves me.
Just this week on Facebook I saw 2 different posts: 1) What annoys you most about TV hunters? And 2) What do you hate most about hunting TV shows?
To the second poster I ask: Why do you assume everybody hates hunting TV just because you do?
Then, predictably, in response to these posts comes the wave of rude and negative comments as hundreds of people with nothing better to do cut loose and pile on those of us fortunate enough to hunt on TV for a living. (For the record, I cherish my opportunity and never take it for granted; I know I am lucky and blessed, and I have a responsibility to act, speak and hunt responsibly on BIG DEER TV.)
Being in the unique position of both TV host/producer and blogger, I respect and encourage opinion and criticism. Somebody saying, “I just don’t like so and so on TV” or “I don’t like that show” or “Hanback, I don’t agree with something you said the other night” is perfectly fine.
But that is not the way it goes in most of these threads, which quickly turn ugly. Peppered amid the respectable comments (and often hijacking the discussion) are the petty and the vitriolic, like: “All those guys on TV make me sick…they all hunt in high fences…it’s all about the money…put these guys on public land and they’d never kill a deer…I hate so and so…”
To the latter I say careful, people, hate is a strong word.
I’ve long wondered: Why this anger and resentment toward people who hunt on television? I have theories.
Envy: People who think they are great hunters (they may or may not be) get jealous and take out their resentment on people with shows, feeling they could do it better.
TV hunters behaving badly: On occasion (infrequently) a TV host gets busted breaking a game law, and it hits the fan on Facebook. I cringe when this happens because social predictably explodes with comments like: “typical of celebrity hunters”…they all do it…”
Well, that offends me. I have been in the business a long time and tell you 2 things: 1) All the TV hosts I associate with are honest, hardworking and law-abiding people; 2) No, we don’t all hunt in high fences. I hunt wild deer on lands just like you hunt.
Our “tear-you-down” world: Sadly, unfortunately, we’ve gotten to a place in society where bitter people criticize, name call, speculate, and downright lie in a misguided attempt to ruin a person and their career before moving on to their next destruction project. An outdoor TV host/show is an easy target.
On a more positive note, while the bashers are a rude and rowdy clan, they are a tiny minority. Social has given them a megaphone to spew their bitterness, one of the reasons I say Facebook has been a disservice to the hunting way of life. But most people, the silent majority, enjoy watching Outdoor Channel and Sportsman.
Why do you think the TV hunter bashing goes on? I know that fair, responsible, deep-thinking hunters read this blog, and I’d like to get your thoughts. I respect your opinion.
I really enjoyed reading your blog questioning why so many folks on social media display anger and resentment towards those who hunt for a living on television.
It seems the folks who have commented on the topic have covered just about all the points. Envy / jealousy, TV hunters behaving badly, your observation about our “tear your down world”, how easy it is to vent on the impersonal social media sites, the celebrity culture we live in that elevates people to icon status who probably do not warrant the respect and admiration, in some cases cult followings that develop. Throw in the dream hunting destinations, the polarized positions on high fences, the emphasis on the score of the animal so many outdoor shows focus on, the over the top reactions to “making the shot”, the crazy face painting, the copious amounts of American dollars spent on tags, gaining access to hunting properties the average viewer will never enjoy – there are as many objectionable points as there are people to come up with them.
Heck, I have friends who knock the body art tattoos so many of the TV hunters feel are part of the “package” required to make them successful.
But I would like to add one factor I believe is heavily influencing the negative perceptions of the hunting industry, and that is deer farming. The sight of grotesquely freakish scientific creations turns many people away from hunting these days, couple this with limited size high fenced canned hunting operations and the negative press associated with them and it is easy to understand how social media users with little or no exposure to all the many good things that come with spending time in the outdoors and sharing the experience with friends and family can express passionate negative feelings for hunters, one and all.
The mainstream media is culpable, also. When do you ever see a positive story about hunting and the legions of hunters who strive to do the right thing when pursuing their passion for the outdoors.
We all need to take advantage of every opportunity to educate the non-hunters in our circle of acquaintances of why we do what we do when it comes to spending the many hours we do in the field.
I like watching good hunting shows whether its deer, coyotes or whatever. There are some good TV hunters and others that are kind of a joke. I imagine those ones that are a joke are giving the others a bad name. As if all TV hunters are like that which is a bunch of crap. Others id say are jealous that they aren’t the one hunting on TV or the fact that they cant give a 3.5 year old another year so they have to bash them. I know hunting for bucks 4.5 years old and older isn’t realistic for majority of hunters but who really cares. If they are fortunate to hunt deer on property like that than that’s great. Me personally look for a 2.5 year old or older because that a good deer where I hunt. I’ll take em with compound, crossbow, rifle, whatever is legal. Like Curt said, if there was a bazooka season I hunt with one of them too. Guess I just hunt the way I want to and can give a crap less what somebody else does, long as its legal. I don’t need to waste my time bitching and complaining about what other people do. Mike you do a great job and set the standard for what all TV hunters and bloggers should be. That’s why I have followed you for so many years, your down to earth and keep it real. I feel that anybody who has shared a hunting camp with you over the years would say the same thing.
I have to start by saying I love the thought of being in the outdoor industry. I am not jealous one bit. If I really “wanted it”, I could make the sacrifice and do it. From what I have heard, most of the shows are paid for by the show themselves, not the network. So, if I wanted I could produce my own show and go for it. I choose to live vicariously through the hunters on TV. I think some are garbage, high fence shows that I will not watch. Some, I just enjoy their personalities and would watch them read the news. I have learned a great deal from watching and will continue to do so. I know the last day of deer season I had ice on my eye lashes. No one on TV wants it more than me. They either got or made their own break. Good on them! There are hunters out there that are amazing ambassadors for our sport and there are some that are cringe-worthy. Another thing that is an issue within the industry is weapon choice. Many bow hunters seem to have taken a holier-than-thou attitude toward those that use another choice of weapon. Hey, people, we’re on the same team. Quit putting down others and everyone get on the same team to promote hunting – it’s a dying endeavor. We need positive attitudes to promotes and represent hunting & conservation. Personally, I would hunt with a bazooka if they opened one of those seasons. I love to be able to reach out & touch them, but if you feel better being within bow range, great go for it. Where I hunt the pressure is too high to expect that kind of success 2 weeks after the start of bow season, not to mention later. One thing that I absolutely appreciate about this industry is that a great deal of the show hosts are not shy about expressing their faith. I am not jealous and I sure don’t hate. Mike, you are the epitome of a gentleman in the way you present your show and the charity work you do. Others could learn from your example. Thanks for all you do.
People watch TV shows because they want to see successful hunts. Its the nature of the industry. However, I teach my kids that the following are successes:
1) Observing deer
2) Being in position for a close encounter
3) Seeing a buck
4) Seeing a mature buck
5) Having the opportunity for a shot
6) Getting the shot off
7) Recovering and enjoying your deer (doe, buck, mature buck)
Let’s face it – its hard to kill a mature buck. I want my kids to appreciate and view the above as wins just as much as getting your hands on a mature set of antlers. I had a mature buck at 60 yds on New Years Eve hunting a ground blind we positioned 2 days before. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a shot off with my bow. It was -2 degrees. I view this late season encounter as one of my best experiences to date.
I wish the TV shows reinforced this more often –
There are few people I envy, very few. Envy is a sin plain and simple. I have watched hunting tv for many years an find it very easy to pick off those hosts whom are little more than a portal for their sponsors getting free hunts in exchange for air time at well managed hunting grounds , where the ” He’s only 4 1/2 needs 1 more year ” buck is the norm. In real world hunting 90% of hunters are elated with a 2 1/2 year old 130″ buck.
Hanback : Better to ask what do I do different than TV hunters in the field. Here are a few:
1. I kill the deer I am happy with not by his antler growth alone.
2. And when I do kill a deer I am humble I do not sit in the tree acting like I just scored a TD in the NFL an need to gyrate for the camera.
3. I use camo makeup but do not paint my face like a KISS band member.
4.I scout my own deer place my own stands for better or worse. I do not roll into camp with camera crew in tow and into a preset stand where a 160″ buck has been baited for the past 5 months.
5. If I make a poor shot I know it, I also know if a TV Hunter makes a poor shot on film…do not try to tell me as the deer runs off camera , “He’s down right there”. Trust me the viewer can tell if you make a gut shot it in the late afternoon and the walk up video is shot in bright sunlight.
6. I kept my biggest complaint for last. PLEASE do not use the phrase after a kill “…done in Kansas or whatever state..” as if you are just checking off states from some list where you bought tags for with little or no respect for the animal you just took the breath away from. Have some reverence for the animal be it a 100″ buck or a Booner.
I do not subscribe to the Sportsman my provider only offers Outdoor but on an occasion I catch Big Deer Tv an like the format …an average guy hunting land I too could hunt whom is not always successful in the kill. More often than not he kills an average buck for the area but like me every now and again he kills a BIG DEER. BD
I like your stuff along with Shockey, Rinella, Midwest WT and a few others including NAW. Some of the guys push product so hard it isn’t really enjoyable to watch. And then, there are just some idiots, no other way to put it. There are a few bad apples in every bunch.
Hanback, great blog today. I think first and foremost it starts with the “Green Eyed Monster”: jealousy. It’s that negative emotional feeling that most humans deal with at one time or another. People are just envious by nature. I’ll tell you the fact that I’m a Christian is my number one “defense” against harboring those feelings. You have to remind yourself to be humble and to be happy for others. I’ve dealt with jealously issues in the past. You have to remind yourself that you are what you are and find happiness.
Another reason people hate “T.V. Hunters” is because of the “Bad Apples” that pop up from time to time. I won’t mention names, but we all know who they are. Some of these hunters develop egos that just blow up out of control. Before you know it they are in some kind of crazy competition with others (in their minds, I suppose). Then, sadly, some of them become “above the law” in their convoluted minds. To try and outdo the “other guy” they decide a little bit of cheating is o.k. And, then there’s the “celebrity” aspect of it all (as you mentioned). I’ve been to several outdoor shows over the years and every year it seems T.V. hunters are dressing nicer and more fancy. Some of the male “celebrities” are wearing French Jeans and Rockstar Shirts…waiting to sign their autograph to any taker. Then you see some folks with plastic surgery (or, surgery elsewhere); all of the huntresses who are all dolled up for photo shoots; all of the perfect teeth, etc. Before you know it we’ve created “Hollywood for Deer Hunters”. And how many “Lee and Tiffany” clones will we see when it’s all said and done? The vast majority of America’s deer hunters are lucky to share private land with other hunters and have to fight and claw for a mature buck (because in these scenarios they don’t exist in any great numbers to expect success every year) on a yearly basis. I, for one, am happy for all people who have found themselves a “piece of the deer hunting industry pie”. And, I try like the dickens to remain positive in the face of the big G. I think we all need to remain humble and happy and just hunt remember what deer hunting is all about. I respect you, Mike, because you keep it real. I respect you because you’re not all hung up on score, etc. Sure, we all want to shoot the biggest, baddest buck out there; but what are you willing to sacrifice in the process? Your morals, your true identity, your marriage, your dignity? Keep it real Hanback and you’ll always have true fans who understand and respect you. But, please don’t ever wear a pair of $500 jeans to the A.T.A Show…please? ;)
Agree 100% on everything you said, but I bet he could rock those $500 jeans ;-0
Mrs. Hanback, is that you???
Unfortunately, it was me. Just forgot to leave my name. :-)