Why Most Hunting Shows Suck

Brandon Wikman

I’d rather be buried alive head first than sit through an entire episode of amateur hour outdoor television. Now before you browbeat me, my disclaimer is this: I’m not condemning the seemingly one million different outdoor programs on TV, only 99% of them. So here I am – biting my lip, sipping on a cold one and ready to profess my utter disgust for the circus we all know as outdoor programming.

The Bait Fakers

If you’re going to legally bait deer, show it. Don’t try to be politically correct and hide the giant corn feeder out of camera view and con me into thinking a deer is walking into a magical pile of dirt. We’ve all watched TV hosts hunting in Texas where the only thing green is the person in front of the camera. There’s not a lot of lush natural forage in the south so that’s how the majority of Texans hunt – over corn! I’d have more respect for you if you didn’t look at the camera and tell me those bucks are walking down a sendero in search for wild acorns. C’mon man, really?

Apparently they must have forgot to insert the 30-second clip of their guide dumping a gravity box full of corn down the dirt road. My closure to this is quite simple and eloquently harsh. If you think that you are less of a man for filming a TV show over a heaping pile of corn, don’t do it. Otherwise, the only curtain you’re pulling over my eyes is the one I’m about to wipe with after changing the channel to a football game.

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The Billy Mayes

Next time when you’re extremely bored and looking to put my rationale to the test, grab a stopwatch and a six pack of beer. Sit down, get comfortable and begin clocking how much sponsor humping is on your average hunting show. Go ahead and include commercials, product spotlights, in-show testimonials, product close-ups and the almighty praises of gear after a successful hunt. I told you that you’d need to be really bored to put my theory to the test.

TV hosts aren’t salesmen or at least not very good ones. And quite frankly, would never be able to step into the light of greatness we all know as Billy Mayes. That guy could sell more OxiClean, Orange Glo and Kaboom than there were kitchens in America. My point is this, if I wanted to listen to someone gloat about his or her cherished sponsors – I’d turn on NASCAR.

There’s brilliant Fortune 500 marketing and then there’s low-grade outdoor programming marketing. There’s no need to make out with your bow and tell the world that the only reason you bagged a buck was because of your new Hoyt Defiant, equipped with a Carbon Express Mayhem arrow tipped with a razor sharp Muzzy. I don’t care. Neither does anyone else. Subliminal and creative marketing sells in this industry – not over-hyped obnoxious product rants. I watch hunting shows to be entertained by the sight of giant whitetails. I read magazines, customer reviews and search Google to learn product information. So keep the gear raves to yourself and your fake monologues off of my TV. You’re making yourself look dumb. Save the infomercial for late night programming.

The Hulks

Why does everyone look so angry? Isn’t hunting supposed to be a fun-filled escape chocked full of giddy excitement? It seems that every TV opener has a bunch of dudes huddled around, mean-mugging the camera in low light conditions. Their arms are always crossed so tight that they’re one breath away from fainting. Honestly, I still can’t quite figure out if they are pissed off at me or about to get into the ring at a UFC fight with Anderson Silva. It’s truly boggling.

The very essence of the “stank face” doesn’t work for me. Nor do I think it makes you look cool. If you want to win my vote – throw me an old Myspace angle with the duck face and toss up the deuces. I’m most certain that many of these badass hosts practice thuggin’ in front of their bathroom mirrors to perfect the true gangster soul that lives within them. Keep practicing “yo.”

The Comedians

My goodness! Have you ever felt so awkward by the person you’re watching on TV that it almost made you feel bad for them? The not so zingy one-liners and blundering pauses between floundering campfire banter. The stage is set for hunting, not you’re unpolished comedy act. I don’t have much else to say other than that, but thought it was important to mention.

Why Most Hunting Shows Suck

The School Girls

What’s with the inconsistent giggling, whooping and horseplay after someone takes a shot? Good lord mate – is this your first? The juvenile behavior and over-the-top antics are mind numbing. I too, acted like a schoolgirl after killing my first few deer. But then I grew up to realize that taking the life of another living creature was a profound moment to be shroud in respect. There’s a fine-line between having hot hands clap for joy at a Sunday morning Evangelical church vs an awe-inspiring celebration in tribute to that animal’s life.

As the great Vince Lombardi articulated, “For Christ sake, act like you’ve been there before!”

When you are a TV host representing our God given hunting heritage in front of thousands, doesn’t it seem a little counterintuitive to act like a hungry monkey? I mean, you’re supposed to be a representative and ambassador for our great sport, paving the way for our next generation through leading by example. Jumping around flailing your arms doesn’t make for a bump in ratings. Let’s try to hold ourselves accountable for the gift we’ve taken otherwise it makes us hunters seem cold and heartless in front of non-hunters.

The Clone

One of my biggest criticisms of most outdoor television is rooted within the monotony of production format. I don’t even think the term cookie-cutter does it justice. You see one hunting show, you seen them all. The only difference is the graphics, hosts and the quality of video footage/editing. I reckon that viewers have grown so numb to watching lousy TV that producers have no reason to increase their standards.

The redundancy runs rampant. To their credit, there’s only so much you can do to build a solid hunting show. However, without creativity – you just have another Elmer Fudd host sitting on his 5-gallon pail waiting for deer. Think about Soap Operas, Reality Shows, and Crime Dramas. They all have the same routine formula, but they actually take the time to create a riveting story that holds the suspense of viewers. I mean, look at the Young and the Restless – a daytime drama hit that has lasted 42 years! Every actor may have married and divorced each other twice, but they’re still going strong! What outdoor programming lacks is authentic suspense, riveting storylines and momentous production. But hey, don’t take their word for it – they’ll tell you that their show is different! Instead of having three hosts they have five – and the token sexy chick for eye candy.

I’m no Roger Ebert. In fact, I don’t care to be some snarky television critic with a glass of scotch and fat cigar in hand. I am a simple working man that likes craft beer, big antlers and lively entertainment. Maybe… just maybe, someday there will be a time in my life where I can sit down and watch a hunting show without being so critical. For now, I’ll stick to the 1% of shows that I can appreciate.

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About The Author
Brandon Wikman

Brandon Wikman

Brandon Wikman is an accomplished outdoor writer & former TV host of the award-winning Bass Pro Shops Next Generation as seen on Outdoor Channel. He grew up on a small Wisconsin Dairy Farm where he learned firsthand what it means to be an honest steward of the land. His values are cultivated within the soil of trust, dependability & the passion to serve others. After graduating with an Advertising Degree at UW-Eau Claire, he built one of the largest Social Media Marketing Agencies in the outdoor industry and is a proud Land Specialist for Whitetail Properties Real Estate, LLC.


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