There have been several occasions when I have heard someone remark, "Man, I wish somebody would make a real hunting show." A real hunting show? I wonder what a real hunting show would look like?
It's not a big secret that hunters have complaints with many of the current hunting programs. That's not to say that all shows are bad or aren't real, but people have legitimate gripes. I'm one of them. I'm not going to name specific programs, good or bad. That is not the purpose of my post. I will share some of my complaints, though.
Many of the hunts on TV are priced far above what the average hunter can afford. It doesn't even have to be an expensive safari in Africa. There are many hunts right here in the U.S. that can only be afforded by the wealthy. And I'm not knocking the wealthy. If you can afford to hunt anywhere you like, more power to you. However, for many people these expensive hunts are not realistic because folks know they will never be able to participate. It makes for entertaining television, but may not connect with the majority of hunters.
Box Blinds Over Food Plots
This is an annoyance for me when it comes to hunting shows. There's nothing wrong with hunting this way if that's how you want to do it, although I suspect some might have a different view. I just don't need to spend a half hour watching someone sit in a box over a food plot so they can kill a deer. Anybody who can hit what they aim at can take game this way. To me, this is the least interesting method of hunting to watch. It's great to see kids take their first deer, etc., but I don't learn anything from it.
Maybe I'm the only one who is annoyed by this, but I can't stand it when a host whispers non-stop at the camera. I know when they're on stand they don't want to spook game. And I have no issue with whispering brief statements, but to whisper for three or four minutes straight is just irritating! If it's that important maybe they should have said it before getting on stand. Or go back later and narrate that portion during editing. Something. People can't understand half of what they're saying when they whisper. It's really not necessary to talk, anyway. I suspect most viewers don't care. Just sit there and hunt.
Some shows are worse than others with the tracking phase. Many folks may like this part of a show, but I could do without it. I don't need to watch a host follow the blood trail to his or her game. The scenes are all the same for the most part and some just come off as staged even if they aren't. The host follows a blood trail, finally spots the game, and throws their hands up in celebration. I'm not belittling the importance of tracking, but in the context of TV shows it's really just filler. Show the shot and just jump to the recovered animal. I realize it's part of the whole process and may be important for image, but there's very little for even a novice to learn by watching tracking on TV. It has to be learned in the field.
A lot of hunts on TV take place in target rich environments. I've seen more than one show where the host will have a dozen or more bucks in view at the same time. And they're usually not small bucks, either. This isn't a realistic scenario for most hunters. Many hunters don't even have access to private land. From talking with other hunters, last season was awful for many of them. A lot of hunters were fortunate to see does, much less shooter bucks. When the TV shows continually have the hosts in locations with many targets to choose from, it simply doesn't represent what the average hunter experiences. I've heard people say, "I'd like to see so and so come hunt where I do and see how well he does then."
In many ways, hunting shows are just big infomercials for the sponsors. Does it get annoying at times? Sure. I also understand there's a business side to things and sponsors pay the bills. More often, it's not the fact that products are mentioned, but the manner in which they're mentioned. It's as if the hunter wouldn't have been successful if it wasn't for a certain product. Or you have to have the latest and greatest to be successful which is simply not true. Hunting show hosts have nothing on NASCAR drivers when it comes to pimpin' sponsors, though! You NASCAR fans know what I mean. A driver being interviewed after a race can rattle off six sponsors at the beginning of the sentence and still answer the question all while holding a bottle of Coke or Pepsi. And I don't necessarily blame the hosts (or drivers). It's part of the business and sponsors expect a certain amount of exposure for their money. I just don't like it when it's "over-the-top, in-your-face" silly.
So would changes to anything I've mentioned make hunting shows any more real? I've spent many long, boring hours in the stand. How many of us would spend thirty minutes just watching a host sit and never see anything? It might be more in line with what many of us experience, but it probably wouldn't make for good television. Shows need viewers to attract sponsors who supply funding. A boring show won't hold viewers.
I suspect if hunting shows more accurately depicted what most hunters experience, many of them wouldn't last long. You will see shows where tags go unfilled and things go wrong, but those are in the minority. I've stopped expecting to learn much from shows nowadays. To me they're purely for entertainment. I enjoy watching many of them, but I don't get much from them. Some I don't like at all. I suppose you have to decide what your expectations are and then determine what's real for you. This is not meant to bash hunting shows or the people involved in them. I think it's great that people can make a living doing what they love! In terms of hunting in general, many of these folks are good ambassadors. It's a matter of perception and expectations.
Does real hunting take place on these shows? Yes, of course. Does the hunting on most of these shows realistically represent what the majority of hunters experience? My personal opinion is no.
Oh. In case you were wondering, no, I didn't write this while in the outhouse - though some might say it's a bunch of crap. I'm not sleeping in the outhouse, either. That would be the doghouse. I'm just throwing out some thoughts on a topic that gets a lot of discussion in hunting camp.