Enjoy mindless entertainment? Crave molasses thick-southern accents, mangled grammar, dramatic music and a camo-clad cast befitting a Deliverance sequel?
Then sit back, relax and check your brain at the door. TV deer hunting – it’s the real deal.
Each year, as deer season approaches and outdoor networks trade rod and reel for barrel and bullet, I attempt a jump for the bandwagon. But each year I find little but the same disrespectful, non-realistic, drive-another-nail-in-hunting’s-coffin trash, and don’t quite make it.
You’d think camouflage, oops, I mean sponsor, companies with more money than God would want to protect the pastime and their future income by depicting hunting and hunters in a positive light.
You know, a useful tip here and there that may help us become better, safer or more ethical hunters, or action and commentary that demonstrate respect for the animal to help foster understanding from non-hunters.
But then again, why waste time educating, making points, and breeding respect?
Thirty minutes isn’t much and they’ve got to squeeze in as many kill shots as they can. After all, TV is entertainment and hunting is killing.
Unfamiliar with the scenario? It goes something like this…
Our usual tired suspects are up a tree waiting for “big-un” to wander into range. Pointless, mangled verb-tense riddled whispering ensues.
Briefly I fear I’ve accidentally changed channels to the Hee-Haw Golf Classic.
Then, right on queue, as he does three times weekly, “monster boy” appears. Ominous, suspense-building, opera-of-the-doomed music is heard. More whispering.
Buck is ogled despite lack of obvious maturity. Buck turns broadside.
Buck stumbles, takes dirt nap.
“Stunned” hunter can’t believe his luck or the deer he just shot – just like last week. “What a buck!” pours from hunter’s yap multiple times as fist pumps half-heartedly (it’s tough to remain hyper during re-takes).
All immediately exit blind to high-five, back-slap, and jump and pee on each other like excited puppies. Group begins tracking.
Despite shot placement, deer always located within thirty seconds.
Camera immediately zooms in on antlers. Hunter strokes rack, counts points while praising amazing trophy. “What a buck!” blurted several more times.
Deer could be seven months or seven years old, weigh four or four-hundred pounds. – we’ll never know.
No mention of why this particular buck was harvested, what worked, how things could have been done better, or anything about venison, is ever made.
Final score: Entertaining show segment – one. Piles of money in sponsor’s pocket –one.
Number of people with more respect for hunting than before watching show – unknown. Number of disgusted non-hunting voters – unknown. Anything else of value – zero.
I hope I live to see the day one of our accomplished TV hunters will on camera: actually track a wounded buck, put a tag on a kill, gut an animal, clean a rifle, cook or eat venison, display the understanding that young deer are best left to mature no matter the rack on their head today, show concern over how they’re perceived by millions, or teach someone at least something.
Meanwhile, the majority of concerned, ethical deer hunters are stereotyped as wasteful, trophy obsessed, trigger-happy, whack ‘em and stack ‘em, redneck yokels who don’t give a damn about anything but tying something bloody to the truck rack.
What a buck!
Tripp Holmgrain is an avid outdoorsman, bucking bunk. Email him at email@example.com.