November 07, 2013
A Hunting Q&A With Country Music's Tyler Farr
By Ben Romans
Tyler Farr's introduction to country music happened the summer he turned 16 when his stepfather—a guitar player for the legendary George Jones—took him on the road with the band. From then on, Farr committed himself to becoming a country music songwriter and performer.
These days, he's seeing his dream come true. He's written songs for a slew of other country artists, and his most recent single, Redneck Crazy, peaked at #2 on Billboard's country chart and is nominated for the American Country Award's New Artist Single of the Year.
But he says that even with newfound fame and today's music industry set on doing things bigger, faster and louder than the other guy, it's important for him to take time out to return to his roots, whether it be sitting against a tree calling turkeys, gazing down from a tree stand, or standing knee deep in flowing water drifting flies over rising trout.
"I get excited at any chance I get to talk about hunting because all I've done for the past year and a half is talk about my music nearly every single day," Farr says.
Who Was Your Hunting or Fishing Mentor?
"I grew up in a town in south-central Missouri called Garden City, not far from the Truman Lake area, lived in the Ozarks for a while, and went to school at Missouri State in Springfield—near the original Bass Pro Shops. When I was there I took a fly-tying class and really got into fly fishing. In fact, I used to fly fish all the nearby lakes and tailwaters instead of going to class—which is probably the reason I'm singing country music now instead of being a doctor," Farr says.
"There was a Methodist church not far from my house, and my dad took me there for my first whitetail hunt. I was 10 or 12 years old and we got there early, early in the morning for the opener of the youth season, and the folks at the church were serving biscuits and gravy and had a big breakfast for a bunch of old men and kids. Then everybody went out hunting, and it just happened to be about 20 degrees that day with a half foot of snow on the ground, and I ended up shooting my first deer. I was hooked from then on."
What Are You Looking Forward to Hunting This Year?
"Given my tour schedule, I'm not sure how many days I'll be able to get out for deer this year. But next spring, I'm going to be all over turkeys," Farr says. "In the spring, it's a little easier to for me to hunt anyway because I can just pick up a turkey call and go and usually find some birds. With deer hunting it's a little different because you need to do a little more homework. Don't get me wrong, I still go, but it's less about getting a trophy buck than it is about putting meat in the freezer.
"Turkey hunting is my thing. I am 100% addicted to gobblers. I got into turkey hunting later in life when I was in high school and one of my best friends just talked me into going out with him one day. I had no idea what I was doing, I just had a shotgun, and here come these turkeys gobbling and I thought, 'what the heck is going on?' It just took my breath away, I'd never experienced anything like it, and from that point on, I was bound and determined to learn anything I could about hunting gobblers.
"I even have two turkey track tattoos on my back. My girlfriend at the time didn't appreciate it too much, but I liked it. Then I also have a tattoo on my right arm of two big deer racks facing each other, locked up that says 'it's in my blood.' I got that after I put my first EP out," Farr says. "Hunting does something for you. There's something religious about it."
With Such a Busy Schedule, How Do You Find Time To Hunt?
"It's funny you ask that because not too long ago I was in Birmingham to pick up my girlfriend and swung by Bass Pro while I was waiting for her flight, and bought a new block target because I have a new bow that I have to sight in," Farr says.
"I just try to shoot and practice whenever I have a small window during the day or between shows. I have some land around Nashville that I can escape to, but lately, it's just for quick outings—things like three and four day hunts are much harder to come by. That's just how it is.
"It also makes me think about a fishing trip I just took outside Bozeman, Montana with a music buddy of mine, Josh Thompson. It was my first fishing trip to Montana and an experience I'll never forget. The fish were on fire that day. It was just one of those special days—and wouldn't you know it, but on my first cast, I landed a really nice, big, healthy brown.
"Our guide asked if we wanted to do a float trip or wade fish, and I told him I'm all about putting on a pair of waders and walking through the water, so that's what we did," Farr says. "We waded and walked all day and almost didn't make our show in Bozeman. We kept staying out there and saying 'one more cast, just one more cast.' When we got back I showered, and five minutes later I took the stage—that's how close we cut it.
"If there's a fish to be caught, or a turkey to be called in, I'm all over it. It's a little hard for some people to understand, especially if they're not familiar with the pressures and stress that comes with the music industry, but the outdoors is my release," Farr says. "Honestly, some of the best days are those when I don't see a deer or hear a turkey—I'm just sitting out there enjoying the quiet. That's when I come up with some of my best song ideas. I do my best writing in the woods."
If you could hunt one place, where would it be?
"I love to go back home to Missouri, but my favorite place to go would have to be down to West Point, Mississippi. Toxey Haas of Mossy Oak has a cabin down there and I just love it. I don't get cell phone service out there, so I always tell my manager that if he's ever trying to get hold of me and I'm not answering, that's probably where I am," Farr says.
"Toxey has a screened back porch on the cabin, and I remember the first time I hunted there, I woke up to a turkey that got a little warmed up a little too early. I woke up around four in the morning and heard this turkey just hammering from its tree, and I just couldn't resist. I got up, threw my stuff on and went after him."
What's On Your Hunting Playlist?
"Definitely some Hank Williams Jr., some George Jones, some Waylon. I'm a big fan of classic country that's got a lot of energy behind it," Farr says.