August 31, 2012
Today’s Challenge: Say Something Nice About Outdoor TV
By Dave Hurteau
Last week’s “Hunting Terms to Loath” post seemed to hit a nerve, which is great. Glad you liked it. But I think I could be accused of hitting too fat a pitch. What, after all, could be easier than bad-mouthing outdoor television?
Everybody does it. Even the people in outdoor TV do it. When I interview or hunt with producers, videographers, or hosts (who are overwhelmingly nice, likeable people by the way), they routinely talk about how bad every other show is and/or make fun of the worst outdoor TVisms. And yet, despite the near universal opinion that outdoor TV sucks, hunters by the pick-up-truckloads tune in every week.
I don’t think it’s that much of a mystery. Watching a giant buck come trotting through the hedge apples or weaving through the bluestem or thumping over the oak flat with the morning light on him is a rare, rare sight for most of us. To see it, many of us are willing to put up with a circus of grade-school antics and a cascade of moronic clichés. Like it or not, outdoor TV is more and more the (or at least a) public face of our sport. And while we absolutely should piss and moan when we don’t like the way we are being represented, we should also stand up and point and shout when it’s done right.
So here’s your challenge for the weekend: Say something nice about outdoor TV, and then list the shows, if any, that you do like. I’ll start:
 TV generally does a good job of highlighting and encouraging the participation of youth, women, and the disabled.
 The barrage of embarrassingly tasteless reaction scenes notwithstanding, sometimes they get it right, and when they do it is powerful stuff. I remember one show in particular, I don’t remember the name, in which after shooting a bull elk a young woman sobbed uncontrollably while saying over and over: “That was so intense!” Genuine, appropriate, and powerful.
 Maybe I’m wrong here, but it seems like more shows (still a minority, but more) downplay the trophy thing and play up public-land hunting, skills, destinations, and conservation issues.
Shows I have watched and like (for the most part) include:
 Jimmy Big Time: How can you go wrong? It makes fun of outdoor TV.
 The Best and Worst of Tred Barta: Barta cracks me up—always over the top, often endearingly sappy, and usually right.
 Gun It With Benny Spies: The rarest of outdoor TV hosts: one who doesn’t buy his own shtick. Fun and funny.