For an outdoors show. Recently I was taking to someone online about “Pro Shows” and what they have become. During this I managed, not on purpose but still, to insult one of the big names in hunting, Michael Waddell. Now first it was used as an example not an attack on Michael who happened to be one of my brother’s favorites. I remember that at one time they talked about a possible hunt together but even my brother saw the change over time. Even after an insult intentional or not Michael took the time to give me a little ribbing online and then wish me luck which is the guy I remember from when he was just a kid starting out.
Being old I have watched for years as the industry changed our favorite outdoors folks into walking advertisements, a parody of what they were. During our conversation I was asked if Realtree showed up and offered me a show would I do it? Well, since this was an exercise in wishful thinking not something that would happen I said of course I would. But since no one wants to watch an old, fat guy hunt I am relatively safe in saying I won’t be signing a contract soon.
The infomercial turn shows have taken kept me from watching most for several years. Recently I decided to watch a few that I have never seen and was amazed at how far they had gone. The people that are in charge of these shows are making most of these people on camera look like idiots or worse. Between the stupid skits they are made to do to the constant product placement there is little time left for woods or waters. It might be hard for the behind the scenes people to understand but we want to see the hunt, we already know what they are using, if we don’t there are plenty of commercials to remind us.
I talk some with Dave Watson who has a show sponsored in large part by a bow company. I watched an episode the other day in which he stood in one place doing narration (not while hunting) wearing something from every sponsor while holding his bow. Absolutely no reason for that man to be made to do that since every shot in the show featured the products. Not only that there were products mentioned in every sentence. Product placement is one thing but this has gotten to the point of making many people lose interest in the very shows the sponsors want us to watch. (Ok, I spoke with Dave after I wrote this and he read it and it turns out he was hunting while doing his segments. Thanks for clearing that up for me Dave.)
Needing to sell and promote your product is something that keeps the shows on the air there is no question there. But at what point do hunters or the hunt itself on those shows become secondary to products? When did it become necessary for beauty shots of products to be more important than the hunt or fishing trip? Why are some of these guys made to wear makeup like the guys from Tap Out during every scene including setting around eating at night? I have been in a lot of camps over the years and not one has anyone sat at the fire with a mask painted on their face.
I know that shows and the way people on them are portrayed has changed with no going back which is in a way a sad statement. So many new hunters think it is all about how much you spend and if you don’t have all the bright shiny expensive goodies then you might as well stay home. This is one reason I try to buy from small companies without a “celebrity” name attached they have good products but may never see their products on a national level. The other part is what I have talked about before, hunts that cost in the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars showing nothing but huge animals being taken. While it is fun to see at times most of us know that one or two days in a stand doesn’t usually equate to a 190” deer on the ground that these shows make look easy. The problem is many new hunters do not understand simply because they are new. They watch these shows thinking that if you haul all this stuff to the woods then deer will follow. For these folks I hope they find an experienced mentor that can explain the difference between infomercials and how 99% of us hunt.
In the end we all know that the shows and pros need to make money, period. Hopefully at some point the producers will realize that (A) we aren’t stupid, we know what we are seeing. (2) they have lost much of why we watch their shows. (3) we will still buy what they have without it being crammed down our throat.
I know with these radical ideas I won’t be getting invited to hunt with any of these guys any time soon but I wish I could see a few shows done the way they were way back when. These folks work hard at what they do, travel along with days on stand away from family and home for months. I for one hate to see what the people paying the bills think on screen folks should be doing to sell more and think that is what we want to see. I know that is typical disconnect for large companies that are run by people that have little or no experience in the outdoors but many of these companies are not that. For the producers out there try, I know it would be hard, but try to remember your audience, we know what you are showing and a 30 minute commercial really isn’t what most of us want to see. I know there are many fans of many shows and this is nothing against the folks we see on screen but rather the people behind the scenes dictating what we see.
I hope everyone is have a safe season and are filling your freezer. Thanks for stopping by.