Joe Balog was born and raised on the Great Lakes, where he's earned a living as a charter boat captain, pro bass fisherman and outdoor communicator. As waterfowl editor for Realtree.com, Balog was bitten by the duck bug while hunting the world famous St. Clair Flats. Between duck hunting, fishing, and dog training, Balog spends some 300 days a year on the water.
Balog on Hunting TV
During the waterfowl off-season, I spend a majority of my “hunting” time as many of you probably do: looking at Google Earth maps and watching hunting shows. Google Earth never lets me down. Hunting television is another story.
Today’s shows can be divided into four basic categories. There’re the “family atmosphere" shows; the “crazy obsessive” shows; the “redneck / comedy” shows, and, last but certainly not least, the “dude with a hot girl” shows.
Let’s take a look at all four.
I like the family shows. Call me old fashioned, but I get enjoyment out of watching others recognize the qualities that make hunting special to me. I like the emphasis on family values and tradition, as well as the concern over the environment. It’s kind of like watching golf. Grab a glass of tea and a comfy spot on the couch. All is well.
At the other extreme are the “crazy obsessives." These are the shows that make it seem like the host is on the greatest adventure known to man, even if they take place near a corn field in Ohio. Each pursuit of a monster whitetail is in the same category as Sir Edmund Hillary’s climb to the top of Everest. When the trophy is finally spotted, the background music is the same soundtrack as when Indiana Jones discovered The Arc.
To me, it looks like a deer. The general public sees them everyday on the way into the office. They watch them grazing on the bushes in the front flower boxes. They veer off the road to avoid killing them on accident with their Prius. I know: monster bucks are incredibly hard to kill. Brantley and Hansen keep telling me that. But it's not that great of a feat.
Moving on to “redneck / comedy." I have to say I like these, too. This is a broad category, no doubt, but whether it’s Jimmy Big Time’s satirical look at the whole outdoor industry, or a good old-fashioned swamp buggy hunt for pigs in Florida, it’s entertainment. These types of shows make you want to call up your hunting buddies and take a ride in the truck. You just know some serious beer-drinking took place after the show. They’re light hearted and fun, and we could all use a dose of that.
Finally, we have the “dude / hot girl” combo shows. There are some good ones in this category, but wow, are there ever some lousy ones, too. We’ve all seen the numerous spin-offs of this concept following the popularity of Lee and Tiffany. But here's a bulletin: if you’re the un-talented host of a lousy hunting show, and you add a hot chick...well, you’re still going to be the un-talented host of a lousy hunting show.
But since the hot chick is there, I might as well watch it. Maybe she'll go duck hunting. And it beats tuning in to The View.