I have a bit of a rant here and it relates to a discussion that Jim Matthews and I had about outdoor television while awaiting our lunch at the Bass Pro Shop in Rancho Cucamonga. Jim is an outstanding and long time outdoor writer from San Bernardino, California and his question made me think.
“How many times,” he asked, “have you pumped your fist and gloated after killing something?”
I had to admit that while I have at various times fallen down, stumbled into a ditch and tumbled from the bed of a Jeep, I could not recall much in the way of fist pumping and gloating. As often as not, I am simply surprised, but I understood exactly what my friend was getting at.
When there are no college football games and no new episodes of Homeland, SNL, Dexter, Bill Maher and a couple of others, I turn to the Outdoor Channel where viewers get a gamebag full of fist pumping, gloating and thanking God for the big whitetail buck they just dropped, when they should be thanking the company that produced the bait and dispenser that lured the critter within range, and the farmer who wanted to see himself on cable television.
Watch five different shows devoted to hunting, divide by five and the formula for the average show looks something like this: The bowhunting stars of the show will be a married couple, but guys, also known as the “target audience” will mostly notice and give a well above average rating to the female partner whose make-up will be perfect, including the camo smudges on her pretty face. There will be a playful competition between husband and wife to see which one shoots the biggest buck attracted to the food and doe in estrus urine that has been distributed next to their blind or beneath their treestand.
A big buck with a name like Ol’ Splitear will show up, followed by much whispering, a perfectly placed arrow and the obligatory fist pumping, OMG gloating and thanks to God. Finding the buck can wait until morning.
The next scene will find the happy couple back at the hunting camp reviewing trail camera photos of Ol’ Splitear dating back for a couple of seasons.
The next morning they will ride out in an ATV provided by their sponsor, pick up the blood trail and find the stiffened carcass of Ol’ Splitear, followed by the repeated counting of the points on his antlers and of course, more fist pumping, gloating, very sincere thanks to you know who and maybe some added huggin’ and squeezin’ between the stars, and their host.
Some shows are a bit different, but remember, what is described above is the average for five different cable hunting shows and it is clear that someone has decided it is a winning formula.
There is however one show that is entirely different, without pretense, and a bitingly clever parody of all the the rest. The name of the show and its star is Jimmy Big Time, a brilliant cross between a pro wrestler and an 8th grader who is aptly supported by a trio of hopeless social misfits.
I record the show which airs on Fridays on the Outdoor Channel and watch it on Sunday mornings. Fairly often it results in snorted hot coffee dripping from my nostrils and pee in my PJs, but not much in the way of fist pumping.
If you can tolerate the same, I suggest you watch it.