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Ken Perrotte’s Outdoors Column: Military, music top Morgan’s life, but outdoors anchors it
OUTDOOR WRITERS around the country typically find their email inboxes bearing media releases about “exciting” new programming on the many outdoor-related networks this time of year.
Many are cookie-cutter, formulaic shows that appear heavy on “infomercial” content. Even the best offerings can struggle to depict the elements of a multiday hunt in one 23-minute show (after backing out commercials during a 30-minute time slot). Most free-range hunts involve hours of sitting in or moving though beautiful outdoor locales punctuated by a couple minutes of “moment-of-truth” action.
It can make for tough television. Filler material abounds.
One Outdoors Channel show, though, strives to transcend the formula. The host seems to have a knack and energy for cramming 26 hours of living into 24-hour days. Craig Morgan, a popular country music artist and member of Nashville’s esteemed Grand Ole Opry, is launching his third season of “Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors.”
I spoke with Morgan Tuesday evening about his approach to showcasing his life and the outdoors.
“The new season continues what we’ve done in the first two years. It looks at how I integrate my outdoor activities into my touring schedule and my family life,” he explained.
“We went to Hawaii this year, which I think may be one of the best-kept secrets in the outdoors industry. I’ve been to Hawaii 12 times and I had no idea there was as much game there as there is,” Morgan said, adding that he hunted on two islands for wild Mouflon rams, wild goats and axis deer. “The number of axis deer they have there is phenomenal.”
KEEPING IT REAL
“Our show isn’t just hunting. We also did some cliff diving, snorkeling and went to a luau. Shane Dorian, world champion surfer, was our guest on the show.
It was pretty cool stuff,” Morgan said.
Morgan spent 10 years on active duty in the Army serving as a fire support with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. Much of his time was spent attached to 5th Special Forces Group. He also served as an air assault instructor in Korea.
Nearly nine years in the Army Reserve followed as he pursued his goal of making it in country music.
He still enjoys jumping out of perfectly good airplanes and races in demanding motocross events in |the Southeastern United States. Fold in such adrenaline-junkie adventures, the hunting and the music, and you’ve got one unique, high-octane show.
Morgan has had a boatload of hit songs over the last decade, including “Almost Home,” “Redneck Yacht Club,” “That’s What I Love About Sunday.” His new album is called “This Ole Boy” and the title track recently made a strong climb in country music charts.
What many appreciate about Morgan is that he remains grounded to his Tennessee roots, his military service, where he says he got to do lots of “Hooah” stuff, and an appreciation of the sweat equity it took for him to make it in the music business.
Morgan has taken his concerts to Iraq and Afghanistan nine times. He said the first visit to Afghanistan was so soon after the invasion that “they were still sweeping up glass in Kandahar in the airport.”
Other episodes this season will include an Alaskan bear hunt, an East Tennessee wild boar hunt with a crossbow, and a New Zealand South Island red stag hunt.
“We’re really proud of our show. It is real,” Morgan said. “We show a lot of stuff that other shows won’t show because it is the reality of the outdoors world. Not everybody hits a deer every time; not everybody makes a perfect shot and a lot of things go on in and around a hunt that are just as exciting to me as the hunt itself.
“We try to show all that stuff and include our lifestyle, with the music, the family, everything. We look at my touring schedule and based on where I’m going to be, we try to book our hunts in and around that. It can be a little tougher when we’re trying to work the rut in or an elk hunt, but it is a lot of fun.”
He said at least 60 percent of the material on the show occurred where he had a hunt in the morning and a concert in the evening. That can make for some long days.
Morgan, a top shooter in NRA and celebrity shooting events, says he is an archer at heart, but likes all types of hunting. He grew up whitetail hunting and loves turkey hunting, but points out that turkey hunting as a youngster began as a trial-and-error experience.
“There weren’t many turkeys and I didn’t know how to turkey hunt,” he said with a chuckle.
“They’ll humble you,” I acknowledged.
“Yeah, they’ll make you plumb angry!” he declared.
Morgan’s show was recognized with two Outdoors Channel “Golden Moose” awards last January. It airs, beginning in July, on Sunday nights at 11 p.m.
For more about Morgan and links to his show and his music, see craigmorgan.com.
Ken Perrotte can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401, by fax at 373-8455 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.