Monday, September 21, 2009

Finally, duck hunting TV worth watching

I've made no secret of the fact that I find most duck hunting TV repulsive.

It's not the low production values or cheesy music. Hell, that's endemic to 99 percent of the hunting shows out there (and it is, of course, the reason we call it "horn porn").

Nope, what I really hate is this: kill shot after kill shot after kill shot. Read more...
With deer hunting shows, you only have to look at a couple kills per show most of the time, and then only after the build-up of watching the hunt. But duck hunting shows? Man, they always show 40, 50, 60 animals being killed.

Some duck hunters don't like that because it's not representative of what really goes on in the field. That's what hunters told Delta Waterfowl Associate Editor Tori McCormick when he went to an outdoors conference in Wisconsin recently (he wrote about it in the summer issue of the magazine).

But that's not my issue. To me, it's just gross, and kinda disrespectful of the animal, to glory in that much death. Don't get me wrong: I value success, and I want to see successful hunters on TV, because I want to learn from them. But I also regard the taking of an animal's life pretty seriously, and I hate to see it cheapened.

(And besides, what self-respecting porn director would put that many money shots in a 30-minute show? Please.)

Well I've finally found a show that doesn't fill every second with falling ducks, and not only that, it's actually good. Damn good. It's Duck Commander on the Outdoor Channel, sponsored by Benelli.

This show has:

- High production values and good music (and there is never ridiculously inappropriate music at any point).

- A great sense of humor. Jase Robertson is especially adept at the art of deadpan (and you can see a little bit of it if you click here and select his short video).

- At least one or two plots wrapped around all the killing, usually having to do with some aspect of the family business, or the foibles of various members of the team. In other words, it's a TV show, not a choo-choo train of money shots.

- When they do show kill shots, they're usually really great shots, worth dwelling on.

It's also worth mentioning that I love, love these guys' accents. Like many people who grew up outside of the South, I used to disparage Southern accents. But that changed when I moved to Virginia in 1997 and began to learn about the variety and charm of the Southern accent. (I think what sealed the deal was when a handsome young racehorse trainer referred to me as "muh dear," and I happily blushed six shades.) Anyway, the cadence of the guys' speech on Duck Commander is ear candy to me.

The only thing I don't like about the show is the fact that I apparently missed most of the season. We started tuning in a few weeks ago, and I was floored when Saturday night's episode was about their last day of season. I checked the website and confirmed that was it - Episode 12.

All I can say is I hope Season Two starts in a few weeks, because duck season, my friends, has not even begun yet (unless you're in one of those lucky states that has an early teal opener). I never would've even thought to look for a new duck show in June, when this probably began. Nobody airs duck shows in June.

So, you may ask, is NorCal Cazadora shilling for these guys?


- The Duck Commander booth was the ONLY BOOTH at the 2008 SHOT Show where I was ignored. Ignored not once, not twice, but three times before it occurred to someone that a press badge-wearing female who was standing there staring at their merchandise might actually be interested in writing about their merchandise.

- I bought one Duck Commander call (based on the advice of the guy who finally helped me at the booth), and it sucked - it gunks up and becomes unusable after five minutes.

But I'm not bitter; none of that would keep me from watching this show. In fact, it's now one of just two programs on TV that I actually like enough to memorize what day and time it's on (the other is Top Chef on Bravo).

I even like it enough that I'd go catch up on the episodes I missed online, except they don't seem to be available yet.

Oh well. I'm just glad there's a show I can love now about my favorite kind of hunting.

© Holly A. Heyser 2009


Josh said...

If my cousin liked you before, he loves you now. He really likes that show, too.

As for reality in a blind, I think 45 minutes of talking about the weather, coupled with some serious ducking, and an occasional shot here and there might not be the total package that TV is looking for.

It'd be great if they'd show a guide acting honestly, too. Like, when the people drive up to meet the guide on the morning of the hunt, who over the phone swore up-and-down that this was the best speck blind they've got, says, "Well they haven't been flying as much the last 18 hours or so on account of its (too rainy, too dry, too hot, too cold, too much fog, too little fog)."

native said...

I do agree with you on this one Holly!

You know that I am not all that crazy about water-fowling but I have watched these guys before, and I have really enjoyed each episode that I have seen.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Josh: Don't get carried away. Reality? On TV? Naw. You still have to make it entertaining in 30 minutes, and life usually takes longer than that. But like I said, the reality issue has never been my gripe - just the gratuitous killing.

Native: I've heard their old videos (which I've never seen) are more of the whack 'em and stack 'em variety, but I definitely think they have a winning formula here

Blessed said...

Not to get too far off topic but we don't don't like their calls either. Hubby's favorite call is an old Olt call we bought on Ebay after hearing lots of good stuff about them. He also really likes his Big Guys Best acrylic call. I don't know what my favorite call is - I need to practice some more :)

NorCal Cazadora said...

Blessed, I'm hoping this is the year I don't totally suck at mallard calling. My new toy is a Wingsetter Raspy Hen by Mickey Saso. I don't think I have it down yet, but I think I'm getting there, and so far it hasn't gunked up, which is what I usually expect from a cheap call.

I should note that the Duck Commander call I'd tried out was bottom-of-the-line. I'm sure their high-end calls are better. But of course a low-end call is no good if it works for only 5 minutes a day.

Matt Mullenix said...

As a proud Southerner, I am much obliged, ma'am, for your kind words regarding our melodious elocution.

Should you evah wish to avail yourself of our abundant waterfowl resources, you shall be most welcome here, I do declare.

Josh said...

About calling: One thing I'm going to try is to get it to just about squeal. My ducks do that when they have a beak full of food, and a piece gets stuck in their nostrils. And, it happens all the time.

The Hunter's Wife said...

At first I wasn't going to leave a comment because I have no clue what you are talking about. Ducks, hunting, duck calls, outdoor shows. But then I saw Matt M's response... and that guy needs to write a southern guest post for me. I love that!

Bobby Nations said...


Thanks for the tip on their show. It's now on my "to be watched" list should we ever turn on the cable again; though, after a decade without it, I doubt we'll do so any time soon. Still, the outdoors shows look more promising than I remember. Perhaps it's a trend.

Growing up as I did less than 3 hours East of the folks on that show, the accents and attitudes really brought back memories. I especially loved their sense of humor and the way that they needle each other. It's very typical of close-knit families, in my experience, but especially of folks who work outdoors for some reason. There's something about hard, dirty, physical labor that brings out the humor in folks. I don't see that much any more now that I'm a cube dweller. Of course, it's awfully easy to be nostalgic about hard, dirty, physical labor now that I don't have to do any of it :-)

It's also hard to deny that those good old boys can shoot, at least from the three or four volleys captured in their short videos. Man, they really dropped some birds. As you point out, though it's a case less is more because those scenes are more vivid since they're not the entire focus. I'd be embarrassed to share a blind with them given my lousy wing-shooting abilities, that's for sure.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Matt: You've never written to me with an accent before - I'm smitten!

Josh: My old Duck Commander call does almost nothing but squeal. I'll see if I can dig it out of the trash for you.

Jody: Matt can write!

Bobby: Part of me would love to shoot with these guys. Part of me thinks I'm just not good enough. Part of me thinks maybe they've probably never let a woman set foot in their blinds so what I want is irrelevant. Honestly, I'd just ge thrilled to hunt that environment - it's so different from where I hunt. It really appeals to me.

Phillip said...

"Honestly, I'd just ge thrilled to hunt that environment - it's so different from where I hunt. It really appeals to me."

Hmm... sounds like a road trip may be in the offing. 2010-2011 season? Arkansas/Louisiana rice and timber?

But I'll keep my accent to myself.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Oh, HELL yes!

But you are not allowed to keep your accent to yourself. Hank is still talking about the way you say "pow!"


SimplyOutdoors said...

The way TV programming is these days, outdoor tv included, it's always nice to find some programming that is worth watching, and more importantly, real.

I'm not a duck hunter, but I just might have to take in a few episodes.

And by the way, the porn references were hysterical.

kevin said...

Good aticle Holly. I really like the show too. Fortunatly I have seen all of the shows, thanks to my trusty DVR. As for calls I use the "willie camo max" by duck commander and make it sound very ducky. I junked my Zinks power Hen 2. I think it's awsome how everybody has different opinions on calls. Anyway hope you can make on opening day with us out in williams.

Anonymous said...

I think their calls are designed to be self cleaning. Maybe you should just clean it. I love their calls. I heard the entire season,13 shows, will start over next week.

Live to Hunt.... said...

The irony is that if you've ever watched a duck commander DVD video they are all about the first 6 paragraphs of your post; including the one where Phil bites the scull cap of a mallard to finish it off, or the one where he forces the acorn up from the craw of the dead wood duck and eats it. Classy, real classy. Oh and the slow motion slaying shots are nice too. Wonder what changed in old Phil, perhaps the paycheck.

NorCal Cazadora said...

I've never seen those, but I've heard that about them. I'm guessing the Benelli sponsorship has something to do with it, but whatever it is that brings change, we need a lot more of it.