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If You Want to Thank Someone . . .

Thank the man who went to bat for hunting television 25 years ago.

By Tim H. Martin

25 long years ago, I remember getting into hot water with my fiancé for skipping church when my VCR broke. I'd played hooky in order to watch a new show called "Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine" live on the old Nashville Network.

This episode aired at 1 o'clock sharp, and my preacher had never once ended a sermon before 12:15. I wasn't about to risk a long-winded benediction and miss the only hunting show on TV that week.

When my bride-to-be called to ask why there was an empty seat on our pew, I tried to explain that God would be always be there, but hunting shows might not.

My reasoning did not fly, of course, but at least I got to see what Jackie Bushman was up to in that episode and ease my deer-hungry soul.

A trip to the doghouse and risking eternal damnation to watch one show seems silly now, but back then "Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine" was the ONLY show about hunting white-tailed deer. Missing even one episode meant having to wait an extra excruciating week to get a fix. NASCAR, Bill Dance and fishing shows are all fine and good, but I'm a deer hunter.

In retrospect, I need not have worried. Today, hunting television is alive and well, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 hunting-related TV shows and entire networks dedicated to our sport. Heck, hunting airs 365 days a year, 24 hours a day in 2012. You can't channel flip very far without hearing someone whisper, "There's a buck!"

Let's remember where it all started and not take it for granted.

Jackie Bushman saw the need for hunters to have their own shows, and he went to bat for us at a time when camo wasn't cool.

He had to convince network execs to take a chance on hunting, and Jackie fought an uphill battle to bring our sport to the small-screen.

Buckmasters was shot down at first, but thankfully, Jackie is a persistent man. Eventually, he was given a shot, and the rest is history.

My 12-year-old son and I love to kick back and watch hours of hunting shows, and he loves to watch "Mr. Jackie" on The Outdoor Channel.

Once, while watching "The Jackie Bushman Show," I explained to my son that if it wasn't for Jackie, we might not even have any hunting shows at all. He said, "Really? Wow, that's cool!"

If you have kids who love hunting shows, tell them about its roots. And if you want to thank someone for paving the way for hunting's gradual acceptance into mainstream culture, start at ground zero. Thank Jackie Bushman.

Editor's Note: Here's a nice way to show Jackie your appreciation. Please take a minute to vote for "The Jackie Bushman Show" in the Golden Moose Awards' Fan Favorites. Make sure to scroll down to the "T"s to find it, and thanks for supporting Buckmasters!

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