-- Perhaps emcee Michael Waddell summed up the Golden Moose Awards best.
"We aren't celebrating the fact that we are good hunters and fishermen," he said, "we are here to celebrate the fact that we can hunt and fish.”
Waddell's opening remarks, sprinkled with a healthy dose of humor, set the tone for a night that recognizes the best hunters and fishermen and their shows on Outdoor Channel.
Tom Hornish, Outdoor Channel president and CEO, put it all in perspective.
"Our theme tonight is three things: Leadership, bold decisions and execution. Those are the things that create excellent television," he said.
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The rest of the night was all about the Outdoor Channel and the personalities that make up the shows. They created an entertaining night that brought laughs, the occasional tear and plenty of cheers in regards to the room being full of hunters and gun owners.Not monkeying around with ghosts
In Waddell’s opening he made mention of the fact that the Venetian Theater, where the award ceremony was held, was also home to the Phantom of the Opera, one of Vegas’ many shows.
“As far as us rednecks, we will take on a grizzly bear with a pocket knife,’’ he said. “But we don’t mess with ghosts.
“I brought a Holy Bible and a monkey foot just in case the phantom decides to show up.”
Nugent shows wild spiritBeards aint weird … on guys
The hit of the night was Ted Nugent, the winner of Fan Favorite Host for his show “Spirit of the Wild.”
Nugent is known for his outspoken views and he didn’t mince words on the stage in front of a room full of hunters and gun owners.
“I really, really love killing sh@#,’’ he said. “I love it so much that I sent a ton of deer jerky that I personally killed to the troops overseas.
“If that’s not conservation, then it’s the ultimate use of a natural resource. When they get Ted Nugent meat, they kill more a@#holes.”
And that was just the beginning.
He reminded everyone that he had been doing his show for 24 years, the last 20 on Outdoor Channel.
“We started on public television just to piss off the hippies,’’ Nugent cracked.
But not all of his words were completely laced with humor. He gave a rousing tribute to the military before starting in on the government.
“This is a perfect environment,’’ he said. “If it weren’t for my knees and the government, it would be a perfect world. I’m planning on replacing them both.”
By the time he finished, the room was standing in ovation to the rocker.
“He will fire you up won’t he?” Waddell said. “I was back there doing push-ups while he was talking.”
Through the night Waddell never passed on an opportunity to take a shot at many of the personalities in the crowd. When it came to Willie Robertson of the Buck Commander, the winner of the Fan Favorite Best Overall Series, he couldn’t resist talking about the trademark beard that defines the Robertson family so well.
“If you go and look on Beards.com, you will find that he has one of the top three beards in the world,’’ Waddell said. “He’s right there in second place with ZZ Top. The only one who has him beat is Rosie O’Donnell.”
Later when Robertson received his award, Waddell would quip: “It’s good to see Lynyrd Skynyrd win an award tonight.”In memoriam
Prior to presenting any awards for the night, a video tribute was held in honor of Jose Wejebe, whose show “Spanish Fly” airs on the network.
Wejebe died in a plane crash in April of 2012.Education award 'for daddy
When it comes to the mainstream market, one of the better known faces is Joe Mantegna, who stars on the network television series “Criminal Minds.” Mantegna also hosts Outdoor Channel’s MidwayUSA’s Gun Stories, which won two awards Thursday night: Best Shooting Sports and Best Educational.
Mantegna honored his father when he accepted the Best Educational Award.
“My daddy was a sh*#-kicker from Krebbs, Okla.,’’ Mantegna said. “He was an educated man. I’ve been in this business for 42 years and 41 years ago he died.
“The fact we won for education is something I think he’d be more proud of me than anything I’ve done in my career.
“This one is for Daddy.”Big shadow
Sasquatch won the fan favorite Golden Moose Award on Thursday night for Best New Show, and show producer Trev Gowdy recalled the first time he met Laramie Miller, the 6-foot-7 star of the show.
“I was at 11,000 feet in the Rockies, and this shadow fell over me,” Gowdy said. “It really was Sasquatch.
“In today’s world, with the cell phones and laptops and high-tech weapons, this guy really does it the hard way. He was raised by mountain people, and he does this stuff the mountain way. I really admire the hard work and the passion he has.”Don’t tread on we
As would be expected, there were several times during Thursday night’s Golden Moose Awards Show where award recipients and presenters took time to make mention of President Barrack Obama’s plan, announced the previous day, to infringe on their Second Amendment rights.
They took different steps in doing so.
There was the official type, from Chris Cox, the executive director for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action:
“The work we do makes a difference in people’s lives. The NRA is a celebration of American values.”
The thoughtful, from Jackie Bushman, star of The Buckmasters, who received the Pioneer Award on Thursday night:
“Folks, never apologize for what you do, but be able to tell a story.”
And then Nugent topped it off. The Motor City Madman had the large crowd roaring with his tales of dislike for Obama, hippies and other things, as well as his passion for hunting.
But he finished his rant eloquently, telling the audience that its job was to tell those in power that they “cannot and will not tread on we, the people of the United States.”