October 21, 2014
By Mike Suchan, OutdoorChannel.com
Andy Morgan wishes he had brain-to-DVD capability. He’d love to share his crazy experiences in the deer woods for all to see.
The back-to-back FLW Angler of the Year enjoys telling fishing stories from his two decades of professional fishing, and he’s got just as many wild tales from deer camp. Since he began co-hosting Outdoor Channel’s The Hit List presented by Moultrie, he’s been able to show viewers his latest escapades, but there are others he’d love to go back and brain-video.
“You want to entertain other people with what you see, all the encounters I had over all the years,” Morgan said. “I’m thinking I wish I would have had a camera back in Nebraska in 2009. A 165-inch deer came in grunting, making scraps and chasing does. It was a 20-minute ordeal, back and forth. I make the shot, I got a buck of a lifetime.
“That’s the stuff you kind of miss being able to capture and show others. It’s in my mind. I’ll never forget it, but I can’t play my mind as a video so others can see it.”
Since that technology hasn’t been developed – yet – a cameraman is the next best thing. Being on a show has changed his mindset of solitarily chasing deer to being on a team chasing outstanding footage of deer hunts.
Since beginning The Hit List, Morgan has had some incredible whitetail encounters, like the Illinois buck fight between a 2 ½-year-old and a 3 ½-year-old that was a new sight to his noggin’.
“That was phenomenal. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. It was an absolute fight,” Morgan said. “I thought they were going to kill each other. They got under my stand and one was on its back, and the other was pushing it down a hill. They were crashing over logs. I always heard whitetail fight, but nothing to this level. It was incredible.”
The cameras caught the five-minute battle in the food plot and much of the aftermath, and Morgan learned some things from the experience.
“It was really surprising that it was that loud, that violent and all these deer were showing up out of everywhere,” he said. “There were bucks running from places all around us. There’s no way that a hunter can simulate a battle of a whitetail deer with a set of rattling horns, a Pack Rack, whatever you’ve got. There’s no way you can make that much noise.”
Morgan also was amazed with how the other deer reacted to the battle. He said some deer were spooked off by it, while others came piling in to get in on the action.
“The mature bucks came from everywhere,” he said. “There was one big eight came running in there – they were down 60, 70 yards through woods and I was watching on my binos. He came over there and got in on it and basically broke it up. ‘Whoa, whoa whoa, whoa. This is my place. Y’all going to fight around here, I’m going to be doing the fighting.’
“Those deer went separate ways, he kind of walked around, studded around, and two more mature bucks come down, their eyes pinned back. We never could get that part on film, but I watched in with my own eyes.
“It was so intense; I never really even touched my bow. I’d never seen anything like this. They actually made a really good show out of it. It’s just all about experience.”
Sharing those experiences is a task he’s accepted whole-heartedly. Morgan has always wanted to do some outdoor television on the hunting side to add to all his fishing.
“I’m an avid hunter. I’ve had leases all over the country,” he said. “I’ve had good stuff, the juice. I had some really good properties. A lot of people got to know that.”
Morgan took a lot of other pro anglers on hunting trips, and one, Mike Auten, thought of Morgan when Commonwealth Productions, the TV arm of Knight and Hale, was seeking hunters to co-host The Hit List.
“Auten said, ‘Come do this hunting gig,’ ” Morgan said, adding that pro angler and show co-host Gerald Swindle also talked it up. “Gerald said, ‘Hey dude, you need to do this. I’m doing it; it’s going to be a good time. I’ve done some stuff with them last year. I’ve had a ball.’ ”
The similarities between Swindle, see Bass to Bow for Swindle, and Morgan don’t stop at their gregarious nature. Both were serious bow hunters who’d been around the block with TV fishing productions.
“It will be entertaining because me and him go at it like a cat and dog,” Morgan said of the resident comic on the Bassmaster Elite Series. “I don’t know if I’m as quick-witted as Gerald, because I don’t think there’s anybody else that quick-witted in this world. But I don’t talk as much either. I’m really surprised he kills anything.”
But like Swindle, Morgan has had to make some hunting adjustments. First, he had to learn how to deal with setting up with a cameraman and working with him to get great footage of the hunt.
“I go hunting to kind of rejuvenate me for the next fishing season. It’s peace and quiet. It’s solitude,” he said. “Then I realize, this does eat into my time some. Maybe you’re hunting even a little bit harder than I was when I was just by myself.”
Making a hunting show definitely takes more time and is a bigger challenge than a fishing show, Morgan said. There’s a lot of work and they can go for two or three weeks and not have any footage.
“At the end of the day, you have to make a television show, so something needs to be shot at,” he said. “You have to have some pretty good encounters to make a television show, maybe even something dead at the end of the day.”
It’s become Morgan’s passion to meet the big challenge of producing good shows. It starts with a story line and includes the elements of a proper hunt all the way to the correct setup.
“Everything has to be in your advantage as much as you can possible get it. And saying that, it very seldom is,” he said. “You’re in the wild and you’re trying to have a Hollywood production, that’s not happening. So you have to be able to piece together stuff that’s not anywhere near scripted. You just have to create as it happens. That’s not that easy to do. Outdoor television is not that easy because there’s no script to follow, there are no guidelines and it’s all a lot of work.”
But he is having fun doing it. Morgan, Swindle and Chad Ritter, who Morgan said has forgotten more about white-tailed deer than most will ever know, have gotten into a groove on Hit List, pushing to produce enthralling outdoor TV as they head into Season Four.
“I’m liking it even better. I’m liking having a cameraman guy,” Morgan said. “Even when I went home to hunt, I felt guilty I didn’t have a camera in the tree with me. When something goes down, you want to capture it.”