New Year and ATA Show Mark Transition from Hunting to 'Show Mode'

Outdoor television show hosts, such as Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, were busy visiting with and signing autographs for their fans during the opening day of the 2016 ATA Show. (Lynn Burkhead photo)

2016 ATA Show, Louisville, Kentucky

With the start of the first work week of the New Year, this week marks a transition time for just about every worker in America.

And that’s true even if your job happens to be a part of the outdoors industry, especially where bowhunting and chasing white-tailed deer are concerned.

Why? Because despite the fact that a few white-tailed deer hunting campaigns are still open in parts of the country – and despite the fact that some hunting show personalities are still looking to fill a few more episode spots with good hunting footage – the start of this first week of January brings a slate of indoor work as the 2016 ATA Show opens in Louisville, Kentucky.

Meaning that for some show hosts like Pat Reeve, the transition from hunting and filming mode – and from the Christmas holidays and its supply of family time – is a juggling act that must quickly morph into full-bore business mode.

“It’s gotten easier over the years,” said Reeve, co-host of Driven with Pat & Nicole TV show on Outdoor Channel, as he allowed this interview over the phone as he and his boys traveled to Lambeau Field this past Sunday to watch the Minnesota Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers.

“Maybe it’s just that we’ve gotten a little more accustomed to it. Because yeah, sometimes it’s hard to leave in the heat of the battle (of hunting and filming a TV show) to leave our home and head for the ATA show.”

Reeve, who along with his wife Nicole had a superb early season of hunting and filming action this past fall, admits that sometimes, it seems like the ATA Show can cut into late-season filming opportunities.

“We adjusted this year and didn’t go to Iowa for late muzzleloader,” said Reeve. “Instead, we took that week to get ready for ATA since we usually don’t have time to hardly wash our clothes and get ready to go.”

With a new baby – and five kids in total – Reeve said that he and Nicole work at balancing family time, hunting time and the business demands of the early January ATA Show.

“You have to work hard at spending (quality time) with the kids at home,” said Reeve. “And also in getting your business done at the ATA Show.”

Fellow television personality and enthusiastic big buck hunter Kandi Kisky knows exactly what Pat Reeve is talking about.

“When you are in hunt mode (in recent weeks), the last thing we want to do is go to a show with the (deer) season still going on and (empty) tags in our pockets,” laughed Kisky.

But Kandi and her Whitetail Freaks husband, Don, broke from deer hunting on their Iowa farms and headed for Kentucky this week, flying in on Tuesday morning for the 2016 ATA Show call-to-post.

“But the (truth of the matter) is that we couldn’t do what we love to do without our valuable sponsors and fans,” said Kisky. “It’s a business like any other business so you just have to grin and bare it.”

And that’s exactly what the couple did on Tuesday, making multiple booth appearances for sponsors along with signing autographs, posing for smartphone photographs and granting media interview requests.

Even as they plot a quick escape on Wednesday evening.

“We’ve got to get back to Iowa because there are still a few days left in the season,” laughed Kandi at the Browning Trail Cameras booth on Tuesday.

Fellow Iowa resident David Holder, Raised Hunting show co-host with his wife, Karin, and sons, Warren and Easton, says that the transition from hunting and filming mode into show mode is a bit easier this year since the family’s tags are full.

But that doesn’t mean that the work of producing a television show is fully complete as the family heads to the ATA Show.

“We are fortunate that we are all involved in some capacity (as a family in what we do),” said David. “While Karin and I prepare for the business side of our production and going to ATA, the (two) boys take care of ‘clean up’ work from hunting and filming.

“The transition has been more smooth this year after doing this before, but there is always a ton of work to do.”

Tiffany Lakosky, co-host of Crush with Lee & Tiffany, takes the transition from hunting mode into trade show mode with a philosophical bent.

“It’s not tough, it’s just different. Although, all of a sudden, I’m like ‘Hey, I need to do my hair!’” she laughed. “What the heck?!?

“In all honesty, it’s a nice change (of pace from fall hunting and filming activities),” added Tiffany. “The ATA Show is a place that we all gather after not seeing our (hunting) buddies for the (entire) season and we get to reconnect and talk hunting and how our season was.

“It’s also so exciting to see all of the new gear and products.”

Tiffany does admit that this year’s ATA Show experience is a bit different than it was a year ago when she and Lee made their way to the sub-zero cold of Indiana with a baby on the way.

“Since I’m not seven months pregnant this year, the after-show dinners will be way more fun,” she laughed.

For Shawn Luchtel, co-host of Heartland Bowhunter along with Michael Hunsucker, the transition from hunting/filming mode to show mode gets a little easier with every passing year.

“It was a challenge to adjust to the rapid change between hunting, the holidays and the trade shows when we first got started in the beginning,” said Luchtel. “But we have quickly adapted as it has become something that we truly enjoy.”

He adds that “ … getting to be around others (in the industry) that we can relate with and talk to about a lifestyle we all love is (now) a time that we look forward to every year.”

For Jordan Shipley, the former Texas Longhorns wide receiver who often spent late December and early January playing college football – he was a part of the 2009 BCS National Championship Game versus Alabama – being a part of a trade show is similar to his days as a football player in college and the NFL.

“Smiling and signing autographs, that’s a big part of the collegiate and professional sports world,” said the co-host of The Bucks of Tecomate television show. “I actually enjoy it a lot (more) now that things have calmed down a little bit from my football days. Times like the ’09 national championship game, things could get a little hectic.”

And now, it’s just smile, sign and autograph and talk hunting.

Something that most of the hunting personalities and celebrities here in Louisville, Kentucky, this week don’t mind doing at all as the 2016 ATA Show begins.

Even if the Christmas tree is still up back home and an empty deer tag or two remain in the back pocket.

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