The newest season of Red Arrow TV, presented by Ram Trucks’, premieres June 30th, on Outdoor Channel and host, Kip Campbell, talked with us about it.
If an engaging, unfiltered take on hunting television, the outdoor community, and even a few select social issues is what you’re interested in, then you’ll want to hear what Red Arrow‘s leading man had to say.
Someone who, with a grin, describes himself as one who speaks the truth in a day and age of everyone being too politically correct, is usually going to make for good conversation.
Last time we spoke with Kip was about 11 months ago, and in between he has worked primarily on the new season of the show, which hits Outdoor Channel broadcasts in two weeks.
“Seasons, as any hunter knows, are dependent on wild animals, and that can produce ‘high highs’, and a few lows, but we try to keep it light and keep it all in perspective, even when we’re struggling with the hunting,” Campbell said.
“With what we do, it’s not like an acting job, where you show up on set, the other actors show up, everybody’s in agreement, you shoot the scene, and you do your thing,” Campbell said. He made a good analogy based on his years spent playing sports, including college lacrosse at Lynchburg College, when he said, “It’s like if you practice for an entire season, and you show up, but most of the time the other team doesn’t.”
There’s no sense in showing an episode with zero animals killed, but Campbell insists that maintaining a sense of reality is important. A new hunter, he says, who watches a show with animals falling left and right, is going to develop a misconception of what hunting really is. “You have corporate partners with their money riding on some good entertainment,” he mentioned. “For anyone to be successful long-term, you have to have an X-factor. You have to have another level of entertainment.”
As Campbell puts it, the most popular shows are the ones that have that little extra something, an original concept, because if it’s just about killing an animal every week, then expectations are going to be set too high. “It’s throwing it way out of whack,” he said.
When talking to him, there’s no doubt Campbell understands this business. His attitude about partners, ratings, and personal genuineness seems in line with what you’d want someone at his level of the industry. He also knows how to poke fun at himself.
But the biggest thing taken away from a talk with Campbell is his humbleness. He’s done his best to stay true to himself, and has seen his show grow from a high schoolers dream into a college product that resulted in a successful show over the last 10 years.
“There’s a danger there of selling out just to do anything,” he said. “There are so many horror stories in the outdoor industry of ‘this guy’ plugging ‘this product’ that’s absolute junk, because he has to to make a living… That’s the only thing that we try to really steer clear of.”
He reiterated his testing process, done with any product well before he decides to back it, and made it clear he has turned down partnership opportunities from companies, even in the early years of Red Arrow, because he didn’t believe in their products.
And now, as preparations for the tenth season of Red Arrow TV are on the horizon this fall, Campbell is finding more and more opportunities to balance his work life and his home life by having his children explore the outdoors and participate in the many facets of hunting with him.
“My oldest is a killer, straight up,” he said. “She’s turning nine this July and when she was seven she killed her first two deer with an AR-15 platform, .300 Blackout.” Listening to him describe that hunt proves how proud he was. “She completely eradicates Joe Biden’s theory that a woman can’t operate an AR-15, because I tell people all the time that a little seven-year-old woman dropped two deer within ten minutes of each other while I was sitting on the other side of the ground blind,” Campbell said, no doubt through a smile on his face.
Kip’s a firm believer that getting your children involved with hunting an early age (or any age) is essential, and said if you make it part of your life, “which I think more real woodsmen, real country girls and boys, do anyway,” it becomes natural. He doesn’t pass up on the opportunities to hunt with his kids when he’s at home.
There’s no point in hiding blood or dead deer from your kids, and there’s no point in apologizing either, he says. “I just make it a part of life, and that allows us to spend more time together.”
His thoughts continued into a broader context. “Especially within our own circles and our own family, we don’t need to make it anything but what it is. I mean, the truth is what matters, in all things.” He followed that by saying bluntly, “I’m not going to cover it up. When the groundhogs get in my hayfield, I shoot ’em. I don’t try to relocate them, or send them to counseling, or anything else. We shoot them, and my kids help me.”
Campbell’s beliefs that hunters like him do more to help wildlife conservation than any animal rights activist ever has rings loud when he said, “The American hunter is the biggest conservationist that has ever been on this planet, that gets the most done.”
If there is one thing Kip would want to add to the show, it’s something that already shines through in the finished episodes of Red Arrow TV, but it would be to add more humor, more personality, and more of that X-factor can help Red Arrow get “bigger and better on Outdoor Channel.”
“It’s such a hard thing to balance, because if you look at reality TV it’s gotten pretty scripted and corny. It’s got to be set up a little bit,” he said. “Our goal with Red Arrow is to continuously add a little more of the reality TV aspect, with some funnier stuff that happens naturally in camp or on the hunt, but also have it not so set up that you’re getting into your scripted reality TV show types.”
He hinted at some things in the works that could get closer to that idea, and even though he knows there are no guarantees, he’s doing it the only way he knows how – being himself.