Lucas Hoge talks his new show and getting musical inspiration from the outdoors.
Before Lucas Hoge became a Billboard No.1 country music songwriter thanks to hit singles like "Dirty South," he was an avid outdoorsman. His love of the great outdoors was fostered mainly in the small Nebraska town where he grew up.
We chatted with Hoge about hunting, fishing, his new show, and getting musical inspiration from the outdoors.
He explained to us how his love of the outdoors began and how he hopes to change the narrative of hunting with his new show.
Fostering a love of the outdoors and the beginnings of a show
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Most country music fans are probably familiar with Hoge's humble beginnings. He grew up in the tiny town of Hubble, Nebraska. It's a minute community that rests on the Kansas border. With a population of only 44, it is a speck on the map at best, but that location was ideal for promoting his love of the outdoors at an early age.
"There wasn't a whole lot to do besides farming and being in the outdoors and going to school," Hoge said.
So, he and his friends kept busy hunting and running trap lines before and after school and practice for sporting events. Life moves fast and when Hoge's music career took off, he ended up doing what many country music artists do: he moved to Nashville.
Though his life became busy as he started touring, he was not about to let stardom interfere with his love of all things outdoors. He quickly realized the music was his key to even greater outdoor adventures.
"I kind of said that my guitar has been my passport for these last 15 years," Hoge said. "It's taken me all across the world meeting great people who want to share their lifestyle with me as well."
Hoge continued to hunt and fish whenever he was not on the road touring. He quickly became a partner with big outdoor brands like Cabela's, Bass Pro Shops, Muddy, Pelican, Stealth Cam and more.
After a while, he decided to see if he could build a second career in the outdoor industry.
Hoge started bringing a cameraman along to film his adventures, with hopes and intentions of making it into a show. His sponsors and contacts in the industry loved the idea, and filming began.
"It just all kind of fell in the right place," Hoge said. "I was very fortunate to know all these people and start talking to them, and it just came about like that."
A different type of outdoor show
Hoge directly credits the outdoors with having an impact on his musical career, and the worlds of country music and outdoor adventure are going to be heavily intertwined in the show.
"You can't help but be inspired in the outdoors," Hoge said. "I try to get out there as much as I can and not let the music industry and life just bog me down."
That love of the outdoors is showcased in his latest single, appropriately titled "Wishin' I Was Fishin." He says the song is about looking back on memories he has of fishing with his dad.
The first season of Hoge Wild features locations that are often ones where he was performing nearby. He said fans can expect to see a different side of him, most notably his humorous side, which he has less of a chance to show on stage.
Big country music fans will be thrilled to hear Hoge is writing an original song for each episode. The songs will be mostly tongue-in-cheek, but they will be directly inspired by the setting and adventure in each episode.
"I'm trying to tie in the music with each episode as much as possible," Hoge said. "There have been different artists that have had shows as well, but they don't tie in the music quite as much."
The country artist has set out with a lofty goal: to create a totally new type of outdoor show. That is why Hoge Wild is going to be stepping away from some of the more traditional conventions of hunting shows.
For one, you likely will not see many people posing with the animals harvested. This was done intentionally, and Hoge feels it's a sign of respect. Despite plenty of successful harvests on the trips, the show will also surprisingly break with a long-standing staple of most hunting shows.
"We probably won't show a lot of kill shots in the show," Hoge said.
It's a little odd, but is by design. Hoge says the goal of the show is to help change the narrative of hunting, something he says often gets skewed in the mainstream media these days.
"A lot of those people don't understand what we do, they think we are just out there slaughtering animals," Hoge said.
The solution is to make the show more accessible and appealing to a wider audience, especially with people who may not traditionally watch a show about hunting and fishing. He is hoping it will get many viewers will see the hobbies from a different perspective.
Mainly, he wants to spread messages about conservation and sustainability. Taking care of the wild forests, refuges and woodlands of the world that wildlife call home is important to Hoge, and he's making sure folks know they are directly funded by hunters and fishermen.
"We are the ones who do that with our contributions buying hunting and fishing game licenses and hunting gear and equipment with the taxes that are put on it," Hoge said.
So, we are the true conservationists and I just want to try and get that message out as much as possible."
What to expect from season one of Hoge Wild
The Nebraska native's new series took him all over the world during filming last year. Some of the episodes will be close to home where Hoge will be shown hunting ducks in Nebraska and elk in Colorado, but much of the show will have a more worldly focus.
Viewers can expect to see locations in Africa, Bolivia and more. It isn't just about hunting and fishing, either. Camping and exploration will be a big part of the show's focus. For instance, one episode is set to feature scuba diving on shipwrecks in the Cayman Islands.
"Scuba diving just opens up a whole new world for the outdoorsman if you want to get into it," Hoge said. "It continues to inspire me every time I get in the water."
Hoge's favorite experience of last year's filming was his time in New Zealand, a land that was so beautiful, he said he wished he could have stayed a couple extra weeks. He ended up harvesting a red stag, a fallow deer and a sitka deer. He even did a little possum hunting.
Hoge joked that New Zealand's possums are "way better-looking than our possums." He was so inspired by the scenery that his crew ended up shooting three music videos on location there.
"The people were great and the scenery was just spectacular. I just couldn't get enough of it," Hoge said. "One minute we would be hunting in the mountains and then we'd fish for trout in the rivers and the rivers are crystal clear, just gorgeous."
The show will also have some guests from time to time. Over the years Hoge has developed a friendship with many in the L.A. Dodgers organization, notably Rick Honeycutt, Orel Hershiser and Matt Young. When he mentioned he wanted to hang out at training camp, the Dodgers came back with an even better offer.
"They said: If you're going to come, you're going to dress up and you're going to practice with the guys, you are going all out," Hoge said. "I was like dude, I'm all in. Are you kidding me?!"
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic put something of a damper on the mood. In March, Hoge flew directly from New Zealand to Arizona to shoot the episode with the Dodgers when the unexpected happened.
"I'm sitting in the locker room putting on my uniform and coach walks in and he's like: Hey guys, we have to cancel spring training, season is going to get pushed," Hoge said. "We got a lot of good footage, but not as much as I had hoped."
Fortunately, the majority of season one was filmed in 2019 and was not affected by the pandemic. He says he hopes the show will inspire others to follow their dreams of traveling the world and participating in adventure by showing how accessible and affordable it really is.
"We're just going all over the country, all over the world trying to show people that anybody can do this and have fun doing it," Hoge said.