By Chris Avena
We had the pleasure of speaking with Nick Hoffman, an award winning country music artist and host of “Nick's Wild Ride” that airs on the Outdoor Channel.
Chris: I appreciate your time. How do you go from playing with some of the most notable and famous country music stars to an outdoor show? You're selling out stadiums, you got thousands of people cheering your name and then you go off into woods.
Nick: That's the million dollar question, isn't it? I mean, it all starts of course with growing up in Minnesota and just being a lifelong outdoor enthusiast. I didn't grow up in a hunting family but I was one of those kids that instead of buying a comic book or records, I was buying field stream with my money, you know, I was buying hunting DVDs, I was buying or VHS is back then, you know what I mean? And so, even though I didn't have a hunting family, I always wanted to hunt. I fish with my dad a lot but nobody in my family hunted. So my neighbor got me into it and he took me on my first hunt, my first duck hunt, all that stuff. And so, I've always been on it. Through the music industry, I started meeting people that I was big fans of like Lee and Tiffany Lakosky and Don and Kandi Kisky and some of these people that I met at concerts that maybe were backstage or whatever and I got to be really good friends with them. So, my entry into the outdoor TV world came through them. I would be a guest on their show, they invite to hunt in Iowa and I would say, "Of course I wanna go hunt deer in Iowa." So bit by bit, I started making friends within the industry. A producer name Mark Baird were talking about outdoor TV and what maybe could be different about it and I said, "I got an idea, how about we do a show that is like Anthony Bourdain style hunting show or go to a destination to hunt that explore local food and culture and people and music and little bit of booze and all that stuff." And do what we all do when we go hunting anyway, find the best burger, find somebody interesting grab a cold beer and all that kind of stuff. That idea kind of turn into a pilot episode and that pilot episode got some attention and next thing you know I'm three seasons into my show
Chris: That's right.
Nick: And it's had a lot of success and if you didn't tell me five years ago, if you'd said, "Hey Nick, you're gonna be in your third season of Outdoor Channel show." I laughed in your face, I never have seen that coming.
Chris: Now, what was the most unusual animal that you have hunted? I know that you dont always go for the conventional hunts.
Nick: Well, you know, of course my first love is ducks and deer. I loved those two animals more than anything for my whole life. This show has given me the opportunity to do things that I probably never would have done or never thought i would have had the opportunity or have the time to do it. So, you know, I always wanted to hunt a moose or I always wanted to go New Zealand or I always thought how cool would it be to go to Africa someday but this show has given me the opportunity to systematically just check my bucket list off.
Chris: All right.
Nick: New Zealand, Africa, you know, all the different things. And so, and of course because of the adventure component, you know, going and trying some of these other different things, I think that's what viewers have enjoyed seeing is the idea that, "Hey, you know, I might not go to Africa but I enjoyed watching Nick go to Africa." you know, and so, those kinds of things. So, I'm trying to give people, you know,
Chris: By living vicariously through your eyes.
Nick: I think there's a little bit of that. Yeah, it's fun.
Chris: Okay. What was the most unusual culture that you've experienced? And what did you take away from that?
Nick: That's a good question. I think that, of course, the first thing that comes to mind is Africa. It's so completely different than anything I never experienced. We're talking about people that there's one area where people are living in mud and dung huts. I mean, it's a completely different world. But if you take that away everywhere you go, what is so surprising is that people are just people. It doesn't matter that there's always a language barrier, right? But in the end, if you strip the houses and the food away from things, I'm constantly, it sounds so cheesy and cliché but in the end human nature is such an amazing thing that we all really, we all want the same things and I've been really inspired by that and I think it's made me a better person to see that if you strip the bad stuff away and all the stuff, it doesn't matter. Take away the cellphones and the money and all these different things that we worry about every day and you get back to just being a person, I think that's the thing I've learned and I've really enjoyed that during our hunt.
Chris: Okay. Well, talking about food, do you like to cook?
Nick: Oh, yeah. I love it. Absolutely.
Chris: Who taught you?
Nick: You know, my grandmother was a great cook and I'm Norwegian, I'm third generation Norwegian so food and....
Nick: No. You know, for her, she didn't drink much, it was coffee believe it or not. I've been drinking coffee since I was like 10 and I'm still addicted to it so thanks Grandma, I appreciate it. So I think both my grandmothers really kind of got me into cooking and it's as big a part of why I hunt as anything. I love to cook wild game and I love my favorite thing is getting new people that haven't ever tried wild game, have them over to the house, cook for them and show them.
Chris: Do you tell them what it is?
Nick: Sometimes. I shot a mountain lion last year in Montana and I had the hams and everything smoked like real hams because it's got this consistency of pork.
Nick: And at Christmas last year, I served the ham.
Chris: The mountain lion ham?
Nick: Yeah, mountain lion ham and served everybody and nobody knew it was mountain lion until afterward. But I tried not to do people too bad because, you know, you do wanna turn them off but I love cooking wild game with people absolutely.
Chris: What's your favorite?
Nick: My favorite type of wild game? I love elk. Do you know what I like about an elk? You shoot one elk and you have food for the whole year.
Nick: Several years ago I took a bison in South Dakota. That's good eating. That's really good eating and you wanna talk about getting some meat. That's my favorite thing is if you shoot something like that, I like to give it to people too, you know, give it to my UPS driver, here's a pound of meat, and they love it.
Chris: What really drew you to the outdoors? I know that it wasnt just field and stream?
Nick: No. I honestly think, I grew up on a farm and I think that some people are wired to be hunters and some people are wired to be gatherers. I believe it. I think that it sounds maybe a little bit of weird. It is a spirituality kind of thing but I think I was just meant to be an outdoors- man. I think I'm not wired to be gatherer, I'm wired to be a hunter and that's why even though I didn't grew up in a hunting family, I always want to do it, for whatever reason, I always wanted to go hunt.
Chris: So, what do you think makes your show different than any other show out there?
Nick: If there's anything different about it, I think it's the idea that we're not just hunting and anyone who says that it's not a hunting show hasn't seen it because it is, it's hunting at its core but it's all the other stuff around it, any adventure and the travel and all the stuff that really what you're doing is you're just watching me being me, I am doing what I love to do. And I think what makes it authentic is that you're literally just seeing me living my life and having fun and living my bucket list too. I don't take for granted that I'm getting to go on all this cool hunts, you know, and other stuff. I'm living my dream and I'm having a blast.
Chris: So, what the people seeing on TV is really just you?
Nick: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I think you'll learn really quick in the music business that people see right through fakeness really fast. And so, what you are never going see from me is that I am not going try to be an expert. I consider myself a consumate outdoorsman, but I'm no expert. I miss shots, I screw up. Ive scoped myself. I've done all the things that everybody else has done. You are going to get the good with the bad and I think people respond to that because, let's be honest, there's plenty of fakeness in all industries and then, there's plenty of it in this industry, there's plenty of it in the music business too, it goes on both sides.
Chris: No, not the music industry.
Nick: Yeah, of course not. So, I just try really hard to just be consistent and be myself and that's why sometimes, if I wanna have a cold beer after a hunt, I'm not afraid to show it. If I slip up and swear every once in a while, we got to bleep that or we can put on it and I'll be honest, I've got a few emails that says, you shouldn't show drinking or you shouldn't cuss, or you shouldn’t.
Chris: There's a lot worse thing that you could say or do.
Nick: Yeah, exactly. And I say everything in moderation, you know, and you can't please everybody all the time.
Chris: You're not going to.
Nick: You know what I mean?
Chris: So, let me ask you this. How do you balance family, TV show, music industry? How do you balance all that and keep everything kind of even?
Nick: I poorly. I do it really poorly. Honest to God, truth, I'm a human-being and I just try my best but, you know, I have an eight-year-old daughter and with an ex-wife who I love to death and she is still one of my best friends but I think that the reason I say that is because honestly, it is hard to balance and it cost me my first marriage to be honest with you, it's really, really difficult to find harmony between being gone all the time and a home life. And honestly, when you get home after being gone so much, it takes time to just adjust to being home and it take time for that other person. And then, bring a little daughter, who I just adore, that I never get to see. She cries when I leave and it's tough. Honestly, it's a long way around to say that, I don't think you do balance it, I think you just try your best and you take a weight off of this scale and you put it over here and you just constantly trying to rebalance the scale the best you can do and sometime the scale comes wamming down on one side and you got to load up on the other side and I think you just try to do the best you can all the time. But I'll be lying if I said I balanced it because I don't.
Chris: No, I think a family dynamic comes in many forms.
Chris: It's what you are used to and how you roll with it.
Nick: You know, in the end, the people that I love know that I love them and I give them everything I can as often as I can. And I also put a 100% into my music and into my television show and in everything I do. I try to if there is anything with balance is trying to put 100% in everything you do.
Chris: That's great.
Nick: And that's tough, you know.
Chris: Well, shift gears a little bit. I know what we were talking earlier about lyme disease.
Chris: You have Lyme disease.
Chris: How was it affected your life?
Nick: Well, you know, it has affected my life, it's ironic that the very thing I love, hunting and being in the woods ended up giving me this disease, you know, getting bit by a tick and coming home one day and pulling that thing off and getting a big bullseye, I mean, it was stereotypical. It hasn't affected me the way it has affected some people because I caught it early and I was aware. So growing up in Minnesota, at school, they would give you a little Lyme disease awareness thing and somebody will come to the school and talked about it so I knew what that bullseyes look like but a lot of people don't. I think getting a little bit of awareness out there for people that didn't know what the symptoms because if you catch it early like me, it doesn't affect you this much but I have other relatives that didn't catch it early. it can really, really affect you. I do have to be careful because if I don't take care of myself, I'll get run down after a week or two in the back country or something like that and it affects me then, or if I'm at Shot Show and having one too many drinks and hanging out with people and staying up too late, for example, that will do it too.
Chris: Do you take precautions when you go out into the woods now?
Nick: The only kind precautions I do, I try and take vitamins and I try and eat well and try and sleep as much as possible but sometimes it's just not possible. I do, I beat myself up and don't work as hard as I should sometimes.
Chris: People just have to be more careful when they go into the woods, spray down with the Sawyers.
Nick: Oh, that kind of stuff. I see what you're saying. Yeah. No, I definitely do. I wear one of those rhino suits now, you know what I'm talking about? It's like a really tight mesh suit, I do spray down, I don't know what it is but ticks and me? they think I'm a hamburger. I'll be right next to my camera guy who won't have a tick on him and I'll come out with an abundence of them. It's ridiculous. It must be my near albino skin or something like that. I do try and spray down and do everything I can, that stuff is not good for you either but I think it's a necessary evil. Yeah, absolutely.
Chris: Alright. I think it's something that we need to bring attention too
Chris: You know, it's a debilitating issue
Nick: It is.
Chris: It's good that you're healthy. I appreciate you taking the time to speak to us today.
Nick: Man, I appreciate your time.
Chris: And thanks for taking time to sit down to shoot the breeze. Where can we find you?
Nick: Let's do it again. You know, in everybody out there watching, you can find out on my stuff that's nickswildride in all one word on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff. To get a bunch of videos, it's www.nickswildride.net on the web. So come join in the ride, right?
Chris: Alright. Thanks again.