If you've ever surfed across any country music station on your radio dial, you've probably heard Craig Morgan sing, whether you knew it or not. If you're a country music fan, you no doubt sing his praises—and his songs—regularly.
There are some, however, who may not know that the Nashville-based musician has spread his wings to become an outdoor TV star as well. Morgan is into his third season as the host of “All Access Outdoors,” a show on the Outdoor Channel that chronicles the life of the country music sensation and die-hard outdoorsman.
Morgan was 10 years old when he sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” well enough to catch the ear of a distinctive older lady in the crowd.
"She walked up to me and said, 'Son, someday you’re going to be a famous singer," Morgan remembers.
It turned out that woman was the famous Minnie Pearl. What Minnie didn’t know was that before his moment in the spotlight finally came, Morgan would be an EMT, a contractor, a sheriff’s deputy and a Walmart assistant dairy manager. He would also spend 10 years serving his country in the U.S. Army.
Morgan recently shared a closer look at his fast-paced life on the concert scene and as a growing TV celebrity.
"I have two full-time jobs that most people would give their left arm to have either one of," Morgan said. "I get to experience stuff that a lot of people only get to read about and see on TV, so yeah, you’ll never hear me complain about the work part of it."
Morgan said he took his first deer hunting trip with his mother. He said she was right there, helping him field dress the doe he killed with a 12-gauge loaded with buckshot.
"My mom could take a roast, a deer roast, and no one could tell that it was a deer, no one would know that it was deer meat—you would think you were eating beef—and just fall apart in your mouth. Just amazing," he said.
While his dad was often on the road as a musician, Morgan said he really didn't have much interest in music until he was in the Army.
"I really started it a lot because in my free time when I was overseas, away from home, I had nothing else to do," he said. "And it was during that time that I realized that it was something that I might want to do. I knew I loved it, and it was fun, but I think even then I didn't think that I would do it for a career."
Morgan ultimately left the Army to begin a career as a songwriter, which evolved into his own singing, which provided the platform to launch into TV. Debuting in June of 2010 on the Outdoor Channel, "Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors" is a 30-minute reality show that offers fans a fly-on-the-wall look at Morgan's extreme lifestyle at home, touring and in the great outdoors: hunting, aerial bow fishing, bungee jumping and skydiving.
"Season three is a continuation of what we’ve been doing in the past as far as the concept of the show," he said. "We still show a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on on the road while we’re touring. There’s a lot of practical jokes, a lot of goofy, stupid stuff. I have no qualms whatsoever about laughing at myself; I know I can be a goober, but I’m OK with that, and as long as people are having fun around me, I enjoy that."
Morgan said country music and the outdoors go hand in hand.
"The demographics are very similar," he said. "They’re not always 100 percent; it doesn’t mean that everybody who hunts listens to country, and everybody who listens to country doesn’t necessarily hunt—but there is a great big overlap of demographics. We sing and write and produce records about the people that do those kinds of things, and I think that’s why you see that marriage in that relationship."
Morgan enjoys deer hunting with guns but said he is a bow hunter at heart.
"There’s something very special about the intimate experience that takes place between an archer and that animal because they’re going to be closer, a lot closer than with a gun," he said.
In promoting hunting, Morgan clearly doesn't have the same "in your face" style as Ted Nugent. But he feels just as strongly about the message.
"I do love the sport [of hunting]. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t like it, that I do it just for the meat. I don’t," Morgan said. "It’s a part of our lifestyle, it’s a part of what makes us the beings that we are. We are hunter gatherers, that is what we do; it’s inherent in our system."
Morgan also thinks it's important to share with others.
"I think it’s imperative that we maintain that skill set," he said. "You never know when there may come a time when that skill set’s going to be the one that separates those who thrive from those who don’t. I’m grateful for all the technologies that we have, and I utilize them. I've got a Mac, I've got an iPad, an iPhone, got it all—but it’s also awesome to know that I will be able to survive, and my family will thrive, not just survive, but thrive, if we didn’t have all of these technologies."
Click here for more information about "All Access Outdoors."
Click here for more about Morgan's music career.
Richard Simms is a contributing writer, focusing on outdoor sports.