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1st sgt. gets shot at TV fame on hunting reality show

Jul. 17, 2014 - 12:16PM   |  
Retired Army 1st Sgt. Steven Holden hopes to host his own hunting show, but first he needs to win the Discovery network's new reality show, 'The Calling.'
Retired Army 1st Sgt. Steven Holden hopes to host his own hunting show, but first he needs to win the Discovery network's new reality show, 'The Calling.' (Courtesy of 'The Calling')
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If you’re a fan of hunting shows, maybe you’ve imagined what it would be like to host one.

Retired Army 1st Sgt. Steven Holden always has. The 20-year combat medic, who retired in 2012, says he started hunting with a trusty Red Rider air rifle when he was still in elementary school.

Now he’s a cast member of “The Calling,” a reality show airing this fall on the Destination America channel, one of the Discovery network’s latest forays into on-screen tracking, trapping, shooting and tagging.

Producers say the show gives three “average people” one week to live their dream of being an outdoor TV star and gives audiences a look at the making of outdoor TV.

Holden goes up against Florida firefighter Dustin Gourley and Angela Jennings, a North Carolina executive secretary and part-time model. The winner is picked by fan votes.

The show is produced by Ken Cobb, best known as the champion-bow-hunter host of Outdoor Channel’s “Huntin’ the World Southern Style.” The 10 episodes of “The Calling” are slated to debut Oct. 4.

With filming wrapping up inHenrietta, Texas, Military Times caught up with Holden to talk about the show.

Q. The premise sounds confusing.
How does it work?

A. It’s a reality show about making a reality show. We had to prove to Ken Cobb our passion for the outdoors and hunting. He picked the three of us from thousands of applicants. So, it’s about the reality of what we went through, the experience of being an outdoor TV personality and what it takes to make it all come together. It’slike a lot of hunting shows, but in the end America gets to decide who their favorite hunter is. So, in that sense, it’s also a lot like “American Idol.”


Q. Was it the dream job you thought it would be?

A. It was amazing. At first it really made me nervous, being in front of the camera, because I had never done that. Ken pulled me aside and said, “Hey man, just pretend like you’re talking to your best friend.” That just flipped a switch for me — it just became natural. The show itself is everyone hunting together through the week. There were a few competitions: a shooting competition, another on white tail knowledge. I can let the cat out of the bag a little bit and tell you I beat everybody in every competition.


Q. A lot of these shows tend to bring out the best and the worst in people. Was that true for this one?

A. There was no drama, no backstabbing or ridiculousness. Yeah, there’s some competition, but it’s more friendly than anything else. Of course, the editor was telling me, “We can make this look like anything we want to.” But I’m not nervous. I am the very level-headed, modest and humble guy on the show. I don’t talk any smack. I just let my skills do the talking. The others might talk a little smack, but they don’t have that military background, so they might rub it in a little if they kill a big deer. But all in all, all three of us are still friends, there was no bad blood.

Q. What are the most important qualities in hunters and in outdoor
TV hosts?

A. For hunting, I think patience — something as simple as being able to sit in a tree stand all day for that big buck to come by, what you do to pass the time. Or when it’s freezing cold, how you get through that. For a host, it’s all about the teamwork. You’ve got to have the hunter and cameraman and the communication that goes on between those to get the shot on camera. And the producer and editor to make it look right. Being able to speak to a lot of people without having your nerves wracked [helps for both]. Being in front of the camera is like being front of a promotion board. You want to make sure you say the right things, you don’t want to goof it up in front of five or six sergeants major or they’ll eat your butt.


Q. Other than being in the military, why should military people vote for you, and what kind of show do you want give them?

A. I just think, mostly, more than anything, I’m a humble guy. I love the outdoors. When the Army speaks about values, that’s the kind of thing I bring to this reality show. I bring values like integrity, honor and respect. And those things are important in the hunting world, too. I would love to do something with wounded warriors and local heroes like police officers, firefighters and paramedics. If I can give back to the community doing that, that would be awesome for me.

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