WSJ exclusive Interview with Country Star Luke Bryan

Country music star Luke Bryan personifies an outdoor sportsman with his love for hunting and fishing. The core values of responsibility, fun, and gun safety run deep with Luke, and he and many other country stars have lent their star power to the Second Amendment cause. Bryan presided over the Sept. 26, 2009 celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day, explaining, “Hunting, fishing and the outdoors make up who I am as an artist and a person. It would be silly to try to hide or keep that from the public. I’m proud of my love for the outdoors and my true fans will appreciate that about me.”

Luke Bryan-AugustHe particularly enjoys deer hunting, and donates many of the deer he takes down in Texas to Hunters for the Hungry. In an interview with Country Music Television in June, he said, “I loaded up on some new toys yesterday. I bought five guns. Mostly shot guns for bird, quail and dove hunting.”

A big NRA supporter, Bryan says, “I just love what the NRA family has been doing for the kids in my home state of Georgia. They have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to support farming and outdoor programs for many of the same organizations I was involved in as a kid like 4-H, youth hunting and gun safety programs. These are also the same organizations and programs that many of the people and their families who attend my Farm Tour have been associated with their entire lives. This is such a natural partnership for me because we are both celebrating and highlighting the qualities of the American farmer and their way of life.”

Bryan combined the best of country music with the best of the outdoors when he entered into a multi-year partnership with Cabela’s, the outdoor outfitters, last October. The partnership centers around a series of cross-promotions and collaborations across both Luke and Cabela’s year-round activities.

“My love for the outdoors is something that has been a part of me ever since I can remember,” Luke said. “It seems there was never a time when we weren’t hunting, fishing, farming or playing outside since I was very young. Teaming with Cabela’s is such a natural fit for me.”

Campaigns will appear in Cabela’s stores and catalogs as well as online and social media and content collaborations will give fans a behind the scenes look into Luke’s outdoor adventures throughout the year.

“Luke is the perfect partner for Cabela’s as he combines a lifelong love of the outdoors along with strong country roots,” Scott Williams, EVP and Chief Marketing/E-Commerce Officer, said. “This passion comes through in everything that Luke does – from his hunting and fishing, to his music. We’re really excited to welcome Luke to the Cabela’s family.”

WSJ Your outdoors story: A quick search around the web brings up several photos of you hunting, shooting and fishing. How did that all start for you? What were your early experiences that got you so deeply into hunting and the outdoors sports?

LUKE BRYAN It was a big part of my dad’s life growing up and he carried it into his own family. It was always a way of life for me growing up.

WSJ The appeal of the outdoors sports to country music: Thanks to your recent work with Cabela’s, the country is now aware of “Luke Bryan, hunter/fisher” as well as “Luke Bryan, country artist.” There seems to be a natural, grassrootsy connection between country music and hunting, but let’s spell that out specifically. Is it as natural as it seems; the honest, heartfelt, “homey” vibe of country music, and the down-homey sports of hunting and fishing?

BRYAN To me they go hand in hand. A big part of country music is a way of life, at least from my standpoint. That’s how I craft my music from my own life experiences.

WSJ Can you name a specific hunting experience that you cherish the most? First deer, first time shooting a shotgun, first experiences with your dad, grandfather, brothers, etc.? What about that made it so special?

BRYAN Watching my son Bo catch his first bluegill all by himself.

WSJ Your gear: Do you have a favorite bow, shotgun, rifle? What are they, and why do you like them so much?

BRYAN My favorite bow is a Mathews Helim.

WSJ Your bucket list: What’s on Luke Bryan’s short list of “awesome places I’d like to hunt” and “awesome fish I’d like to catch?”

BRYAN I have always wanted to hunt western elk or mule deer and fish for blue marlin or peacock bass.

WSJ Your touring schedule and the outdoors: I’ve seen stories and photos that lead me to believe that you’re pretty good at sneaking away before sound check and doing some shooting and fishing when you’re on the road. I assume you take your bow and rods with you on the bus. How often do you get to pursue those activities when you’re touring, and what are some of your favorite cities to play, based solely on the hunting/fishing you can do there while you’re in town?

BRYAN I don’t get to sneak away as often as I’d like due to other obligations on tour, but yes I do try to every chance I get!  I love getting out in Moline, Ill., Bethel Woods, N.Y. and San Antonio, Texas.

WSJ Country music hunting buddies: You and Jason Aldean seem like buddies via the “Buck Commander” work and “The Only Way I Know”, but if you had to choose a couple of your country-music brothers and sister to spend a day in the blind with, who would they be? And why? And don’t choose Blake Shelton, because he has a habit of licking his finger and sticking it in your ear … trust me on this.

BRYAN Jason would definitely be the hunting buddy.

WSJ Tough choices: If you had to choose between having a mount of a Boone & Crockett record whitetail deer or another ACM Entertainer of the Year award on your mantle, which would it be? I know, terrible question, huh?

BRYAN I would choose Entertainer of the Year!

WSJ Passing it down: You have two young boys. How excited are you to pass on your love of the outdoors, hunting and shooting to them?

BRYAN It’s definitely something that I have already begun with my boys and do with them as much as I can. I hope it makes up a big part of their lives like it did mine growing up.

WSJ Thank you very much for your time. I hope to catch you while you’re touring the Pacific NW this summer.