Country music star Craig Morgan loves entertaining his fans whether they’re in an arena, a summer festival or are taking a break from serving in the military in a war zone overseas.
The diversity of his venues seems akin to Morgan’s background. According to his biography at www.craigmorgan.com, he has worked as an EMT, a contractor, a sheriff’s deputy, and a Wal-Mart assistant dairy manager. Morgan also served nearly two decades of service to our U.S. military, including more than 10 years of active duty with the Army’s 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, followed by another nine years in the Reserves serving well into his music career.
Among his 14 Top Ten hits are the snappy “Redneck Yacht Club,” ”Almost Home,” “That’s What I Love About Sunday,” and “Tough.” Morgan is also a competitive dirt bike racer in the Mid-South Hare Scramble Series. Morgan has received numerous honors and accolades for his musical gifts and his support of the military and hunting. Outdoors pursuits played a big role in his life from a young age growing up in central Tennessee.
Morgan was interviewed by Managing Editor Alan Clemons for the D&DH “I’m A Deer Hunter” feature in the June 2013 issue.
How did you get started deer hunting?
My parents were active outdoors people. Dad was a hunter and would go on weekend trips with our family and friends, and he took us along with them sometimes. I was hunting with my mom when I shot my first deer. I was using a 12-gauge shotgun with slugs, and we were sitting at the base of a tree when a doe came by.
Do you schedule tour dates so you don’t miss any deer hunting in winter?
We tour year-round and because of our television show, All Access Outdoors, I try to
schedule more time for hunting. It works out pretty well. If we’re hunting Sunday through Thursday in Kansas, I try to schedule a show somewhere nearby, if possible. If we’re in a city for a show and know some people there, we’ll talk with them or the promoter and try to work in a few hours (to hunt) in the state.
Sometimes things just fall into place, though. I don’t remember what town we were in, but we were waiting on a guy in a Walmart parking lot about 4:30 one morning. I was off the bus just hanging around, but had written off the hunt. A guy pulled up, we started talking and he said he had some property. He invited me to hunt and I killed a doe. We meet some interesting folks from time to time like that.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen during your travels?
I’m always fascinated with the men and women of the military and their ability to move forward. Just recently, I saw a double amputee with no arms who wanted to try archery. That kind of determination and morale is encouraging.
Is that why you do so many free concerts each year for service men and women?
Definitely. You gain a different perspective when you’ve served. We try to do a minimum of four or five shows a year, but we usually wind up doing at least eight or 10. We’ve been involved with Jack Daniel’s with some of their efforts (Operation Ride Home), which has been great. I think we try to visit two or three installations and go overseas at least once a year. (Through travel vouchers for airline tickets and pre-paid debit cards for gas and lodging and other services, Operation Ride Home helped send more than 700 soldiers home to their families during the holidays in 2012.)
As a country singer, or for any musician who has a sense of history, no doubt the Grand Old Opry is a special place for you to perform.
Anyone in country music would tell you it’s a staple of our format. You can go anywhere and say ‘country music’ and the Opry is definitely part of that history. To be able to play there is an honor, and to be a member of the Opry is extremely humbling. There have been so many who have led the way. There have only ever been about 300 members of the Opry and there are only about 80 living members. To be part of an elite group of people, again, is very humbling.
It may be a little difficult to understand until they see it and go to the Grand Old Opry or the Ryman Auditorium, and then see the impact to the format. It’s like a light switch for the house. Turn it on and it’s electric. There’s a lot of history, which is what’s cool, in those buildings. At the Ryman, when you talk from stage right or left, you have to walk right behind the curtain between you and the crowd. So there’s about a foot and half separation from the curtain to the wall, and when show’s going on artists are going back and forth. That’s kind of cool.
(Morgan was inducted in October 2008 as a member of the Grand Old Opry.)
Do you practice with your bow on the road?
Definitely! I usually have a McKenzie 3-D whitetail or turkey target or maybe a dinosaur, which is fun, and closer to season I’ll take them out. We used to put a target on the bus and shoot through the bus, but we don’t do that anymore. One neat thing we did is set up the Morgan Monster World, and people can hang out in the VIP area and get a little taste of our world behind the stage.
What’s your favorite animal to hunt?
I love whitetail hunting, probably because of where I’m from (Tennessee). When I was growing up, we hunted just about everything … small game like squirrels, rabbits and quail. We didn’t have many turkeys then, but now we do, and they’re fun to hunt.
Whitetails and turkeys are my favorites, but I enjoy going to other places and really enjoy hunting mule deer out West. The whole spot-and-stalk concept is really cool. Same thing with elk. Any time you can interact with an animal is very exciting.
Do you have a favorite weapon or season?
Not really. I enjoy everything. I started hunting with a gun and then gravitated to shooting a bow. But I think I enjoy bowhunting about as much as anything. Gun hunting depends on how my bow season has gone. I guess I started shooting a bow when I was in the military, and then really got into it after that. When I was younger I didn’t have a bow but really enjoy it now.
I prefer a compound bow. I shoot a Hoyt Carbon Element. I just love the I just love the technology in compound archery. It’s amazing to me that you can shoot an arrow 347 feet per second and hit a target 80 yards away, with all the advancements of technology and proper practice. I just love it.
I also spent two years hunting with a longbow, about 10 years ago, and with arrows I made and arrowheads I knapped myself. Thought I was going to be an Indian or something. I killed two deer in two years and now it’s hanging on the wall.
I think has a lot to do with life and your personality and where you’re at in your life. I think depends on how you feel … kinda like a song. Sometimes you want a ballad and sometimes you want an up-tempo song.
— Craig Morgan’s sixth album, This Ole Boy, was released last February. For more information about Morgan, tour dates, his fan club and to download his new CD, visit www.craigmorgan.com.
For more “I’m A Deer Hunter” features, click here