Jason Aldean travels the country performing before thousands of fans, stays in fine hotels and has achieved a level of success he dreamed about years ago while playing in small venues and college bars in central Georgia.
By Alan Clemons, Southern Managing Editor
But when autumn rolls around, Aldean finds himself yearning for the quiet peacefulness of the woods. He switches from a guitar and microphone to camouflage and a compound bow, balancing the demands of being one of the hottest country music stars with family life and his passion for deer hunting.
Aldean spoke with Deer & Deer Hunting earlier this summer about his career and passion for the outdoors. He is our featured guest in the “I’m A Deer Hunter” profile found in the December issue of the magazine, which you can buy and download here.
Aldean arrived in Nashville in 1998 and, like sometimes happens, he navigated the tough route and potholes of country music’s bedrock city before his smashing 2005 debut of “Hicktown.” From there, he has produced one hit song after another including: “She’s Country,” “Crazy Town,” “Johnny Cash,” “Dirt Road Anthem,” “Fly Over States,” “Church Pew” and “Tattoos On This Town.”
His new album, Night Train, was launched in October. He is nominated for three Country Music Association awards, including Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Single of the Year for “Dirt Road Anthem.”
Aldean grew up outside of Macon, Ga. Here are excerpts from his “I’m A Deer Hunter” interview in Deer & Deer Hunting:
Did you grow up hunting in Georgia?
Yeah, I grew up doing a little bit of hunting. I started with my dad and grandfather. Dad lived in Florida and on Thanksgiving he’d come up for a week. Him, me and my grandfather would go hunting.
When I say a long time, I mean probably until six or seven years ago. I met up with Adam LaRoche, who at that time was the first baseman with the Atlanta Braves, and he invited me to his ranch. He was starting Buck Commander and I went to visit his ranch. I’d never done that, been in a deer camp with guys who had fun. We hunted in the morning and then hung out and had a good time. It was a completely different experience for me and that’s how it got going for me again.
I was there, (Atlanta Braves third baseman) Chipper (Jones) was there because he was part of Buck Commander at the time, and we went to his ranch, too. It had been so long since I’d done it, I remembered how much I loved it. I never had bowhunted before, and there’s more of a challenge to that, so I got into that.
Do your tours sometimes feel like it’s the movie “Groundhog Day?”
Sometimes it feels like that, but it’s gotten better the last few years. The first few years, I was playing about 250 days a year. Now I play something like 75 to 80 shows a year and I’m home more. I’m gone three or four days and then home three or four.
When I’m on the road, I do phoners (interviews) Thursday and Friday so I’m not doing them every day. We’ll get to the venue, do sound checks, have daily things to do and then backstage we have our own little compound. I’ll carry some targets and shoot my bow every day, so there’s things to do to kill time.
What’s been the most special place for you to play?
For me, it’s my hometown of Macon, Ga., and the coliseum there. That’s where I saw all my concerts as a kid and I’ve played there three or four times. That’s really cool to play where I saw all my idols. It’s about 8,000 seats and its not huge. I’ve played places that are much bigger and newer, but that place is special.
It was about four or five years ago when I was there the first time and I had that date circled on my calendar for a long time. I was excited to play there! Standing backstage, I had a lot of emotions going on. I couldn’t believe I was about to play a place where I grew up.
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