A Loris man will aim for his second “Field & Stream Total Outdoorsman Challenge,” in a season finale airing at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on the Outdoor Channel.
Chad Weatherford will go against Tom Boatwright of Alabama, the two finalists from an original roster of 14, competing in four events – archery, fly fishing, shotgun and endurance – for more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.
The public also is invited to join Weatherford for a viewing party at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Islamorada Fish Company restaurant, inside Bass Pro Shops at Myrtle Beach Mall, near Briarcliffe Acres.
This marks the ninth year for this nationwide reality event, and its fourth season on Outdoor Channel, which expanded the reality series this past fall to 13 half-hour episodes from a four-part special. Country music fans also might recognize its host, Craig Morgan, whose hits include “That’s What I Love About Sunday” and “International Harvester.”
Weatherford, the owner of Traditions Archery in Loris, with a background in heating-ventilation-air conditioning, won the challenge in 2010 and finished second last year, in his third time taking part in this competition. Married for 6 1/2 years to Christina Weatherford, the father of boys ages 4 and 2 1/2 has another bull’s eye circled on Jan. 31, the due date for their daughter.
Question | When did the connection with the outdoors first win your heart? What memory from childhood returns for a man in his young 30s every time you walk into a woods?
Answer | The thing that got me immediately interested in the outdoors was at a very early age, probably 4 or 5 years old. My granddaddy took me out a lot with him. … He passed away when I was 15. I have many memories related back to him that stand out … back to the first one … my first deer. That was at age 7. … I remember that like it was yesterday. It’s crazy the amount of memories I have from my cousins and me. My cousins were pretty much like brothers; I was an only child. …
We had a really good childhood, and I feel like we were fortunate with what we experienced and the things we got to do. A lot of kids don’t have that growing up, getting out with what God created on the Earth for all of the Earth to enjoy.
Q. | For hunting, what values of safety were drilled and instilled in you from the get-go, to last a lifetime and to reiterate for your own children?
A. | When my grandfather took me hunting, I had to carry a gun for a whole year unloaded just to learn gun safety, and learn things such as how I if point it in the wrong direction or got careless, it could go off on me.
Q. | Getting away a few miles from Myrtle Beach into and beyond the interior of Horry County, just how plentiful – and perhaps taken for granted – are places to get in tune with nature, in a more pristine way?
A. | Just from the competitions, I’ve had chances to travel all over. A couple of the guys and I got together to go to Nebraska to go hunting. It’s just a whole different world there in the woods. It’s the lay of the land with the hills and mountains. … I went to Maryland a couple of times this year. It’s still on the coast, and it looks like Horry County a lot. Whenever I travel to hunt, I get to see something different and add some adventure.
Q. | Among archery, fly fishing, shotgun and endurance, what activities complement one another the most, or what one aspect helped in the biggest way to get you through another in filming this season?
A. | One of the hardest things competing on a show like that is the pressure of the people being there, and of course, all the cameras. You have 12 cameras on you at one time, so it’s being able to deal with that pressure.
Archery is a big event. You have to be a good at strategy to do well at competing. You perfect your release and aim, and all of the skills kind of fall back from using a rifle. … You can’t just take a tricky shot with a bow at any given moment; you build up to it. You kind of have to be a jack of all trades, like from owning a heating and air conditioning business, especially with that. You’re dealing with plumbing, electrical, ducts, air flow and a lot of other related things to get around to how figure out how we do this and how we do that. The competition is really similar, with a lot of strategizing involved.
Q. | Without your revealing anything about the outcome of taping the series, what realities of television did you learn on the spot, on the set?
A. | With the actual competition between Tom and me, I think I was away from home for 12 days. I got up there a couple of days early to practice some fishing, so the competition was nine days. …
One big thing we learned on the set: They want you to be enthusiastic during the interviews. … They want you to interview and explain a lot, right before the competition. Personally, at the time, I don’t want to talk to anybody, because you’re getting focused. But that’s hard to do. …
How much video footage they have that never gets seen on TV: That just amazes me. They probably have thousands of hours of footage between all the cameras and all the angles they had to record.
Q. | “Shipping Wars” just started a third season, at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on A&E, with a Myrtle Beach couple – Christopher Hanna and Robbie Welsh – returning for a second year. What other reality shows draw you in as a viewer?
A. | We’ve watched the “[Full Metal] Jousting” show … then we found out about the two men who’ve been with Medieval Times here in Myrtle Beach. And “Top Shot”: I would like love to be a competitor on “Top Shot” if I ever get the chance. … Anything competitive like that, especially if it deals with the outdoors.
Q. | What other ways might help local youth appreciate the diversity and beauty of the great outdoors here in the Palmetto State?
A. | Kayaking is becoming popular. When I was growing up, I had never heard of it. I own one now; I hunt with it and do a lot of stuff with it. Find someone who has a boat, and just experience it, and get out and do it.