The alarm on my phone hadn’t even considered going off when I woke on Saturday morning. I was up early thanks to a bit of nervous energy for an appointment I had with a certified celebrity.
By the time the alarm should have gone off, I was already showered, dressed and headed eastbound down highway 44. A quick stop for a box of pastries and I was rolling again on my way to the radio studio where Ray Eye broadcasts his weekly show Eyes On the Outdoors. Ray and I had met a few weeks earlier at the Missouri Deer Classic where I was running promotions. I asked if I could come in and observe his show some Saturday morning. He grinned, waved me in with a sweeping arm motion and answered,
“Sure! Come on down.”
Wearing your hat backwards was what the cool kids were doing.
“Really?!? Okay. I’ll be in touch.”
That was easy. I guess I’m sitting in…and I did…and it was a blast…and they fed me too!
So, who is Ray Eye?
For starters, he’s a real guy with a great sense of humor and a big personality. More to the point, if you’ve ever hunted turkeys, whether it’s a tactic or a product, chances are you’ve benefited from Ray’s influence. Known nationally as one of the foremost authorities on wild turkeys, Ray has been in the outdoor industry since 1977. He’s done TV, radio, seminars, product endorsements, books…just about anything a guy can do in outdoor media, he’s done it and earned the respect of other big names in the field.
So I’ll admit to being a little star struck hanging out with Ray…but not so much to recognize that celebrity status is relative. Hearing him tell stories about rubbing elbows with the likes of Hank Parker, Denny Brauer and Roger Raglin fascinated me (I can still whistle the Hank Parker theme music from his bass fishing show in the 80s.). These folks are pillars in my world because of their accomplishments in fishing and hunting. I grew up watching them on TV and reading about them in my outdoor magazines.
It struck me how these people can be icons in my mind and at the same time, meaningless names to someone else. I suppose it proves that celebrity status is really a function of what you value; something I need to remember when my excitement goes unmatched as I chat with coworkers about our respective weekends. It’s also a two-way street. The nutritional guru you love probably won’t get my heart pumping like he does yours, but that’s alright. I’ll be glad for you that you’re passionate about something meaningful in life.
And what I’m passionate about is the outdoors, so Ray ranks pretty high on my celebrity list. I suppose we all have areas in our lives where we geek out about personalities…it’s just that for some reason, mine seem to be the most interesting.
Thanks for the hospitality Uncle Ray.