On the hunt

David Findley tapes an introduction for one of his TV shows Tuesday at the Draper Tracts Wildlife Management Area near Brattonsville.
David Findley tapes an introduction for one of his TV shows Tuesday at the Draper Tracts Wildlife Management Area near Brattonsville.

Fifteen years ago, David Findley had a dream. Today, he lives that dream.

Findley, a Rock Hill hunter, films, produces and stars in his own televised hunting series, "A Hunter's Story," on cable channel 14. The series debuted last Friday, and will air at 9:30 p.m. every Friday for 12 more episodes.

Although he has been a hunter since childhood, fulfilling his dream didn't come easy.

"It was full of bumps and bruises. I worked with close friends and finally got everything to come together," he said.

The series documents Findley and other hunters as they pursue game in the South. Each show features hunting tips, game recipes and weapon use and safety.

Findley said he quickly learned that when it came to hunting, he is a minority. "I'm just a hunter that happens to be black." Findley said. Beyond that, he doesn't see much of a difference between himself and other hunters.

"My passion is the same," Findley said.

Findley left his job in forestry 17 years ago to became a professional hunter. He got paid by hunting and outdoor equipment companies to travel the country, demonstrating hunting techniques and equipment at shows and taking clients on hunting trips.

The idea to do a show came from a sponsor who saw Findley film a turkey calling contest at a convention.

"I was filming the contest to improve my (turkey calling) technique," he said. "I didn't think I had the time or the know-how to produce my own show."

Findley started out filming his own hunts with family and friends, then began filming hunts with clients. "At the hunting lodges, everyone wants to see the footage," he said.

While on a hunting trip for a sponsor, Findley met retired Army Col. Vic Correa, who had nearly lost his life at the Pentagon on 9/11.

"He told me, he cleared his mind by going out and connecting with nature," Findley said of Correa.

Connecting with nature was the theme Findley wanted for a show. Correa accompanied Findley on a turkey hunt in Texas.

Findley took footage of the hunt to CN2 and learned what he needed to do to get his own show.

"I had to be a salesman and convince companies that I was worthy of their sponsorship," Findley said. "You need sponsors to believe in you to get on TV."

The local sponsors that believed in Findley enough to sponsor his show were Griffin Pontiac, Buick, GMC and Mitsubishi and AgSouth Farm Credit.

This is the first time Griffin has sponsored a hunting show, said Eddie Pittman, sales manager of Griffin Pontiac, Buick, GMC and Mitsubishi. He said Griffin wanted to sponsor the show because a lot of its truck sales are made to local hunters and the show addresses that audience.

Pittman said Findley "gave us a strong first impression, and relationships are built on that first impression."

Findley also secured national sponsors Mossy Oak, Ross Archery, Knight Rifles, Knight and Hale Game Calls and others.

With sponsors backing him, Findley's series will be broadcast to 72,000 households on Tri-county 14 -- a station that had already launched a local hunting show that now airs nationally, said Rob Cooper, sales and promotion executive for CN2.

CN2 supports local people and businesses in their passions, Cooper said.

"This area is an ideal area for a hunting show to get its start," he said, "because around here you can hunt most of the year."

Blair Wisher, a manager of Sportsman, Inc., a hunting supply store in the Newport area, said a lot of hunters who come into the store watch the hunting shows.

"It's like a barbershop with the men talking about the shows," he said.

Jeff Bolton, manager of Nichol's Store in Rock Hill, another hunting store, said he knows Findley.

"There's been three fellows in Rock Hill that have had their own show," he said. "There's a lot of interest in these shows. It's a growing thing, there is a market for it."

Bolton said the shows are helpful to hunters who watch to learn tips and tactics.

"It's like a golfer watching a show to learn how to swing," he said.

Bolton said the local shows are popular because some of the national shows aren't dealing with techniques that are used in hunting in the South. He also said the local shows are a favorite because people like to watch someone they know.

"It's like football, you'd rather watch a team with guys you know. If the guy is from South Carolina, you're gonna watch it," Bolton said.

What was it like for Findley to finally see himself on television?

Findley laughed and said he didn't know. He didn't get to watch the show, he said, because when it aired he was out of town promoting a hunting product.

So far, Findley has filmed the first three episodes and is working on the fourth one. The first show took more than 65 hours to shoot and edit for a 30-minute episode, Findley said.

"You need a drive to do it," Findley said. "You need a desire to make it your livelihood, because there is a limited opportunity. There are only a certain amount of positions out there for this, like on the NBA."

Findley said his passion for hunting and for being in the outdoors keeps him motivated despite the hard work.

"I was destined for this," he said.

Want to watch?

What: "A Hunter's Story," with Rock Hill hunter David Findley.

When: 9:30 p.m. Fridays, for 12 more episodes

Where: Cable channel 14.