NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Brandon Bates, who has worked as one of the PBR’s primary in-arena announcers for the past 15 years and has begun hosting some of the PBR LIVE telecasts for CarbonTV.com, was recently in Las Vegas for the National Shooting Sports Foundation SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show.
The annual convention draws in upwards of 70,000 people who work in the outdoor industry.
Bates was in Las Vegas as part of a team of folks representing the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF). The Zachary, Louisiana, native, and current Edmonds, Oklahoma, resident is the host and executive producer of a weekly series called “RMEF Team Elk.”
The Outdoor Channel nominated the series for a Golden Moose Award in the category of Best Conservation and Educational Series.
They’ve received the nomination multiple times, but, unfortunately, have not won since earning a fan-favorite award in 2011 for Best New Series following its first season on the Outdoor Channel.
“We go out of our way to make it about conservation and RMEF mission-based more so than anything,” said Bates, who added that it would be impossible to track, but would bet anyone involved in any other programs that “Team Elk” airs more no-kill episodes than any other series on the Outdoor Channel. “And I’m proud of that.
“We’re about conservation, the hunt, and we’re really about the story, the project and more so than anything the people.”
One such episode, which is airing this season, features Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler.
Zeigler was among the 32 wounded soldiers in the November 2009 massacre at Fort Hood that left 13 dead. He was initially shot in the head before being shot three more times – shoulder, arm and hip – as he tried crawling to safety.
It’s an emotional episode for Bates.
“I’ve seen it now multiple times,” Bates said. “It’s still difficult to watch every time.”
Zeigler, who said he’s retaught himself how to walk for times in the past five years, was moments from being cleared for Officer Candidate School when the shooting took place. He had just returned from his second deployment in Iraq.
During one of his many interviews in the past year he indicated his dream was to elk hunt.
RMEF CEO and recent PBR Ring of Honor inductee David Allen heard Zeigler’s story and reached out to the former soldier and arranged for him to meet Bates and take part in his first elk hunt in New Mexico, which was documented for an upcoming episode.
The story focuses on why Zeigler chose to be a soldier.
In defending the freedoms of America, Zeigler indicated those freedoms include hunting and fishing.
“That really is what that episode is about,” Bates said. “They’re not all soldiers, but everybody has a story to some degree.”
Bates began working with them in 2010 and over the years the series has featured celebrity guests like Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage and country singers Blake Shelton, Zac Brown and Easton Corbin.
Now in its fifth season, “Team Elk” airs 20 original episodes throughout the entire calendar year.
In the current issue of “8 Seconds,” which is on sale at all Built Ford Tough Series events and at PBR.com, Bates indicated that his “job” as host and executive producer is anything but a job because being involved with the outdoors is something that he loves.
He’s an avid hunter and fisherman.
Bates, who harvested his first whitetail deer when he was 12, made certain to indicate his work with the RMEF is about conservation.
“Team Elk” is less about teaching people how to hunt and is more so about captivating them and making each viewer want to join the more than 205,000 members from over 500 chapters nationwide that provide 11,000 volunteers.
According to their mission statement, the RMEF is committed to conserving, restoring and enhancing natural habitats; promoting the sound management of wild elk, which may be hunted or otherwise enjoyed; restoring elk to their native ranges; and educating members and the public about habitat conservation and our hunting heritage.
Since 1984, the RMEF has protected and enhanced more than 6.6 million acres of land through 9,200 different projects.
They’ve also had a longstanding relationship with the PBR.
Last month’s SHOT Show was held over four days prior to the BFTS event in Oklahoma City and, according to Bates, “if it has anything to do with the outdoors it’s there.
“Everything happens out there.”
© 2015 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.