Nana and Me
“A lot of times I came away frustrated; I never got to fire an arrow,” says Byrd. “But that feeling of frustration goes away quickly when you think back and realize that while you didn’t get anything, you were there, 25 yards away from a big buck – not 200 yards away in a shooting stand. I love that closeness. With a bow I find I have to rely on my wits more and keep trying to use my experience and the education I have had in how deer think and react and move.”
The singer says bow hunting has left him with some great stories, not all of them about successful hunts. “There was one hunt when I went out for four straight days after the same buck and never even got a shot at him,” he recalls of a bow hunt in Livingston, Ala., on a Mossy Oak hunting lease. “What a hunt – it was great! I went out for those four days, and he came in every day. I made a lot of different moves on him, but I never made the right one. He knew I was there, and I knew he was there. He was a magnificent animal, a gorgeous 12-point trophy animal. We really went at it, him and I.
“It was exciting. At the end of some of those days I’d sit back at the camp and tell everyone what went on. I’d tell them, ‘Well, he came in from the east today and walked the creek bed, and I was up here, and I moved down there on him,’ and the story would go on all night. That was part of the hunt, going back over every move. Talking about it is as much fun as being out there doing it.”
Mossy Oak’s Public Relations manager C.J.Davis says that deer’s antlers, shed in the fall, were found months after the hunt. “I don’t believe anyone ever got him. So he fooled a lot of very experienced hunters, not just Tracy.”
Byrd’s dream hunt is coming up in September. Just about the time he is set to be on the stage at the Great American Trucking Show, he is planning to hunt elk with a bow, something he’s never done before. He’ll be out in the wild with fellow country singers Blake Shelton and Andy Griggs, also avid bow hunters. And the camps, says Byrd, will be an amazing place to be. “There’ll be some stories, I know that,” he says.
Tracy Byrd says becoming skilled with a bow has brought him a new level of satisfaction when he hunts.
When you’re hunting with Byrd, it’s easy to forget he’s a country star, says Mossy Oak’s Davis. “If you put aside what he does for a living, you’d think he was just another guy crazy about hunting. He’s out there helping set up the camps and cleaning the deer and doing the dishes.”
When he hunts with a bow, his weapon of choice is a Matthews MQ1 with Easton arrows and Satellite broadheads. If he’s gun hunting, Byrd has a good arsenal to choose from: a Bennelli Super Black Eagle for waterfowl and, for deer, a Browning .270 with a Leupold scope or a Remington 7mm magnum with a Zeiss scope.
And, of course, Mossy Oak camo, which he has called “simply the best concealment on the market.”
Hunting fits well into a lifestyle dominated by his family – wife Michelle, daughter Evee and sons Logan, 5, and Jared, 10 months.
“I work hardest in the summer; tours take a lot of time, and that starts to slow down in the fall, and by winter I have time on my hands. I hunt close to home, about 10 miles away, so I can go on a morning hunt and be back at the house by 8:30.”
If Byrd has one single memory of his life as a hunter that stands out, it came just a few years ago. “A couple of years before she passed away, I took Nana turkey hunting,” Byrd says. “Funny thing, she’d never done that before. We didn’t have them in southeast Texas when I was a boy. We do now; they brought some birds in, and they’re doing really well. I took her down to the King Ranch in south Texas, and we went hunting on a ‘Mossy Oak Hunting the Country’ show.
“Well, she got one, so now a lot more people than me know who she was and how good she was as a hunter.”