Executives at multimillion-dollar companies don't typically spend their leisure time enduring mountain blizzards or desert heat. But Bryan Offutt and his team aren't typical executives.
Under Armour's burly director of outdoor marketing spent weeks with the company's chief operating officer, Kip Fulks; Fulks' brother, Koby, a senior marketing manager at the company; and full-time hunter Jason Carter in pursuit of some of the largest animals on the continent on some of its most rugged terrain.
“Everywhere from Nevada, where it's 110 [degrees], to the winter months in Utah and Colorado, where you're talking about high elevations,” Offutt said. “You're hunting with your backpack, which is 20 or 30 pounds, and you're doing about 10 miles a day. If you're not in shape, you'll get left behind.”
The four lifelong hunters joined forces for the latest project from Kensington native Kevin Plank's performance apparel company: “Ridge Reaper.”
The hatchling TV show, which premieres Monday at 11 p.m. on the Outdoor Channel, follows the four through the Rocky Mountains and Southwestern desert locales, as well as hunts in Mexican deserts and through Alberta, Canada, as they prove their big-game hunting prowess while proudly plastered in Under Armour apparel.
“A lot of shows on the Outdoor Channel or on other networks really revolve around white-tailed hunting, which is basically sitting in a tree stand or a ground blind, but mostly you're just sitting still and trying to be quiet,” Offutt said. “We're going after big game. … We're hunting trophies.”
Offutt, who grew up in Westminster and has hunted since he was 6, still uses the state as a home base of sorts, hunting white-tailed deer in Western Maryland and using Baltimore — especially Under Armour's burgeoning Locust Point headquarters — as a research and preparation facility.
“We were shooting our bows in the old warehouse on Wicomico Street,” Offutt said. “If Kevin Plank knew we were shooting our bows in the warehouse back then, we'd be fired today. But it was a passion of ours.”
Every member of the show has a similar pedigree. Carter, the show's host, has been hunting since he was 11.
“It's in my genetics. I was raised with one thing in my life, and that was hunting,” he said. “I wanted the anomaly — the animal you always see in a magazine but you never see in real life.”
As the only member of the team with previous on-camera hunting experience, Carter, who has spent the past 17 years as a hunting consultant, will lead the team in each week's 30-minute, documentary-style episode. His teammates say his passion shows in everyday life.
“I was talking to Jason: ‘You know Ray Lewis? You know Cal Ripken? They're big Baltimore athletes,'” Offutt said. “He was like, ‘I have no idea who they are.' … It just shows: The only thing Jason cared about was hunting.”
The bushy-bearded Koby Fulks and his brother, Under Armour's second employee and a former Terps lacrosse player, fondly recall the days with their father when they “were the bird dogs for Pops.”
“Ridge Reaper” began with the four huntsmen going on recreational trips. Bringing along filmmaker Adam Moffat, they thought they might use the footage on the Internet or for personal enjoyment, but friends and family wanted more.
“We didn't know what the heck we were going to do with this content,” Offutt said. “The past five years, everybody's been like, ‘When are you going to do a TV show? When is it going to happen?'”
So when Offutt and Fulks tapped their networks and found a willing partner in the Outdoor Channel, the idea quickly took off.
At the network, expectations are sky-high for the show, which will compete with a bevy of hunting programs on the Outdoor Channel and elsewhere, such as A&E's “Duck Dynasty.”
“This will be the definitive show on Western hunting,” said Marc Kidd, Outdoor Channel's president of media sales. “We're going to make them stars.”
Offutt is looking forward to the audience's reaction — and a second season, already in the works.
“We're going to show … that hunting isn't just in the fall,” he said. “It's a 365[-day] story, and we live and breathe this year-round. It's going to be pretty cool.”
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