Jason Aldean didn’t say it directly, but it was implied that he can’t wait to get in the woods this winter. The country music star’s year hasn’t had a slow moment, but being in the woods, as Aldean explains it, gives him a chance to relax. He’ll also have a chance to reflect on 2016.
And there’s been plenty to reflect on.
Aldean’s seventh studio album, “They Don’t Know,” reached the top of The Billboard 200, earning 138,000 album-equivalent units, making it the first country album in a year to be No. 1. For Aldean, it marked his third consecutive album to top the all-genre chart.
Part of the winter will also be spent at award shows in Nashville. For awards, he’s already won Top Country Song for “Lights Come On” at the ACM Awards in August.
Aldean will also be seen — though not necessarily in person — nationwide as the face and ambassador for Field & Stream’s clothing lines. The apparel, hats and gear are sold exclusively at Field & Stream and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
From a chart-topping album to a new clothing line deal to a year-long tour that sold out shows internationally, Aldean has done it all. But right now, for more reasons than one, he just wants to hunt.
“My lifestyle and the way my life works these days is so hectic and so crazy that I’m constantly on the road traveling. Hunting season is almost therapeutic,” Aldean said. “I get a chance to get out in the woods and it’s quiet. A lot of times things are going so fast you don’t have a chance to sit down and enjoy it or kind of realize things that are going on. For me, that’s what hunting season does. It gives me a chance to go out, relax, not have anything else to worry about. And whether you see a deer that day or bag a big buck, it’s just nice to be out there not worrying about anything else for a change.”
Like most hunters, the love Aldean grew for hunting started at a young age. His father and grandfather would travel to his home state of Georgia for a couple of weeks every Thanksgiving and hunt. Aldean, still too young to hunt, would tag along, and once he was old enough began to hunt with them.
“It was kind of one of those things when we did that for a while, but my grandfather passed away and I got out of it for a long time,” Aldean said. “My dad loved to hunt and fish, so I’d fish, but when my grandfather died I got out of the hunting part of it for a while. With him not being there it just felt kind of weird.”
Aldean would hunt from time to time, but his passion remained absent for about a decade. That is until he met Major League Baseball player Adam LaRoche, who invited Aldean to his farm and introduced him to bowhunting.
“That was a different type of hunting I’d never done, which sort of rekindled it for me,” Aldean said. “It made it exciting again so I went head first into it at that point.”
Aldean joined LaRoche on the Buck Commander team, alongside former MLB players Ryan Langerhorns and Tumbo Martin, Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson and fellow country music star Luke Bryan.
And just like that, Aldean’s passion for hunting was back.
“They had a different way of hunting and a different vibe with camp,” he said. “Even the camp was fun and crazy and everyone was having a good time. It was just a whole different world for me than anyway I had every hunted. It just sort of re-stoked the fire for me.”
Aldeans tells of the six Buckmen having quite a time and constantly pulling pranks on each other when they get together each winter to shoot episodes for the Buck Commander show, which airs on the Outdoor Channel. He even reminisced on one specific time he took a prank to the next level by getting LaRoche’s brother’s rental car involved.
“Adam’s brother had a get a rental car, so he got the rental car, drove it to Adam’s ranch,” Aldean tells. “We were out there one night — I don’t even know, just being stupid — and Adam was building his house so he had all this equipment, like bulldozers and everything, sitting around his house. I ended up at some point in the night jumping in the bulldozer and running over the rental car — like, flattening the rental car like a beer can. So the next day his brother loaded it up on a trailer and took it back to the rental car place and told them he got the $25 insurance and asked if they’d cover that.”
Due to all six Buckmen having busy schedules, they are able to get together only late in the year. Aldean uses that same timeframe to find himself in the woods at his personal land, Black Jack Ridge.
“I typically schedule my tour somewhat around hunting season. We go through the end of October then I have November, December then I sometimes have a little into January to hunt. In those two months I try to go as much as possible,” he said. “If I’m home in Nashville I try to get out to my place about an hour away once or twice a week. I also have a couple of leases that are about five minutes from my house. I did that just to be able to get out a little more, maybe on an afternoon or something. But sometimes it’s a little tough because other times things take precedent.”
In the woods, Aldean admits he hasn’t done any Western-style hunts, but said he prefers turkey hunting in the spring and whitetail in the fall — deer being his favorite.
“I’d take that over anything any day,” he said. “When bow season comes in, that’s my favorite — early-season bowhunting.”
Aldean has also done his share of predator management at Black Jack Ridge, which spreads 1,300 acres. He said when he purchased the property it had a bad coyote problem and finding dead fawns was far too common.
“We started trying to run snares, things like that, trying to limit it a little bit,” Aldean said. “That’s one of those things I don’t think you can ever completely get rid of, but if you can at least keep it to a minimum and try to cut it out as much as you can then at least your deer population is going to thrive. That’s kind of what we saw happen. We started seeing a lot more deer — a lot more young deer, a lot more does showing up with fawns.”
Aldean’s love and knowledge of hunting and his outdoor lifestyle may not always take precedent — the singer listing his two daughters as priorities before hunting— but his authenticity matched that of Field & Stream, which is one reason the two decided to sign a deal as Aldean being the new face of the store’s brand.
“From my standpoint, one thing I’ve always been adamant about is I never wanted to have a partnership with someone that didn’t make sense or something I didn’t believe in or something that didn’t fit my brand,” Aldean said. “Obviously Field & Stream is a brand that’s been around forever and to me it’s almost sort of part of Americana at this point. They’re big on tradition, but they’re products are also great. I’m not going to go out and put my name on a product that’s not good in quality. Being partners with them was a no-brainer for me.”