By DAVID BAUDER | AP Television Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Tom Brokaw will take NBC Sports Network viewers with him on a trip to his native South Dakota for pheasant hunting season, a special that could become the template for a regular series.
The veteran NBC anchor hosts “Opening Day,” airing at 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 19, after a hockey game.
The program examines traditions around the beginning of hunting season, which is a big business in South Dakota. Brokaw details how the state made itself a destination, visits the annual dinner of the hunters' group Pheasants Forever and goes out with fellow hunters including Ted Turner.
Brokaw got rid of his guns while living in Los Angeles during the tumultuous year of 1968. But he took up hunting again a couple of decades later, usually accompanied by his bird dog Sage.
Brokaw, who splits his time between New York and Montana, looks forward to opening day as a way to connect each year with friends he grew up with.
“I stay in the small towns, and it's revisiting my youth,” he said.
South Dakota has cultivated businesses surrounding the opening of pheasant hunting season, making it a destination for hunters around the country each year on the third Saturday of October.
“The state just gets it,” he said.
Turning his outings into TV isn't new for Brokaw. For years, an annual fishing trip he conducts with pals like Michael Keaton has been chronicled on “Buccaneers & Bones,” a series on the Outdoor Channel.
If the “Opening Day” special works well, the idea could spread to examine the culture around other sports and traditions, according to NBC Sports.
Brokaw, 74, keeps busy while undergoing chemotherapy for multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting blood cells in the bone marrow. He worked on Election Night on Tuesday, where an alarm on his cellphone went off while he was on the air at MSNBC. He quickly made light of the gaffe by taking out the phone and pretending to take a grocery list.
“I'm near the end of the treatment and I'm very encouraged by the process,” he said.