On the air, in the field
The three Southern Oregon girls just want to have fun, they say, shooting (with guns and cameras), traveling, and checking off their "bucket lists" of adventures, on a new television show called "The Most Wanted List."
The ringleader is Kristy Lee Cook, the 31-year-old singer from Selma who opened for Glen Campbell at age 14 at the Britt Festival and earned fame for her American Idol finals appearance in 2008.
She did a reality show, "Goin' Country," in 2010, and wanted to do another one that included her pals Jess Hull of Grants Pass and Jessi Jo Stanfill of Tri City, who she met through their shared love of horses and barrel racing.
Two years ago Cook came up with the idea, and pitched it to gun-maker Browning, which sponsored her "Goin' Country" show. They bit, and so did her friends.
Their show premiered recently on the Sportsman Channel, and seven more will air on Sundays this year, with repeats interspersed.
"Life is short, if you wait it will pass you buy," Cook says on the show's promo. "So my friends and I made a pact to grab life by the horns while we still can. We'll be leaving our regular lives behind, and heading across the country to conquer life's biggest adventures. This is 'The Most Wanted List.'"
The Sportsman Channel also features "Blue Collar Adventures," "Country Boys Outdoors," "Hardcore Pursuit," "In-Fisherman TV" among about 50 outdoor-oriented shows.
Hull, 29, a graduate of Hidden Valley High School, is the daughter of Josephine County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Hull and a licensed massage therapist in Grants Pass. She's the only married member of the trio, and says the show is a whirlwind.
"I would never have thought an opportunity like this would come my way, and here I am," she said. "It's truly a blessing."
She'd never hunted before the first taping in Hells Canyon last fall, where Cook is seen connecting with a large bull elk. So far Hull has shot her first deer and some gamebirds.
"It's a lot harder than it looks," Hull said. "I was real nervous on camera."
While the episodes feature them shooting at elk, deer, cougars, and even alligators and sandhill cranes (it's legal in some Midwestern states), it's more than that.
They skydive, scuba dive, fish for salmon, barrel race and anything else they've always wanted to do. And laugh a lot.
"It's not just a hunting show. We know a lot of people don't like to hunt," Cook said. "It's a show about three best friends traveling around the country checking off the most wanted-to-do adventures."
Cook even managed to get her boyfriend, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Matt Belisle, in the first episode. She met Belisle when he was playing for the Colorado Rockies.
Hull said they've skipped on the drama that is seen in many reality shows.
"We're not the bickering arguers on most reality shows," she said. "It's what we say. It's who we are."
Stanfill, 23, the baby of the group, works as a horse trainer.
"We're doing what we love. We're hunting, we're fishing, we're barrel racing — it really doesn't get any better," Stanfill said in a promo for the show.
"She may be little but she's one tough little thing," Cook said. "We're all so different, but that's what makes it work. Jess Hull is kind of the character of the group. She's really funny."
Cook said it looks good for having a second season, which would be taped beginning in fall, and they're putting their souls into it. Cook is spending the summer at her folks' place in Selma, so she's close to Stanfill and Hull. She's getting ready to record a couple more songs, hoping to release a new single. Cook recorded a Top 30 country hit "15 minutes of Shame" in Nashville in 2009.
The first two episodes of "The Most Wanted List" were a sort of trial run, Cook said, but upcoming episodes will really lay it out.
"A lot of people have dreams and bucket lists. This show is about conquering things you want to do most in your life."
Sportsman is available on Charter cable at 417, DirecTV at 605 and Dish Network at 395. Times may vary depending on which TV feed you have, but the show is scheduled for noon, according to the Sportsman network website.