It’s Good To Be Tiffany

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It’s Good To Be Tiffany

December 15, 2010 - Mathews Inc

By: Craig Dougherty, Outdoors Magazine

Looking at hunting celebrity Tiffany Lakosky’s rapid rise to stardom through the lens of a longtime industry insider, it’s not hard to be more than a little bit curious and maybe even a bit cynical. Young, super attractive, blond and bubbly, how could this hunting TV phenom have climbed to the top of the hunting celebrity heap in a few short years? Ted Nugent had his guitar, a microphone, a rock star persona and Fred Bear for a friend and mentor.  Chuck Adams, Bob Foulkrod, and Jim Shockey hunted hard, killed lots of animals and have been around for years. The Drurys have been in the industry for years, know the ins and outs of the business and have been creating great videos and TV for a good part of their careers.  Hell, even Michael Waddell carried a camera for Realtree for a couple of seasons before he discovered it’s more fun to be in front of the camera than behind it. The bottom line is it usually takes years of hunting experience, tons of exposure, and list of credentials a mile long to even get noticed in this industry. Becoming an industry “rock star” is even tougher.

But make no mistake; Tiffany Lakosky is an industry rock star. She shows up on all the blogs, people wait two hours in line for her autograph, and she has an impressive list of sponsors. On a recent Outdoors Magazine reader survey she showed up big; way big! Big enough for us to put her on our cover and do an hour interview with her.  Our readers wanted to know what makes Tiffany tick and we wanted to know more about her rapid rise to stardom. Was she just a pretty face and a creature of the camera or had she paid her dues?

Unlike many hunting celebrities who killed tons of game before ever hunting on camera, Tiffany readily admits to never having hunted off camera.  Her co-host and husband Lee introduced her to hunting about 10 years ago and they have been filming their hunts ever since. “The camera is our memory book. We love to hunt together and we love to capture our hunts together on camera. If we don’t hunt with a film crew we film each other. Doesn’t everybody? This is how we store our memories (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and share our hunts with others.  This is what we do, who we are,” she said.  No apology offered and for that matter none expected.

“So how do you go from filming your hunts to being an industry “rock star”? According to Tiffany, it all started with Lee’s passion for hunting (and filming) big bucks. Like so many other hunting notables, Lee had a passion for big whitetails and knew where to find them.  Soon after they were married, they picked up stakes in Minnesota and settled in the big buck country of Iowa to pursue monster whitetails. It is unclear whether their hunting passion led them to the promised land of whitetails or it was all part of a master plan but they landed in Iowa nonetheless and before long the couple had some monster whitetails to their credit and some pretty good footage, to boot.

Nothing gets the attention of industry types more than good footage of great whitetails and a handsome couple in front of the camera.  Before long Lee and Tiffany were sharing some of their great hunting spots with some “A” list TV producers and industry types including Michael Waddell and the folks at Realtree.  Nothing spawns friendships like good hunts shared and before long they were “discovered.” They showed up in Realtree’s Monster Whitetails video series and before they knew it they were “out there” on the show and seminar circuit with a few hundred (maybe thousand) “wanna be” hunting experts and celebrities.

But as the man on the TV says “but wait, there’s more.”  And the “more” is Tiffany! She  spent an hour helping Outdoors Magazine understand just what makes Tiffany — well, Tiffany. Suffice it to say, that once you have had the opportunity to spend some time talking to her as we did, you understand it is good to be Tiffany.

Outdoors: To what do you owe your popularity?

Tiffany: I absolutely love hunting deer and I love doing it on camera.  It is such a blast, and I really have a good time doing it.  I think that is what comes across on camera and people like that.

Outdoors: What do you dislike most about hunting on camera?

Tiffany: Wow, let me think. (After a long pause) You know, I can’t think of anything I don’t like.  It is such a blast. I really have a great time when I am doing it.

Outdoors: You don’t mind getting up extra early to get ready to film? Having to hunt with a posse, or not having any private moments in the woods?

Tiffany: You know, it has always been this way. I have never known any other kind of hunting other than hunting on camera. I get to hunt with Lee alone quite a bit, but we still film each other when we do hunt alone.  It’s just what we do.  I love every minute of it. I like having fun.

Outdoors: How about the celebrity side? Do you love that as well?

Tiffany: Well, I really don’t consider myself a celebrity. I think Lee and I are both pretty well grounded, ordinary people who just happen to be making a living hunting.

Outdoors: Okay, you may think you are just regular folks, and your friends may agree but your public considers you to be a celebrity. How about it?

Tiffany: Sure we have fans and appearances and all that, but it is part of the job and I love what I do. I pose for thousands of pictures a year and sign hundreds of thousands of autographs. It’s how I make my living but I really enjoy the people we meet at shows and stuff.

Outdoors: Do you work on your public image?

Tiffany: Well, I guess I do.

Outdoors: Do you wear make-up to meet your public, work on your look, your clothes?

Tiffany: I do. I always try to look nice when I am in public with my fans.  I think they expect me to look good and I want to look good for them. Sure I wear make-up when I do appearances and on camera. You don’t have to give up looking good just because you are a hunter. I like that side of me. You have to be who you are or you will stop having fun. It has to be fun or it won’t work.

Outdoors: Speaking of good looks, you refer to your public persona as “upbeat,” “fun,” “happy,” and “high energy” but in the chat rooms and blogs you are  “hot,” “smoking,” and “sexy.” Are you OK with that?

Tiffany: I’m fine with that. I don’t apologize for my looks and I like that they see me as being attractive. It’s all part of who I am.  I’m comfortable looking good and being a “girly-girl.”

Outdoors: So why has your show become so popular?

Tiffany: I think because we have so much fun on it. We love doing the show and I love hunting with Lee and I think people feel it. People can relate to us.  We are a couple who love hunting deer and we are passionate about it. W e also enjoy being with each other and it shows. This is something people can relate to.  They see themselves in the show.

Outdoors: See themselves or wishful thinking? Not everyone has a beautiful wife with a great personality who loves nothing more than yucking it up with her husband on a deer hunt?

Tiffany: Well, that could be true — the wishful thinking part — but I hear from lots of women who hunt who feel they can really relate to the show.

Outdoors: Is this why other couples shows have become so successful? Ralph and Vicki, the Kitzkeys? These shows are personality-driven, aren’t they?”

Tiffany: There’s no doubt. Shows driven by personalities are super popular now. They are very entertaining and people like that.  I think couples shows give you more to work with.  There is the back and forth between the couples.  The personalities come out and the audience can relate more.

Outdoors: If you could change anything about hunting TV what would you change?’

Tiffany: Mmm…you mean like what goes on or hunting fair chase or something like that?”

Outdoors: Anything at all you would like to see changed?  What don’t you like about hunting TV?

Tiffany: I really can’t say what I would change.  I like the wide variety of stuff on hunting TV.  Some people complain about the kill celebrations. But I say if you feel and it’s genuine it’s okay. I try not to judge too much or be too negative about other shows. That’s what makes America great. People can do whatever works for them.

Outdoors: How about the fake acting stuff and staged celebrations?

Tiffany: We use two or three cameras on every shoot to avoid having to do any reenactments. Yeah, too much reenactment can get pretty bad.  It should be natural emotion.

Outdoors: Is hunting TV good for hunting?

Tiffany: Mmmm. I haven’t thought about that one either. But, I think, sure, it exposes lots of people to the sport.  Especially women who would not ordinarily get exposure. Yeah, hunting TV is helping get lots of women and kids into the sport.

Outdoors: Who are your hunting heroes?

Tiffany: (long pause) “Well, I don’t think I really have any. You mean like TV celebrities?”

Outdoors: I mean like any one who has really had an impact on you or someone you really admire in hunting.

Tiffany: (now enthusiastically) “I guess Lee is my hero. Yeah, it would be Lee.  He is a terrific hunter and has taught me everything I know about hunting.  He really knows deer and deer hunting. He is also really a good businessman.  He is always thinking about what we need to be doing for the show or our sponsors. He is always thinking and he’s a tremendously hard worker.  I don’t know anybody who works as hard as Lee.  We do all of our own planting and he manages our farms and our planting and hunting. He has definitely had the biggest impact on me and my hunting career.”

Outdoors: More than a few of our readers believe that they too could kill big deer and be a hunting celebrity if they had a world class place to hunt and guides to carry them around. How do you answer that?

Tiffany: (sounding annoyed for the first time in the interview) Yeah, I hear that sometimes and you know it is easy to sit on the couch and be an armchair critic. I tell them to “bring it on!” We have worked so hard to get where we are. I tell them about living in a pole barn in the early years and they say, “My wife would never put up with that.”  Well there you go, they are out before they even start. I sacrificed, Lee and I gave up our jobs and took chances, we sacrificed … I lived in a pole barn. People have no idea how much work this is. We travel, we go without sleep, we don’t have any free time, my mom has to help out.  We deal with contracts and lawyers and business agents and we buy equipment and make all kinds of business decisions. It is so much more than killing big deer and being on camera. I tell people like that to get off their couch and give it a try.  That’s what is so great about America, everyone has a shot so stop talking about it and go for it.

Outdoors: So, what do you tell the 16-year-old girls who tell you they want to be just like you?

Tiffany: I don’t hear that from so many girls but I do hear it from the boys. I start by telling them to stay in school and get a good education. Lee was an engineer before he went full-time into the business. I was a flight attendant. We had something to fall back on if this didn’t work out. I regret not having finished college. Someday I would like to get my degree. You need skills and training to do what we do.  You need to know how contracts and business works. You need to know how to manage money. You need to be able to handle yourself in a meeting. You can’t afford to sound stupid when you are sitting down with the owner of a company. It  is so much more than hunting. I’m flattered when kids want to be like me or Lee but don’t like to see parents pushing their kids into a career like ours.  It’s unrealistic.  When a parent tells me his kid is going to be the next Michael Waddell I tell him to keep the kid in school because there will never be another Michael. He is a unique talent. People don’t realize this business is about so much more than hunting. You have to be more than a good hunter. You need other skills.

Outdoors: So the key to your success?

Tiffany: Hard work and loving what you do. I absolutely love what I am doing and it is the key to my success.  When people see you having fun doing something they want to do it with you or at least be part of it in some way. That is how I connect with people.  I let them into my hunting life and they have fun when they meet me in person or on TV.  I think that is the secret. The hard work and the fun.

Outdoors: It’s good to be Tiffany?

Tiffany: It’s good to be Tiffany.

We didn’t ask Tiffany about bows or broadheads, or for that matter, her favorite stand setups or strategies for hunting the rut. Something tells us she would handle those questions like the pro she is but that’s not what makes Tiffany tick.

Tiffany Lakosky’s meteoric rise to stardom is not about what someone else has done or is doing (she has a refreshing live and let live attitude toward the industry)  or for that matter about big deer or hunting. For Tiffany it’s all about having fun and working hard and sharing your excitement and enthusiasm with others. It is indeed, good to be Tiffany.

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