The outdoors was where Michael Lee grew up.
Spending nearly all of his free time outside, Lee found a passion in outdoor sports, like hunting and fishing. He caught his first bass when he was just two years old.
Now Lee is living a dream, as he serves as the host of “Backwoods Life,” a weekly, nationally-aired, outdoors hunting show based near Valdosta.
Lee serves as a host alongside Kevin Knighton and Woody Sullivan. The show’s eighth season debuts tonight at 6 p.m. on the Sportsman Channel, and for the first time, the show will reach an international audience.
“This has been a very, very good ride for us over the last years,” Lee said. “Something I really want to get across to our viewers is that hopefully they can relate to what we do. For 30 minutes each episode, they can escape whatever is going on in their lives and relate to what we are doing on the show.”
Prior to the start of the show, Knighton had been involved with other video projects that turned out unsuccessful. But after Knighton and Lee met while shopping at a popular sporting goods store in Florida in 2003, the duo’s relationship took off and they started producing a hunting show, which turned into today’s version of “Backwoods Life.”
“(Kevin) and I just crossed paths on faith,” Lee recalled. “He was there to meet with another guy, and I guess they didn’t hit it off as well, and I saw some samples that Kevin brought that day. So we took that whole aspect of what we brought to the table, love for the outdoors and his video, and made a show.”
Today, “Backwoods Life” airs to an estimated 31 million households, as the Sportsman Channel airs on DIRECTV, Dish Network and various cable providers. Locally, the Sportsman Channel airs on Mediacom channel 177.
This season, the show will also be carried in Canada, thanks to a relationship with Wild TV.
“You never knew what it was going to be when we first started. It was a great unknown,” Lee said. “When we first started, we reached a few hundred households, but when you start saying we reach millions of households, it really is humbling.”
This season, “Backwoods Life” will feature 13 episodes. The award-winning show — it was named the 2011 Hunting Channel Online Award winner for Favorite Hunting Show — is described as “three down-to-earth guys in pursuit of large game throughout North America.”
“We try to show the good, bad and ugly, just the reality of what goes right, what goes wrong and what the average person goes through,” Lee said. “It is the reality of being out in the woods. Hopefully people can relate to their personal experiences.”
Lee and his co-hosts hunt various game, including Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, elk, Black Bear, Pronghorn Antelope, Wild Turkeys and even alligator.
A native of Cordele, Lee spent his youth outdoors with his father. But his career didn’t take off until he became connected with Knighton.
Now, Lee says he is truly blessed for how his career has taken off.
“It is one of those things that any time you can make an income off something you love doing, it is a perfect scenario,” Lee said. “It isn’t even really a day’s work. I mean there is work, behind the scenes and stuff, but when you put it all together, it really is cool.”
When Lee is not hunting, he spends the majority of his time on his family farm in Hahira and supporting the Blazers at Valdosta State University.
“I get to go to a lot of cool places,” Lee said. “I have great friends, locally, and we go on trips together. And I did graduate from Valdosta State, so I am a Blazer supporter, but free time is something in the air. Usually when we get some, we already have something else planned.”
‘Backwoods Life’ begins its 8th season tonight
The outdoors was where Michael Lee grew up.
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