When Jason Aldean was 11, his dad and his grandfather took him deer hunting in Monticello, Georgia. They gave him a double-barrel shotgun, took him to the base of a tree in the woods and said, “Just sit here. Maybe something will come by.”
Aldean told me what he was thinking that day: “Yeah, right.”
But sure enough, something did come by — a doe, about 20 yards away from where Aldean was sitting — and he shot her.
“My dad heard the shot and he came over,” Aldean said. “It was a doe. It wasn’t like it was some big buck, so it was not the most impressive. But my dad and granddad were the ones who got me into hunting, so to kill my first deer and have them there to celebrate, that day stands out to me.
“I remember we threw it in the back of the truck, and drove it around town so everyone could see it,” he said.
We were talking hunting — and fishing and all things outdoors — because Aldean was in Texas to celebrate the grand opening of the newest Field & Stream store in Houston. As a brand ambassador for the retailer, he said he had the chance to hang out with fans and fellow outdoorsmen. Even some of the youngest ones.
“We played cornhole with some kids, and I got beat by a 10-year-old girl. True story,” he said.
The fans who were at the store had a chance to ask Aldean questions, and he said most of them had to do with the parallels between hunting and music.
“When you get onstage, the rush and the adrenaline and all that, it’s hard to find something else that has that,” he explained. “Something that gives you that same sort of rush. For me, hunting gives me the same rush as the stage.
“You’re sitting there, and a deer shows up that you’ve been seeing on camera all year, and you see it for first time, and you know you’re gonna have a shot at it. It’s the same sort of thing when we play a show.”
Aldean is currently taking a break from touring, so hunting — and going to more of his daughters’ sporting events — will be the only adrenaline rush he gets until 2017.
“I just want to have a little bit of a breather before we go back out,” he told me. “I love touring, and I feel like I’m gonna do that forever.
“But sometimes stepping away makes you miss it, and you look forward to getting back out there.”