As long-standing supporters of Eric’s mission to expand representation of minorities in the outdoor and hunting communities, we knew we wanted to share his journey. Eric has been an important voice in expanding awareness about getting back to nature and learning to hunt for people of color. We all share something in common, a passion for the outdoors, and we applaud Eric’s efforts and contributions to helping open up opportunities for anyone with that shared passion. Learn more about Eric’s dedication – we hope you find his journey as inspiring as we do.
Name: Eric Morris
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Style of Boot
My preferred boot is the Infinity Hiker 7” with 400grams of insulation. Although this is a hiking boot, it is also a serious hunting boot.
The need for more racial diversity among America’s hunters and outdoorsmen inspires me to do what I do. After nearly a lifetime of not seeing any Black people represented or portrayed in the mainstream outdoor media, I realized that I needed to do more. I do what I do because it is needed.
My purpose is to represent and be a voice for minority hunters and outdoorsmen. I do this primarily through my outdoor television show, N.onT.ypical Outdoorsman TV, and through hands on hunting experiences. It is important for the minority community to see themselves represented and portrayed in a positive light when it comes to hunting, shooting, and other outdoor activities. Having had a nationally televised outdoor show allows me to show the nation that minorities do indeed hunt, and that we have done it for centuries. Unfortunately, we have been omitted from the hunting narrative in America, and as a result many believe that we do not hunt. We all know that representation matters but rarely are Black outdoorsmen showcased. Since 2010, long before R3 or the current popularity of “outdoor diversity organizations”, I have been on the grind, in communities, getting more minorities involved in hunting and the outdoors. To date, I have introduced over 200 people across the United States to hunting and the outdoors through hands-on outdoor experiences. I have inspired several thousand more through my television show and through my social media. I have even inspired some to pursue and build careers in hunting and the outdoors. I have also influenced nine people from minority communities, in five different states, to become Hunter Education Instructors. While my journey is often one of ups and downs, little support, and frustration with the hunting and outdoor industries, I understand that my purpose is much bigger than me, and is well received by those lacking representation. I understand that I am reaching and inspiring thousands to become engaged hunters and outdoorsmen. The emails and feedback from viewers and followers prove that my purpose is worthwhile. I am aware that not everyone supports my no-nonsense approach, but what I do is needed. The way that I deliver the message and opportunities is also needed. The conversation must be delivered a certain way, the target audience must be engaged a certain way, and the introductory experiences must be conducted a certain way. At the end of the day, my purpose is to ensure that hunters from all ethnic backgrounds are sitting at the same table, engaged in the same conversations about hunting, and represented in an equal setting. My ultimate goal is for hunting and the outdoors to be more reflective of what America looks like. Right now, it is not.
Thorogood continues to help me in a variety of ways. First, Thorogood was the first company to become a sponsor of my outdoor show, and to support my efforts with diversity. Their support enabled the show to air Season Two and Season Three on Pursuit Channel. Becoming a sponsor lended credibility to my show and proved that there are some who believe in my efforts to make hunting a more diverse activity. I had approached a lot of companies, a lot of ‘em, and they all declined my invitation to partner with the show. Thorogood said “yes”, and I’ll always remember that. Second, their boots are tough and quality made, this allows me to hunt comfortably and without worry, all across the world. I’ve worn Thorogood boots on hunts throughout the South, Maine, Maryland, Alaska, and Africa. Part of my business involves organizing and running diversity hunts, and I’ve seen what can happen when a hunter shows up to the hunt with cheap boots. Soles come off, eyelets break, and feet get wet; things that will quickly ruin a hunt. I’ve never had that problem with Thorogood’s boots whether I’m hunting in the swamps and woods across the South, the mountains of Alaska, or the bushfields of South Africa. Once I lace up my Thorogood’s, I can hunt all day knowing that they will get me through the harshest hunting conditions. I absolutely love Thorogood boots!
How Did I Get Started
A lot of people have asked me how I came to do what I do, after all, most people dream of hunting for a living. I kind of stumbled upon my career by accident. When I retired from the U.S Army in 2016, I asked myself what would I like to do for the rest of my life, everyday, whether I got paid or not, and the answer was “hunting, and to teach others how to hunt”. I started an upland guide service in the Fall of 2016 and launched my outdoor show in 2019. I had been taking people on hunts and inviting them out to shooting events and hunts since 2010 , but I sent my pilot episode to the Sportsman Channel in 2015 where it was rejected due to poor composition. Unlike many, I never really dreamed of having an outdoor television show. My background was fighting wars and ensuring that all of my people made it home. However, I did dream of one day seeing a person of color on a national televised hunting show. I had lived more than 40 years and never saw a Black person on a hunting show. I knew that we hunted, but we just weren’t shown. 2016 was a brand-new year and I told myself that it was time for America to see a new perspective of hunting, and to see more people of color portrayed in the outdoors. I actually tried to encourage a couple of prominent minorities to start an outdoor show, but that conversation led to a who’s who, name dropping phone call that went absolutely nowhere. So, I told myself that if there was going to be an outdoor television show that had a Black producer and a Black host, I was going to have to create it myself. My military training prepared me for the unstable, emotional, and soul-searching journey that laid ahead, and what a crazy journey it has been.
I could speak for hours about the struggles I’ve faced in getting the show and my career to where it is today, but I’ll just say a few things about encountering struggles. First, I’ll say that talk is cheap (#talkischeap), that is, people will talk the talk until it’s time to write a check to support you. There had never been an outdoor television show like N.onT.ypical Outdoorsman TV and while you would think that companies would jump at a chance to reach an eager but unrepresented market, minority outdoorsmen, not a single company showed interest in partnering or sponsoring the show during its 2019 launch. I hadn’t met or heard of Thorogood at that time. Second, breaking the barrier and perception of who is a hunter in America has a been a real challenge. It was tough watching cookie-cutter type outdoor shows that had tons of sponsors, while I was struggling to get my foot in the door and being rejected by these same sponsors. Oftentimes these were the same companies whose products I loved and believed in. I’ll admit that my outdoor show is unique, it’s different, it’s something that America has been able to overlook for generations, but a show such as N.onT.ypical Outdoorsman TV is needed. Sure, the show is different, it shows the things and people we don’t traditionally see, and it brings much needed flavor to the American hunting scene; but my show is needed. I knew from the get-go that a lack of funding has led to the demise of many new shows. The network warned me of this. However, after having respectable ratings for a couple of seasons, I thought that sponsors and financial support would come. It didn’t. When soliciting sponsorship, the answer I’d often get was “No thank you”, or “Your show doesn’t appeal to our audience”. This translated to me as, “No thanks, your show isn’t what we are used to supporting and doesn’t reflect our core customers.” Never mind the fact that they could reach the other 75 percent of America and build an even larger customer base. I’m all for equality and fellowshipping with hunters from any ethnicity, but nearly everything we see reinforces the perception that hunters in America are White, when there are millions of hunters from other ethnicities. Why is there such a reluctance to welcome minority hunters to the table?
Third, I’d have to say “acceptance and recognition within the outdoor industry. Aside from the tv show, I also run a nonprofit organization (#nontypicaloutdoorsmaninc) where we take new people and introduce them to hunting and shooting. I am considered a small celebrity by many minority outdoorsmen as most know me personally or have heard of the work that I do. I am considered the best in the business by my peers, yet I still face challenges. Regardless of the struggles, lack of support, overabundance of people claiming to be about diversity and fixing the lack thereof, I do what I do because, again, it is needed. I conduct specialty events where I introduce people across the U.S to various aspects of hunting and outdoor activities. Families have driven across states to attend these events with me. These are brand new, or novice hunters that want to learn how to hunt. They oftentimes have no hunting gear, no hunting gun, and no idea of where to go or how to get started. They do however have good jobs and an eagerness to go purchase hunting gear. Again, one would think that a company would be all over the opportunity to market their product to this demographic but nope, no interest at all. Talk about struggles. Part of the lack of interest could be due to an old and incorrect belief that the Black population isn’t interested in hunting or don’t have the money but considering that my audience is made of school teachers, doctors, realtors, IT specialists, and other prominent careers, I disagree.
Finally, another struggle that I continue to have, is that of “perception”. It is incredibly tough to unteach negative perceptions and paradigms that have been attached to the minority communities. This is evident in marketing my show, promoting my events, and attracting sponsors. Sometimes people have deep rooted biases that are standing in the way of progress.
My advice to someone who is interested in doing what I’m doing is to first realize that this is a crowded market, whether it’s outdoor television or an organization within the mission of increasing minority participation in hunting. As far as an starting an outdoor show, make sure that you have thick skin and be prepared to hear “No, we’re not interested” again and again and again. Realize that you are coming into an arena where nearly everyone is after the same sponsors, people are competing for the same viewership, and YouTube is the 800-pound gorilla in the room where viewers expect free content vs paying for a subscription or for cable TV. If you’re thinking about starting an outdoor show ask yourself the same think that a network asked me, and that is “What is that you want to do and what makes your show different or more appealing than others shows already out there?” There are only so many deer hunting shows one can watch before they become numb to deer hunting shows. When I launched N.onT.ypical Outdoorsman TV my goal was to deliver a quality show with a healthy dose of racial diversity that would show the things and people that we don’t traditionally see. I did that, and the response from viewers has been overwhelming! People of all ethnicities were hungry for such a diverse and informative show.
As far as creating an outdoor DEI or hunting diversity organization, I would say that this is also an increasingly crowded market with new groups popping up daily. I’ve been deeply involved in getting diverse groups of people to hunt for more than 13 years, long before R3 and the popularity of becoming inclusive or diverse, and I consider myself to be the best in the Nation at leading diversity hunts and getting minorities engaged in hunting. I sometimes think that I produce better diversity results than the hunting juggernauts within the hunting industry.
As far as how someone can help with what I do, I and the N.onT.ypical Outdoorsman brand are always on the lookout for partners, sponsors, and volunteers to help with events. Have a product that a hunter, shooter, or outdoorsman can use? Contact me and we can talk about the options.
My best advice though is to ask yourself how committed are you to your cause? Are you willing to die for it? Not that you will have to, but are you? Are you willing to skip a mortgage payment or car payment in order to pay for airtime costs, or for equipment to fund a hunt? Are you willing to make a 12-hour drive to do a weekend hunt for just three hunters? Are you willing to put yourself in harm’s way to see that an event or hunt goes according to schedule? If your answer is anything other than “Yes I am”, then you may want to rethink your dedication to what you’re wanting to do because there will come a time, especially if you don’t have the funding, when you will have to face each one of the above questions. It will be during these times that your fortitude and perseverance will be tested, and you’ll have to remind yourself that what you’re doing is not for you, it is for the thousands of people you’ve never met, the thousands of people that are counting on you to get the job done, or to pave the way for them.
Keep hunting y’all!
*For more information on what Eric does and to check out his website, click the button below: