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Ten Questions with Kristy Lee Cook

With her new show "Goin' Country" airing on Versus, former American Idol star Kristy Lee Cook is out to prove she can hack it as a singer, host and hardcore hunter.

10/11/2010

With her new show "Goin' Country" airing on the Versus channel, former American Idol star and current country music siren Kristy Lee Cook is out to prove herself in more ways than one. This 26-year-old down-home girl has set out to show the world that she's not just another blond-haired, blue-eyed pop product. Her new reality show follows the singer as she locks up a record deal while testing her hunting chops chasing big game from Oregon to Tennessee.


Cook, who's been hunting for about six years, is more than comfortable in front of the cameras after her stint on Idol, but she's just coming into her own with a rifle in hand. Don't sleep on this Washington native, though, she makes it look easy at times with her Browning .270 WSM that she's dubbed the "stainless-steel stalker." As she says, "it's Browning or nothing for this girl."

But it hasn't always been an easy road. Cook has faced ill-conceived attacks from groups like PETA and In Defense of Animals in reaction to her show and subsequent comments on hunting.  I caught up with Kristy to see how she was handling life, criticism, music, celebrity, guns and her new found love of the hardcore hunting lifestyle.

BO: Describe your American Idol experience and how it has effected your career so far.
KLC: It was a huge platform for me and really anyone who has the chance to do that show, because you are in front of so many people and you get a lot of exposure.

Actually, it kind of got me into the hunting industry. I wore a Browning cap on American Idol and Browning saw it and long story short they got in touch with me and we decided to do the whole hunting thing. They sent me out on a few hunts to see if I could host, and I guess they thought I was decent enough to get it done so we got a show going.

BO: Where do you feel you are in your music career now? Creatively and in terms of your achievements?
KLC: I am actually in negotiations with a label right now, Broken Bow Records. We are working on a contract, and we are getting all the basics of a record deal. The plan for me is to release a single next spring which is great because I'll have a lot of time to write and record great songs. Whereas, in the past I have had a very limited time to do that.

All I can really do is hope that it will work out, and work as hard as I can with everything they ask me to do. There is no guarantee whether you get a deal or not. This is kind of like my last shot, and if I don't make this work it is going to be pretty much impossible to get another deal. All I can do now is pray, work and try my hardest. I think I have a great label behind me, and they are really supportive of their artists. I know they are going to put me to work and give me the best opportunity to succeed. 

BO: How much is the Nashville scene connected to the Outdoor industry? Do they have an influence on each other?

KLC: You don't find a lot of city people that go to the outdoors to have fun, and you don't find a lot of city people listening to country music. And if they do it is because they were either raised in the country or born there. Everything outdoors is usually related to country music because it's real life, it's part of being out there. As country music artists, we write what we feel. We could be in the middle of the mountains and that's where the best ideas come to you for songs. Everybody makes fun of country music because it's like "I sold my dog or my girlfriend ran off with my brother," but it's not all like that. We do a lot of real life experiences—outdoors, hunting, fishing. I think anything outdoors relates to country music.

BO: Do you have any songs about hunting? I'd love to get a sneak preview.
KLC: There's [a song] that I did co-write and it has a line: "Gun in the gun rack, dog hanging out the back, gonna shoot my dinner with it." And there's a lot more where that came from.

BO: In a recent FOX News story, your new show "Goin' Country" was called "the classic American story of a girl, her guitar, and her gun." Is that an accurate portrayal of your show?

KLC: Yeah, it is. It's all about my life, and I'm not making things up. It's all about my horses, my family, my music, my foundation and everything. We're just trying to make it as real as we can.

BO: What have you done to this point that you thought you'd never do in hunting?

KLC: I never thought I would have my own hunting show. When I was on American Idol I was just trying to make it in the music business, never in a million years did I think I would have my own show.

The one hunt that I will really remember was a recent hunt with my brother and sister. My sister had never hunted before and my brother was really the one who always hunted in the family. He had always tried to get me to hunt but I never did.

Anything with my family is an awesome experience, and it was really cool to be able to take my brother and sister and even friends from the music business on different hunts. The whole first year of filming this show has really been the most memorable to me because I've never done anything like it.

BO: Is it one of your goals to get new hunters into the sport? Women hunters in particular?
KLC: It's definitely one of my goals.

My sister had never hunted a day in her life. I think she accidentally hit a butterfly one time and freaked out. I never thought she would be able to hunt. So she did and it was good to show someone who had never hunted because I was the same way when I started. I never understood it until I became a hunter, and now my sister knows what it's all about. It's a good experience. To be able to bring people on the show who have never hunted before shows a lot of the people that are anti hunters that it’s not just about going out there and killing something. We go out there and harvest an animal and eat the meat.

I love being the woods, I love being with my family, I provide food for my family, and if we don't do that we donate it to shelters or orphanages that need the food.

BO: You got your outdoor show hosting feet wet on "Outdoor’s 10 Best" and "Browning Expeditions" on the Outdoor Channel. How did that help you for this new show?
KLC: I had enough exposure and enough interviewing time with American Idol so I think it kind of prepared me to be able to host a show. I started out with “Browning Expeditions” show to see if I could hunt and get a feel of how I was and who I was as a person.

With “Outdoor’s 10 Best” they were testing my hosting skills. I actually didn't know I was hosting that show until I got there. I thought I was only supposed to do a couple of lines, and all of the sudden I had to do the whole thing. I was like "holy crap I have to know this script!" I got really lucky with that one, and I did really well. It was a great experience.

BO: In Defense of Animals and other animal rights groups have criticized you and your show. Were you prepared for that and what is your reaction?
KLC: I had no clue. I didn't even know that PETA was after me, and I heard it from a friend that told me I was a number one trend on Yahoo. I looked it up and it was like "PETA this and PETA that," and I was on TMZ with 50,000 comments. It was pretty intense, but I guess you get used to it from American Idol. It was like gravy compared to some of the things I got called while I was on that show.

BO: By the way,  I loved this quote: "I never used to like killing animals until I got out and experienced it. It's the food chain. Animals are here for us to eat." I know you'll stand behind it.
KLC: Well they are, you know. If we didn't eat them places would be overpopulated [with animals]. I have pet deer at my house that I would never let anyone shoot. I would never shoot them. People think I am so mean just because I'm out there smiling with an animal, but I'm smiling because I worked my tail off. I'm tired and exhausted but it's an accomplishment. You've provided for your family and you've provided for other people, and it's a good feeling. Heck yea, I'm smiling.

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16 Responses to Ten Questions with Kristy Lee Cook

Mia wrote:
June 21, 2012

I used to be so against hunting but then I saw Kristy's show and decided to give it a try. I took my hunter saftey course, gave it a shot and have been hookes ever since. Thank for opening my eyes Kristy! I now look at hunting in a whole new light!

brittany wrote:
January 01, 2012

I lov you kristy and i love browning ive always been an outdoor girl who grew up in the country shootin guns and riding horses and four wheelers i love that you are the same way and are a down to earth girl i love yoour show even though ive only seen a couple epesiodes ive tried so hard tofind epesiodes on the webi can watch but havent been able too so if anyones knows were i canw atch some please let me know

Sheedy wrote:
December 01, 2011

Christy, I think I've seen every episode of your show. You seem so true and sweet!I hope my son will find a nice down to earth young lady like you some day! God's Peace! Come hunt WI some time, always welcome.

Tod wrote:
December 14, 2010

WOW! Kids followed you on Idol, you met my daughter and her friend when on tour. You told her, Don't drink, that you never drank or did drugs ever. That blew her away and she swears she is gonna be like that. A huge thanks and I wish you success in everything you do. What a great example. Now she wants to hunt. Hope to see you at the shot show in January.

Daniel wrote:
December 14, 2010

Kristy, you can sing, ride and hunt and your show is great. I have seen every episode and love it as do my kids. My daughters loved you when they met you on your idol tour, you took the time for pictures and hugged my little daughter and she was lit up for a week. I love that you are sincere.

Kenny wrote:
December 05, 2010

Sounds like you've got your head on straight. My eldest daughter (18) harvested her first deer this year. It was a doe. I was fortunate to be at her side when she squeezed the trigger. I've tried to always include both of my girls in any outdoor activities. Whether I intended to hunt, fish, target practice or just wonder around, I always asked them to go, but never forced the issue. Anyway, best wishes in all your endeavors.

Leehiem wrote:
December 05, 2010

Really nice interview. As I was reading it, I programmed my DVR to record the series. I admire you sticking to your convictions, and not letting anti-hunting propaganda bring you down. PETA—People for the Eating of Tasty Animals. Congratulations, Kristy. You've made a fan out of me.

Mindi Macnab wrote:
November 30, 2010

Hi Kristy, when you have a chance look at our ORVIS endorsed and Beretta Trident Lodge Highland Hills Ranch located 1 1/2 hours from The Dalles Oreogn. We have had our Oregon Governor to our ranch twice. We'd be a great location for one of your upland game bird hunting shows, plus we are LOVERS of barrel racing!!

Char wrote:
November 07, 2010

I have LOVED watching the show - will it be returning with new episodes? I sure hope so!

Dave wrote:
October 18, 2010

Great show. Dont slow down, dont ever slow down!

scott wright wrote:
October 15, 2010

Love the show. You go girl.

Paul wrote:
October 14, 2010

I love want your doing for the sport of hunting and the great outdoors. Keep on doing what your doing.

James L. Cobianco, Sr. wrote:
October 14, 2010

Your story is what most women want to hear and would like to experience. All I can say is GO GIRL. We need more like you. Jim

don wrote:
October 12, 2010

I have a bear doing damage on my property in Grants Pass. Can you come take care of it Kristy?

bart wrote:
October 12, 2010

Nice interview. Great to read real comments. America need more women hunters. Good Job Kristy and B.O. for doing the story.

Kaylah wrote:
October 11, 2010

Kristy rocks! Love you girl!