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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.