Norman, ‘Open Season’ Bring Hunting to All Ages

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Joe Norman was half asleep in his favorite chair when his 14-year-old daughter Karina walked in and kicked him in the leg.

“Let’s go hunting,” she said.

The father, a Kingston native whose “day job” is at Landers McLarty Ford-Jeep in Bentonville, and daughter had just spent a fruitless cold November morning attempting to take down Karina’s first white tail buck. They saw a few does but not much else.

“No, Dad,” she told Norman when he asked if she wanted to take a shot at one of the does, “I want a buck.”

After a break for lunch, and what Norman thought would be a midday nap, the pair went back to the woods and sat in their tree stand for about an hour until she started shaking his pants leg.

Norman had been distracted by a nearby groundhog, but Karina had spotted an eight-point buck. She let him feed for a while until Norman asked her if she was ready.

One shot later, the buck was dropped in its tracks and Norman was one beaming father.

“I’ve never been so proud in my life,” he said. “I’ve killed some nice bucks, but nothing beat that.”

Norman was able to capture the entire hunt on film thanks to his role as a member of the pro staff for “Open Season,” a family-oriented hunting and fishing television show produced by The Sportsman Channel that also airs weekly on FoxSports Midwest.

On The Sportsman Channel, the show airs at 7:30 a.m. on Saturdays, 9:30 p.m. on Sundays and 3:30 p.m. on Mondays. It airs each Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on FoxSports Midwest.

In the last year, Norman has filmed around 10 episodes of the show, including three in Arkansas: a bear hunt in Madison County and two white tail hunts.

His successful black bear hunt and his daughter’s first buck kill will be among the next episodes to air, and someday soon the Joe Norman custom Deer Slayer rifle could be on the market.

Norman, who traces his family history back to legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett, has passed his skilled shot on to his daughter.

Norman bagged his first turkey at age 8 and his first buck at age 11. He bagged the ninth-biggest buck in Arkansas in 1993 and trophy bucks in each of the next four seasons, earning him attention as one of the top young hunters in Arkansas.

Norman designed a Winchester 300 signature model that was to debut this past February at a trade fair in Las Vegas, but mergers and marketing processes have it on hold for now.

“Open Season” has filmed in Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Kentucky and Oklahoma and has made a focus of the show bringing hunting opportunities to underprivileged kids and those dealing with critical illnesses.

Norman has also gotten many of his sponsors to donate items to auctions that help raise money for kids.

“It’s not about us,” Norman said. “That’s for sure. It’s a great show to be a part of. All our guys are great.”

The show is about to film its second episode featuring Mo Kids First in Missouri, and when one sick boy who suddenly had to travel to New York for treatment could not make a hunt in Kansas, Open Season presented him a plaque making him an honorary member of the show’s pro staff for 2008.

Instead, on land owned by television journalist and pitchman Bill Curtis, Norman took Curtis’ daughter and her friend, who has multiple sclerosis, on a turkey hunt and the show captured a double kill by the women.

Norman also recently met a young fan in Northwest Arkansas when his mother introduced him and said he “loves your show.”

“He was just in awe,” Norman said, sounding a bit in awe himself. “We went out and found him a rifle and are taking him on his first white tail hunt and filming it. We love taking kids out.”