When Blake Aaron was a freshman at Russell County High School, he vividly remembers a class where all of the students discussed their goals for the future.
Blake’s answer was easy. He wanted to have an outdoors TV show featuring his family: his father, David, and he and his two brothers, Brett and Derek.
At the time, the vision was the easy part, since the Aarons had all grown up hunting, fishing, and camping as a family.
“We started out hunting small game like squirrels, rabbits, and doves,” Brett said. “We also would tag along with dad to the lake when he would fish. Our favorite growing up was going to a big dove shoot. Family and friends would gather and have many laughs and shoot a lot of doves.
“Once we got a little bigger, we started going turkey and deer hunting with Dad. Hunting, fishing, and the outdoors were a passion that our dad had, and he involved us from an early age.”
Making the vision a reality was something they would have to learn how to do as a family.
The initial idea for having an outdoors TV show was when Brett started filming deer in the backyard with their mom’s old camcorder.
“We would film and really enjoyed it,” Blake said. “He eventually bought a nicer camera, and we started to video our hunts.”
Within a few years, Blake became the producer of WLKR, the student-led news program at Russell County High School. In this role, he learned how to start editing video. He transferred those skills into their own hunting and fishing videos.
“I fell in love with editing our outdoors videos,” Blake said. “The more we videoed, and I edited, the better I got, and when I was in college, I majored in media arts, which helped become more polished as an overall producer.”
Aaron Outdoors started posting videos on Facebook and YouTube in November 2011. The initial obstacles for Aaron Outdoors, Brett said, were saving up the money to buy the camera equipment, computer, and editing software to put out quality video.
Duo County Telecom (now DUO Broadband) approached the Aarons in late 2013 about producing content for their local cable channel. In December of that year, the first episode of Aaron Outdoors aired.
“After some long hours trying to put together our first actual episode, we turned it in, and it was a hit!” Blake said.
The show took off quickly, and Aaron Outdoors was able to partner up with “great local sponsors that got behind us” to slowly upgrade equipment and pump out more episodes and content.
“We have great friends that helped us grow the program by being a part of the show, too,” Blake said. “We got more people involved other than just my family. We would go fishing for different species on Lake Cumberland and capture those adventures on camera and do the same with hunting. We would hunt turkey, deer, rabbit, squirrel, coyote, and more. This was able to give everyone watching a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy; it wasn’t always just the same thing every episode.
“I think we knew it had legs as a show when we would be out in public and strangers would say that they had seen and watched you on TV. It was pretty cool, even with it being just on local cable TV.”
Aaron Outdoors would soon grow its brand to expand beyond local cable TV, though.
In October 2016, they started producing a second series of Aaron Outdoors that aired on the Hunt Channel on Dish Network.
After the first season, due to the rising cost of buying airtime, the Hunt Channel decided to go to an all-online streaming service, as Roku and other digital platforms were starting to take off. Since 2017, the Hunt Channel has been streaming on its own website, on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android and IOS mobile, and other apps.
In 2020, they joined with MyOutdoorTV and the live-streamed show is available for free on MyOutdoorTV.
“The viewership and brand awareness has grown since the beginning,” Blake said. “At first, not many people really knew what Aaron Outdoors was, but now I get asked about it all the time. It is definitely a conversation piece when most folks talk to me. As the years have gone by, our production quality has gotten better, and I think viewers resonate with that quality. We have built a brand and people know who we are and what we are about.
“I was at a work conference in Mississippi last year, and I was talking to a guy from North Carolina about hunting and I mentioned Aaron Outdoors. Immediately, he responded saying that he knew who I was and watched our show on Hunt Channel. It was pretty neat; it kind of validated the show to me in a way. It proves that we are doing something right. It has been very rewarding seeing hard work pay off.”
For Derek, the oldest of the three siblings, the biggest aspect that has helped Aaron Outdoors grow its audience base is that it is a show “anyone can sit down and enjoy.”
“It’s wholesome, family fun for outdoor enthusiasts and has a variety of big game, small game and fishing segments that appeal to a wide variety of fans,” he said. “Each member of the AO team has their own distinct personality that comes through on the screen.
“Humorous moments, serious moments, and real-life excitement and disappointment take center stage as we go through the ups and downs of what a fair-chase sportsman experiences in the field.”
In addition to their appearances — and aforementioned “distinct personalities” — on the show, the four Aarons each have their own responsibilities.
David’s role is “sometimes overshadowed,” Blake said, but he does much of the behind-the-scenes work that “a lot of people do not know about,” such as taking care of the farm, planting food plots, mowing, and being an “all-around handyman in the outdoors.”
“None of what we do would be possible without him,” Blake said.
Derek’s role and responsibility is to be the host that opens and closes each show. He also does many of the voiceovers for commercials and helps with different types of media content.
“His background in news, media, and journalism always comes in handy,” Blake said.
Brett is Aaron Outdoors’ business manager. He deals with sponsorships and relationships with all of the different partners. He also co-produces the episodes and videos a lot of the hunts and fishing trips.
“His passion for the outdoors has helped us grow to what we are today,” Blake said.
Blake is the producer and editor of the show. He puts together every show and video for Aaron Outdoors.
His media arts background also helps with social media marketing, show scripts, and videography.
“All content you see is videoed, produced, and edited by our team,” Blake said. “We do not outsource any of our content. It is all in house.”
More than 10 years after they uploaded their first YouTube video, the most rewarding part of Aaron Outdoors for Derek has been the ability to capture moments in real-time and to be able to look back at the memories made and “re-live those moments over and over.”
“I made a lot of memories outdoors when I was a kid but don’t have anything recorded to go back and watch,” he said, “but with what my brothers and dad have been able to accomplish, we can go back and experience these times over and over again.
“Aside from that,” he added, “the relationships we’ve built with our advertisers and sponsors have been another rewarding part of the show. We’ve built some special friendships with folks from all over and we’re indebted to them. We thank them for being a big part of our journey with Aaron Outdoors.”
This fall, Aaron Outdoors will debut its seventh season on the Hunt Channel.
Without giving away any major spoilers, Blake said this season might be the best one yet.
“2021 was our best year to date,” he said. “We punched more tags in 2021 than ever before, so we have an action-packed season of shows to share this fall. Brett and Derek both harvest their biggest whitetails to date, we have some of our best turkey hunts ever, we catch some monster crappie on Lake Cumberland, and we even do some deep sea fishing for swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico on this season, something that has never been on Aaron Outdoors before.”
Even after the debut of the new season, Blake said he foresees the show continuing for years to come “in some form or fashion.”
“We will never give up our love for the outdoors, so if people watch, we will continue to bring as much action to the viewers as we can,” he said. “I see our children becoming involved with our show more as we get older, so it will give people the opportunity to see young people grow in the outdoors. We plan to go on some trips and have new experiences that we can share. The future is definitely bright here at Aaron Outdoors.”
“This is the best way to keep up with us and get behind-the-scenes looks of what we do and to stay up to date on giveaways,” Blake said. “We appreciate all of the support people have given us over the years, and we look forward to bringing viewers more action for years to come.”
Check out the Season 7 trailer here!
The County Line’s Russell County sports coverage is brought to you by Blake Aaron—Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance.