I wanted to work hard in order to be able to have time freedom, giving me the ability to develop strong friendships and relationships throughout my entire life. I feel that taking care of people is the key in living a fulfilled life.
Ihad the distinct pleasure of interviewing Chad Belding from “The Fowl Life”.
Born in 1974 in Reno, Nevada Chad Belding is a lifelong sportsman and outdoors enthusiast whose love of the lifestyle was instilled at a very young age by his father Orville Belding. Orville ensured that both Chad and his brothers Clay and Clint were encouraged to evolve an appreciation of the outdoors at every turn, teaching them to camp, hunt, fish, crawdad trap and even cut down their own Christmas trees. Their mother, Faith Belding, was with the family every step of the way.
Chad’s passion eventually led him to predator and waterfowl hunting, and soon thereafter he became involved in competitive duck and goose calling in the late 1990’s while attending college at The University of Nevada Reno. In school he was a member of the competitive Division I baseball team and studied business, public speaking, and history. Following his graduation with a Bachelor’s degree he put his background in business to good use, co-owning and operating several businesses across Nevada, Colorado, and Washington.
The call of the wilderness never left him, however, and in 2008 he founded Banded, a video production and merchandising company that specializes in hunting gear and accessories as well as duck and goose calls. In that same year he became a part of The Fowl Life Television, also founded in 2008, which eventually went to air in 2009. The series has proven so popular that Chad and his crew are currently airing season 11 on The Outdoor Channel, filming for season 12, and hard at work at the newly minted “The Fowl Life” podcast, created in 2019. They are getting ready to air its 12th season July 1-December 26 on The Outdoor Channel.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
While my father imbued my love of hunting in me from a very young age and I grew up in the outdoors, it was friends that first introduced me to the joys of duck hunting — I was quickly mesmerized by the intricate dance of communication, in particular the vocals between hunter and ducks. While that was the initial hook I became entranced by the overall lifestyle and culture of duck hunting — everything from duck camp, to travel, friends, campfire, dogs, boats and overall just Mother Nature at her finest. Duck hunting quickly became a passion and luckily for me, something I have been able to transform into a career.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Since going out on my own in business the most interesting thing has been seeing my passion and love for duck hunting transition into building new companies and brands that have become my livelihood. It was interesting to me to see how the audience reacted to everything that we were doing on tv. I soon realized that there was more to it than being a tv host / producer. It became apparent that my path would be one of entrepreneurship in building national hunting brands including apparel, accessories, tv shows, podcasts, events etc. The most interesting part of it all is that hunting was the common denominator that brought all of these brands and businesses full circle.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Funniest mistake I remember making at the start of my career was getting all the way to Saskatchewan, Canada to film duck and goose hunting tv and realizing that we never packed our duck and goose decoys into our trailer. The lesson I learned was that while it was funny for a second I quickly realized that there was a lot of money invested in these trips and from a business standpoint little mistakes like that would end up costing us not just our profit margins but to our ability to complete the task at hand. I learned real quick how important attention to detail is in small business. Through this mistake I developed the strength of being consistent in both my approach and messaging.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Some exciting projects we are currently involved in are community events involving farmers, hunters and country musicians that help to showcase the community pride and strength that comes from respecting the resources that farming and conservation help build and protect on a daily basis. Some other exciting projects that we are currently involved in is a new line of cookbooks and a new umbrella of national podcasts that cover many different subjects and walks of life. Last but not least we are excited to participate in upcoming projects with several military charities — including Freedom Hunters and Special Ops Excursion — as well as an ongoing project with Ronald McDonald House, Boys and Girls Club, Ducks Unlimited Green Wings, and 4-H, amongst other charities and organizations.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
The first of 3 reasons to represent diversity in my opinion would be to break the stereotype that hunting and fishing is a man’s lifestyle. We hunt with several women throughout the season and it is truly gratifying to see so many new women coming into the lifestyle.
Second reason to highlight diversity in television is to prove that different levels of income is not a barrier to experience what the outdoors has to offer. Hunting, fishing and the outdoors are for all levels of wealth and income. We want to show that with hard work and passion one can witness amazing experiences day in and day out as presented by Mother Nature no matter your budget.
Reason 3 is that we are influential in many ways whether we want to admit it or not. We want to show diversity in the ways that we approach the culture of hunting and fishing in order to allow individuals to make their own judgements of the lifestyle. We do not want to push it on anyone, rather we want to educate and promote the lifestyle in a positive light in regards to the compassion for animals, processing and consumption of the protein-rich meats, the conservation efforts that hunters are consistently involved in by both financial and sweat equity means, and finally we want to showcase how special and how humbling this lifestyle truly is. We understand that we are not entitled to it and we want to get the message across that it is a privilege to be a hunter by showcasing the lifestyle. This includes highlighting the responsibility and respect to the resource, which includes the animals and the habitat, safety in every sense of the word, and why it is important to uphold our ethics and never give anyone a reason to doubt our commitment to the lifestyle.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Try to listen more than you talk. I have found through becoming a sponge and listening to people no matter what their experience level that I come away with a positive experience that I can apply to other segments of my life. By becoming a better listener I have been able to learn from others’ experiences, which has given me a head start in my decision making process.
- To put away and save one dollar for every 50 that I earned. This would have taught me what I know now — that money grows when you save it and let it go to work for you
- To make sure that you put your mental and physical health first. I have always believed in staying in shape and sharp with my mind, but through tons of traveling and business stress I learned in a hurry that my health needed to be #1.
- That the loneliness of being on the road will catch up with you faster than you think. Although I love to travel and visit new places and meet new people the rigors of the road would soon prove difficult in many more ways than one. I missed my family and my routine, making the anticipation and reward of returning home that much sweeter.
- To always take personal feelings out of business and negotiations, which means in part to not jump to conclusions or pass judgement because I was feeling a certain way. I also learned to take my emotions out of any instances of dealing with business segments including employees, contractual negotiations and executions of agreements.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are lots of people who I am grateful for who have helped me get to where I am in my career and business, but I owe my success to my mom and dad and brothers for always showing me the importance of dedication and commitment. I was taught by them to never cut corners and to always try to do things right. I was also taught to hold my morals and ethical standards high and to never cross the line of breaking those standards. Although some mistakes were made, I learned to fail forward and to return to my roots in order to find my common ground again. This life has brought tons of amazing opportunities I never imagined I’d be able to participate in, and I always stayed true to my roots and never let my life get too out of hand. My family also supported me when I made the decision to take a risk on myself and forgo a paycheck and call myself an entrepreneur and build my own businesses and brands. The idea of “Always take care of others” is a life lesson that has been relevant in my everyday life because I feel that I am a giver, always was and always will be. I believe in working hard to be able to enjoy life surrounded by my family and friends. I wanted to work hard in order to be able to have time freedom, giving me the ability to develop strong friendships and relationships throughout my entire life. I feel that taking care of people is the key in living a fulfilled life.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
If I could have a private meal with someone in the US who is deceased it would be Ronald Reagan. I would pick his brain on how to be a powerful and fair leader, as well as sit back and listen to how his career transitioned from Hollywood to politics to philanthropy and I would want to try and see if I shared any common threads with him.
If it was a person who was living today in America I would choose Dana White of the UFC. I would want to listen to his story of growing the brand the way he did until he and his partner sold it and what pressures came with being the face of the UFC and facing all of his critics — good and bad — on a daily basis. I would ask him if he had any regrets and details on them and how he uses his failures to gain strength in his daily duties. I don’t know how long the meeting would be but I’m sure that the conversations would be one of respect, admiration and education on both sides of the table.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!