Passion for the outdoors prompts a television series.
Sam Barnhart got his first deer when he was 9. By then, he was already a veteran of the woods. “We went hunting with my dad,” Sam says. “I was probably 5 or 6; I wasn’t hunting yet. My brother was about 4, and my sister was 8 or 9. My dad got us all laying under a couple blankets on the ground under a tree, and he had us take a nap. That was my dad’s version of babysitting.”
Sam’s father, Tim Barnhart Sr., planted the seed for the love of the hunt, and it’s been blooming ever since. “My dad’s passion for hunting introduced me to it and allowed me to grow my own passion,” Sam says. Another step came a couple years later. Sam still wasn’t hunting yet, but he wasn’t taking a nap on this trip either.
“When I was about 7, we had a really good night,” he says. “We saw about 30 deer, dad shot a buck with his bow…that was the first time I saw a deer killed with a bow.”
More on this to come: the thrill of a successful hunt. Sam is a graduate of Vienna High School and attended Lindenwood University before transferring to the University of Missouri-Kansas City and earning his degree in dentistry. He worked at his father’s office in Westphalia for two years before opening his own practice three years ago.
This fall, Sam, 30, worked in his dental office Monday through Wednesday and worked in nature’s office on most other days. He’s not your run-of-the-mill hunter, as he’s taken it to the next level with the support of his wife, Leslie. The couple has two boys, ages 3 and 1. What’s the next level in hunting? Making a TV show about it.
“You’d have someone pick you up from your deer stand, and they’d ask: ‘Hey, did you see anything? Did you shoot anything? What happened?’” Sam says. “Instead of just being able to talk about it, to be able to go back to the cabin and watch it, it changed everything.”
The dream had roots in Kansas. “My dad bought a farm in Kansas purely for hunting,” Sam says. “We started having a lot more consistent success with big whitetails. Once we started having that consistent success, the pipe dream of having a television show started as more of a hobby. That’s when I started carrying a home video camera around.
“I have not hunted without a camera since 2010, except for one time,” he continues. “I killed a big buck on Halloween 2010. I had hunted all year with a camera, every single
hunt. But I was so tired of carrying it around, I didn’t bring it that day, and that’s the time I killed my big deer — of course. I told myself, ‘Never again.’”
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Huntline Outdoor Productions, based in Westphalia, started in 2012. That’s also where HuntlineTV has its roots, though the company also films commercials and produces promotional videos, among other ventures. At a whitetail convention in Columbia a few years ago, there were representatives on hand from the newly formed Hunt TV Channel, which was looking for new ideas and shows. Sam sent them the DVD from his early recordings, and “the next thing you know, we were talking about contracts for air time,” he says.
In July 2011, he took a video-editing course in Illinois to refine his craft. He made a 75-minute video, and that turned out to be the first season of HuntlineTV, though the second season features more than four hours of footage.
The show focuses on deer but features other hunts as well.
“The difference between our first and second seasons, the second season blew people away,” Sam says. “The quality was so much better; we learned a lot in a short time to make our production quality go up.”
The show has since been picked up by the Pursuit Channel (it’s still on the Hunt Channel) and will be available on both Dish and DirecTV . In addition, KRCG-TV will start showing the first two seasons of Huntline on Sunday mornings in January.
“We invested a lot of time, effort and money into the first two seasons, and we feel like so few people have gotten to see them,” Sam says. “That’s why it’s beneficial to get them out there.”
There is a lot more to this show than ready, aim, fire. Here’s the lead-in narration and promo for the upcoming season three: “We’re bow hunters. It means more than filling tags or the freezer. It’s an appreciation for our environment and the animals in it. It’s the memories made along“