Gone fishin#039;

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2005

Rusty Faulk has been able to turn a passion for hunting and fishing into a popular television show that now airs year-round on the Outdoor Channel to over 30 million households nationwide.

Faulk, a native of Highland Home, said he never misses a chance to promote Crenshaw County on the show that bears his name.

"Growing up in Highland Home, you learned to appreciate hunting and fishing," said Faulk, who started his show in 1989 locally on Troy Cablevision's Channel 52.

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Faulk said he tries to film at least six episodes per year inside Crenshaw County, but he also invites local friends on fishing and hunting excursions that has so far visited 38 states. Probate Judge Jim Perdue traveled with Faulk in May to the Steinhatchee River in Florida, a popular destination for both game fishermen and amateur anglers.

Faulk said he allows his guests a chance to spotlight their interests during the show and Perdue was 'all about promoting Crenshaw County.'

"Jim did a great job of promoting the hunting and fishing available in Crenshaw County," said Faulk. "He encouraged people to visit and see what the area has to offer."

Perdue complimented Faulk for continuing to funnel attention towards his home.

"Rusty's what I would call a 'national resource'," said Perdue. "A lot of people in the county don't really know he's here, but he continues to bring in nationally recognized figures to hunt and fish."

Faulk, for his part, had to agree.

"Luverne and Crenshaw County has quietly been visited by every major outdoors person in the nation," he said.

Faulk frequently entertains company presidents on his show, such as those from outdoor businesses like Bass Assassin, Mossy Oak, and Traditions. Dr. Grant Woods, a leading biologist in deer management, has hunted with Faulk, as has Larry Wisszume, one of the nation's oldest and most respected outdoors writers.

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly has been a guest. So has former Auburn football coach Pat Dye. Faulk said Jimbo Fisher, offensive coordinator for LSU, came to hunt in Crenshaw County the day after his Bengal Tigers won the 2003 national title against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

Faulk said his guests, especially the more recognizable, appreciate the relaxation and break offered by visiting Crenshaw County.

"They're usually not here to sign autographs," he said. "And we respect that."

A number of Faulk's guests stay at the Ole Hotel, just a step away from Lawhon's Family Restaurant, a popular eating establishment for his guests, said Faulk. Ranch House BBQ also provides Faulk and show participants with free plates. And Big Daddy's Outdoors is always willing to help with needed hunting and fishing supplies, he said.

Faulk said on Aug. 7 he would begin hosting Talking Outdoors on Comcast CSS, starting at 6 p.m. on Sunday nights, the first primetime talk show in the country devoted to the outdoors. He also plans on launching Rusty Faulk 2 Outdoors, regionally, within the next few years that will be devoted to younger hunters and fishers. Faulk said the show would be more educational and spotlight his son, Austen.

"Every animal that Austen has ever harvested has been filmed," said Faulk.

Even with those projects still on the horizon - and a tight shooting schedule for his weekly show - Faulk said hunting and fishing in front of the camera never gets old.

"Plus, I have a very patient wife named Donna," he said.