A shot at hosting: Lauren Rich takes host role in Destination Whitetail

Lauren Rich with the 10-point velvet buck she shot while filming in Wisconsin.

Longtime hunter Lauren Rich got an unexpected break simply by sharing her outdoors lifestyle on Facebook.

Her big break came in the form of becoming the host of The Sportsman Channel’s “Destination Whitetail.”

“I got the job solely on Facebook,” she said. A friend “saw I was hunting and … here, always in the water.”

Rich wasn’t an aspiring TV host who chased down the spotlight; she merely shared her outdoors-centered life on the popular social networking website, and the right person saw it.

Her Facebook friend connected Rich with Destination Whitetail producer Jamie Wilkinson, who has a home in the area, and he didn’t hesitate to hire her to be the host of the popular hunting show.

“You never know who’s looking,” she said, referring to the point of her discovery.

Now, the South Walton resident balances her hosting duties with a full-time job in sales at a local resort, but when she has time off, she is out on location seeking the next big buck.

Rich said she didn’t expect for a hunting show-host spot to come of her pastime, and the closest she had come to being on television before had been while filming a couple of frames for a Walton County TDC commercial.

And this is certainly a departure from that.

The show is filmed in the 43 states across the nation where whitetail deer roam, and highlights the varied methods and traditions of hunting them.

“It’s solely about the whitetail deer population in the U.S.,” Rich said. The filming of the show takes the host and the crew all over — from Colorado to Utah to Florida, among others.

The show has also brought Rich home to the Emerald Coast, with filming even as close as a state park in Panama City.

“We’ve filmed a lot locally,” she said, including one program that “gave an inside look” of the oil spill and its effect on the local economy.

Recently, Rich and the crew shot on location in Wisconsin, where Rich herself shot a 10-point velvet buck. Though it is usually illegal to kill a velvet buck, Rich said because it was causing havoc on private land, it was fair game.

“That’s the biggest deer I’ve ever seen,” she said of her prize. “All I’ve grown up seeing is Alabama deer,” which she described as “small bodied,” unlike the “huge” soybean- and corn-fed deer of the Midwest.

Without knowing her personally, it would be difficult to imagine the petite, blonde-haired Rich as a hunting enthusiast.

“You don’t really see me as the hunting type. But I’m an outdoors-type person,” said Rich, adding that in her home of Baldwin, Ala., hunting is as favored a hobby as fishing is in Destin. “It was the way I was raised. I’ve grown up hunting in Alabama with my family.”

Though she’s been around hunting her entire life, Rich claims to be no expert, but added that part of the appeal of the show is that it “shows me learning along the way,” she said.

Rich is extremely busy balancing a demanding job and production schedule, but she makes it work.

“When I have my vacation time, this is what I’ll be doing,” she said, adding that filming takes place “whenever we can fit it in.”

Sometimes “fitting it in” is waking at 3:30 a.m. after going to sleep at 11 the previous night, but the hectic pace doesn’t rattle this hunter.

“The whole time you’re just excited to do something new. It’s fun,” she said. “If it wasn’t fun, I probably wouldn’t do it.”

There show airs on The Sportsman Channel at 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The first season has ended, but keep an eye out for Rich as the host of the second season.