PHOTOS COURTESY OF MELISSA BACHMAN
Take a look at Melissa Bachman’s upbringing, her love of the outdoors and her commitment to growing hunting participation
If you’re new to the hunting community or somehow haven’t heard of Melissa Bachman, there’s a lot to know about her. She is a noted professional hunter who hunts all around the world. She produces her well-known TV show, Winchester Deadly Passion, which airs on Sportsman Channel. From wild turkeys in South Dakota to moose in the Yukon to red stag in New Zealand, Melissa has hunted dozens of different species that most hunters only dream of chasing.
All of these hunts are simply handed to her, right?
Not at all! Melissa works unbelievably hard for all of her achievements. Here, we’ll discuss her upbringing, then how her unrivaled work ethic brought her through many challenges, allowing her to make a living doing what she loves.
Melissa Bachman grew up in a small Minnesota community where hunting was a highly accepted lifestyle. Her parents loved to hunt, and they brought Melissa and her brother, Aaron, on every hunt. “Our parents always joked that they didn’t want to pay a babysitter,” Melissa says. “That was a key to [me] becoming the dedicated hunter that I am.”
Bachman shares that, during her childhood, she an- ticipated her 12th birthday more than any other, because 12 was Minnesota’s minimum hunting age at the time. When that long-awaited birthday arrived, Melissa was able to harvest a couple of Whitetail does and some ducks during her first year of hunting.
Importantly, nearly all of her early hunting experienc- es were on public land and her family processed all of its own game meat. In other words, Melissa learned at a young age that hard work equals results. That concept served her well as she navigated her way around mul- tiple roadblocks during her search for a career doing something she loves.
During high school, Bachman was considering a college major in the medical field to lead her to becoming an anesthesiologist. She was also considering TV production, with hopes of landing a job on the NFL sidelines after college. “I graduated from college with a double major: TV production and Spanish. Then, it dawned on me that I could combine my love for hunting with TV production,” Melissa says.
Melissa started searching for a job in the hunting industry. “I submitted something like 70 resume reels in an attempt to get an entry-level position in production,” she says. “Every single one was declined.”
But Melissa didn’t take no for an answer. She identified that one of her setbacks was having zero “professional” work experience. So, what did she do? She called the num- ber-one employer from her stack of declined applications and offered to work for free just to get her foot in the door. She offered to film, edit and even clean floors.
“I worked for free for the North American Hunting Club for three months and drove 150 miles daily,” she explained. “I did it just to have a job and to gain experience. After three months, I was hired as a full-time producer. I immediately moved right next door to the office to eliminate the 150-mile commute.”
Melissa worked as a cameraperson and editor there and she had the opportunity to work with some first-rate folks who went out of their way to mentor her and help her improve her craft. Meanwhile, though Melissa really wanted to be in front of the camera, she also wanted to learn everything required to produce quality content, so she could produce her own show if she ever worked herself into such an opportunity.
“I started filming my own hunts,” Melissa recalls. “My work sched- ule was 30 days on, five days off in the fall. Rather than relax on my time off, I’d line up a hunt, film it, edit it, and then wait for someone to not have a show completed. Then, I’d offer mine to air for free. The sponsors took note and I started getting more opportunities to be on camera.”
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STARTING WINCHESTER DEADLY PASSION
Eventually, the door opened, and Melissa became self-employed.
“North American Hunting Club dissolved, and I broke away and started my own production company,” Melissa says. “I’d have gone broke in a year if I had to hire a production company. The only reason I was able to make it was that I knew how to do everything myself.”
Melissa put in many arduous, 100-hour workweeks over a span of several years to get her business off the ground. The sacrifices—including many missed family functions—made to get her business going were innumerable.
“I was traveling almost nonstop,” she mentions. “Often, I’d hunt all day, then edit footage until 2 to 3 a.m., then get back up at 5 a.m. and do it all again. It was really brutal, but I didn’t have the money to pay anyone to help me. I don’t claim to be a better hunter than anyone else, but I will outwork anyone, and that’s been my mot- to all along. Now, I’m already filming for Season 12.”
KEEP CHASING YOUR DREAMS
Her advice is this: “Sometimes you get told no 1,000 times,” Melissa warns. “Well, try for 1,001. Don’t give up, and always believe in yourself. That’s how I’ve been able to make a living at doing what I love.”
Melissa Bachman realizes that not everyone can be an outdoor TV host and that many young folks aren’t even fortunate enough to grow up in hunting families. Still, she believes that you can do anything you put your mind to.
“It doesn’t matter how low the odds are,” Melissa says. “If you believe in yourself, that can make the dif- ference. If you have an interest in something, go for it with all your heart. In my book, there’s no better attri- bute than hard work when you want to achieve a dream. Everyone will appreciate it. Everyone will respect your drive.”
CONNECT WITH MELISSA BACHMAN
Following all the years of non-stop work, Melissa was super fortunate to meet her husband, Ben Bearshield, while hunting in South Dakota. The two have built a life they love in a small South Dakota community where Ben was raised. Ben is a game warden on the Rosebud reservation. Ben and Melissa have four kids, two dogs and a cat.
Although she is not on the road as much as she used to be, Melissa still has an extensive travel schedule in both the fall and winter. She can now do numerous hunts close to home and has a studio in their home to complete all of her production work right there.