Melissa Bachman — Living Her Dream
by Andy Morales
She’s a self-made business woman, a role model, a hunter and, sadly, a lightning rod. Born and raised in Minnesota, Melissa Bachman is everything you see on her show, “Winchester Deadly Passion”, and more. A lot more.
Big game hunting, especially the taking of lions in Africa, has been center stage in the media recently, and Bachman has been the recipient of negative press and personal attacks after she posed with a lion that she killed in 2013.
Hopefully, the reader will find these attacks on Bachman are unwarranted.
Bachman is as comfortable with her Winchester Repeating Arms XPR as she is with a camera. Her parents taught her and her brother how to shoot, but Bachman took it upon herself to learn how to bring her hunts to life.
“In Minnesota you have to be 12 before you can hunt, but my mom and dad introduced me to tree stands and duck blinds when I was five,” Bachman remembers. “When the time came for me to hunt, I was prepared. Nothing was going to stop me.”
Thanks to her equally impressive ability in the classroom, Bachman secured a work permit that allowed her to begin her dream of hunting every day while in high school. She also had time to compete in the pole vault on her school’s track team.
“I had a double major in TV Production and Spanish in college and my first dream was to be a sideline reporter in the NFL,” Bachman added. “But I wondered why I couldn’t combine my knowledge of broadcasting with hunting.”
An honors student at St. Cloud State, Bachman sent out 72 resumes when she graduated and received 72 negative responses. Did anyone think that was going to stop her?
Bachman believes that nothing comes free and that work is the best way to get what you want. She relayed her thoughts on people getting “lucky” in the entertainment business, but she feels that fighting for your dreams is rewarding. And Bachman knew how to fight.
“I wrote one company back (that was) nearest to my home, and told them I would work for free so they could see what I could do. No one turns down free work so they agreed. I worked for free for four months working on other people’s shows. I learned about everything and worked my way up. I would work 30 days straight and use my free time to film my own hunts. I bought my own camera and edited everything myself. Nothing was going to be given to me,” she added.
Bachmann was eventually offered a full-time position and began producing professionally. Still, she was behind the camera, many times carrying 75 pounds of equipment. She longed for the day when she was the one carrying the bow or the rifle.
Her internship with the North American Hunting Club was about to pay off.
“I never did my own stuff on work time,” Bachman explained. “I was filming a hunt in Illinois. and I took a whitetail with a bow in 2007. I edited it and put it all together and asked them to run it on the show if they needed it. More people started asking for my hunts, and sponsors liked it. So that’s how it all began.”
Bachman is beginning her fifth season on the Sportsman Channel and her 26-week series, Winchester Deadly Passion, can be seen every Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.
Bachman has become a true role model and is willing to help others. She will soon begin a program to help beginners edit their own hunting shoots. But, with either a rifle, shotgun or bow by her side, hunting is hunting and that sometimes means coming up empty.
“The viewers want to see a successful hunt, but that sometimes doesn’t happen,” Bachman offered. “All hunters know this, but I love the whole process of the hunt. The preparation, the work and the experience. Last year, 13 hunts went without harvesting an animal. That’s the life of a hunter.” Unlike a lot of other shows, Bachman tries to stay away from editing her hunts in a way that makes everything look perfect. Again, what you see is what you get – an actual hunt. And, yes, she is still producing and editing her own work.
“Getting an animal is icing on the cake,” she added. “And I process the animals myself. Whatever my family doesn’t need, we donate to local meat lockers, women’s shelters, or whoever may need food to eat.”
Bachman’s parents and brother have appeared on several of her shows and she giggled and preferred not to answer when asked who is the better hunter in her family. But not everything has been as humorous on her trek. As mentioned before, a photo of Bachman with a lion she hunted several years ago set off a firestorm on the internet that continues to this day. The attacks are something Bachman feels does not deserve.
A lot of her efforts have been towards educating fellow hunters and the general public on conservation efforts put forth by hunters through regulated sport hunting, taxes, fees and education.
Bachman would eventually like to earn a doctorate degree and teach at a college where she can pass on her knowledge of TV production to others. That may take her away from 300 days of hunting a year but not necessarily.
“I’d like to teach production in the field and show others how to run a business,” she said. “This has all been a journey for me, much like hunting.”