Shooting For Success

Published 7:21 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2011

She grew up in the outdoors, riding high on the backs of racinghorses and hot on the trail of running deer. She grew up bearingarms, letting arrows fly into bull’s-eyes and powdering claypigeons with shotguns. She grew up a daddy’s girl.

Now, Bogue Chitto’s Magen Prather is putting all that tomboytime to good use.

The 24-year-old local hunter is the newest team member of BandedNation, an outdoor company specializing in hunting shows, outdoorgear and game calls. With her good looks, southern charm andoutdoor skills, she’ll be traveling the nation and world to promotethe company’s products, model outdoor apparel, demonstrate huntingskills and techniques on training videos and co-host a pair ofoutdoor TV shows.

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“It’s my dream job, for sure,” Prather said. “I’m very excitedabout it. I think everyone who hunts would love to be where Iam.”

Banded Nation has already put Prather to work modeling itsapparel and demonstrating its custom game calls, and she’s alreadybeen filmed participating in the TV shows. She’ll be seen in thethird season of The Fowl Life, a show about hunting fowl andpredators, which airs on June 29 and runs through Dec. 26. Dead DogWalkin’, a new Banded Nation production about predator hunting,will premiere on March 28 and run through June 29.

The shows may be seen on the Sportsman Channel, which airs onDirecTV channel 605, Dish Network channel 395 and FranklinTelephone’s channel 91; and Wild TV, a Canadian outdoorschannel.

If Prather plays her cards right, she could end up being ahousehold name in the outdoor community, a community wheresoft-faced, goateed men outnumber attractive blonds by a longshot.

She’s got the inside track, and it’s all thanks to a Christmaspresent.

Prather met the chiefs behind Banded Nation during a guidedgoose hunt in Colorado in December, an expenses-paid hunt given toher for Christmas by her parents, Scotty and DeeDee Prather. Thehunt happened to be organized by Banded Hunts, who calledMississippi to let Prather know they would be filming for The FowlLife during her visit.

“I was just going to shoot geese. I knew I would be on TV, but Ididn’t know it would take off like that,” she said.

It did take off. She hung step-for-step with Banded Nation’sseasoned outdoorsmen, impressing company front man Chad Beldingwith her marksmanship, her skill with a duck call and, of course,her charm.

“When it comes to communicating with the animals, she reallyintrigues me. I build my own calls, and when I heard her do a duckcall and a turkey call, it just blew my mind,” Belding said. “She’sa good hunter, well spoken, educated and polite. Obviously, she wasbrought up the right way down there in Mississippi.”

Belding invited Prather to stick with the Banded crew. Sheaccompanied them to Kansas to film a duck hunt at Central KansasOutfitters, then went on to Las Vegas to model and demonstrateBanded equipment at the 2011 SHOT Show, a large outdoors expo runby the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Belding and his producers and sponsors are planning more forPrather. Throughout 2011, she’ll continue to model the company’sgear and demonstrate their equipment on instructional videos and atseminars as a member of the Banded Nation National Seminar Team. Hehas an ultimate goal of making her a co-host on The Fowl Life andDead Dog Walkin’. Belding said he wants to make her the main hostof Where the Pavement Ends, a new Banded Nation show still inproduction.

“I’m not rushing into anything. I want to do it the right way,to have her comfortable when she’s in front of the camera. It’s adifferent world when you’re in 40 million households every week,”he said. “We want to be able to hire Magen full-time by January2012. We want her to take 2011 and make some money with us and justmake sure this is something she wants to do.”

Belding thinks it will be a natural fit for Prather. He thinksshe’ll be good for Banded Nation, too.

“She’s a very competent girl who can get the message out thereto others, whether she’s talking to a 10-year-old girl, a30-year-old mom or a 40-year-old dad,” he said. “We think Magen canreally help us reach out to different demographics.”

The Prathers are quite proud of their daughter. They justweren’t expecting her newfound outdoor industry success.

She was going to attend college in Mobile, Ala. She and hermother had already picked out an apartment and were preparing tomove her in.

Now, she’ll be a lot farther from home than the Gulf of Mexico.Banded Nation’s hunts and appearances will take Prather to Alaska,Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Texas and even Canada and New Zealand.She won’t be in Bogue Chitto very much this year.

“It’s a mixed blessing,” said DeeDee Prather. “It looks like Imight get to see her four or five days a month. It breaks my heart,but of course I’m thrilled for her.”

Magen Prather is a member of the Lincoln County chapter of DucksUnlimited, the Franklin County National Wild Turkey Federation andWomen in the Outdoors.

Banded Nation products and shows can be seen online, or on YouTube, Facebook and MySpace.