Browning/Patrick Cone

Like the title of her successful television show on the Outdoor Channel, Kristy Lee Cook has been Goin’ Country all her life. An Oregon native, Kristy Lee is a seasoned horse trainer and barrel-racing competitor who has moved to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue her country music career. She was an American Idol finalist in 2008, and most recently signed a new music contract with Broken Bow Records. These days, Kristy Lee Cook is spending a lot of time on the road and in the field as a hunting celebrity.

MY FIRST GUN: My first gun was a Browning .270 WSM White Gold Medallion.

That’s an easy one. I received my first rifle from Browning when I started my hunting show! I had used my boyfriend’s gun, but Browning gave me my first rifle when I started Goin’ Country. It meant a lot to me because it was my first one. Not only was it my first, but my name was also engraved on the action.

STILL HAVE IT? I do still have it. I have actually never shot it. It is so pretty, with my name and everything, so I got another one from Browning and I use that one, the A-Bolt .270 WSM Stainless Stalker, which is my favorite rifle to use for everything.

To be honest, my shooting mentor was my ex. He got me into hunting. It was a trade because I was the horse girl and he was the hunter, so we decided that we would learn to do both. I shot my first buck with a .30-06 at 100 yards, right before dark, and dropped him in his tracks. Since then, I’ve been hooked.

Hunting is an amazing experience! Hunters care more about wildlife than anyone else. Even though we hunt, we still love to see wildlife and experience the outdoors. I have learned a lot becoming the hunter that I am and I have been fortunate enough to teach others about it as well. Influencing a younger generation is a great honor for me.

MOST MEMORABLE HUNT: It was this past year, taking my boyfriend, Jesse, for his first blacktail bowhunt. I wanted to get him a buck, and a good one, like I have at my house. We both had our bows. Within a few hours, a doe came right below us. Then a monster buck came in from my side, walking up the hill. He stopped, facing towards me at about 30 yards, so I had no shot. Then he walked off. Right after that buck, another monster—and I’m not kidding when I say monster—came in. He was dark-horned, heavy and just past his ears and tall. When Jesse was trying to turn around to see the buck, his jacket was a bit noisy and scared the deer off. So, that was the end of hunting from that tree for the day. We walked back to the four-wheeler and saw another huge buck. It was like they kept getting bigger! I was going crazy. I wanted my .270—not a dang bow! The next day, maybe it was about 30 minutes before dark, we saw a buck chasing two does. Jesse got off my four-wheeler and snuck up in the grass a few yards further. The buck was focused on the doe and not paying any attention to us. I told Jesse to use his 40-yard pin. Jesse shot him. We followed the blood trail up the mountain and found his first blacktail lying in a dried-up creek bed.

FAVORITE SHOOTING: When I’m shooting at an elk. Nothing beats a long, hard hunt that you have worked your tail off for to aim your crosshairs at a nice bull!

HOW SHOOTING/HUNTING INFLUENCES ME IN EVERYDAY LIFE: Hunting teaches you to appreciate the outdoors—wildlife and the experience—to be able to appreciate our freedom with hunting and being a gun owner. It teaches you patience, to work hard, and in a way, how people lived in the old days.

MY GREATEST SHOT: Even though it wasn’t my furthest shot, it was a great shot! In Idaho, at Boulder Creek Outfitters, I shot across a canyon at 309 yards, off sticks, and dropped a bear. He rolled all the way to the bottom of the mountain. That was a fun hunt and a great bear.

IF I ONLY HAD ONE: I would stick with my Stainless Stalker .270 WSM. I have knocked down elk with this rifle with one shot, as well as bear and deer. It’s a great shooting rifle with my favorite Winchester XP3 bullets.

ADVICE I’D GIVE A YOUNGER ME: I would have to say, “Don’t be influenced by people who aren’t a good influence. What’s right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right.”

That’s an easy one. I would be a professional barrel racer and horse trainer. Horses are one of my biggest passions.

GREATEST LIFE CHANGER: I would say American Idol changed my life the most. That was the real turnaround for my career. I had a record deal at 17 years of age, then one from Idol at 23. That is a huge platform for anyone, whether it be a TV personality, singer, actress, model, etc. It opened so many doors and was a great experience.

MY CHOICE OF FOXHOLE PARTNER: I would want to be with my Lord God. Do I really need to answer why?

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Browning/Patrick Cone Like the title of her successful television show on the Outdoor Channel,…