Country Star Tippin In Tune With Hunting
Friday, 15 August 2003
By STEVE WATERS
Country music star Aaron Tippin does not hold back when it comes to singing the praises of the United States or of hunting.
His post 9/11 song Stars and Stripes soared to No. 2 on the country charts, and proceeds benefited the families of 9/11 victims.
Tippin, who toured the Middle East with Bob Hope during the Gulf War in 1990, followed up his hit song by performing on a USO tour last Thanksgiving at U.S. military bases in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kurdistan and Qatar. Stars and Stripes was the troops' favorite song.
"I guess I was kind of looking forward to the tour," said Tippin, whose other hits include You've Got to Stand for Something (or You'll Fall for Anything), There Ain't Nothing Wrong with the Radio, Working Man's Ph.D. and Kiss This. "That's what kicked my career off."
A former corporate pilot, Tippin was working at an aluminum rolling mill in Kentucky on the midnight shift and writing songs when he recorded You've Got to Stand for Something. Hope was planning what would be his last Christmas tour, to Saudi Arabia, and his daughter Linda heard the song and contacted Tippin.
"She thought that'd be a song the troops would like," said Tippin, who got into the music business full-time after that.
Music has allowed Tippin to pursue his love of hunting. This past January, Tippin took part in the annual Buckmasters American Deer Foundation Disabled Hunter Services Life Hunt in Alabama. Next January, Tippin will take a youngster deer hunting on his farm in Smithville, Tenn., as part of a promotion by Safari Club International, The Outdoor Channel, Field and Stream Radio and Outdoor Life Radio. (To register online, visit www.scifirstforhunters.org and click the Take a Kid Hunting icon or visit www.outdoorchannel.com.) Tippin also owns Aaron Tippin Outdoors, a store in Smithville that specializes in guns and outdoors gear.
Tippin was introduced to hunting in South Carolina by his father, Tip, who was an Air Force flight instructor and still flies. Tip also was an NRA instructor, which meant he taught instructors how to teach shooting and gun safety.
"He first started teaching me to shoot when I was 4," Tippin said. "My dad was a real stickler about safety. You couldn't go to the woods until you were safe.
"Dad was a big bird hunter. We also hunted squirrels. I didn't start deer hunting until I was in high school. I think I was 15 or 16 when I killed my first deer."
When Tippin isn't touring -- he plays about 100 dates a year -- he is usually at home in Liberty, Tenn., with his wife, Thea, and young sons Ted and Tom. As his father did with him, Tippin works with Ted on his shooting. The two practice with a bolt-action .22 rifle.
"I'm trying to work him into a 20-gauge shotgun," Tippin said. "The most dangerous thing you could ever do is not educate [kids] about firearms. Ted knows immediately if he sees a gun not to touch it."
Tippin was geared to follow his father's footsteps into a career in aviation. He first flew a plane at age 14 and soloed at 16. He was 22 when the energy crunch of the late 1970s hit.
"They were furloughing senior captains," Tippin said. "I could see I wasn't going to make it [as an airline pilot], so I quit."
Tippin got a job as a pipe welder at the mill and played banjo in a bluegrass band that performed at honky-tonks.
"I never dreamed it'd get past playing in a honky-tonk," he said. "The first few years [as a full-time country music singer], I kept my nose to the grindstone and I forgot to have fun. Last year, I hunted a pretty good bit."
Tippin said he usually gets together during turkey season with fellow country singer John Anderson. He plans to soon be joined in the woods by his boys and wife, with whom he collaborates on songs.
"I told Thea," Tippin said, "`See those little tykes over there? If you want to spend time with them, you better get yourself some camo.'"