Nick Hoffman is living the dream.
The Nowthen native whose passions include music, food, people, travel and culture as well as hunting, fishing and just about everything outdoors, gets to sample all of them on a daily basis — and get paid for it.
“Think about what I do,” he said. “I play music in front of huge crowds of people. I have been lucky enough to be given awards. I have had hit songs on the radio with The Farm. I have toured with some of the biggest acts in the world.
“And now I have a television show that’s shaping up to be a hit. I’m traveling around doing the things I love to do the most in the world. I keep waiting for the hammer to drop.”
“Nick’s Wild Ride,” a 13-segment, 30-minute show premiered Friday, July 1, with its debut episode taking Hoffman to Louisiana, where he learned how to make hot sauce from the locals. He then traveled up the Mississippi River to hunt turkey and catch crawfish.
He has since been out of the United States to the Bahamas, Argentina and Mexico as well as in the states in fields, prairies, rivers, deserts and mountains of Colorado, Kentucky, Arizona, Nebraska, Wyoming, Mississippi and South Dakota.
In the middle of it all, he made it home to his Minnesotan roots where he brought film crews to his childhood hometown of Nowthen, downtown Elk River to film inside the Blue Egg Bakery and to southern Minnesota to hunt pheasants with fellow sportsman from Pheasants Forever.
“I know it sounds cheesy, but I feel like the luckiest guy in the world,” he said. “Not too many people are lucky enough that get to do what they love every day for a living. I feel blessed every day.”
Hoffman said it’s not without its challenges.
“I have a family, including a young daughter,” he said. “Every day I go out to play music or film an episode takes me away from my family.”
Hoffman is now off to Alaska where he begins filming his second season with a contract already in hand for a third season. Produced by Watermarc Productions and Ugly Duckling Entertainment, “Nick’s Wild Ride” is unlike other hunting or fishing shows.
The Nashville transplant goes beyond hunting and fishing to explore the music, food, culture, history and heartbeat of each stop he makes along his journey. The show’s aim is to reveal fascinating places and captivating people around the world.
Viewers follow Hoffman as he explores interesting locations, hunts and fishes for unusual species and dives into the culture of each place he visits. From hunting waterfowl in Nebraska and checking out the best microbreweries in Denver to spending time in the Argentine Republic capital of Buenos Aires to hunting javelina in Mexico, Hoffman and his crew have found a recipe for success.
“We are really are proud of the fact we think this show has something for everyone on the couch,” Hoffman said. “It has the outdoor element, of course. It also has travel, food, music and culture.”
They have heard from fans who say they don’t hunt and maybe don’t even drink beer, but they love the show.
“Nick’s Wild Ride” is also picking up foodies and travel nuts from other cable channels. The new series is part of Outdoor Channel’s Friday night “country” programming roster, which includes the return of new episodes of Craig Morgan All Access Outdoors and a slate of classic and modern western cinema blockbusters.
Hoffman’s formative years were spent in Nowthen where he learned to hunt, fish, sing and play the fiddle.
Hoffman’s dad, Rick Hoffman still lives in Nowthen. His mom, Marlys Hoffman, lives in Coon Rapids.
His love of music was instilled at an early age by grandparents Harold and Sybil Hoffman during Saturday night jam sessions at their home in Anoka. Among his earliest memories are falling asleep at the edge of his grandmother’s piano bench.
His family then opened up the front door to the world the day after he finished second grade at Parker Elementary School in Elk River. They boarded an RV used regularly for weekend camping trips and headed to Canada, returning to the United States through Michigan on their way to see an aunt in Maine.
Several years later he had the opportunity to tour the East and West coasts with the Land of Lakes Choirboys out of Nowthen before jetting off to Europe with the traveling choir where his passion for music, travel and people took on even new dimensions.
His upbringing prepared him well when he ran away from home at 17 years to Branson, Missouri, to find work playing in a band. His fiddle playing eventually landed him with the Kenny Chesney band for more than a dozen years and in recent years he became a member of the trio The Farm, best known for their songs “Home Sweet Home” and “Mud.”
As member of the country-trio, Hoffman won the Country Music Association’s esteemed award for Touring Musician of the Year in 2012, performing alongside many artists, including Trace Adkins, Sara Evans, Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn and more.
The Farm has remained busy, and whole bunch of new music will be out in 2017.
It’s through the music that Hoffman had been invited to hunt on several different television shows, which sparked an interest in him.
But when Dave Watson, television host of “The Journey” on the outdoor channel, asked if he ever thought of his own show, he recalls saying: “Oh no. I would never do that.”
But Watson came up with this idea of Hoffman traveling and hunting. Eventually, they filmed a pilot with Charlie Daniels of the Charlie Daniels Band and they sent it to the network.
“The next thing I know is we’re filming an entire season,” Hoffman said. “And now we have three seasons.”
Hoffman said the show has a feel of a reality show.
“It’s a camera following me around doing what I would do anyway,” he said. “I am an inquisitive traveler.
“I’m the guy that seeks out the local food, the local beer and the culture everywhere I go. That’s not just in hunting. That’s when I am traveling playing music. I am always that guy that seeks out the local thing. This just takes that and throws a camera on me.”
Hoffman said he’s a bit of a nomad soul. He had been home to his farm located an hour north of Nashville for nearly a month and he commented to his wife that he was ready to get on the road and do something. But it’s also his wife and daughter that make it hard to leave.
His daughter, who started first grade a couple of weeks ago, brings him back to his own youth and inspires him as a father. It rekindled memories of RV trips up north, learning to play the fiddle when he was 5 or 6 years old with the help of Cindy Soltis, of Elk River, and traveling with the Choirboys. He said he has “systematically” gone back to his roots.
“We have got her doing all the things I love,” he said. “She’s showing an interest in music, and she’s learning to play the fiddle and she’s showing an interest in the outdoors and riding horses with us.
“I think it’s important to gently nudge. Having a daughter of my own makes me appreciate the gift my grandparents gave me of music and travel and the outdoors.”
The Hoffman family has four horses, three cats, two hunting dogs and a pig.
“I’m fiercely proud of where I came from and who I am in my roots,” Hoffman said. “Nowthen will always be home for me. I’m proud of that country upbringing.”
To see Hoffman’s passion for hunting, fishing, food, beer, people, culture and life, tune in Friday nights at 6:30 p.m. to “Nick’s Wild Ride” on the Outdoor Channel. The episode filmed in Elk River is expected to air on Sept. 9, according to a show official.