You Know You’re a BIG TIME Celebrity When…

You Know You’re a BIG TIME Celebrity When

“One Rugged Youngster!

When I started doing TV back in the early 2000s, I had no idea what to expect. It was quite the eye opener… a real candid view of the way people see “celebrities.” Personally, I think the whole thing is really weird. And, funny as hell sometimes too!

One of the very first “holy shit” situations happened in the Edmonton airport back in 2002. Myself and my camera “crew” (which was a total of… one guy) and I were hangin’ (rugged for hanging) around the security area waiting to board a flight to go up to Yellowknife. Back in those days, we always wore these new jackets I had made, with the Officially Rugged with RD branding all over it. I figured that what TV guys did… look professional… promote your brand… all that bullshit. Anyway, I was standing there looking at a magazine when a couple guys approached me and started chatting it up.

These guys would have been perfect to star in one of these so-called, “reality shows” that I refer to as the “Bearded Man” shows. Dressed in full camo, along with a southern accent, from likely Alabama or Georgia, was my guess. We started talking about hunting and I learned they were on their way up north to go bear hunting. Nice guys too. My show hadn’t been on the air yet as we were still taping our first season of 13 episodes, so this guy had no idea who I was, or what Officially Rugged with RD was. So, he asked, “Hey, man, what’s this Officially Rugged all about, anyway?” So, I explained to him that we were producing a hunting and fishing series and that we were on route to the Northwest Territories to shoot a lake trout fishing show. Well, “Hooooooooo-wee,” this guy thought he was talking to a “bonafide TV star” as he called me.

Here’s where things got weird… and funny as hell. As soon as he realized he was speaking to a “TV star” he asked for an autograph and picture of him and me standing together. “Wow, man, my wife (pronounced waff) is sure gonna like (pronounced lakk) this when I gets me back home.” But, then I pulled, what I later starting calling “the move.” I shouldn’t have, but I just couldn’t resist. “Whoa, whoa, not me… I’m just the cameraman. The star of the show is over there by the drinking fountain.” I was pointing to my cameraman, Gerry, who was also wearing an Officially Rugged jacket.

Well, the boys dropped me like a wet bag of fresh moose guts and ran right over to Gerry for pictures and autographs. The poor prick was like a deer caught in the headlights of the world’s biggest logging truck. Gerry, being a bit of a shy guy, and always unwaveringly polite, didn’t know what to do… or say. So, right then and there, Gerry signed his first and only autograph… and also he also posed for pictures so the guy from down south could show his “waff’ when he got home.

Right after the autographs and pictures were in order, the boys had to line up for their flight. Gerry walked over to me and politely asked, “RD could you please never do that again? Please?” But, I couldn’t help myself… “Not sure, Gerry. I’ll think about it.”

You Know You’re a BIG TIME Celebrity When

I was teaching one of my Guide Pro Training courses at the Lake Helen First Nation on the Nipigon River, an hour east of Thunder Bay, in northwestern Ontario. During one of the breaks, a couple people from the program came up to me and said, “Hey, RD, there’s a couple guys here from South Carolina who were wondering if they could get an autograph.” They must have seen me through the door or a window or something. I told them to send the guys on in, “of course.”

When you do TV (even just a friggin’ fishing show) for a living, people asking for autographs and pictures is a normal part of it and by this time my series had been on the air for about 6 years with a very large distribution of 60 million households. So, by this point in time, the whole thing was routine for me. Two dudes came in to the classroom and we shook hands and chatted for a few seconds. One guy asked me to sign his hat, which is common. “What’s your name?” I normally personalize it when I sign something. “Mike.” So, with a permanent marker, I wrote on the visor of his ball cap, “Mike is super rugged!” And, I signed it, “Rugged Dude.”

I handed the hat back to him and he had one helluva confused look on his face. He looked back at me, then at his buddy (who was also planning on getting his hat signed), then back at me again with a rather confused look on his face. Finally, I figured I better put this poor guy out of his misery. “Um… you have no idea who I am, do you?” As he inspected his hat again, he looked at me and with a thick South Carolina drawl and said, “Ya’ll ain’t the Survivor Man?” Well, I started laughing so hard, I nearly pissed my pants. Actually, to be honest, I think a little bit of pee did come out…

Turns out that these guys thought I was Les Stroud, who hosts a popular show called – you guessed it – Survivor Man. I have been told a couple times that I look a little bit like Les. I suppose I do… a little bit. Anyway, the boys immediately pulled a 360 and poor Mike, had this look on his face like I ruined his goddam hat or something. Yep, that’s me alright, Mr. BIG time! What made this even more hilarious is that half the class was watching all this. They teased the living shit out of me AND started calling me, “Les” for the rest of the course… assholes.

You Know You’re a BIG TIME Celebrity When

This next one is short, but even more hilarious. Denver, Colorado, 2007. I’m at a sport show, doing a meet n’ greet. We had our rugged display booth all set up, complete with big banners, taxidermy mouths, a rack with a stack of our magazines… quite rugged, I’d say. Since my show was comedy-based (“stupid as hell,” I would say) we had a lot of kids watching the program. Just as there were about 8 or 9 kids all standing around waiting for an autograph and picture, this little old man who looked about 90, walked up to the booth, basically, barging his way in front of the kids and said to me, “Well, you don’t look too goddam rugged to me!” And, then he walked away. I wanted to trip the old bastard but there were too many people around… witnesses.

Yep, you guessed it… all those kids turned, did the classic 360 and went right over to the next guy’s booth… for autographs and pictures.


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  1. […] composed of other camouflage-clad rugged dudes, geese-hammerin’ rugged dudettes and even young “rudlettes” with Barbie-themed tackle […]

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