Jeff Fuller had little experience with dogs as a child, yet now he finds his days revolving around them. After receiving his first Labrador retriever, Jeff envisioned opening a small kennel of his own. It was a dream that would have to wait until his retirement. At that time, Jeff was in his early 30s and a successful police sergeant who expected to spend many more years on the force. Unfortunately, an injury forced him into early retirement and Jeff found himself worrying about the future.
Unlike the many others who found their dreams crushed by unfortunate circumstances, Jeff instead pooled money to start Soggy Acres Retrievers. The first obstacle he faced was a lack of experience and marketing knowledge. Undaunted, Jeff attended trade shows and spoke in dog training seminars. As word spread about Jeff and his dogs, he began to dip his toes into television. Now he keeps himself busy as the host of the hunting dog show SportingDog Adventures on the Pursuit Channel while still training and breeding dogs.
We were able wrestle Jeff away from his beloved Labradors–for a minute–to sit down and talk about his change of careers.
OutdoorHub: So, from police officer to television host. How did that come about?
Jeff Fuller: Well, I got a dog as a present from my now ex-wife’s family, and I fell in love with dog training and the dog itself. After that I decided to one day own my own kennel company, so that when I retired I could keep a couple of dogs. My retirement came about twenty years early. From there I followed the dream, started keeping more Labs, and one thing led to another.
Jeff stalks duck and calls for geese in Oklahoma:
How do you balance your time between filming SportingDog Adventures and running Soggy Acres?
The big push is that I put in some long days. I work about 14-hour days sometimes. Some of that is training dogs, we run 12 to 16 litters of puppies a year. That’s a lot of animals to take care of. They’re bred with a temperament fit for both the couch and field, whether you want a hunting dog or just a buddy. They’re all champions, even if that’s being champion of the couch. Then I try to balance that between marketing and accounting, along with the show.
With any hunting program, people don’t realize the amount of hours it takes to put a show together. When you’re coming close to wild animals, such as waterfowl, it can be very difficult. You’re in the field and they’re in the field so having a competent cameraman can be vital. He has to properly capture the birds, which can be hard because they’re so fast.
What do you enjoy most about your show?
It’s the fact that I have my kids involved in the show. I believe very strongly in the outdoors and that not enough people take kids out, or take them hunting. Hunting has turned to being about trophies and bragging rights but I believe we are losing our heritage by not getting our kids involved. From my perspective behind the camera, that’s how we grow our sport.
Cole Fuller gets a shooting lesson from Mitch Ehly:
Where do you plan on going from here?
When I first started, my plan was to just not go bankrupt. I think as long as we have a format that gives back to the hunting community, and we’re doing a good job with our sponsors, we plan on making this run for about 10 years and see what happens. We really enjoy doing it and there’s nothing better than having video of your own kids, which is basically what I have. We draw great experiences from filming and from hunting. I probably get about four hours of sleep a night, but then you think about all the people who would give their left arm to do what you’re doing.
If I can impress anything on anyone looking to go into TV is that there is so much to putting a program together. The main thing is to sell that program and gain sponsors. There was a high learning curve that we faced in our first year, but now, with the help of our wonderful sponsors, we are in a good position for the future.
Jeff gives some shed hunting tips for dogs:
We’d like to thank Jeff for giving us the time to interview him and you can find more of SportingDog Adventures online on YouTube or on the Pursuit Channel.
Editor’s note: This interview is part of a series with OutdoorHub’s featured video partners. Click here to read our interview with inspirational outdoorsman and host Tim Farmer, and click here to read our interview with hunter and filmmaker Tom Opre.
Image courtesy Jeff Fuller