Chad Belding feels like he's batting a thousand these days. The former Rebel baseball player (1993-94) transitioned from slugging homers to shooting fowl and other game — with the cameras rolling. Some 45 million viewers now tune into his shows The Fowl Life, Dead Dog Walkin', and others on the Sportsman Channel.
The Reno native played for Rebel baseball coach Fred Dallimore, a mentor and friend with whom he still speaks weekly. Belding came to UNLV with hopes of eventually making the Big League, but admits he barely made the cut in Division-I baseball.
"I miss baseball. Sometimes I see a game and think 'I can hit that guy,'" he said.
But baseball, and more specifically the experience at UNLV, taught him a lot about the discipline needed to build an outdoorsman media empire, Banded Productions, which created both his shows.
"I grew up in a really disciplined household. We had curfews. We never gambled, drank. You go to Vegas and see the dorm life. You have the NFR Rodeo, Rebel basketball games ... but if you can't get up in the morning and discipline yourself, you're never going to amount to anything."
Belding launched Banded.com with some 700 hunting products and is embarking on a new television show, The Syndicate. Like his other shows, it involves the behind-the-scenes life of a hunt, not just the big moments.
"For the most part, we try to keep the cameras rolling from the time we leave the driveway. We want to capture the flat tires and everything that goes into a hunt. ... campfires, friends in a living room cuttin' up," Belding explained.
Belding's hunting shows have kept him connected with professional athletes, baseball and others, who accompany him on hunts and fall in love with the sport themselves.
"Now I get to hunt with major leaguers, and sometimes they're thinking they'd like to trade jobs with me," he adds with a laugh.
Belding's commitment to learning more and more about the television world also drives him. With a seemingly continuous supply of ideas and storyboards for other shows, he still finds himself amazed at the power of television. He foresees his hunting shows, which cover hunts in the Reno area to Colorado, Alaska, British Columbia and numerous other locations, hitting the mainstream.
"We can jump from 45 million viewers to 85 or 125 million and that's huge," he added.
Missing from the mix is perhaps Belding's biggest fan, his late father, who introduced him to the sport. If his father were alive, Belding could see him having a role in the company.
"He would be a huge personality on the shows, and bring his humor and knowledge to every episode. I know he is looking down on us and bragging to all his friends and family up there," Belding added.