HARDIN COUNTY – A pair of sisters from Hardin County kick off their new hunting television show on the Sportsman Channel this week.
Alli and Adriana Armstrong have been hunting with their dad Darrick since they were about 5.
"I used to take them squirrel hunting with me, and they got where they could shoot squirrels with a .22," Darrick said in a family interview. "By the time they were 6, they were turkey hunting and actually shooting turkeys."
Now Alli, 19, and Adriana, 14, are the hosts of the Sportsman Channel's "Grace, Camo & Lace," a family-based hunting and outdoor program. The first episode aired Monday, but it will also air 2 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
"Grace, Camo & Lace" follows the Armstrong sisters as they hunt several big-game species across the country, while also enjoying family time with their parents.
"The show itself is more of a girls' hunting show," Alli said. "The idea is we're filming each other. One of us is filming and the other one is hunting at the same time. And, we get help from our dad, too – him and our mom."
For Alli, who already holds two associate degrees from Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, the new hunting show is the next step in her career. She's back at SIC completing additional certifications, and she's also pursuing a bachelor's degree full-time through an online college, she said.
She shoots for the college's archery team, and is a two-time national 3D champion in United States Collegiate Athletic Association competition. Returning to the college for certifications lets Alli continue to shoot for the team, she said.
Adriana, a freshman at Hardin County High School, already is shooting for the SIC team as a guest shooter. During the national championship in the fall at Sahara Woods east of Harrisburg, she shot a score that would have placed her in the All-American category, which are the top eight shooters in a shooting class. As a guest shooter, though, the score was a matter of pride and ability and did not count.
Adriana also is the youngest hunter on record for harvesting a turkey "grand slam," Darrick said. A grand slam is a turkey hunting accomplishment by which a hunter takes all four subspecies of American wild turkeys in a single season.
"She almost got it when she was 6, but she had her seventh birthday right before she got her last bird," Darrick said.
She, like her sister, wants to continue to pursue hunting and outdoor recreation opportunities.
"I think I'll try to stick with what I'm doing now," Adriana said. "I'd like to shoot for SIC, too, when I get old enough to compete."
Susan, the girls' mom, said while each segment of their new hunting show is, for the most part about hunting, they included a small segment detailing a spot of interest in Southern Illinois.
"We do a segment each week on the Ohio River Scenic Byway," Susan said. "The idea is, if you were a person coming to Southern Illinois to hunt with your family, here are some spots you probably would find interesting. We're doing our part to try to help promote tourism in Southern Illinois."
As part of their commitment to the Southern Illinois region, they also used sponsor/advertisers who are strictly local on the show.
"We wanted to feature local companies, as opposed to national companies," Darrick said. "We want to do what we can to help out local businesses."
The new show isn't the only news in the Armstrong household, either. In February, Alli will travel to Las Vegas to receive the Young Hunter of the Year award from Safari Club International. The worldwide hunting organization chose her to receive their annual youth hunting award after having her submit an entry detailing all of her hunting experience, plus ways she contributes to the community and the hunting industry. Among those accomplishments was co-authoring a book about hunting industry career opportunities with hunting personality Brenda Potts.
"It was almost impossible to list all of her hunting experience," Darrick said, laughing. "The girls have really done just about all of it when it comes to hunting."
"Grace, Camo & Lace" airs at 4 p.m. Mondays, plus at 2 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Saturdays on the Sportsman Channel. There are 13 episodes this season, followed by a rerun of those 13 episodes in the second quarter of the year.