Ralph & Vicki Cianciarulo, ‘America’s Favorite Hunting Couple’™
INTERVIEW: Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo – Part 2
FA (Frank Addington Jr.): Ralph, why did you try so hard to get Vicki hunting with you? And if you had to do it over again would you do it the same?
RC (Ralph Cianciarulo): We need to get as many women and children involved in this great lifestyle and I truly felt a long time ago that the best way to ()do that is introduce everyone to women who can truly hunt, ones that were not afraid to get dirty, get bruised climbing mountains, be able and close the deal when it came time, to show everyone that this is just not just a man’s sport.
Getting more Moms hunting will bring in the children and this will increase the pie and that is when we all win. I can tell you there were not a lot of women hunters and none on TV when we started but we have been very fortunate to see the new couples, the new families and witness the birth of all this and be a part of it. I will put Vicki up against any hunter, she is the real deal and I am proud to say she is my best hunting partner, that is until RJ starts hunting with me more, LOL. If I had to do it all over again, I WOULD NOT CHANGE A THING!
VC (Vicki Cianciarulo): I am sure he wouldn’t do it all over again since I am always shooting the bigger critters. He didn’t have to try too hard to get me hunting more, except on those really cold mornings!
Ralph with one of his spring black bears awhile back at his Canadian Bear Camp.
FA: What do you feel the biggest mistake hunters make today?
RC: Too quick to judge others and making the kill the most important aspect of the hunt. Don’t get me wrong, we too want to get what we go after but we need to understand that getting out there is our escape from reality from the every day routine we all get caught up in. Don’t be fooled by all the gimmicks thinking they will make us all better hunters.
To be the best you can be you need to be out there as much as possible, learn from the animals themselves. The more you’re in the woods, the more you climb the mountains, the more swamps you go thru, the more trails you cover, the more you practice, the more you experience will make you better. Every time we go out we learn something new we didn’t know before or we see it, this is why we hunt.
VC: Not enough patience, expecting instant gratification. New hunters will watch all of the TV shows and DVD’s and thinks that they are doing something wrong because they didn’t see a deer, let alone shoot a booner. They need to realize that the average bowhunter gets a deer (any deer, not just a buck) once every 6 years I think it is.
Ralph has been interviewed around the world for news stations, radio interviews, personal appearances and is always trying to put something back to a sport he and Vicki live on a day to day basis. Here he is being interviewed by WGN.
FA: If you had to list the most important things that make you successful in the field what would they be?
RC: Experience, number one! Patience…Patience….Patience…number two! Knowing your equipment and being familiar with it all. As you know we have not switched many sponsors and the reason being is we truly believe in what we use and that is a very important point that we believe make us very successful in the field. Bows, arrows, optics, broadheads, etc….the list goes on.
FA: You both have long standing relationships with your sponsors and you don’t see that much in this industry anymore. How would you explain this to your viewers?
RC: Be true, don’t play games and always remember who believes in you. Money isn’t everything and I can say this for we don’t have a lot of it, but we do have our word and we have remained loyal to our partners. Yes this industry is changing, for some it’s all about the $$$ but let’s look at the bigger picture and our way of living and thinking is simple. There is a pie and each one of us has a little sliver in this pie, we don’t want to take your piece nor do we want you to try and take ours. If we all work together the pie grows and WE ALL WIN. It’s that simple, we need each other, we need to grow stronger together and maybe our thought process is why we have been blessed and very fortunate to keep our partners for as long as we have. I guess I would have to ask you to maybe talk to some of our partners and they too could answer this in a better way. All we know is we thank GOD every day for this great life and allowing us to live it the way he as.
VC: We believe in the companies that have believed in us. There are a lot of different shows out there now and everyone one of them is vying for the same sponsorship dollars. We have never jumped ship for more money, because we believe in the companies that sponsor us. We have changed for product quality reasons, but never for the money. We are in this because we love the sport, money is a good thing but it doesn’t bring happiness!
RJ, learning from Dad how it is all done.
FA: Will your son RJ play a bigger role in the TV shows and DVD’s in the future?
RC: Our son RJ is a ham already. I think he gets that from his Mom! Hahahhahahhah! It is my hope to have him as involved as he wants to be. He has already hunted and taken 2 wild feral hogs down in Florida with his TenPoint crossbow [shop TenPoint crossbows] and he is shooting his new Hoyt Trykon Jr [shop Hoyt bows] and I am so proud. I can’t wait to be there when he releases his first ever arrow on an animal out of his Hoyt bow. My main concern is to make sure it stays fun and exciting to him and his friends for this is the only way to GROW our lifestyle of hunting.
VC: Definitely! He is a ham just like Daddy, he is a riot on film and he has a great eye for spotting game.
Ralph felt confident he could shoot a bigger buck than Vicki’s on this Texas trip.
FA: Is it true Vicki shoots the bigger animals in the Cianciarulo house hold?
RC: NO …NO…NO…NO…NO…It is not true, Yes I do guide her and let her shoot some big critters, but that’s only because I am a very caring husband and want to keep her hunting with me.
VC: Yes! Of course it is true, what were you thinking? OK, I do have the biggest whitetail buck & black bear. I guess Ralph might have a couple of big critters too.
Vicki with another trophy caribou.
FA: Vicki with more and more women and girls starting to hunt what advice would you give them, and why?
VC: Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do it because you are a girl! With the equipment that is being sold in today’s market, we don’t need to pull 70 pounds to take a deer. If you are having a hard time drawing the legal draw weight keep your bow in your house and pull it back and let it down a few times every morning & night, you will be able to work up to the weight. Practice, practice, practice and when the time comes to take your shot at a live deer you will be ready!! You go girl!
Ralph with a trophy caribou.
VC: Patience, scent control / wind direction and set up.
Africa, both he and Vicki have been there and done it all, here is his lioness he took in the early 90’s with his bow.
FA: What does the future hold for Ralph & Vicki and Archer’s Choice Media?
RC: Our future is really not up to us as much as it is with our viewers and sponsors. We would hope to be doing what we have done for these past 25 years or so for another 25 and do it with all the passion and love and respect we have been so blessed to do already. You never know, maybe it will be called RJ & his POSSE’s, ARCHER’S CHOICE & THE CHOICE TV shows & DVDs. The bottom line is we are living a dream and we will not ever take this for granted.
VC: Good question again! If someone would have asked me 15 years ago what I would be doing now, I don’t think I would have said ‘hosting two TV shows and hunting all over the world!!’ I don’t know, I guess take it a day at a time. We have now grown from a studio of three employees to eight, in what seems to be overnight! We will continue on hunting & filming for as long as we can and it remains fun. Once RJ is old enough to do more hunting I could see us enjoying a whole new aspect of hunting with him. ACM will continue to grow, as God sees fit.
For years Ralph has been traveling talking to millions on bowhunting and archery equipment, even way before TV his impact was felt throughout the industry and is still going strong today with his wife Vicki.
FA: You two have become industry icons. Who were your icons growing up?
RC: There are so many who I look up to in the hunting industry and to name a few, Fred Bear, Howard Hill, Andy Simo, Bill Jorden, Jim Dougherty, MR James, Chuck Adams, Tom Hoffman, Dr. Jack Frost, Barry & Gene Wensel, Judd Cooney,
VC: Honestly, I knew nothing about the industry until I met Ralph. If I had to name the one person who has really played a major role in my hunting abilities it would have to be Ralph. (Yes, I am admitting it!) Without Ralph I could guarantee you that I would not have the drive or love of the sport as I do now because of him. He is constantly thinking hunting, yes this does cause some issues at home, but we get over them.
Lights, camera, action as Ralph takes a look through the camera and Vicki takes center stage.
FA: No one succeeds alone so who would you two thank for the phenomenal success you’ve experienced with Archer’s Choice?
RC: Wow, what a true statement. I have been blessed in my life and realize that none of what I have done would be possible without my wife Vicki, my Mom Arlene, my Dad Ralph SR for his teachings and guidance, for everyone who believes in me, our friends and our crew here at the studio, Freddy, Joe and our POSSE. My son RJ who has actually taught me and is still teaching me patience and just how very special life is and how precious each day can be. God, our troops, all the people and companies who believe in all we do. Without any of these, none of what I do would ever be possible.
VC: Above all we would have to Thank God for the success that Archer’s Choice has had!! With out Him we would all have nothing!
No matter what ever happens his smile is always there, even when the water is higher than his boots.
FA: One philosophy I know you have lived by was to ensure your show reflected the ideals of the average hunter. Unlike some who are driven to put large, exotic animals in the books and on film, you have remained grounded in Bowhunting as a family sport with a deep respect for the game you hunt and the fun of the sport. You are not a ‘trophy hunter’ but view every animal to be a trophy. How have you managed to stay so true to this belief in light of the constant pressure to go bigger?
RC: The average hunter really only has a short period of time to do what they truly love to do, and that is to HUNT! I admit I have been blessed to be able and make a living out of Living a Dream and I have never taken that for granted. So many times I have seen many pressure themselves into having to shoot big animals to keep up with their image of what they need to shoot. I have always felt it more important to promote the sport of bowhunting rather than one persons accomplishments in the field.
A trophy is in the eyes of the beholder and no one should judge that except the one who makes the decision to release that arrow or squeeze that trigger. I decided a longtime ago that every animal I would be blessed to take would be a trophy. In today’s society, we push for bigger & better but we are pushing the average hunter right out of hunting. Yes we ALL want to shoot big deer, elk, moose, and everything else and there is nothing wrong with that, but we believe to always keep it REAL and that is what my hunting has always been about.
VC: We have always said that we are just hunters with a camera behind us, and that’s it. We have been blessed to make a living out of something we love to do, and if the day comes were it becomes work, we will be done. The love that we have for the outdoors and the hunting industry has really helped us in not becoming to big to fit thru the front door.
One of Ralph’s home state IL bucks with his Hoyt.
FA: There are a lot of archery people doing things to support our troops in the Middle East. I understand you too are trying to make their sacrifices more bearable.
RC: Our troops are very special people who actually do what they say they believe in and that is to fight to protect ALL our rights. We do what we can to help them out, we get requests all the time and send DVD’s overseas plus to the camps here. We send out piles of DVD’s and copies of our shows to help them get through the rough times and keep them hunting and entertained until they return home to do it for themselves. We are a small family owned little company, but we do the best we can for our soldiers who are fighting for ALL our rights and we will continue to do so.
VC: We have sent a pile of DVD’s overseas to keep the troops happy. We have also started working with a couple different organizations to help out as well, like the Legacy Foundation. Our Troops put their lives on the line for our freedom, and we ALL need to remember that!! Freedom is NOT free!! Everyday someone is trying to take our Freedom away, and they are our front line!
The Great late Walter Payton and Ralph were good friends and hunted together all the time, Ralph even made the Biography ‘I remember Walter’ with writings of some of their hunting adventures. Walter and Ralph would come out with the first hunti’s career, The Caribou Epic with Ralph & Walter 1986.
FA: You have hunted with a lot of very famous people outside the industry who where some of your favorite?
RC: Yes we have been very fortunate to meet, hunt and become friends with some very famous people, Walter Payton, Bo Jackson, Jody Davis, Keith Moreland, Brian Dayett, Kurt Russell, Carlton Fisk, Dr. Phil Claussen, Bill Buckner and many others. But I must admit that some of our favorites are still just all the hunters we have met a long the way.
Ralph and one of the greatest athletes of all time, Bo Jackson shooting at the Archer’s Choice Free Kids range in the early 90’s, this was the program that started the Kids shooting range that AMO stood behind for many years. Ralph would become good friends with many of the days top rated athletes from around the country, they came to him to learn bowhunting and shooting.
VC: We shared a caribou camp with Gary LeVox from the Rascal Flatts, he was a lot of fun! Walter Payton used to hunt with Ralph all of the time before he passed away. He would call up the house and talk to me in a real high pitched voice and ask for ‘Ralphie’. He would act like Ralphie left some of his ‘things’ over at his house the night before. He was a great man and very funny!
Vicki is the real deal, she helped run Ralph’s bear camp in the springtime baiting, hanging tree stands and everything else.
FA: You two are our sports most visible couple. Ralph I know the endearing jousting and good natured ribbing you two share in your shows and DVD’s is a part of your allure. Is this honestly the way you two live your off camera life or is it just a show for your audience?
RC: Vicki & I are exactly how you see us on camera, just ask anyone around us or any outfitter we hunt with. We are REAl, no Hollywood image, no fancy look, we are just like everyone else and so blessed to be living out a dream. It’s funny when Vicki is mad at me the guys in the studio want to film the openers for they know it will make for some really good one liners.
RJ’s first hog and two proud parents grooming the next generation.
FA: Each of you please describe your best ‘feel good’ moment?
RC: Holding my son RJ for the first time right after he shot his first wild hog down in Florida with his TenPoint crossbow and filming Vicki after she shot her giant 203 whitetail buck in Colorado, the tree was shaking with no wind but from both of us trembling with pure adrenaline and knowing we did it together. Every time some child comes up to me and shows me an animal they have taken.
VC: Mine is almost the same as Ralph’s, except it’s filming and being there with RJ’s first hog and filming Ralph spot & stalk his big 228″ CO mule deer buck!
Ralph started predator calling at an early age and quickly figured out how to make it work with his bow. Here he was shooting one of the first Oneida eagles model 250, he liked shooting it instinctively and would end up winning many tournaments in that style.
FA: Who is taller?
RC: Vicki is because she has more hair and makes it stick up higher when anyone is measuring.
VC: I am, by at least a half inch!! Ralph will claim it is my hair, but it is not!
Ralph packing out one of his best elk to date 346 5/8 on public land.
FA: What do you think is your biggest contribution to the sport?
RC: Our contribution to bowhunting, I can only hope that we never let anyone down and we always are remembered for not the animals we shot but the fun and excitement we showed and shared with everyone. The laughs and cries along the journey and that we were able to get more women and children involved in this great lifestyle and most of all, make a little bit of a difference to help grow and make everyone more aware of hunting and the joys it will bring.
VC: I think because we are on our ninth season with Archer’s Choice & fourth season of The Choice, and we have been able to reach so many people and/or couples due to that fact. Ralph & I promote archery & bowhunting as a family sport, not just a ‘guy sport’; it is not just about taking the biggest animal, it is about the adventure together, and I feel this has helped grow the sport!
Here is what Ralph & Vicki are all about – getting the kids outside and enjoying what GOD put on this earth for us to use and share with our family and friends…RJ & Mommy fishing at Nanny’s pond.
FA: If you had to say anything to everyone out there what would it be?
RC: We as a whole need to really look at hunting as a lifestyle rather than a sport. We love to hunt, we live to be in the woods, on a mountain, in a swamp, crawling in the prairie, stalking a mountain side, sitting a stand, calling an elk, grunting a moose, rattling in a whitetail, yelping a turkey, flinging some arrows, for this is what makes us who we are.
A sport just doesn’t do that. So I still get the RUSH when a doe walks towards me and I have my Hoyt in my hand knowing I am going to get a chance at filling the freezer, and I hope to always have that and if and when the time ever comes that any of us loose that adrenaline rush, then we need to stop and go play tennis or golf, for we are missing what hunting is all about and if there are two messages we want to get out there they are; TO ALL THE KIDS – NO DRUGS, NO ALCOHOL, NOTHING CAN GIVE YOU THE PURE ADRENALINE RUSH LIKE TRUE WILD HUNTING CAN. PERIOD & IF IT’S LEGAL IN YOUR STATE, PROVINCE OR COUNTRY THEN WE NEED TO STOP THE FIGHTING AMONGST OURSELVES AND JUST GO HUNTING. FOR WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER AND WE NEED TO STAND STRONG TOGETHER SO THAT OUR CHILDREN CAN LIVE THE LIFESTYLE OF BEING A STEWARD TO THE LAND.
Ralph’s first moose with his Hoyt bow, can we say mid 80’s hair action! [shop Hoyt @Amazon]
VC: Just that we need to keep our sport growing so that our future generations will have the opportunities to enjoy all of nature as we have. We want hunters to unite and to stop fighting amongst ourselves so that RJ’s grandkids will still be allowed to hunt!
FA: What do you want everyone to remember about you two? Not that you’re going anywhere – just what impression do you want to leave?
RC: I guess or should I say we would hope that we are remembered for putting something back, putting aside our ego’s and getting more involved in this great lifestyle we all love and cherish. We hope many look at what we have done and will continue to do with an open mind and understand our message that all of us are hunters no matter what your choice of hunting with is. We need to stick together, we need to stop the fighting amongst ourselves and we all need to look at the bigger picture.
We need to bring God back in our schools, our Pledge of Allegiance, we need to realize we are only here for a short time and do the best we can. Bow hunting is our life and you take that away and part of our soul would go also.
Remember Ralph & Vicki for being real, not about the hype, the glory just about putting something back to help all be able to keep living this great lifestyle we have all come to know is a right and privilege and don’t think we are going anywhere, we have only just begun and you ain’t see anything yet from ‘America’s Favorite Hunting Couple’.
VC: Basically our love for family & hunting! That we strove to promote the sport in a positive light and kept it growing.
Another nice trophy mule deer and another family moment.