When Chase Rice accepted an invite from a friend and financial guru Dave Ramsey to attend a get-together at his house last year, the blue-collar country star didn’t expect to discover a common bond with a handful of guests.
While a crowd of millionaires, and a few billionaires, socialized, Rice and his newfound friends struck up quite a conversation, but they weren’t drinking beer and talkin’ God… they were talking hunting.
“I went by myself to this get-together, and during the two hours I was there I met a guy who is really good buddies with Thomas Rhett, along with the guy who started Otterbox (Curt Richardson), and the son of the owner of Barrett Firearms (Ronnie Barrett),” Rice says.
“All these billionaires and rich guys were hanging out, then you have us four in a circle talking hunting, laughing, and sharing memories we had in the woods. I found my people,” says the North Carolina native, known for his high-energy concerts and a string of hits, including a collaboration with Florida Georgia Line called “Drinkin’ Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen,” and “Eyes on You,” which was one of the most-played country songs in 2019.
That impromptu meeting led to an experience for Chase Rice that he values just as much as his music—hunting and fishing. He was invited to Richardson’s ranch in Wyoming, and Rice spent the morning fly fishing for trout—“We were just slamming them,”—and hunting for elk in the afternoon, where he shot a monster bull with his bow that scored 313.
“That day would’ve never happened without four guys being surrounded by billionaires, feeling pretty uncomfortable, and coming together because we all loved the outdoors,” says Rice.
Country music star Chase Rice relishes time in the great outdoors.
A love of the outdoors has always burned deep in Rice, from his childhood in North Carolina to the time he spends on his farm outside of Nashville. He keeps a few fly rods on his tour bus in case there’s a trout stream close to the next concert stop, and he once spent a fall afternoon with his bow in a Pennsylvania deer blind during the hours leading up to a show.
Bow hunting and trout fishing are his passions, and not even the chilly winter temperatures can keep Chase Rice indoors. If he’s not on the road or at the farm, there’s a good chance Rice will be casting flies on a trout stream in Montana or Idaho, even when the weather’s cold.
The only challenge with fly fishing in the winter is dodging the river ice, he says, but frigid temperatures don’t stop him from hitting the water or the woods. “You can call it tough or whatever, but they make damn good gear these days. I mean, my dad and my grandfather, they all did it back in the day, and they were tougher than we are. They did it in flannels and jeans,” Rice says. “We’re out here in Gortex and all this nice stuff.”
When Chase Rice is out in the woods, one piece of gear that he always carries is his compound bow. He prefers archery over rifle hunting not only because of the challenge, but for philosophical reasons as well. “I need that face-to-face encounter,” he says. “You literally look at that animal, right dead in their eyes, before you take its life, and to me, that creates a fairness between me and the animal that I need to have these days.”
Because his music career is in full swing, however, Rice, 36, says he needs to clear more time in his life to do other things. He recently released a new single, “If I Were Rock & Roll,” and is working on a new album to be released this year. Rice also signed on with Mountain Dew to promote Dew Outdoor Grants and recorded a rendition of “America the Beautiful” for the program.
Music is keeping Chase Rice busy, but he says it’s not his entire life anymore. After going full bore on the road and in the studio, Rice wasn’t aware of just how much his career was consuming him. It took the COVID pandemic to make him understand there are other things to appreciate. “I didn’t realize how burned out I was until 2020 happened, and I was forced to stay home,” he says. “I started doing all these other things—sitting around a fire with friends and hunting a ton more than I ever have. It was a huge thing for me that I’m not going to give up. I’m not going to go back to 150, 170 days a year on the road and not be able to live my life.”
Rice’s life away from music includes plenty of hunting and fishing, but there’s also a new hunting dog, Jack, to train and plans for habitat work on the farm that he hopes will improve the deer hunting.
And then there’s the buffalo.
In 2020, Chase Rice bought a small herd of buffalo from a ranch in Colorado and let them run the pastures on his Tennessee farm. He added a bull to the mix and hopes to build the herd to 30 animals.
Sometimes, when Rice sits on his porch with a guitar or a beer—or both— and looks out over his herd of buffalo, a thought crosses his mind. “It hits you occasionally, ‘What the hell’s going on with my life?’”
In Rice’s case, plenty.
And as eclectic as his life may seem, it all serves a purpose. The more that he has going on away from the concert stage and the tour bus, the bigger the benefit to his professional life in the studio and on the road. “The biggest thing with music is when I do get to live my life, the music becomes so much more me. I’m not trying to just write songs for a live show, I’m writing songs about my life. To me, that makes for so much better music.”