Outdoorsman Chad Belding is hooked on the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Belding is the host of “The Fowl Life.” The show’s 14th season is now airing on the Outdoor Channel and while filming his series, Belding has visited South Dakota to highlight the state’s hunting. Last year was his first trip to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where he teamed with Jack Daniel's to raise money for nonprofit Operation Ride Home.
Since 2011, Operation Ride Home has supplied plane tickets and prepaid debit cards to active duty servicemen and women who wouldn’t be able to go home for the holidays or for events such as the birth of a child without financial assistance.
Belding is back in Sturgis to help raise $25,000 for Operation Ride Home. Items such as whiskey barrels and barrel heads and a variety of merchandise can be purchased at the Jack Daniel's tent at Third and Lazelle streets in Sturgis. A portion of proceeds will benefit Operation Ride Home, Belding said.
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“People came out of the woodwork to support Operation Ride Home” during the first weekend of the rally, he said.
Belding will be on-site at the Jack Daniel's tent in Sturgis through Friday, along with Jack Daniel's “Barrel Man” Kevin Sanders, who will be making appearances and signing autographs around the Black Hills. Other special guests include Tommy Miller, Jack Daniel's sponsorship and events specialist, and Lexie Phillips, Jack Daniel Distillery’s first female assistant distiller.
Belding said he’s been impressed by how meaningful the rally is to the servicemen and women and veterans he’s met in Sturgis.
“For sure Jack Daniel's and Sturgis means a ton to our active-duty military and veterans, and vice versa. … I’ve seen how therapeutic this bike rally is. I think it really is therapy for them to see their brothers and sisters, to see bikers who support the military. That’s what I’ve heard the most,” he said. “They get to go out on bikes and go on all these different rides.”
“You talk to (active duty military and veterans) about the support Jack Daniel's gives to them. I’ve heard a ton of stories in the last two years and I know I’m going to hear more this week. They’re constantly coming in and shaking hands and telling stories," Belding said. "It makes you feel like you’re part of a bigger picture.”
“I just got caught up in the all the culture and the energy behind the Jack Daniel's brand and what Sturgis has meant to them and just how much patriotism and respect to the military is always given by Jack Daniel's,” Belding said. “It was so evident — to see all the soldiers and men and women coming to the booth and telling stories. Knowing the history of how Jack Daniel's got involved in Sturgis, and I heard more stories Sunday night … it was very intriguing and inspiring that this brand is part of the Sturgis family.”
Belding describes himself as a duck hunter from the desert in Nevada and said he’s been impressed by the warm welcome he’s received.
“I’m an outdoorsman and I love South Dakota and I don’t think I’ll ever miss the rally again,” Belding said. “I just think it’s really cool that a duck hunter will be invited in with open arms … to the world’s biggest motorcycle rally. … There’s so much energy and there’s so much going on. It truly is an honor to be here.”
In addition to hosting “The Fowl Life,” Belding is a lifelong foodie with extensive experience cooking game and fish in the wild. He recently announced a line of rubs for meat and grilling, and he launched a line of premium meat, American Almond Beef, and hopes to sell South Dakota-grown beef in the future.
Belding also hosts a podcast, “This Life Ain’t for Everybody,” and when he returns to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in 2023, he wants to bring a crew and record interviews during the rally for his podcast.