Rascal Flatts’ Lead Singer Gary Levox is Consumed by Being a Gamekeeper
By David Hawley
When you have had the success that Rascal Flatts’ lead singer Gary LeVox has enjoyed in conjunction with his record-breaking band, you could experience almost any thrill imaginable. However, for LeVox the thrill of being a landowner and outdoorsman is the ultimate rush.
Rascal Flatts is in the midst of one of the more phenomenal ten year runs that the entertainment industry has ever witnessed, producing thirteen #1 singles and selling 20 million albums and over 25 million digital downloads. With each passing year, Rascal Flatts seems to grow in popularity, reaching a cross-section of listeners that find their music both entertaining and inspirational.
Contrary to popular belief, the life of a recording artist is certainly not one of leisure. Long stretches of highway in between shows and countless hours in the studio recording the next album can take a physical and emotional toll on an entertainer. In between traveling across the country on tour dates and logging studio time in Nashville and California, LeVox somehow manages to unwind with his family on their Tennessee farm, living out a dream that began as a boy.
“I started shooting a bow at about ten years old. We raised beagles, and rabbit hunting with them as well as running a trap line were the first loves of my life,” said the Ohio native. “I spent every second I could in the woods, as well as fishing in our local lakes and rivers. We shot everything from carp to squirrels with a bow. It's who I am as a person and I’ve been blessed to be able to pass it on to my kids - my girls shoot bows and hunt with me. But my main addiction is bowhunting whitetails.”
The obsession that LeVox has with whitetails first began when he was teenager. “I killed my first deer when I was 15, and it was really a life-changing event for me. After that, all I could think about was deer hunting. I would be dressed in my school clothes under my Mossy Oak bibs so I could hunt before school. After school I would put them back on and head back to the woods on the days I did not have high school soccer practice. All my spare time was spent hunting.”
LeVox knew that if he was fortunate enough to become successful with his musical career, purchasing his own piece of dirt would ultimately be a top priority. In 2007, he realized that dream by purchasing a large recreational tract in Tennessee, which he quickly dubbed “Fast Cars and Freedom Farms” after his groups’ hit single.
“I grew up having to get permission to hunt on private land in Ohio, and over the years it became increasingly difficult to obtain permission. So even at an early age, I had the dream of owning my own piece of land. In fact, the first song I ever wrote has a line it that says, “I wanna log cabin home on a fifty acre lot surrounded by trees that surround the pole barn to give shade to the horses we bought.” It was the most important thing on my bucket list, and I was so blessed to be able to fulfill that aspiration several years ago.”
When the time came to begin looking for land, LeVox had several considerations in mind. “I wanted something close to Nashville, so I looked at where the biggest bucks around Nashville were harvested and started there,” recalls LeVox. “Once I had a particular property in mind, I started to examine details such as the types of timber present on the property and if it has natural food sources such as white oaks, persimmon trees, honeysuckle, and sawtooth oaks. Some of the additional things I looked at were if suitable food plot locations were scattered throughout the property, if it had water sources, and what kind of bedding areas were on the property.”
While his first love in the outdoors remains bowhunting for trophy whitetails, LeVox has evolved into a complete GameKeeper, with “Fast Cars and Freedom Farms” being managed for all the wildlife that call the area home. “My goal for Fast Cars and Freedom Farms is to make it the ultimate smorgasbord for all game animals, not just the whitetails. We are blessed to have deer, turkey, quail and every critter God created in the area on our farm, so providing something for everyone is critical. We are believers in BioLogic, and plant different blends that will provide a sustainable food source throughout the year for every game animal. The results we have seen since buying in to the GameKeeper mentality and managing our place to the best of our ability has been incredible.”
LeVox fondly recalls the first fall they planted food plots on Fast Cars and Freedom Farms. “You always are a bit nervous when you are breaking up ground for the first time, and we certainly took the proper steps to make sure we were successful. We took soil samples from each food plot, which helped us in determining the proper amounts of lime and fertilizer to use. We were fortunate to be able to plant BioLogic’s Chicory, Clover Plus and other crops, which were easy for us to establish and would provide our deer and turkey with a year round food source.”
Like every landowner, LeVox admits that there are challenges to being a GameKeeper. “The toughest part of being a GameKeeper is trying to negotiate with Mother Nature. The weather is so critical to everything you do relative to managing your property, and you have no control over it. My respect for every farmer in the world (whose livelihood depends on the weather) has gone up ten-fold since I bought Fast Cars and Freedom Farms,” says LeVox. “Also, keeping up on predator harvests gets tough at times. Like many areas, we are inundated with coyotes, bobcats, and small predators such as raccoons, which all have a direct impact on our deer and turkey populations. You fight an uphill battle with the predators, but it is a fight you must not cease.”
LeVox has also become an avid turkey hunter who is anxiously awaiting the upcoming season. “The turkeys really seem to thrive on my farm. We have all the food sources they could possibly ever want. We are firm believers in that if you plant it, they will come. We also have great ground cover and grasses planted for great nesting. Turkeys call my farm home and the neighbor’s turkeys do as well because of the habitat we have created. It's an awesome sport, and I am so pumped for our season to open that I can barely stand it. We keep our cameras out and running all year, and are getting a ton of pictures of birds. It's like Christmas every day when turkey season comes around.”
For LeVox, holding deed to a place you can call your own is an incredible feeling, and one that even he as a songwriter has difficulty in expressing. “I don't know if I can adequately describe the joy of having your own dirt. I feel blessed and honored and take so much pride in giving my animals everything they need. God has blessed me with the responsibility of caring for this land that I am so grateful to call my own. It is so rewarding to watch excellent turkey hatches every year, to see nice two year old bucks, and just the overall numbers of game improving every year as a result of our efforts as GameKeepers.”
More important than the wildlife for LeVox is the cherished memories he shares day in and out with his wife and two young daughters on their farm. “Teaching my girls about the outdoors, and the habits of the deer and turkey on our farm, is such a blessing. It is a place of bonding for my entire family and reflection of what the good Lord has blessed us all with. Hopefully it will be a place that my kids will enjoy with their children and grandchildren, a true legacy that began with my love for outdoors when I was their age.”