As Deer and Turkey Classic headliners, Lakoskys’ incredible journey leads back to where it all started
In 1999, she arrowed her first buck.
It was documented in Outdoor News – a Best Buck Weekly Winner.
Now, nearly 20 years later, Tiffany Lakosky and husband Lee are headlining this weekend’s Outdoor News Deer and Turkey Classic.
Who would have thought?
“Never in a million years,” she said with a laugh when asked if, nearly two decades after earning that Best Buck Weekly Winner distinction with a 6-point buck, she ever imagined she would someday headline an Outdoor News show – much less become a hunting celebrity. “That little buck … It was the first deer I ever shot. Lee was with me. It was on film.”
Hunting with Lee in the field, and on film, would soon become a way of life.
The Lakoskys, who both grew up in Columbia Heights, are stars of the popular Outdoor Channel hunting show “Crush with Lee & Tiffany.” They were dating when Tiffany got that first buck, and they married in 2003. At the time, Tiffany was a flight attendant and Lee a chemical engineer.
Tiffany got into hunting when she started dating Lee in the late 1990s, and after that first buck in ’99, she was hooked. She was second and third, respectively, in Outdoor News’ Best Buck contest in 2000 and 2001. Lee, meanwhile, grew up an avid hunter and outdoorsman, and through time had established contacts in the hunting industry. So when an opportunity for a hunting TV show presented itself soon after they were married, they quit their jobs and moved to southeast Iowa to chase their whitetail dreams.
It’s been a whirlwind of hunts, television (“Crush with Lee & Tiffany,” which followed their “Gettin’ Close” series, is in its 11th season), and consumer shows and appearances ever since. And even after starting a family, the Lakoskys haven’t slowed down, although they don’t do quite as many consumer shows as in the past, they said.
“It hasn’t really changed our schedule,” Tiffany said. “The kids (son Cameron, age 2, and daughter Raygen, 10 months) come with us on the hunts, and my mom comes with us (to help with the kids). We used to love to go to all these shows … but now we want to spend time with the kids.”
“When they get older, it will be fun to take them along on things like this (consumer shows),” Lee said. “They’re too young to take to these shows. But it hasn’t changed the hunting.”
The Lakoskys were to headline last year’s Outdoor News Deer and Turkey Classic, but as Tiffany was pregnant with Raygen, they rescheduled for this year. Also during that pregnancy, Tiffany was diagnosed with a form of uterine cancer. In a phone interview with the Lakoskys on March 2, she was happy to report that, “I feel great; I’m 100 percent back to normal.”
“My last chemo treatment was in August, and we hit the road that next week, and I got a 200-inch mule deer,” Tiffany said. “I was lucky. They caught it early, and we have great faith in the Lord and great doctors.”
So now the Lakoskys turn their attention to their first deer show appearance in their native state. Besides engaging with show-goers as the headliners of the Outdoor News Deer and Turkey Classic at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, they’ll present deer hunting-related seminars each day of the show: 7:30 p.m. Friday; 6 p.m. Saturday; and 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s great to hear people’s stories,” Lee said of what he likes best about such shows. “As a hunter … you see what success people are having and what tactics they’re using. You don’t just learn from hunting, but by talking to people, too.”
Tiffany is looking forward to coming back to Minnesota – she said they’ve lost contact with some people back here. But each Christmas, she’s reminded in a way of Minnesota, of what ignited a love of hunting and ultimately kicked off a life she could never have imagined with that successful Washington County bowhunt of ’99.
“It’s my (Christmas) tree-topper,” she said of the antlers from that “little buck.”
A trophy, indeed.