Hunter and the hunted 

Country star Chuck Wicks hits more than the Billboard charts

Chuck Wicks isn't sure how he ended up on MSN's World's Most Eligible Bachelors list a few weeks ago.

"Is that a good thing?" he asks, with a laugh, on the phone from Massachusetts. "Because, you know, I'm 31 now."

The only country music star among the collective of 32 international men thinks it might be a joke's-on-you kind of thing. "They're like, 'we're gonna go ahead and put you on this list, and if you can't get a date after that, you're screwed.'"

Either that or they needed to round out the selections of well-to-do, which includes Usher, Sweden's Prince Carl Philip, and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. (It also, ironically, includes Ryan Seacrest, who's been seen about town with Julianne Hough, Wicks' former Dancing With the Stars partner and much-publicized love interest of 2008 and 2009.)

"When you see who else is on it ...," Wicks jokes, "I think I'm officially the poorest guy on the list."

No matter his financial or romantic status, he's clear that he's still got a lot to love about his life. Whether it's penning new songs, such as "Old School," which debuted on iTunes Dec. 7, or being on stage performing, Wicks finds a lot of fulfillment in his day-to-day work.

In particular, benefit concerts, like the one he'll do here Dec. 16 at Cowboys for Christmas Unlimited, give him a special joy. "I love doing them. Anytime [I] can help somebody out, somebody or some organization through what I love to do, gosh, that's easy to say yes to." And if the recipient organization has anything to do with kids, all the better. "I've done some cancer research and stuff like that. And St. Jude's, and Toys for Tots. Anytime I've worked with kids, that always puts a smile on my face because you can see how much they smile."

His own childhood is a source for another one of his passions.

"I love, love hunting," Wicks says, specifically big game hunting. "That's my girlfriend right now, is the woods. ... I've been deer hunting since I was a kid. My dad got me into it. The past couple of years, I've had great opportunities to go around the country and hunt different places. I love it. If I'm not singing or writing songs and it's in the fall or winter, I'm most likely in the woods."

Being outdoors is a getaway for him, he says, a good way to escape and be alone with his thoughts. Which sometimes turn to lyrics.

A prolific songwriter, Wicks co-wrote all but one song on Starting Now, his 2007 debut album, including the No. 5 Billboard Country Charts hit "Stealing Cinderella," which was the fastest-climbing debut country single that year. His sophomore album, which he says is "all but done," should release in late March or early April.

Of course, being alone, in the woods, in the winter with just your thoughts can get ... cold. But, perhaps one of the reasons MSN chose him for that bachelor lineup is that Wicks is no dummy.

"There's no foul play if you bring a heater with you," he says. "That's just being smart."



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