Posts Tagged ‘The Wild Within’
Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
If you are a frequent visitor to my blog, then you know a big part of my love of hunting comes from cooking and eating wild game. One guy that shares a similar bent is Steven Rinella. Rinella is the author of two outstanding non-fiction books; The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine and American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon. Later this week, Rinella takes his passion for hunting and wild game cuisine to Travel Channel in the new show The Wild Within premiering Sunday, January 9th at 9PM eastern / 8PM central.
Rinella was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about his new show, his love of hunting, and his favorite wild game meals.
ST.PIERRE: You’ve written two fantastic books about hunting and now have this exciting television show, The Wild Within, coming out on Travel Channel about our hunter/gatherer roots. Why is hunting so important that you’ve made it your life’s work to explain hunting – and in many ways justify it – to society at large?
RINELLA: Hunting is important to me primarily because it has given me a strong, visceral connection to my family and to wilderness. I felt these connections long before I felt the need to explain or justify hunting. I suppose I just took it for granted. But eventually I developed the urge to share my hunting experiences with others, both for purposes of entertainment (mine and theirs) and also as a means of preserving the hunting lifestyle. If the public understands how hunting is practiced by the majority of responsible citizens, then they will be much more likely to sympathize with our way of life. And, hopefully, they’ll be more willing to help protect wildlife habitat for the enjoyment of future generations. My two brothers, Matt and Danny, felt similar callings. They are both avid hunters, and live primarily off wild game. They each earned doctorates in ecology, and they do professional environmental work aimed at preserving and protecting wild places. As different as our professional lives are, I feel that the three of us share a common motivation.
ST.PIERRE: America’s declining hunter numbers are well-documented. In your opinion, why is it important for today’s hunters to recruit a new generation to hunting?
RINELLA: I think the answer to the above question helps to answer this question as well, so I’d like to take a slightly different approach to the subject of future generations of hunters. If we are going to recruit future hunters, and I believe that we will, we will have to do it through the promotion of wild game as a sustainable, humane, and healthy food choice. I think that food is something that both would-be hunters and those who are opposed to hunting can readily understand. It is the great key to our future.
ST.PIERRE: To date, what has been your favorite hunting adventure? Why?
RINELLA: Before I began working on The Wild Within, my favorite hunting adventure, by far, was a hunt that I did for wild buffalo in the Wrangell Mountains of south-central Alaska. That trip opened my eyes to some of the continuity that binds all hunters, whether they live today or 10,000 years ago. I chronicled that amazing hunt in a book, American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon. Since I began filming the show, however, I’ve had some hunting experiences that will stick in my mind for the rest of my life. Some truly crazy stuff! I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so you’ll have to tune in to see what I’m getting at.
ST.PIERRE: I believe I connect with you as a hunter because of your “need” to eat everything you kill. a) What is your favorite game to eat and b) what’s the oddest game that you enjoy that would surprise most folks?
RINELLA: I have a lot of favorites, but I’m particularly fond of mallard ducks. I pluck them and then remove the breast fillets along with the wing and leg. So it’s like a boneless breast but with bone-in wing and leg. Then I sear them in oil on a smoking hot skillet and pop them into a 400-degree oven for just a couple minutes. They’re almost raw, I cook them so quickly. But, man, are they good. One of the strangest things I’ve eaten, as far as wild game is concerned, are antelope bladders. Stuff them with a French-style mire-poix and poach them. It’s really great.
ST.PIERRE: I know you do a bit of pheasant hunting, what makes chasing roosters exciting to a guy that crisscrosses the world on all sorts of incredible hunting adventures?
RINELLA: Three things. First, I love the moment that a pheasant kicks up, just when you’ve got to figure out whether it’s a hen or a rooster. It’s like a burst of adrenaline chased with a burst of restraint: shoot…or don’t shoot. And then you hear the cackle of a rooster or see those tail feathers and you can let the adrenaline do its work. Second, I appreciate the physical beauty of the birds. I love the bronze backs and that iridescent head. There’s nothing like it. Third, pheasants make a great meal. I prefer them with a light brine and popped into my smoker. Added to a simple pate or eaten straight up, they are one of the finest tasting game birds.
ST.PIERRE: Will there be any bird hunting episodes during your first season of The Wild Within?
RINELLA: There isn’t a specific bird hunting episode, per se, but bird hunting makes a cameo in a number of places. I hunt geese during the Southeast Alaska episode, and I bowhunt for crestless and black curassow in the jungles of South America during an episode shot in Guyana.
ST.PIERRE: Personally, I love bird hunting above all other pursuits because of the “employment” of my German shorthaired pointer to help me make a kill and put food on the table. Do you own a bird dog, falcon or employ nature in some other ways to help you hunt?
RINELLA: I owned a wonderful white Labrador named “Duchess” for much of my life, from the time I was ten until I was twenty-two. She was a tough hunter with a fine-tuned nose. My brothers and I used her for everything, including pheasant, ducks, geese, ruffed grouse, and woodcock. She was even a good rabbit dog, though her white color caused her to take a shotgun pellet in the tip of the nose when we were hunting rabbits in the snow. Not sure who hit her – no one ever fessed up – but I imagine she was trailing a rabbit pretty closely when it happened. I was able to pop that pellet out of her snout like popping a pimple. I don’t think she ever knew it happened, as she was annoyed when I stopped her long enough to get it out.
ST.PIERRE: If you could hunt with anyone throughout history, who would it be and what would you pursue together?
RINELLA: There are two people, actually. The first is Daniel Boone. I would give about anything to have accompanied him through the Cumberland Gap and Pine Mountain Gap when he first ventured into the territory of Kentucky in 1769. The land there was rich with buffalo, deer, elk and bear, and Boone was one of the finest hunters to have ever lived. Look beyond the myth of the man and you’ll see an amazing figure that embodies just about everything that I admire in hunters. I do not know the name of the second person – no one does – but I dream of having hunted with the first Siberian who ever crossed the Bering Strait into the New World. I’d share a fire with that man, and roast up some wooly mammoth. That’d make for a good night.
ST.PIERRE: In the show’s promo video, you say that “Every pursuit is a link to our past, and our past is the key to our future.” How can hunting be a key to our future?
RINELLA: Hunting is a key to our future because it teaches us how to live intimately and carefully with nature. Not to destroy nature, or to passively observe her, but to live with her. That is the key.
ST.PIERRE: Sounds like a perspective Aldo Leopold would share in 2011 if you ask me!
Tune in to The Wild Within on Travel Channel premiering this Sunday, January 9th at 9PM eastern / 8PM central. I know I’ll be watching!
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.