In Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, it only took Steve Rinelle and his bowhunting partner Dan a few minutes to spot a pronghorn antelope in the distant brush. Cowen was labeled as perhaps one of the most famous hunters in all of America, even though he had never hunted a day in his life.
“I’m doing what I was born to do and it’s what I love,” Rinella said.
He is the creator and host of the popular television and web series Carnivore, now in its 11th season. This is hunting as a hunter sees it – up close and personal – and for Rinella, it is hunting there is personal. He said: “Basically, I like nature, I like hunting, I like fishing, I like eating what I hunt and fish. And I turned it into my job.”
He came to hunting as most men do; his father hunted. Back then, he saw it mostly as a sport. “When I was 18, I was obsessed with hunting and fishing. I did not know or use the word conservation. In my mind, all the resources we used fell from the sky… they were there for the taking.”
“And they will always be around?” Cowen asked.
“Get yours while it’s good.”
But today, conservation is at the heart of almost everything Carnivore does. The quality of the hunt, he said, depends on the health of the population being hunted, whether it’s deer, fish or anything else. His point is that loving wildlife and taking the life of a wild animal are not mutually exclusive. “I’ve never met a person in my life who has a high regard for game but no respect for wildlife,” Rinello said. “And they understand that there are limits to how much we can get out of it, or you end up dismantling and destroying everything.”
Whether you agree with it or not, it’s nothing new. Charles Darwin, Ernest Hemingway and John James Audubon loved nature and hunting And then there is Theodore Roosevelt, who especially loved the land. Rinello said, “He saved about 50,000 acres of mountains, plains and forests in this country every day he was in office. Why? He was inspired to do it by his association with hunting.”
The same idea – respect for resources – is what he tries to teach his children, and he does it partly through food.
At his home in Bozeman, Montana, Rinella’s refrigerator is filled with the frozen spoils of his wilderness adventures: elk meat, duck meat, wild turkey. Everything here, he says, has a history that invites discussion. “Every night when we eat, we eat what we grew, what we hunted, what we found in the forest, what we found in our yard,” he said. “And not a night goes by, I kid you not, not a night goes by that we don’t talk about it.”
His cooking also attracted non-hunting viewers. Rinella became “Julia Child at the fireside.” The last third of almost every episode of Carnivore is about cooking the day’s catch or kill in a way that makes the forest look like a 3-star Michelin restaurant, like the time he made a deer and pumpkin stew.
Rinella said: “I’ve read this story dozens of times and I’d be like, ‘Wow, this chef, this famous chef’ – whatever, name your famous chef! – “interested in hunting.” Of course, yes. Because he’s interested in food!”
Rinela is not trying to convince animal rights activists to suddenly become hunters themselves. But he hopes that anyone interested in the show will come to the idea that hunters are not always the enemy of animal welfare. “I talk to my own; by that I mean I talk to others, like outdoorsmen and outdoor women,” he said. “I also talk to people who are kind of kicking the tires in this world, who are interested. They weren’t interested, they wouldn’t watch.”
Now “Myasaed” has turned into a lifestyle brand – clothes and goods for hunting. He has written a number of bestsellers, including cookbooks. And he also has a top-rated podcast. His brand is based on his particular philosophy: none of us live on earth, we live with this.
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The plot was prepared by David Rothman. Editor: Emanuele Secchi.