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Outdoors

Netflix series tells true stories of outdoors

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    Seven Rinella, left, and Janis Putelis speak on stage at the Ohio Theater this week.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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    A screenshot from the 'MeatEater" Netflix series.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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Last week hunters across Northeast Ohio packed the Ohio Theater at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland to listen to Steven Rinella, the star of Netflix’s hunting series “MeatEater.”

Rinella did a live podcast where he talked about big-game hunting, preparing wild game and practicing good sportsmanship.

For those that haven’t seen the show or heard the podcast, it’s definitely more of a blue-collar, backcountry type of entertainment than other outdoor shows.

A lot of hunting shows feature lodges that involve spending thousands of dollars for five-star meals and a high-fenced environment — things we all can’t afford or want to do anyway.

All of us who spend time in the woods or on the water know trophies found on such preserves don’t always come about over the course of a lifetime, let alone every single hunt. “MeatEater” with Steven Rinella isn’t that, which is why thousands of Northeast Ohio hunters and I jumped at the opportunity to see him live.

He shared tales from the field involving close encounters with bears. He also talked about failed recipes like preparing undercooked bear, which resulted in him and his team contracting trichinosis.

Stories and experiences like this make Rinella about as authentic of a backcountry hunter as you can find in the mainstream media today. This is a realistic and refreshing taste, as when we are in the field hunting conditions are tough and we go a lot of times without even seeing the game we are hunting. Rinella has hunted across the world in places we can only dream of. However, he enjoys the harvest of a small buck or deer that isn’t a trophy to hang on the wall, something we can all relate to. Such a harvest provides food and an experience he can share with all of us.

He also touched on video production and the skills it takes to produce a hunting TV show. Needing to fill 22 minutes of air, Rinella’s team shoots 50 to 60 hours of video to produce just one show. Working in a similar business, I know how many interviews, thoughts and commentary don’t make it to the final copy. This element of the live podcast was even more interesting to me as someone who has worked in both the TV and now the newspaper business.

Hunting from its inception back in the days of prehistory has been to provide civilization with food. The social media era has hurt the sport at its roots and created unnecessary controversy surrounding the need for us to only hunt trophies rather than use the animal for its meat.

If you are an outdoorsman, check out “MeatEater.” There are several seasons available for streaming on Netflix and the podcasts are readily available.

A show grounded in the reality of everyday hunting is a nice reminder that social media and trophy hunting isn’t something everyone needs to be spending their time and money on.

Enjoying the outdoors for what it is and taking care of our resources is why we do it. With that attitude, every hunt is a trophy in itself.

This event hit the spot and really resonated well with me and many others who were in attendance, too.

Contact Brad Zahar at bzaharoutdoors@gmail.com.
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