Over a decade ago, while living and hunting in the Mountain West, I began binge-watching the show, Meateater, featuring outdoorsman Steven Rinella. This self-narrated, multi-season series creatively displays both Steve’s command over English, along with his knowledge of hunting and conservation. It’s an amalgam of natural science, philosophy, witty banter, friendship, and culinary inspiration.
With hunting at it’s core, Meateater is a giant skillet of hook-and-bullet Americana.
Rinella and his team run the gamut of wild game adventures, shooting with precision and potting everything from Squirrels in the Midwest to exotics in South Texas..
Steve had me hooked from the get. His unabashedly-nasally “a’s” led to the proven intuition that he was indeed a fellow Michigander. Once verified, I said to my wife, “Some day, I’ll meet that guy!”
Fast-forward and a few turns later, the extraordinary unraveled…
Last week, I was with a group of guys from college on a ski trip in UT. One dude's chance inbound encounter with Marshawn Lynch (en route to the Super Bowl) elevated group chatter to famous airport encounters. As you might expect, fabled tales of chance run-in’s included rappers, rock stars, and ring-bearing athletes.
Now, my friends consider me an athlete, but I’m pert near apathetic when it comes to professional sports. And because I don’t buy into the hype of most pop-culture, I didn’t have an offering for the convo.
But it got me thinking, “Whose fame would really rattle me?”
“Of course it’d be Rinella, but they probably wouldn’t know who that is.”
I stayed quiet.
After the trip, while standing outside our gate at the connecting departure to Grand Rapids, I was mid-sentence with a friend (Marshawn Lynch guy), when I turned to see Steven Rinella closing in on us at a mere shoulder’s width distance! Without a thought, I proceeded to state his name clearly, aloud, and with the same confidence that would suggest we might bro-hug or employ a fraternal handshake.
Then, in that all-too-familiar voice which had narrated hundreds of hours of my viewing pleasure, and staring straight past me, he simply said, “…that’s right,” with the same energy as, “I’ll have an ice-water.” Having not broken a stride, he proceeded to board ahead of us.
Marshawn Lynch guy looked confused. I scrambled to regain traction on whatever I’d been blabbing about, but it was all too clear: I was starstruck.
“I just met my white whale!” I confessed.
While waiting at baggage, I committed to make a proper introduction. This time, I approached more like a regular human. Despite my earlier flub of shouting his name at him, Steve was gracious and personable, and we even exchanged a few pleasantries before getting Seth Morris to snap a pic. The reason for their visit? To hunt squirrels!
Since I was still geeking out, my eyes are closed in the photo. Yet, as sure as I live to type the story, the picture stands to prove that eventually, even the most obscure of whales will come to the surface.
When it does, try not to lose your head in the stars. Hunt on, my fellow dreamers!