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by Dan Doty, Producer

Producing MeatEater means that I spend a huge amount of my life right now hunting — without actually hunting. It’s an interesting position to be in. I grew up hunting in the Midwest, and some of my favorite memories are with my buddies and little brother shooting ducks and grouse or walking to the deer stand each November. But I grew into new passions after college and have lived a life where I’ve been lucky to get home to hunt every couple of years. I’ve never lost my appreciation for it or desire to do it, but it’s not been my priority. Every once in a while on the show, I’d love to put the camera down and pick up a shotgun — but, honestly, I love what I’m doing so much it doesn’t usually come up. If my freezer is full, which it always is, I don’t experience much blood lust.

That changed when we went lion hunting. The first time one of Floyd’s dogs opened up on a cat track, some very primal thing was tweaked in me, and I’ve now the raging desire to take a big cat myself. There are a few reasons I think this is true, and the first has something to do with the fact that in order to take this animal you literally, authentically track it and trail it. When you get on a track, you get to take a half imaginative / half real journey that the lion did just a short while ago; you get a real window into the life of a predator. The amount of knowledge you learn to absorb from the ground in front of you is astounding. Of course, I’m a total beginner and still think every dog track I see is a lion, but I did get enough of a taste to really feel it. I love it.

I’m also drawn to the challenge and danger of it. Hearing Joe talk about a big tom ripping his leg up or almost having his skull crushed should make me want none of it, but for some reason that is a danger that attracts me — way more than the danger of sliding off a cliff on a goat hunt or some other silly thing we do all the time. I guess it feels like killing a cat, especially in close quarters and even by hand (often Joe and Floyd end up finishing the kill with a knife), seems like a true rite of passage in a sense that other hunts just don’t for me.  I relate it to another illogical dream I have, to fight (or at least wrestle) my roommate and co-worker, Josh Ferrell. He’s the nicest and most genuine dude in the world, and also one of the biggest. He’s got at least a hundred pounds on me and 8 inches in height, but there is some wild hair I have that wants to fight him — and I’m not a fighter.

Plus we didn’t get one. We have now put two full weeks of 12-hour days chasing these cats and have come up empty handed. There’s something irrevocably true here about the law of supply and demand. The more elusive something is, the greater the tendency to want it. I want a cat for Steve, but I want one for me too.