Matt with his pack llamas, Timmy and Haggy, on an elk hunt in southwest Montana.
Anyone who watched the Montana mule deer episode of MeatEater will remember meeting my brother Matt. He’s the guy who hauls three pack llamas around in the back of his 12-seater Dodge van. While there are plenty of reasons why things turned out the way they did, I’ve always been disappointed that Matt didn’t get more exposure in that mule deer episode. He’s one of the absolute best hunters I know, and there’s nothing I like more than to show him off. And so, this past spring, our crew dragged him back into the hills to film another MeatEater episode. This time, we made sure to follow his every move with a camera. Viewers will be able to check out the results when they tune into Big Sky, Bigger Country, our most recent show.
To be honest, Matt’s skills in hunting are not attributable to any particular secret or skill. He’s not a great caller; he’s not a crack archer or marksman; he’s not married into a family that owns a huge private ranch. Instead, what he has going for him is best described in not-so-delicate terms: he’s got balls.
And no, I don’t mean balls in the literal sense (though Matt actually does have balls in the literal sense…man, this is getting confusing). Instead, what I mean is that he’s an unstoppable force. He’s impervious to heat and cold. He will walk any distance, over any kind of ground, in search of game. He gets up early and stays up late. He conquers loneliness and doesn’t leave the mountain. He’s the kind of guy who hunts on his own for a total 21 days before arrowing a bull elk on a patch of public land that holds one of the densest populations of grizzly bears in the lower-48. He’s the kind of guy who walks into unfamiliar country in the Alaskan arctic with no sleeping bag and then comes back the next morning with a whole boned-out caribou on his back. He’s the kind of guy who sets up his tree stand on a little patch of public land outside of town, between a set of railroad tracks and a boat launch, and then kills a couple of whitetails with his bow. He’s the kind of guy who gashes his leg open, and then, against his doctor’s orders, goes on an extended backcountry Dall sheep hunt and has to cut his underwear into strips in order to cover a gangrenous-looking infection that’s swelled to the size of a 35-millimeter film canister– all without ever mentioning any of it.
Which is to say, he’s a MeatEater’s MeatEater. And if viewers have half as much fun watching him as I do hanging out with him, you’re in for a hell of a good time. So, if you haven’t already, check out the Montana badlands turkey episode, the first installment of our new season. And let us know what you think. –Steven Rinella