On Dec 20th, 2012, Steve hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit, where he answered questions on everything ranging from conversing with anti-hunters to who he’d take with him on a hunt to how he really feels about hunting with Joe Rogan. His responses have been compiled below:
renstarx: Thanks for doing this AMA, Steven. I’ve enjoyed both the Scavenger’s Guide and American Buffalo and look forward to reading Meat Eater. I have a couple of questions: 1) I really want to get in to hunting as a food source, except that I have no idea where to start. I’ve only ever shot a rifle in boy scouts (where I was terrible), similar for archery (but definitely not terrible). Of course learning to shoot is only part of the picture. Having proper farmed meat is one thing, but being able to acquire it myself is a goal I have for after I move. Do you have any suggestions for getting started at this mid-life, rather than as early as you did? 2) Costs. The out of state game tags for some ofthe animals you hunt are insanely expensive (to my inexperienced eye). Roughly how much, per pound say, does the game meat you hunt end up costing, when you factor in plane tickets or shipping?
StevenRinella: 1) You need to find experienced hunters and ingratiate yourself with them. They will help take years off the learning curve. As for costs, it can be really cheap or really expensive, depending on what you do. In college, my roomates and I once ate 4 deer in two months that we killed 8 miles from home on resident hunting licenses. Cost per pound? Peanuts.
TheLoeDown: How was it hunting with Joe Rogan and Bryan Callen in Alaska?
StevenRinella: It was a riot. But humbling, because I learned just how unfunny I am. After listening to those guys, I just thought, “Okay, I’ll shut up and leave the jokes to them.”
ThinkingLoudly: First, American Buffalo is one of my favorite books. Really enjoyed the mixture of your personal story of the hunt for the Bison and the historical information that you learned about it and our country from wanting it. It proves the point you make in the Vegan v. Meateater video that you probably have a deeper understanding of the animals youhunt than he does. If it wasn’t for you, I’d probably never would have eaten Bison… and WOW… That is some delicious meat. What is the most delicious thing you hunted? and The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Project sent me Season 1 of Meateater and that too was awesome… (by the way, thanks for turning my eyes to them) but I noticed that this new season you have celebrities hunting with you (Joe Rogan, Tim Ferris), who are some of the guest on the new season? Any stories you can share from the Rogan hunt?
StevenRinella: I can say that Rogan’s a great guy, and that for someone who makes his living talking, he sures knows how to keep quiet. You can hardly get that guy to open his mouth in the woods. He’s too busy taking it all in.
joepax: Hey Steven – I listened to all 3 hours of you and Joe Rogan podcast, it was great to hear your uncandid opinions on some of his topics. One question I had was. With your hunting experiences did you ever come to the pacific northwest and hunt deer? specifically western Washington, I find that the thick and tall vegetation is very hard to hunt in, do you have any tips / pointers on tracking / stalking deer in this type of environment? link to map — once map loads = the GMU is 460 Snoqualmie. Thank you for your time and your work, My family and I are fans.
StevenRinella: I’ve hunted blacktails in Alaska a bit, but there you can get into subalpine and be a little bit above the brush. As for hunting hardcore coastal rainforest in western WA, I’m clueless. Sorry.
Beamandtrout: Hey Steve, I got to meet you in Denver on the Meat Eater book tour. Great Stuff. A couple questions: 1) It seems that DIY bonefishing with the fly rod is doable, according to that awesome chapter in Meat Eater. Had you ever been on a guided bonefishing trip before that? 2) The unit that I elk hunt here in Colorado is pretty much all dark timber with no roads. Its hard to get to any good high points for glassing. Should we be watching game trails, looking for meadows or hiking around? We’ve seen lots of sign the last two years but have yet to get our sights on any. Any Tips? 3) How much longer do you think you can last in Brooklyn? Keep up the great work. I’vealways been a fly fishermen, but Scavenger’s Guide turned me into a hunter as well.
StevenRinella: 1) Not before, but since. 2) It’s hard for me to give advice without seeing the area. But based on what I’m hearing, you might have to learn to stalk black timber with the wind in your face and soft-soled boots on your feet. 3) Hard to say, because I hunt a 100 days a year. Who’d want to screw that up?
BadlandsMike: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of filming your hunts for TV?
StevenRinella: Favorite parts: the guys I work with. Least favorite parts: having to watch my mouth.
BK1287: 1) What is your opinion on Golden Eagles? 2) When eating a squirrel, what is your favorite part?
StevenRinella: I love watching golden eagles. And I love eating the back hams on squirrels.
chadridesabike: As a Michigan native, what do you think about implementing stricter antler restrictions state wide, like they have in DMU487 with 3 points a side or more? Would it deter hunters, or improve the “trophy” class? Is there a benefit to having more trophy deers?
StevenRinella: I’m not automatically opposed to antler restrictions. What I prefer are mixed management strategies. Some units with restrictions, others without. Even some that are draw permits only, to limit harvest. My favorite hunting states all use these strategies to meet the widely varying demands of hunters.
chadridesabike: As a hunter, I feel that hunters generally are viewed negatively by the public. What do you think is the best way to communicate “why hunting is a great thing” to non-hunters/anti-hunters? Thanks for doing an AMA (and the occasional MCC visit). My wife and I enjoyed your books.
StevenRinella: The best thing you can do is treat your game meat with great respect, and share it with non-hunting friends. (Cooked and served, of course). We are pragmatic creatures, and people respect wise use.
sserebrennikov78: Unlike other hunters, you seem to be hunting with the same rifle on all your hunts. Can you explain your rifle caliber choice, 7mm RemMag? Are you happy with it? Is your new rifle in the same caliber?
StevenRinella: I love the 7mm Rem Mag, as it’s good for everything from antelope up to elk. But there are lots of great calibers. I also own a .300WSM for bigger stuff, but the 7mm is my go-to gun.
AsItIs: The best way to prepare pheasant is _________________.
StevenRinella: Pluck the bird, then brine it with 1 gal water, 1 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and juice of two lemons. Then roast or rotisserie. You’ll be smiling.
travelingbiker6: Hi Steven, I’m sure it was from bad preparation, but every time I’ve had pheasant, it’s been real chewy and seemed rubbery. Will soaking it and roasting it prevent that outcome, or will it be pretty similar? Thanks.
StevenRinella: Brine it and smoke it. It’ll be tender as hell.
Navigator77: Great show, great books! Any similar topic books or authors you would recommend?
StevenRinella: Read Arctic Dreams, by Barry Lopez. (He’s not a hunter, but has very interesting persectives on it.) Also read Van der Post’s stuff about the Bushmen of the Kalahari. And read My Life with the Eskimo, by Stefanssson.
ricepudding: Hey man. I really enjoyed “The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine” a few years back and I look forward to checking out your other books which I just found out about the other day. I also really dug “The Wild Within.” It’s been 15+ years since I last went hunting w/ my dad and now I live in a different part of the country. Any tips on how I could get back into hunting in a new state? Any online resources you could point me to?
StevenRinella: Go down to your nearest state fish and game office and ask for help understanding the state hunting regulations. Then ask about good local resources for finding locations. Finally, start with undervalued small game such as rabbits and squirrels. Competition won’t be such an issue that way, and you can get your feet under you.
latryx: Hey Steven, have you ever considered shooting an episode in Nunavut hunting seal or caribou?
StevenRinella: I would love to accompany Inuit hunters on a seal or walrus hunt. I probably wouldn’t harvest the animals myself, as I don’t have a lot of context with those species and would feel a little too “outside”, but I’d love to see it. Once I familiarized myself with the methods, and if I had the blessing of the locals, I’d certainly kill and eat a seal.
mrpatb: What’s your favorite public land hunt in the continental US?
StevenRinella: Montana mule deer, anything in Alaska.
sserebrennikov78: Can you give some advice on hunting unfamiliar terrain. Like a remote float or drop hunt, when you can’t do any scouting in advance. Do you just start walking in some general direction trying to spot the animal?
StevenRinella: I spend a lot of time looking at topo maps, checking out Google Earth, talking to guides and other hunters, prowling chat rooms. But after all that, success on a remote hunt comes down to your ability to read the terrain and make snap decisions. That only comes from on-the-ground experience, in my opinion.
johnvhorberg:Growing up in Illinois, I’ve always been a shotgun hunter. Fortunately, marrying a woman from Wyoming has opened up my hunting options the past few years. What do you recommend as a rifle good for deer/elk/black bear/maybe moose?
StevenRinella: If you’re serious about moose, go for 30-06, .300 Win Mag, .300WSM. If not, add in a 7mm Rem Mag.
RockWhiskey: What is your favorite recipe? Involving meat of course.
StevenRinella: I’ve got so many, it’s hard to pick a favorite. But I am particularly fond of backstrap brushed with oil and grilled to medium rare, then sprinkled with salt and pepper and sliced very thin. Could eat that every day.
BadlandsMike: In your opinion what state in the US has the best hunting/fishing opportunities (based on game available, tags, land access, etc)?
StevenRinella: Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, Idaho. In no particular order.
johnvhorberg: I’ve always appreciated how eloquently you can defend our sport/lifestyle from PETA and other anti-hunting activists. How would you respond, or suggest I respond when others bring our second amendment rights into question or suggest increasing regulation on firearm ownership?
herbalfelonist: any thoughts of doing a Michigan episode…?
StevenRinella: Hey, we filmed a Michigan episode this past summer. And we’ll film more in the future.
mrpatb: MeatEater’s Thanksgiving episode was great; is there a Christmas episode coming up? What’s a great recipe for the holidays?
StevenRinella: We’ve got a great wild-game party (appetizer-type stuff) episode coming up. You’ll dig it.
jwelshans: I haven’t had the best of luck the past two whitetail seasons here in PA. The deer population isn’t what it used to be. And the deer we are tracking and seeing on game cameras on our land just aren’t sticking around from season to season. Do you have any suggestions on how to better pin down their patterns? In your opinion how much does weather, time of day and even season affect whitetails?
StevenRinella: Weather, time of day, and season are paramount. If possible, hunt early mornings and late evenings during peak rut. Also read the books of Chris Eberhart. That guys lives and breathes high-pressure whitetail hunting.
abigaila: Would you eat squirrels trapped/killed in a town or city? I suppose, what’s your opinion on eating urban wildlife?
StevenRinella: If you’re referring to food safety (and not legality) I’d say you’re okay to eat city squirrels. When I die, I’ll die from cancer or heart disease. It won’t be from squirrels.
mheldo: Hi Steven! Big fan of the books and TV show. Do you have any recommended books on Clovis culture or other hunter gatherers? I really dig the books you recommended by the Eberharts. It really improved my bow hunting skills. Thanks!
vonkruk: Met you here in NYC during the Meat Eater book promo. Loved reading your personal stories and trials. Have any new book recommendations? Have you tried “David Crockett: The Lion of the West” by Michael Wallis. The numbers of bear he allegedly took in short windows of time is absolutely mind blowing viewed through today’s lenses.
StevenRinella: Yes, I’m always blown away by the bear hunting stories of guys like Boone. They hunted with hounds, of course, but it’s mindboggling that they’d get 80 or so bears a year. You should read “Fourty-four Years in the Life of a Hunter.” That guy, Meshach Browning, was a real bear slaughterer. Almost makes me sick to read about his exploits. But those were different times, with different understandings.
GoCarnivore: Hey Steve, Do you consider America’s wild game food sources to be “safer” and “healthier” than the industrial meat food supply?
StevenRinella: That’s a great question. And complicated. But here’s one to put it: I’ve never been injured eating in a restaurant, but I sure as hell get banged up hunting.
francesnolan: What kind of exercise regiment do you stick to in preparation for and during the hunting season?
StevenRinella: Ride a bike as much as possible, do push-ups, pull-ups, squats, basic exercises that any dumba** could do.
I_ENJOY_GIFS: do bears sh** in the woods?
StevenRinella: Yes, they do. At least the ones in the woods do.
Gonzok: I never found the thought of hunting appealing but you almost made it sound irresistible when I first heard you on the Joe Rogan podcast. I backpack and fish often so I purchased a rifle and am taking the hunters permit this fall. No questions, I enjoy watching you do what you do and hope you keep at it. Also, his interview with Doug Fabrizio was great.
StevenRinella: Hey man, welcome to the fraternity of hunters. We’ll make room for you.
johnvhorberg: Any advice on staying warm when camping in the winter? Bags/clothes/tips/tricks…
StevenRinella: Merino wool baselayers, synthetic sleeping bag rated to well below the actual temp. As in, you’ll freeze your a** in a -30 bag if it’s actually -30 outside.
pmonib: Steve, did you invent the term “cat ham”? You said it on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and I never heard it before.
StevenRinella: yes, I copyrighted it, in fact.
blueridgepancakes: Any plans to try hunting with hounds again after the two hunts you described in Meat Eater?
StevenRinella: Absolutely. Trying to plan another lion hunt right now. I love chasing those things.
sgillette: I have no problem stating that I have man crush on you and my wife knows it. I have enjoyed your past shows and I am enjoying reading Meateater. As a new hunter, what books/videos can you suggest on how to field dress a turkey or deer? Thank you for all that you do.
StevenRinella: Stay tuned for the MeatEater’s Guide to Hunting, Butchering, and Cooking Wild Game. That book will get you squared away.
francesnolan: If you could take anyone (living) on a hunt for the show, who would it be?
joepax: Why on earth?
StevenRinella: Are you really asking me why I’d want to share my perspectives and viewpoints with the most powerful man in the world?
cj4137: I’ve found myself in a head to head battle of wits with a huge raccoon that’s been wreaking havoc with everything around my yard from the dog food to my chickens (it’s eaten 5 of them.) At first I was just intent on exterminatingit, but I’ve read a lot of your stuff lately and started to think that when I finally prevail, I owe it to myself, the raccoon and all that’s natural to consume my kill (and make a really cool hat!). Are there any disease considerations in eating varmints like raccoons? Can you suggest a good way to prepare it?
StevenRinella: Varmint is a completely arbitrary term, so don’t get hung up on that. But raccoons do carry trichinosis, so cook it like you’d cook pork. I’d put that thing in a roasting pan and braise it at 300 degrees for about six hours or so. But first trim away most of the fat.
jaggazz: Steven, I am glad to see you doing this AMA. Huge fan of MeatEater and the Wild Within. I loved your approach to the vegan at your book signing. Very well thought out and polite. At what point during a discussion with Anti hunters/trappers do you realize that no matter what you say, you cannot make them see your point. What position do you believe the NRA will take during their news conference tomorrow, and what impact do you see the tragedy at Sandy Hook impacting firearm sales in the US?
StevenRinella:1) If someone says that they categorically oppose the use of animals by humans, I know we’ll never have a useful discussion. As for the NRA, I’m a member and I’m anxiously awaiting their response. As for sales, I have no idea.
4174r-3g0: Steve, I’m a fan of your writing and show. I’m one of those odd persons who has been both a vegetarian (previously), AND a hunter (presently) in his life time. One of the questions that comes up in my mind regularly when reading your works and watching your shows is why you’re so comfortable hunting predators. Being that predator populations are — at least to my knowledge — generally too low to allow for non-human herd management, what justification can be made for depleting populations of animals that we should instead be working to restore? No problem hunting deer, etc. to manage herds that we’re generally responsible for throwing out of whack, but I just don’t entirely comprehend the desire to hunt bears/lions. Enlighten me, dood.
StevenRinella: This isn’t the proper format for your question, though I recommend that you read up on predator population dynamics and trends. I think you’d be very surprised.
gloomhound: What are your thoughts on paleo hunting i.e. hunting with paleo weapons and tools such as atlala or self bows with stones projectiles. Is it ethical considering we have much more effective weapons at our disposal?
Is it something you would ever participate in?
StevenRinella: If it’s legal in your area, and you’re confident that you can be proficient and get a quick kill, go for it.
francesnolan: Have you ever hunted in SC, and if not, any plans to?
StevenRinella: Yes, I’ve hunted deer, turkey, and squirrel there. I’ve got a friend down there, a custom riflemaker, and he knows some areas very well.
wera22: How would you recommend making the jump to hunting public ground in the west? I am a Mid-Westerner and land access is the biggest issue with hunting here. I would like to pursue bigger game out west on larger tracts of public land with more of an adventure spirit (camping, staying out for days, etc). I have done more of the sit in a tree stand in the morning, then go to work type of hunting. I’ve also gone on trips with guides, but I am ready to do something bigger on my own. Any advice?
StevenRinella: I was in the same situation as you (born in Michigan) and I solved those problems by moving to Montana. Pack thecar and go.
Bandogrrl: HI STEVE! you are the MF’in MAN! Is it true you live w/your family in Bklyn? If so, WHY?
StevenRinella: Because I work in publishing and make a TV show that’s produced here. Which allows me to hunt year round, all over the place.