I doubt that many hunting trips are planned in the bowels of an L.A. comedy club at 2 a.m., but that’s exactly how my hunt with Joe Rogan came to be. I was visiting L.A. as a guest on Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, which at the time was recorded at a club where he commonly performs his standup. Due to various happenings, including Joe’s engineer getting into L.A. on a grossly-delayed flight, we didn’t start recording the three-hour podcast until well past 11 p.m. Already that day I’d spent six hours on an airplane, followed by several more hours of drinking a combination of beer and coffee in a misguided attempt to maintain a level of jovial wakefulness. By the time we started, I was worried that I’d make it through without mumbling incoherently then dozing off with my headset as a pillow.
As soon as we got started, and Rogan began talking, any worries that I had about making it through The Joe Rogan Experience were alleviated. Like the vast hordes of people who listen to Rogan’s show, I immediately found him to be a fascinating guy that I could listen to all week, not just all night. What appealed to me most about Rogan was how unpredictable and unscripted he was. Most people, I find, operate with these sort of mental filters in place. These keep us behaving in thematic, predictable ways, and help maintain the various “types” of people who consistently seem to match up with our expectations. Like, imagine that you know someone who does yoga, and who doesn’t believe in disciplining their children, and who does believe that the government is controlled by a great right-wing conspiracy of evil men vying to exploit and betray the American people, then of course you’re not going to be surprised when you learn that this person has a gluten allergy. Or imagine that you know someone who refuses to eat ethnic food, and who thinks that people from other countries talk funny, and who gets his news from a single cable-news source, and who believes that pretty much everyone besides him is going to hell, then you’re not going to be surprised when he tells you that homosexuals should all be locked up in jail. To make sense of the world, we grab on to predictable patterns of belief that can be adopted from those around us.
For Rogan, the only viable filters are the intricacies of his own instincts and experiences and research, which are vast. He doesn’t care what the people around him want him to think, or what he’s “supposed” to think, and so he’s never troubled himself with trying to form a cohesive world view meant to eliminate the risk of alienating or surprising his friends, family, and colleagues. That’s how Rogan manages to be so many things that seem to contradict: a ferocious and heavily-muscled competitive fighter who’s comfortable talking about how afraid of bears he is; a guy who’s open to discussing the finer points of an extraterrestrial invasion as well as the complexities of raising grounded children with practical life skills; a disciplined health nut with a well-thought diet who’ll bite into a mysterious-looking and undercooked piece of mystery meat extended to him on the end of a charred stick by a guy he barely knows. As I discovered through my three-hour dose of The Joe Rogan Experience, he’s not just comfortable with these contradictions. He loves them.
Naturally, when Rogan mentioned that he’d like to go on his first hunting trip with me, I jumped at the chance. Over the years, I’ve taken many people on their first hunts, and I’ve come to find that peoples’ responses to the experience are easily predicted. Suburban folks who were raised on video games and fast food restaurants tend to be a bit shocked by the immediacy and utter realness of the blood that they witness on a successful hunt. Foodies tend to be inspired by the sense of abundance and possibility that comes from field-butchering a whole animal into usable parts. Folks who grow up around the out-of-doors tend to be exhilarated by the sense of oneness with nature that comes from joining in the ancient clash of predator and prey—something that they’ve desired for their entire life without ever achieving it until now.
But with Rogan, there was nothing that I could expect beyond the fact that he’d show up and pay very close attention to everything that happened. I didn’t know if he’d actually like the experience or not; and if he didn’t like it, I was afraid he’d ask questions that I’d never encountered before, questions that I’d be incapable of answering in an adequate way. Perhaps my patent explanations and justifications about hunting—its deep role in human history, its importance to modern-day wildlife conservation, its role in the lifestyle of a conscientious meat eater—would be mercilessly decapitated by some unexpected and wholly valid opinion that might spring from Rogan’s mouth. And worse than that, it’d happen on my own TV show!
But of course I had to follow through with my offer to take Rogan out. To back out would have been a betrayal of something that I’ve always believed in, something that Rogan ceaselessly advocates to his own fans without ever actually coming out and saying it: instead of running away from the things that make you uncomfortable, ask those things to come into your home and have a chat. That’s what I tried to do by having Joe Rogan as a guest on MeatEater. I hope you’ll tune in to see what happens.
Join us for a 2-part special MeatEater series as Steven Rinella takes Joe Rogan and Bryan Callen on their first ever hunt in the badlands and the breaks of Montana!
The series airs April 28 and May 5 at 9pm ET/PT on The Sportsman Channel!
Find Sportsman Channel in your area here.