KevinBurbot, Fish, Fishing, Food Politics, From The Wild, Ice FishingLeave a Comment

BURBOT“Oh man, you can’t show that…”

I’m sitting with the From The Wild crew, showing them some footage in the field. Keep in mind that over the years we’ve shown beef being decapitated on the kill floor, used a drone to film black bear being field dressed, got up close with a mule deer being field dressed after being arrowed in the guts, and a host of other ‘unpleasantries’. Unpleasantries that are the reality of killing animals in order to eat them. The intent has never been ’shock and awe’ – although it admittedly has that effect – the intent has been to close the loop on how we related to our food, if we’re going to be eating meat. To show field to plate, including the horrible moments required to get it there.

The scene I was showing the guys was of a burbot that some neighbouring fisherman had caught and put on the winter lake ice. Not bambi, but rather arguably the ugliest fish in our waters here. The issue was with how the fish died. Or rather, that while I was filming it, it hadn’t yet died. It was in the process of suffocating to death.

Sounds dramatic. We had this collective moment of realization that we’d never in a million years treat a pig, cow, deer, or any other animal intended to be eaten in that way. Suffocation over a period of many hours? Brutal. I’ve seen perch gills pumping a day or more after you’ve pulled them from the water. Do that to a lamb and you’d have an army of haters after you – the whole army. What happened to stress minimization, swift death, and humane animal handling systems?

All of us around that table had been beating the drum of well-raised, ethically killed meat for years, yet this issue of how fish die had never even crossed our minds. Not once.

So why is it acceptable for us to kill fish that way? And by ‘us’, I mostly mean ‘you’. At least when I’m catching the fish we eat, I bonk the fish on the head to at least attempt to kill them swiftly. I admit the odd time they survive it, but we try. Now I’m not a betting man, but will wager a guess that the majority of commercially caught species that you’ve purchased either for home or on a restaurant plate were netted, put into a hold, without the luxury of being dispatched any time soon, if at all. Suffocation. And/or evisceration? Maybe a little from column A, little from column B?

“and, a lot of people would say ‘it’s just a fish’ – but I’ll tell you one thing, working in the slaughter business there’s one thing that’s for certain – and that is an animal is not a vegetable.” – Jeff Senger [FTW S2E2]

I realize I’m not proposing a solution. And I’m not trying to place blame. Just asking a question: why do the mighty ethics we carefully apply to killing creatures from the land evaporate when it comes to creatures from the water? Completely illogical.

I’m grateful this simple fallacy finally became obvious to us, and that when we’re in the field we have the opportunity to make it right – to even out this ethical playing field.


Yes, the burbot footage did make it into S2E2 of From The Wild, along with a discussion around the issue. A critical reason we’ve kept FTW online and not on broadcast – they’d never touch this kind of content. You can watch the trailer for the episode below, or the full discussion and footage in question via the full episode:


KevinAntelope, Big Game, Deer, From The Wild, Game Birds, Hunting, Upland Game, WaterfowlLeave a Comment

FTW S1E11 - SUNRISEThis is the first episode where we get to meet ‘the’ John Schneider – a dear friend who happens to have a former life as a high profile hunting and fishing guide. John also happens to be an organic grain farmer [@goldforestgrain]. John also happens to be a super nice guy. This episode, title included, is a nod to the story arc of his journey with hunting.

This was a difficult three days. The second half of the journey is one of the most fondly remembered legs of season one – the first half one of the least.

We’re starting to look tired on camera – I know I am. This episode was shot 4 days after getting home from S1E10. The very day I got home from this one I flew to Japan to shoot Springhammer 2. It was a busy time. One where I’m glad there were cameras involved all the while, as without them, it would just be a blur of insane memories. The big gift of post production is that I actually get to slow down and re-live some of the crazy moments when life is hammering me with its experience. I’m grateful.


KevinBig Game, Butchering, Butchering Game Meats, Deer, From The Wild, MooseLeave a Comment

FTW-S1E10-681x932Apologies for the cliff hanger in S1E9 – wasn’t the plan. Just so happened that when this journey hit the edit desk it was far too long for a single episode, so S1E10 resolves that piece for you, but we’re then thrown into a whole new mess.

We’ve had a lot of feedback on S1E9’s cinematography [positive feedback, thank you], and this episode is in a similar league. I’d like to give credit to the grasslands. A landscape that we thought could be boring, flat, and scarce of living things proved to be the exact opposite. Credit is also due to bowhunting itself – the very nature of the pursuit forcing the cameras into the fields multiple times a day on stalks, providing rich content. A big take away from season one was that some hunting styles are conducive to loads of visuals [these two episodes included], and some aren’t: S1E5 would be a good example. When copious hours are spent in a vehicle, the cameras don’t see much play. Season two has been designed accordingly.

Speaking of season two – shooting of S2E1 is wrapped, and we’re just about to leave on a longer than normal outing for S2E2. S1E11 will be out in April, S1E12 in May, and Season 2 should see the light of day come June 2015.

You can watch the full episode here.


KevinAntelope, Big Game, Deer, From The Wild, Game Birds, Hunting, Moose, WaterfowlLeave a Comment

FTW - S1E9 - MOOSESome of my earliest memories as a kid are connected to a white, 100+ year-old house with a huge multi-burner wood stove in it, and the smell of grassland sages. My dad would take my brother and I there a few times a year, mostly chasing waterfowl, the odd grouse, and later deer. They’ve been going down there for 40 going on 50 years, and they have known the farmers and residents of the isolated area for decades. When it came time to choosing where to chase mule deer, going back to my roots was a no brainer. As residents of Alberta, we could hunt any gender of mule or whitetail deer – but only with a bow. Rifle season wasn’t open until November, and getting drawn took years.

Jeff and I had to date been skunked on chasing moose, day after day, with a bow – despite seeing rifle ranged opportunity day after day. We’d not connected on a deer. Or an elk. It was mid October, and the hunting season that theoretically would fill our freezers was seeming evasive. The trip to the grasslands seemed like a recipe to see more of not much, until we got there. We kept calling it a safari – wide open plains with big game animals, upland birds, and waterfowl – everywhere. Finding mule deer to stalk wasn’t going to be the challenge. Walking in on them in their bedroom was.

You can watch the full episode here.

DJI Phantom2 Crash. Again.

KevinUncategorizedLeave a Comment

DJI CRASH TURNER VALLEYQuadcopters are an amazing piece of production technology, when they’re not crashing.

When I was researching buying one, I’d read things like ‘just a matter of time before you crash one‘. Boy were they right. I’ve crashed mine into rocks in the mountains. I’ve learned about “uncontrolled descent” by splooshing it into a lake – only learned later what had happened from an actual helicopter pilot while shooting in an actual helicopter. And just this week, my hardest impact crash yet – took a rotor blade off and bent an arm of the gimbal upward. The gopro didn’t seem to care. Had just flown it 5 minutes prior, but lights were acting weird so recalibrated compass [which I now suspect may have been damaged in the under-water-lake-crash], launched fine, as you can see in the video, flew fine into the field as intended but quickly became uncontrollable, eventually flipping sideways and sending a plume of snow up 5-10 feet as it slammed into the field. These things cannot be flipped sideways  – it’s one of the great things about the technology. Except when they do it themselves.

Wanted to post this to 1] give a heads up to people who may not have the cash to burn to repair and replace said technology 2] justification for why I won’t fly them near people or buildings. Remote locations only for this guy, thanks. Video below shows the footage from shortly after take off.


KevinFish, Fishing, From The Wild, Ice Fishing, Northern PikeLeave a Comment

buck lake ice holeThree years. It’s only been three years that I’ve actually enjoyed ice fishing, all starting with this trip, and the discovery of ice fishing shelters. When you’re not cold, and even more importantly can see the fish down the hole, ice fishing’s vastly more fun. Two years ago, something of a tradition started with our friends at Nature’s Green Acres hosting a weekend in January at Buck Lake, Alberta. Like wine, ice fishing is still enjoyable alone, but far more enjoyable with friends. We were able to land some pike for dinner, a memorable moment being the raw milt from pike dipped in soy. One more piece of off-cut that now is in regular use in the kitchen. Took a big bowl of the stuff done right in Japan while shooting Springhammer to open my eyes. I know people will ask ‘but how do you prepare it?!?‘: you take it out of the fish [white stuff where a roe sac would be on a female], pull off a piece, and pop it in the mouth. The dip in soy does give the creamy fattiness some needed salt. The finish is fantastic.

This break with friends seemed like a good time to produce a short about being on the ice – wanted to release something free other than an episode trailer as I hadn’t for ages.


KevinBig Game, Cooking w/ Fire, From The Wild, Grilling w/ Fire, MooseLeave a Comment

FTW S1E8 - BLAIRDays turned into weeks, and weeks into months. This is unquestionably the longest hunt I’ve ever been involved with. This one’s the conclusion to S1E8, the last of the unplanned multi-part episodes from season one.

I’m not sure the story line could better put into question the issue of bow hunting vs rifle hunting, at least for us. It’s a long standing debate often creating divisive lines within the hunting community. Debate’s probably the wrong word. I’ve seldom heard of rifle hunters slagging bow hunters, but often hear bow hunters slagging rifle hunters. I think my conclusion is that the weapon of choice is not really in question, it’s the approach to the hunt, or methodology I guess. S1E8 gets to explore this a bit further.

This one also sees chef Blair Lebsack back to do some outdoor campfire cookery, sharing some ideas on how to approach big game cookery having been handed what amounts to a ‘black box’ of ingredients, with which he handily crafts one of the best big game meals [arguably the most memorable] that Jeff and I have ever had. No joke. As always, full episode available here.


KevinBig Game, From The Wild, MooseLeave a Comment

FTW S1E7 - spruceWhen I started cutting this episode, I looked at the date of the footage and thought “that can’t be right”. The opening sequence was shot on September 23rd. The footage of us skinning the black bear from S1E6 also reads September 23rd. We pretty much went to bed at 3:30am on Sep 23, got up in the morning, shot the interviews for S1E5/6, and got on with shooting the next episode. We may just be crazy.

It took Jeff 4 years to get drawn for antlered moose in the WMU near his home. I’m used to hunting calf moose every year or every other year at worst, so 4 years seemed like an awfully long wait. So when bow season started, the obsessive hunt for Jeff’s moose began on the third quarter of Trevor’s land. The third quarter seemed to be a sweet spot – it had dense marshy cover where moose were bedding, a 30-40 acre chunk of bush for them to feed and hide in, 100+ acres of alfalfa to feed on, and a piece of bush across the road they liked to run to when in danger. Counting the number of moose sightings on the third quarter in 2014 would take multiple hands. They were there. We were there. We had an arrow, and were learning the bush. They had swords on their heads and already intimately knew the bush that was their home.


KevinBaking with Fire, Big Game, Black Bear, Braising w/ Fire, Cooking w/ Fire, From The Wild, Hunting, Smoking w/ FireLeave a Comment

Chef Blair LebsackThis episode was a turning point for me and this series. After quite a few months of talking to TV channels and an american distributor, and concluding that conventional television distribution wasn’t a good fit for this particular project, I finally got shooting to the kind of content I wanted to show – field dressing, harvesting of offal, skinning – things TV won’t or can’t show, basically. I get it, they have their reasons. But from day one, my gig hasn’t been about sanitizing the realities of how we obtain our food. Seemed to go against my values to start now.

This episode is one that I hope will shift the wild food culture in Canada, even if only a minute amount, and even if only after many years. I’d love for black bears to be seen as the choice food they can be, and not just hides and rugs. Much of the episode is Chef Blair Lebsack of RGE RD working with black bear, the prize being the copious fall black bear fat. We knew from the onset that we wanted to make black bear pastry with the bear fat instead of lard or butter. So he did. And it was awesome.

As always – trailer below, full episodes available here.


KevinCooking w/ Fire, Dairy, Food Politics, From Local Farms, From the Garden, From The Wild, Grains, Pork, Poultry, U Pick Fruit, Veg1 Comment

Slow Food CanadaBack in the spring of 2014, I was approached to produce a video for Slow Food in Canada, with the broad mandate of exploring what Slow Food in Canada ‘is’. It meant trips to Vancouver, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, central Alberta, Montreal, Vallee de la Batiscan, Lanaudiere, Cocagne in New Brunswick, Toronto, Tatamagouche Nova Scotia, and more, it’s become obvious, at least to me, what it is. It’s a force, like a oversized kid that doesn’t know its own strength. As an aggregate, the projects the people on the ground are having across the country are dramatically changing the face of good, clean, and fair food. I’m convinced Canada’s food culture is shifting as a consequence. The intended outcome of the project was the video below – a 15 minute piece to be shown at Terra Madre in Turin, Italy. I shot so much more, so hope to be able to donate the time to get shorts edited for the convivia that gave the time to graciously host me, showing me the best of our country through the lens of Slow Food.

The piece is subtitled in both english and french.