Author, TV host, all around badass
30 Minutes With: Steven Rinella
Lately on Sunday nights we’ve found ourselves glued to the TV watching the Travel Channel’s new show, The Wild Within with Steven Rinella. Rinella, a life-long outdoorsman and avid hunter on a quest to recapture the spirit and skills of our ancestors as he travels the globe in search of food, living by his own hunter’s code: If you kill it, eat it. If you eat it, cook it right.
We tracked Steven down to get his take on gear, hunting and the best wild game for GP’s latest interview.
Gear Patrol: OK, a softball first, we know you never leave home without your Leatherman Surge, but would you consider that your favorite piece of gear? If not, what is?
Steven Rinella: It’s my favorite piece of gear based on amount of usage, yes. I always carry a Leatherman with me, and so does everyone I hang out with. The weapon I’m carrying on a particular hunt might vary from shotguns to bows to rifles, but the Leatherman is there. I don’t have any deals with that company, and I buy mine over the counter just like everyone else, so you can take my word on it.
GP: It’s easy to get caught up in big-ticket gear pieces, but in your opinion, what is one piece of gear that is often underrated or easily overlooked by the weekend adventurer?
SR: Footwear. Honestly that’s the first thing I look at when assessing someone’s preparedness. I hate seeing someone show up in brand new boots that have never been broken-in. You just know they’re going to have blisters galore by the time the day is through. Likewise, I don’t like to see people with those light weight hiking shoes when things are going to be wet and cold. And I don’t like to see boots that don’t have a lot of ankle support when we’re in the hills. Especially where a lot of side-hilling is involved. In my mind, rugged and rigid boots are key.
GP: One of the reasons we enjoy your show is that it combines two of our favorite things: food and adventure and we’ve been known to cover a wide range of manly kitchen gear on here. Do you have a piece of “Kitchen Gear” you love?
SR: Yes, I like my DMT Duosharp diamond bench stone. If you know how to use it, that thing really lets you put an edge on your kitchen knives. It’s too big for field work, which is a bummer. But I carry pocket-sized diamond stones in my pack. It’s really too bad, but the ability to sharpen a knife seems to be a fading piece of knowledge.
GP: What is your favorite type of wild game to eat?
SR: Elk, especially the young bulls.
GP: We all know what it’s like to have a piece of gear fail when we are in the field. The scene where your rifle misfired twice in the Alaska episode was particularly heart-wrenching. Any other occasions when you have had an unfortunate gear mishap?
SR: Lots of them. Particularly pump shotguns failing to rack properly — or, rather, me failing to rack them properly and then getting jammed shells while hunting waterfowl. Or rifle scopes that get fogged up internally. Probably the worst, though, are outboard engines. Those things have a knack for giving you big trouble when you’re way the hell back in the middle of nowhere. I just bought a new Honda 4-stroke 30 hp and I’ve got big hopes for it. But man, those things are expensive.
GP: Out of all the places you visit on the show, does one location stand out for you? Why
SR: Guyana, in South America. I hunted with Amerindians down there who make their own bows and arrows from native materials and then use them to shoot fish from these amazing looking waterfalls. That place just blew my mind.
GP: Finally, any tips for our readers interested in getting in to hunting, gear or otherwise?
SR: Yes, find a good hunter and beg or bribe him to take you under his wing. You’ll learn more from an experienced hunter in a day or two than you’d learn in a year of going it alone. Traditionally, hunting is something that gets passed along from generation to generation. It’s not something that is easily reinvented.
Steven Rinella’s Gear
One of our favorite things to do when watching the show is to pick out the gear Steven is using in each episode. We figured our readers would want to know too. Here is some of the gear used in the show that has peaked our interest.
Boots: In the first episode, Steven is in Alaska and is seen wearing the aptly named Meindl Alaska Hiker Boots; a rugged and stiff boot offering full support and a Vibram multi-grip sole. If you are looking for a bomb-proof hunting boot, Steven also highly recommends the Granite Boot from Schnees in Montana.
Pack: Steven is a fan of big, tough packs and uses the Mystery Ranch G5000. At $475 it is on the pricey side, but sometimes you have to pay for quality. Steven noted he is a fan of Mystery Ranch’s NICE frame system.
Knife: In every episode we see Steven shoot, kill and process and dress his game in the field. His knife of choice? The Havalon Piranta-Edge. At just $35 dollars and less than three ounces this knife is an unbelievable value. Each knife comes with 12 replaceable stainless steel #60XT blades which are commonly known as autopsy razor blades.