“MeatEater” host Steve Rinella, the “Julia Child of the campfire”

"MeatEater" host Steve Rinella, the "Julia Child of the campfire"

In the Sawtooth mountains of Idaho, it took just moments for Steve Rinella and his bow-hunting buddy, Dan, to spot some pronghorn antelope in the distant brush. Cowan tagged along with perhaps one of the most recognizable hunters in all America, though he’d never hunted a day in his life.

“I do what I was born to do, which is what I like,” Rinella said.

He’s the creator and host of the popular TV and web series, “MeatEater,” now in its 11th season. It’s hunting the way a hunter sees it – up close and personal – and for Rinella, hunting is personal. He said, “At my core, I like nature, I like hunting, I like fishing, I like eating the stuff that I hunt and fish for. And I turned that into the work I do.”

“MeatEater” host Steve Rinella with correspondent Lee Cowan.

CBS News

He came to hunting the way most people do; his father hunted. Back then he saw it largely just as a sport. “When I was 18, I was obsessed with hunting and fishing. I did not know nor use the word conservation. In my mind, all the resources we enjoyed, they fell from the sky … they were there for the taking.”

“And they would always be there for the taking?’ asked Cowan.

“Get yours while the getting’s good.”

Hunter Steve Rinella, the creator and host of the popular series, “MeatEater.”

CBS News

But today, conservation is at the heart of almost everything “MeatEater” does. The quality of the hunting, he says, is only as good as the health of the population being hunted, be it deer, fish, or anything else. His point is that loving the wild, while still taking a wild animal’s life, are not mutually exclusive. “I’ve never encountered in my life a person who holds wild game in high regard who doesn’t hold wildlife in high regard,” Rinella said. “And they understand that there’s a limit on how much we can pull from it, or you end up dismantling and destroying the whole thing.”

Whether you agree with that or not, it’s nothing new. Charles Darwin, Ernest Hemingway, and John James Audubon all loved nature and hunting. And then there’s Theodore Roosevelt, who especially loved the land. Rinella said, “He saved about 50,000 acres of mountains, plains, woodlands in this country for every day he was in office. Why? He was inspired to…

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