Steven Rinella, host of MeatEater, avid outdoorsman, and conservationist, was introduced to hunting and fishing at young age and has since been inspiring hunters of all ages for many years. Rinella’s success goes beyond the traditional sphere of hunting, he has had a successful television and writing career, where he stresses the importance conservationism and cooking wild game with the intention of using the entire animal. Steven sits down with us to chat hunting, his childhood, and his love for the outdoors.
Benchmade: When did you get your first knife? How?
Steven Rinella: That’s hard for me to say. I grew up around hunting and fishing and had an intensive immersion at a young age. There were always plenty of pocket knives and fillet knives laying around, so I don’t recall my very first one. I do, however, recall my worst one. It was this gigantic Bowie knife that I found in a local black powder supply store called Frontiersman Supply. I was eleven or twelve years old, and that thing had an inch of blade for every year I’d been alive. My dad told me that the knife was useless, but I wouldn’t give in. I begged and begged for months. Finally, I got that knife for Christmas. And no matter how hard I tried, I never did find a practical use for it. It’s still lying around my mother’s house today. Whenever I visit, I’m reminded of how stupid it was for me to buy a knife based on looks rather than performance. I haven’t made that mistake again.
Benchmade: How did you get started hunting?
Steven Rinella: My father was an avid hunter and angler. I never questioned whether or not I’d be a hunter. It was just a fact of life, or that’s how it seemed at the time. I’ve never taken a break from it. It’s fun to now watch my children begin their own journey into hunting.
Benchmade: What does hunting mean to you?
Steven Rinella:It means a ton of things to me: excitement; food; adventure; a key to understanding and connecting to the natural world; an avenue into constructive and inspiring time spent with friends and family. I feel all of these things equally.
Benchmade: One tip for new hunters?
Steven Rinella: I always tell new hunters that they should focus on small game as heavily as big game. It’s a great way to learn fundamentals and get exposure to the lifestyle. Think about it: most states have small game seasons that run for six or seven months or more. Compare that to big game seasons that might be only a couple of weeks. If you want to become a hunter, you need to get out there. Small game is the way to do that.
Benchmade: What 3 Benchmade knives are in your hunting gear? Why?
Steven Rinella: My three favorite Benchmade knives are the Bugout, Altitude, and Steep Country. My Bugout is my every day knife; it’s super lightweight, so you don’t know it’s clipped to your pocket unless you need it. I use my Altitude for long-range backpack hunts when weight is a primary concern but I still need a good, serviceable skinner to break down an animal. When I go Dall sheep hunting this fall, I’ll be packing my Altitude. I use my Steep Country for those hunts when I know I’m going to be dealing with some big jobs like butchering a moose or breaking down multiple deer or caribou. It’s nearly indestructible and very comfortable to handle; there’s no problem if you have to spend multiple long days with that knife in your hand.
Benchmade:Share a favorite hunting memory.
Steven Rinella: I have a growing collection of grizzly bear stories, including a couple of close calls, and I cherish every one of them. Within this collection lies my favorite hunting memory of them all. When I close my eyes and I remember it, I see nothing but big yellow teeth within arm’s reach.
Benchmade: How do you Stay Life Sharp?
Steven Rinella: For me, to Stay Life Sharp is to remind myself constantly that my love for wild places and wild animals requires me to protect those things. If you’re a hunter, you need to stand up in defense of the natural world and not take it for granted. We don’t have wildlife and wilderness in this country by accident. We have it because people sacrificed on its behalf. Everyone needs to do their own fair share of giving.
Rinella continues to inspire and entertain us, we cannot wait to see where his next adventure takes him.