The 2013 season of The Hunt with Greg and Jake is in full swing, with episodes appearing on Outdoor Channel on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
But as the days get shorter and summer begins to wind down, plans are already in motion for the filming of the 2014 season – a four-month odyssey that will take the show’s stars and crew to whitetail deer hunting locales across the nation.
And that’s only the start, especially for Jake Miller, who stars on the show with his father, Greg Miller, and is charge of its production.
“Got it all pretty much penciled in,” said Jake, who oversaw postproduction for the first time for the 2013 season. “We start out the year in Wyoming – their season opens Sept. 1. Right from there to Montana – their season opens Sept. 7. On the way back home to Wisconsin, where we live, we’re going to hit North Dakota. So we’re going to do three states right out of the gate. Then home for a week.
“The South Dakota archery season opens toward the end of September. From there, I think, it’s back to Wisconsin for some hunting in our home state. About that time, we’re gearing up for the rut, so we’re going to do Illinois, Kansas, eastern Colorado archery, then South Dakota rifle season.”
It’s a whirlwind tour that will continue until deer hunting season concludes across the nation.
“It’s going to be a blur,” Jake said. “It’s one of those things where you wake up and suddenly it’s January and the hunting season is over. You don’t even remember the rut because everything was so crazy, running around to all those different states.”
The Hunt offers viewers not only fun-filled hunts on each episode, but it also educates hunters with practical information as well as whitetail behavioral analysis.
The “Zooming In” segment utilizes three-dimensional satellite imagery of the area on each episode’s hunt, and “From the Pages of” features excerpts from many of Greg’s acclaimed writings.
But before any of that hits the screen or even the production studio – where Jake is currently completing the final few episodes for the 2013 season -- the groundwork is done in the field.
And while a four-month hunting trip may sound like a dream job, Jake said there are a plethora of frustrating factors to contend with along the way.
“The number of spots and locations and setups that I’ve walked away from or turned my back on over the last six years just because it wasn’t feasible with a cameraman … the number of deer who have busted us in the tree or in the ground blind because we have extra that amount of human odor or that extra element of human intrusion,” he said. “I’ve filmed some friends of mine in the past and I almost feel like I ruined their hunt because they got done and all they could talk about was they had no idea how much work it is or how much effort goes into the production aspect of it and how they are surprised that we ever shoot anything ever.”
Even if the hunt itself is successful, that’s just the first step.
“You have to focus so hard on this entire hunting trip to be successful because at the end of the day, that’s what people want to see,” Jake said. “Not only are you focusing on that, but you’re wearing your producer’s cap and you have to figure out how you’re going to build this episode as you’re hunting. “It’s so far beyond just a hunt. … That’s the smallest aspect of it, the hunt.”
It’s a trek that, although rewarding and challenging, is hardly a spring-break trip.
“The toughest part about it, and I’ve been doing this more and more lately, is dealing with my time on the road,” Jake said. “Obviously, it is the hardest part of this job. If you’re good with never being home and never seeing family or loved ones, then this is a dream job.
“The toughest part that still gets me is when I’m on the road and I wake up, and it takes a second to click where you are. You’re in your third different state and you’re in your third different bed in two weeks. The part that gets me even more is when I get home and I wake up in the middle of the night and it takes a second to even remember that I’m home. That where it really starts to get you.”
Nearly a year will pass from the hunting and filming, through postproduction, before the show hits the screen next season. The grind and complications aside, Jake said producing excellent television programming continues to push him and his father.
“From the first of September or whenever it is that we take off until every season is closed in every state, the drive to get out there and do it is there every day,” Jake said. “I don’t know if it fuels me more now, knowing I have to put to together a TV series at the end of it because I feel like it’s always incomplete no matter how successful we are, or if it’s just the fact that I live and breathe whitetail hunting or any kind of hunting. I think it’s a combination of those things.”
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