Bites at Animal Planet

30 May

Catfish and Leeches and Snakes. Oh My!


Keith Hoffman is on Location for Hillbilly Handfishin' and Neck-High in Leeches, Snakes and Catfish  

hillbilly handfishin' crew

It's been two days since I last wrote about my dinner with the crew in Olive Garden but it feels like two years.   

In my imagination when I got my job working at Animal Planet I would be typing at a computer with puppies and kittens scampering across my desk while a bunny stapled my papers with its paws and birds sang around my head.  

Instead I've found myself in boiling hot sun in muddy creeks with snakes and leeches out for my blood.   

The day after the Olive Garden dinner, I followed the crew, Skipper and Jackson out to "rehearse" in the creek.   Basically the crew got their sea legs or rather their "creek legs" by walking through the water.   "Easy,"  I thought.  "This will be a cinch.  Where's that free catering I heard about?"  When you are "on location" they bring you free breakfast, lunch and dinner!  (Actually the production company pays for it but it's free to me!)  I got a picture of me and the crew in front of a bale of hay at the beginning of this scout.  They look young and fresh but I doubt you will recognize them by the end of the long summer of shooting.   

Later the first guests of the season arrived: a pair of preachers, two women hunters, and a son and mother-in-law.  It's a good, fun group and the cameras were there to shoot every second.


 First guests of the season arrive on location.

I never rode that bucking bronco (I went to a red dirt festival with Skipper and his wife Joanne — see photo) but my life was soon in danger anyway.  I would like to complain about crawling through a muddy, branch-entangled creek with snakes leaping from the shores (maybe it was more of a slither) and hanging from trees. I would also like to fuss over the leeches I had to pull of my skin or the glasses I almost lost when I tripped on a creek rock (thanks to producer Greg Smith for retrieving them from the muck! ).  I would love to go on about how hard it all was but I can't.   


 Taking a load off at a red dirt festival. 

Because I wasn't carrying a camera on my shoulder or a boom mike (a microphone on a very long stick) over my head or writing notes on a notepad (which I had to carry in my teeth).   The amazing heroic crew from Half Yard Productions did that.  They make the show for Animal Planet and hire the men and woman who carry very expensive equipment around in waterproof bags and brave the treacherous creek to film the series.

Beside a few soggy camera and microphones (unbelievably even when someone takes a spill and equipment gets soaked, it can dry off and start working again), the first day in the water was exciting with some great catfish catches.  Skipper and Jackson are amazing to watch in action.  Joanne and Jeannie (Jackson's best girl) keep snake watch and guide us newbies through treacherous waters, and Skipper's kids Heather and Christian help find fish and keep the week's guest calm.  It's a group effort.

Oh and there is a twist this year!  It's exciting and you're not going to wanna miss it ... but if I reveal it now, Animal Planet won’t be happy and I may end up sleeping with the catfishes.   

Coming up ... pictures from the water!


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Keith Hoffman


Keith Hoffman is Executive Producer for Hillybilly Handfishin’ on Animal Planet. 


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