Keith Hoffman: "I Don't Think I'm in Kansas Anymore"
By: Betty Chu
Keith Hoffman Files a Final Report on Shooting a New Season of Hillbilly Handfishin'
Actually I was in Oklahoma but it felt like Kansas when I and some of the crew drove home from our final day in the water with tornados and storms all around us. (Yet another thing beside snakes, spiders and wild boars that can kill you in Oklahoma.)
Yet as I return to my desk at Animal Planet (still no bunny rabbit sorting my mail), I’ll miss the wide-open spaces, the friendly people, and the communion with nature both dangerous and beautiful.
The Hillbilly Handfishin' crew hard at work!
I’ll miss the crew who can’t change the channel when the snakes look too creepy but have to keep trudging on through muck and mire. The crew who travelled from all over the country to shoot the show for three months and sleep on the grounds in tiny trailers far from their beloved spouses, partners, family and friends. (There is a strict policy on the set: No “Showmances” or as I call them “Hillbilly Handcrushes” between crew members.)
Just another day at the "office" for the HH team
I’ll miss the guests who arrive off the van dazed and nervous and then are best friends by the end of a week of sharing meals, sleeping quarters and the experience of catching catfish with their bare hands — like walking on the moon, this something only a small number of people can relate to.
Guests are welcome with open arms
And mostly I will miss Skipper, Jackson, Joann and Jeannie. They and their families open their lives to our motley crew as we scream in terror when cows rush towards us and ooh with delight at double rainbows at the end of a terrifying storm.
Just another day in the life of a Hillbilly Handfisher
As I drove at 3 a.m. along the back roads of OK to the airport (half expecting a Bigfoot to cross in front of my car), I knew I was leaving with a life experience I would not forget — enriched from being away from my desk and coming face-to-face intimately with nature. (A point I was again reminded of when a bat swooped at my head as I exited my rental car — luckily no one was there to hear my screams).
And now it’s hard to believe the Hillbillies and crew are starting all over again with a new set of guests in the water today: cops, cocktail waitresses and ballroom dancers ...
I’m jealous I’m not there.
Keith (Left) and Jackson before they rode off into the sunset, marking the end to another perfect handfishin' day
P.S. Watch another great show Louisiana Lockdown this Friday at 10pm. Prisoners and animals in Angola Prison in Louisiana!
If it does well I’ll blog from inside jail.
Keith Hoffman is Executive Producer for Hillybilly Handfishin’ (and Louisiana Lockdown!) on Animal Planet.
(Photo Credits: Courtesy of Keith Hoffman)