Reality Check: Discovery, History premiere Kodiak bear hunting shows

Emily Fehrenbacher

Many important pieces of popular culture have come in twos: "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact," "Dante's Peak" and "Volcano," "Friends With Benefits" and "No Strings Attached." Now we have "Kodiak" and "The Hunt."

"Kodiak" is a Discovery Channel show about a remote hunting lodge in Kodiak. "The Hunt" is about the biannual Kodiak brown bear hunt. Let's play a game I like to call "Public Relations Breakdown." This is where I go through the "about" section of a show's website and decode their PR department's language. My thoughts are in parentheses below.

"Twice a year, on the rugged (Take a drink every time a narrator says 'rugged' on an Alaska reality TV show) island of Kodiak, Alaska, a select group of hunters head into the wilderness for the ultimate test against the elements and the largest land predator on Earth (Did they need to clarify the 'on Earth'? Are there other, larger predators in space? I'd watch a show about that) -- the Kodiak brown bear. Narrated by James Hetfield, the voice of Metallica (How much did the History Channel pay Hetfield? I still see 13-year-old boys wearing Metallica T-shirts, so he can't be hurting that bad for money. Has he been bear hunting in Kodiak? I'd like to see some credentials), 'The Hunt' is an eight-episode series that documents one of the most dangerous pursuits known to man (For a decade, I've been told crab fishing and ice road trucking are the most dangerous pursuits known to man. Make up your minds, PR people)."

Good work, History. Now let's see what our good friends over at Discovery Channel have to offer.

"'Kodiak' chronicles the lives of three families: the Mays, the Hollands and the Cusacks, who converge together (The word converge makes it seems like they are superheroes who send out a special signal to find each other, like in 'Captain Planet') every fall to run Bob May's remote hunting and fishing lodge in one of the most dangerous archipelagos in the world (bonus points to Discovery Channel's PR department for putting 'archipelago' in the first sentence). The three families subsist on what the islands and surrounding seas provide (I'm sure someone made a Costco trip before they headed out), while they guide hunters into the deep, dark rainforest (Is it that dark? I've seen well-lit TV shows filmed in Kodiak), teeming with the largest land carnivore on earth: the Kodiak brown bear."

Both channels go on to justify bear hunting because of backlash against the shows. History talks about the Alutiiq people and says bear hunting goes back millennia. They also get really into the details about the Alaska Department of Fish & Game's regulations and lottery system. Discovery justifies the bear hunt by talking about population control, saying, "too many bears ultimately means starvation for the species." I don't know anything about bear hunting, and this isn't a political column, so I won't side one way or another. But Hetfield has been getting torn up on Twitter and Facebook about his participation in "The Hunt." Time will tell which channel has the "Armageddon" and which has the "Deep Impact" of hunting shows about Kodiak.

"The Hunt" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on History and "Kodiak" airs at random times on Discovery Channel (see for details).

Finally, I received the best casting announcement that has ever been written in the history of casting announcements from an outfit called Metal Flowers Media. The series will be called "A Real Man is Hard to Find." They are looking for six "All-American ax-men, lumberjacks, firefighters, ranchers, deep-sea fishermen, oil riggers, longshoremen, millwrights, miners, search-and-rescue men, bush pilots -- men who don't mind getting their hands dirty and put their lives on the line every day." It is their turn to find the women who are looking for them. Please, please, please, let someone from Alaska get cast in the show so I can review it.

• Emily Fehrenbacher lives in Anchorage, where she reviews Alaska reality TV.


Emily Fehrenbacher
Reality Check