Lots of adventure and misadventure to be found...
APPLETON -- Preparing unscripted programs on the great outdoors is always a challenge, and the producers of Pioneer Television's "Prairie Sportsmen'' have known many.
They've enjoyed both unexpected moments of drama and the kinds of bloopers that make them thankful for editing.
- Host Rich Massey wasn't so sure how they would make darkhouse spearing look exciting, since it's a sport known best for the quiet patience it requires. Yet an episode on spear fishing proved to be one of the most dramatic. Cue the theme music from the movie ''Jaws". Viewers watched in anticipation as a large, dark shaped fish loomed into view and sensed the tension as the spear fisherman tightened his hold and waited and hoped for the right opportunity.
- One episode featuring waterfowl hunting in late October on Marsh Lake captured the essence of the dedication this sport can require. Everything from the chilled winds and steel-gray skies to the ice-coated coats of the shivering dogs revealed how much this is not a sport for the feint of heart.
- Ice fishing has provided some of their best laughs. One time Massey brought an expensive studio camera into a portable fish house at minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Perhaps due to the cold, it fell from its metal stand and into the water. Massey nabbed it before it sunk, and held it next to the sunflower heater to dry it out. It started melting and he tried "molding" it back into shape.
- On another occasion, production director Tim Bakken was on hand with the camera to record the image as Massey did some hard-water "sailing" by refusing to let go of a portable fish house as winds carried him down the slick sheet of ice.
- Some of the favorite episodes for Massey and Bakken focused on "Old Moe", a big buck with antlers that put it in the state's record books. Massey captured video of the buck as it roamed its haunts in Lac qui Parle State Park and later, was able to document its harvest by a hunter and the subsequent scoring and showing of the trophy rack at the Minnesota Deer Classic. The buck was 9½ years-old when taken and its body the size of a large heifer, said Massey.