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Nature (Season 32) – Touching the Wild
Air date: 04/16/2014

THIRTEEN’s Nature Gets Up Close and Personal When Touching the Wild airs Wednesday, April 16, 2014 on PBS

 

Joe Hutto crosses the species divide and becomes part of a wild mule deer family

 

For writer, artist and naturalist Joe Hutto (“My Life as a Turkey”), there is no such thing as conducting a typical research project. Whether having wild turkey chicks imprint on him or embedding with a herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep for months at a time, Hutto seeks to observe behavior without preconceptions and from the animal’s perspective. In the case of his latest study, it meant dedicating seven years of his life to being accepted by a wild mule deer family and living among them. When asked why, Hutto’s response was: “How could you not?”

Hutto presents and narrates his story of bonding with a wild herd of mule deer and their impact on him when Touching the Wild airs Wednesday, April 16 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). Hutto has authored several titles including his latest, Touching the Wild, Living with the Mule Deer of Deadman Gulch (Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.), a companion book to be released to coincide with the Nature premiere. After the broadcast, the episode will be available for online streaming at pbs.org/nature.

Touching the Wild takes place in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming near Hutto’s ranch. This area serves as the winter range for a large herd of mule deer. His involvement with them began with a chance encounter with a young buck that took an interest in him and somehow understood he was not a threat:  “He returned an upward nod of the head, and I looked away and I nodded my head, and he returned the gesture again. That deer was willing to see me as an individual, and he very clearly saw that I granted him his individuality. I was not seeing something, I was seeing someone.”

As Hutto explains in Touching the Wild, he had to be out with the herd every day for two years to gain the first signs of trust from them, but once he won full acceptance from their leader, a doe he called Raggedy Anne, he could move among the individuals in the herd and no one paid attention. He had become part of the family. But if they spotted another human being, their deep-seated instincts would kick in and they would bolt, as mule deer have been a legally hunted game animal for generations.

There are many poignant segments in this Nature documentary, including the moment when Rag Tag, Raggedy Anne’s daughter, becomes the first deer to groom him, something that only occurs within a deer family. She later introduces him to her newborn twins, one of whom he later cares for after Rag Tag’s death. Hutto reflects on how Raggedy Anne’s family never left her side as she lay dying, and how Boar, a big buck, reacted when he discovered the carcass of his twin brother, the victim of a wolf or mountain lion. Hutto himself was affected by these deaths, and concludes that grief and sorrow are experiences all living things have in common.  His strong personal emotions over the fate of his friends among the herd lead him to consider whether he should bring his field study to a close.

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET for PBS.  For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Touching the Wild is a production of Passion Pictures and THIRTEEN Productions LLC in association with WNET.

Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry.  Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers.  The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.

Nature has won over 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 11 Emmys and three Peabodys.  The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Recently, the International Wildlife Film Festival honored Nature executive producer Fred Kaufman with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Media.

PBS.org/nature is the award-winning web companion to Nature, featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides and more.

Support for this Nature program was made possible in part by the Arnhold Family in memory of Clarisse Arnhold, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Arlene and Milton D. Berkman Philanthropic Fund, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by the nation’s public television stations.

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About WNET
As New York’s flagship public media provider and the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mike Schneider and MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for free.

 

About “Think Wednesday”

Touching the Wild is part of PBS’ new “Think Wednesday” programming lineup of television’s best science, nature and technology programming that includes the acclaimed series NATURE and NOVA, the highest-rated nature and science series on television, coupled with new special programming at 10 p.m.  Wednesday nights on PBS offer new perspectives on life in the universe and keep viewers both curious and wanting more.

 

Photos
For editorial use in North America only in conjunction with the direct publicity or promotion of NATURE. No other rights are granted. All rights reserved. Downloading this image constitutes agreement to these terms.
Babe and Joe

Joe Hutto with Babe the buck in the snow, Riverton area, Wyoming. Photo Credit: ©THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Boar on ranch

Stag deer looking at camera, beside wooden cabin, Riverton area, Wyoming. Photo Credit: ©THIRTEEN Productions LLC

A032_C005_0913DG

Joe Hutto wearing Stetson and stroking mule deer neck. Deer with head turned looking away from Joe. Canyon rocks and hills in background. Riverton area, Wyoming. Photo Credit: ©THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Joe stroking rag tag 1

Joe Hutto wearing Stetson and stroking mule deer neck. Deer with head turned looking away from Joe. Canyon rock in background. Riverton area, Wyoming. Photo Credit: ©THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Joe and Molly 2

Mule deer fawn standing close to and looking at camera. Joe Hutto left of frame crouched on one knee , smiling and looking at camera. (Image has been edited in photoshop) Riverton area, Wyoming. Photo Credit: ©THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Joe looking at a deer who has her head in his lap, Riverton area, Wyoming. Photo Credit: ©THIRTEEN Productions LLC

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Joe Hutto and mule deer shot from behind looking away from camera – Joe has arm around deer Riverton area, Wyoming. Photo Credit: ©THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Joe, deer sunburst 3

Silhouettes of Joe and deer on a mountain with sun in background, Riverton area, Wyoming. Photo Credit: ©THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Curious Stinky

Stag deer peering through window directly at camera, Riverton area, Wyoming. Photo Credit: ©THIRTEEN Productions LLC

Sumpy portrait

Deer looking at camera, Riverton area, Wyoming. Photo Credit: ©THIRTEEN Productions LLC