Kaatscast: the Catskills Podcast
Nov. 23, 2021

Fins, Feathers, Furs and the Great Outdoors with Tim Byron

Fins, Feathers, Furs and the Great Outdoors with Tim Byron

It's hunting season in the Catskills, and even if you're not a hunter, you'll want to hear our interview with Tim Byron, a longtime friend with an infectious love for hunting, fishing, camping, and observing Catskills wildlife. A few years back, he started a YouTube series called "Fins - feathers -furs - and the great outdoors"-- documenting hunting and fishing trips,  family excursions, birding, cooking, and lots more. 

Thanks to our sponsors: The Mountain Eagle, and the Catskill Mts. Scenic byway. Our interview was recorded by production intern, Keith Kortright. Kaatscast is a production of Silver Hollow Audio

--- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/kaatscast/support


Welcome to Kaatscast, the bi weekly podcast featuring history interviews, arts and culture, sustainability and the outdoors in the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley. It's hunting season in the Catskills, and even if you're not a hunter, you'll want to hear our interview with Tim Byron, a longtime friend with an infectious love for hunting, fishing camping, and observing Catskills wildlife. A few years back, he started a YouTube series called 'Fins, Feathers, Furs, and The Great Outdoors,' documenting hunting and fishing trips, family excursions, birding, cooking, and lots more. Stay tuned for our conversation with Tim Byron right after this. Kaatscast is sponsored by the Mountain Eagle, covering Delaware, Greene, and Schoharie counties, including brands for local regions like the Wyndham Weekly, Schoharie News, and Catskills Chronicle. For more information, call 518-763-6854 or email mountaineaglenews@gmail.com. And by the 52 mile Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway following New York State Route 28, through the heart of the Central Catskills. For maps, itineraries, and links to area restaurants, shops, and accommodations, visit sceniccatskills.com. I am sitting here with Tim Byron, a lifelong hunter and angler. And Tim, I remember fishing with you when we were kids. And in about an hour or two, I think he caught seven trout, and I caught nothing. Wow, you got a good memory. I don't even really remember that. And I knew early on you were a real natural outdoorsman. Where did the love of the outdoors come from? The love of the outdoors definitely came from my family. At an early age, I was introduced to hunting, fishing and hiking and camping. I really couldn't get away from it, if I wanted to. Every spring we fished together and every fall, we'd get together and see people that we hadn't seen all year; and it's really a lifestyle. It's something that I would look forward to every year. I've never grown out of it. I've loved it ever since, and now I'm trying to pass that on to my kids, and I've also got my wife hooked on the outdoors as well. She had quite a bit of exposure growing up, but now more than ever she's really taken to it. You grew up in the Catskills. Yes. So your family is totally part of that adventure now. How important is it for you to pass that down; that love of the outdoors that was passed on to you? Well, it's it's very important. That's why I really started this YouTube channel was to show other family members that don't go into the outdoors or don't get to see us very often how much we do enjoy the outdoors, and my girls have really taken to it. In fact, they're they're really the stars of what I try to film. I'm going to come back to the videos in a second. Sure. But I want to ask you about hunting season. So it's hunting season in the Catskills and I think most of us associate that with deer and rifle hunting. But there are a lot of seasons right? There are a lot of seasons. Yes; small game season typically starts in September through October with grouse and rabbits and small game, turkeys and then works its way up to the bigger game species. Yeah. And what do you hunt? Well, to be honest with you, not much of anything anymore. My time is limited, but when I do go, it'll usually be once or twice a year for small game maybe ducks or something like that. And deer season, I'll spend more time in the woods; probably a week or two in the woods looking for deer and bear. And it's Thanksgiving. Do you get your own turkey? Yeah, that's a good question. I have not; the past two years my wife has. My wife has for Thanksgiving. Last year we were blessed to have her spring gobbler; she made a turkey stew, and that lasted for quite a while. So this year, we'll we'll enjoy that as well. That's amazing. Do you eat everything? Do you eat the deer that you hunt? We do. And the ducks? We do. To be honest with you, we we usually save him and we'll have some kind of wild game dinner. As a matter of fact, two weekends ago in the Adirondacks, we we had a celebration with my parents and we had a trout that Evelina caught, a duck that Jill had gotten, and friend of ours had picked some fiddlehead ferns. I think we had some venison too. So we had just a collection of what we had gathered. It was it was really special. We also have given away a lot of deer meat and bear meat through the years to needy families in the Phoenicia area too. And it's not just about the meat. It's an experience. It's a story. So for those of us who aren't hunters, and it's the majority of people, can you give a sense of why you hunt? You're 100% right. It's not all about what you get, because nine times out of ten, you come home empty handed. It's just being out in the wilderness. And most of the time, I'm not by myself anymore; I will take my daughters or my wife or my father, and it's about the time being outside what you're gonna see, it's exciting. You know, you wake up in the morning, and I'll say my prayer, not to get something, but just to have maybe a new experience or see something in the woods that I haven't seen before, and just to enjoy doing it. It's what I really look forward to every season and not so much getting something. So within the past few years, you've been sharing your adventures through a YouTube series called 'Fins, Feathers, Furs, and The Great Outdoors.' What inspired you to start filmmaking? You've talked already a little bit about bringing that love that you have of the outdoors with family to others. Yeah, well, I thought about this, and it really goes back to when we started camping. I was maybe seven or eight years old, and my mom had one of those really big camcorders, and she would bring it along with us. And we would camp for maybe a week, and we'd have fun all through that long week, but I could not wait until we got home to watch the footage of what she captured, and even though I lived it, and I had fun there, watching that footage was something that I always look forward to. And I think that my friend Mike Woods and I, when we used to fish and hunt together, we often joke that 'Wouldn't it be neat to have a show someday and film ourselves?' I'd really never got a chance to do that with Mike. He moved away. I'd love to get together with him again. But I figured five years ago, I said, 'You know, maybe other people would like to see what I do.' And I wasn't seeing it on TV shows, you know, there are hunting shows on TV, fishing shows, but they always bored me. They just weren't from this area weren't from New York, and weren't the way I hunted and fish. So I wanted something different. And after the first video, I noticed that other people felt the same way from their comments. And I knew that I had maybe stepped on something new and refreshing and they loved it. So I kept doing it. What's the audience response like? Do you have a sense of who your audience is? I do have a good sense of that. I have over 600 subscribers. But that doesn't mean anything because I may have a video that only gets 20 something views; really depends on the subject matter, and other videos have really done well. So I don't really know how many views I'll get or who will like it. I'm just sticking to what I know works at this point. People like emotion. They like the truth. And they want to see happiness, they want to see also the other emotions that come with the outdoors, and that's what I try to do. Well, I'll tell you, I have a degree and a career in media production, and I'm totally impressed by the production value on this channel. Thank you, Brett. Where did you learn how to shoot and edit video? Nobody taught me. I just just watched other YouTube videos; I did have some some people that I looked up to. So you've got your own animated logo, high definition footage, there's aerial drone photography, but I'm probably more impressed by your basic understanding of film language, everything from camera composition to consideration of lighting and sound to really artful editing. Does this come naturally to you? And what kind of software and you know, what are your tools with the trade here? I use iMovie and my cell phone, and my cell phone cover is scratched. A lot of times I'll have to take that cover off the protective cover just so I can really see what I'm doing. Very low tech; I have GoPro cameras, which I don't really care for. Because they're usually in those plastic cases and sound with those is just horrible. So every once in a while for a Christmas gift or something I'll ask for an improvement on my camera equipment or something like that. But thank you for the compliment. I think it does come natural. I think maybe in another lifetime I did something with that. You know, it's it's fun. I enjoy it. How much time do you devote to the production and post production on these? A lot of time, and it's usually late at night when everybody else is in bed and the girls are asleep. I'd say for 10 minute video that I do, you know, I probably have over an hour's worth of footage that I go through and then maybe an hour and I'll work on it. So it takes a week or two to get it done, and I and I don't rush it. But I get so excited when I start editing a video that it's like a good book. I can't put it down and before you know it, it's done. And we should say your day job has nothing to do with media production. What do you do for the day? Nothing to do, I'm a water treatment operator town of Esopus, we take the Hudson River water and treat it for all the residents to drink. So even when you're alone in the woods, going back to your videos, you take the time to set up the camera and different perspectives. I can imagine you running ahead, setting up the camera running back just so you can get that shot of you walking into frame, it's really great. So you've got a lot to think about in addition to actual hunting or fishing or whatever else you're you're out there to do. Exactly; my father gets a big kick out of it, because when he'll watch the footage, after he'll say 'I can't believe you remember to turn the camera on,' and and there is a lot to it. You're 100% right; even even in the fall like this and closer to winter battery life becomes a problem. And I'm constantly checking my batteries, making sure there's life. So when a moment does happen, I'm able to catch it. And I do do a lot of actual walking for setting up the cameras. That's the fun part for me not knowing where you're going to set something up; and one of the hikes we took to the Red Hill fire tower was was really enjoyable, and just walking through, I noticed the down log, and it was hollow. I said, 'Wow, folks, just hold on a second, I'm going to set up the camera,' and they were very patient with me, and we got a really neat shot through the log. But it does take time and everybody's getting more and more patient with my ideas. How about the kids? The kids understand too. And in fact, a lot of times they'll wave to the camera as they walk by especially if I say don't wave at the camera. Don't look at it. They'll make sure they wave in luck. It's fun. It's cute. Just go over half a mile? Point six? Yes. Here's your whole team. There it is. Almost. I look forward to lunch. Hey, we're all together. Do you know how many videos you've posted at this point? Yeah, I just looked today as a matter of fact, and I think I'm three away from 100. Wow. So I think I'll do something special for the 100th. And I already know because I looked what your most popular video is. Do you know what it is? I believe it's the sleet deer camp. Yeah. What do you attribute that to? Well, the number of deer hunters, I believe is is declining in this area especially and I think that the deer hunting camps are going away. I think that everybody is so busy in their in their daily lives, and they really don't take the time to get together anymore. Age of the hunters are going out, and they're just not able to make it to their deer camps anymore. So I kind of saw this happening, especially in Phoenicia, that there were fewer and fewer of these deer camps that would get together every year and I wanted to get a few on film before they were gone. And I was able to talk to Ron Slate about his camp and it did go very, very well. And I think that people realize that other hunters want to watch it. They love hearing old stories from days gone by. The sleet deer camp video has introduced 39,000 viewers and counting to Ron Slate, a lifelong Catskillion, who shows us around his rustic hunting cabin. It starts with some family history on the front porch, as Ron recounts stories of growing up with his grandfather. He worked for 48 years for Hercules Power company in Portland. And you know, never made any serious money. But he always believed that he taught my brother and I no matter what you do in life, it will always take 10% of your paycheck and put it away. And my grandfather when he was making $18 a week would be down in the cellar and put two boxes in the cellar. He put it in coffee can after coffee can and I can't begin to tell you how many hundreds of coffee cans. Everything up here was paid for with that money as he accumulated it. So a lot of sacrifices on his part. He sent me a few other videos that you thought were particularly special; 'The Timber Doodles and Flight.' I've heard of Woodcocks. I've never heard of timber doodles; is that another name for them? It is another name for them. What a neat bird. And I didn't really discover them until a few years ago and come to find out this particular area in Shokan is perfect spot to view them during their migration. So we were walking our dog one night, and we walked past a pull off on the road up here on Mountain Road. And I said, 'Jill, do you hear that?' She said, 'Yeah, I hear that. What is that?' And I said, 'That's a Woodcock or Timber Doodle.' And we stayed a little bit longer, right at dusk like it is now. And we saw our first one, and it flew up in the air and started its dance and I immediately thought I'm coming back with the cameras and see if I can catch this. Only problem is that they do it right before dark. And I ended up sitting there on the cold wet ground for four nights in a row before I finally got some decent footage. Something that not everybody realizes isn't in their backyard. And I wanted to capture that. I think I showed people something that they hadn't seen before. And now I think next spring they're going to look for themselves. And I just heard something while you were talking was that a timber doodle? Or was that a frog? It could be. It could be. Or a chicken back there. I do have chicken. If you've never heard a timber doodle, here's a clip from 'Timber Doodles in Flight.' It's incredible. They meet each other on the ground and then they fly straight up into the air as far as I can see, and then they disappear in the sky. I mean, high, really high up there. It's incredible. And I got a kick out of your graphic MEAP every time. I heard it on the video until about the third or fourth one, and then he said, 'Okay, you got it now.' That's funny. And then a memorial Duck Hunt. Tell me about that one. Okay, that was my last video. And that was really special, really emotional. Some of the comments as I read them, nonhunters, husbands and wives cried through the whole thing, just very emotional. And I knew it was going to be that way. And I wanted it to be that way. Last fall, we lost our dog, Norman, and he was our firstborn, as my wife and I like to say, before my girls came, and he did everything with us, especially hunting. And he's the main reason my wife got into duck hunting was was to hunt with a dog and experience that. Kind of like filming, when you hunt with a dog, at least an untrained dog like mine, you seldom get anything; you're constantly teaching the dog or he's doing something wrong or, you know, moving around, just like taking kids into the outdoors. So you really focus on the enjoyment of it instead of getting something and she really loved hunting with him. So we came up with the idea when he passed to have him cremated, and we wanted to spread his ashes on our favorite hunting spot. So we had a year to kind of plan it, talk to my parents, and they were a big part of the trip, too. I couldn't do it without them. We had to take canoes and the whole family had to go. And being in water with film equipment, it was scary at time; I had everything strapped into the canoe to make sure if we did flip over, we wouldn't lose it all. And my cousin helped with loading the shells. That was again another thing that we had not done didn't really know if it was going to work, filling shotgun shells with with ashes. But it did turn out very well. I was really pleased with it. And it was the closure that we needed as a family. That video starts with an aerial shot and humming. Yeah, yeah. One of my favorite movies growing up was 'Jeremiah Johnson' and the main theme was hummed. And the song that I wanted also had humming and we just kind of went for it. It's not something I wanted to do. I don't I don't think I'm good at it. But it seemed to fit and a few people mentioned they said, you know, 'The humming was excellent. It was just the the touch that the video needed.' So I was happy to hear that because I wasn't sure. Where do you see the series going? Will you keep up with it? Yeah, I hope to keep up with it. I have no intentions of stopping, although it has slowed down. Just life in general gets busy with the girls, and that's what I need to concentrate on. My priorities are right. Family comes first. Do you think your girls might fill some of the production roles? Oh, they definitely will. In fact, I've had to really hold back the reins with Evelina, she really wants to film, which I'm fine with. But she also wants her own YouTube channel. And you know what, to be honest with you, the stuff that she does is fantastic. But I just don't want her to do it this this soon. Unfortunately, you know, there there are a lot of negative comments that come across the board, and I especially just don't want her seeing that at this age. In fact, some of the comments on my videos I've actually deleted because I know that someday she'll read them. And some of them especially with hunting can be can be very cruel. So I don't want her to to participate in that yet, but I still encourage her to make her videos, and we'll save them and I'll help her edit and then we'll save them on our hard drive or our computer and we'll watch them as a family. But she's ready. She really does want to continue in my footsteps and I'm proud of her for that. It's just nice to know that other people are enjoying what I enjoy. I appreciate it. Tim Byron's series, 'Fins, Feathers, Furs, and The Great Outdoors', is available on YouTube. Just search for TenXTimmy; it's a reference to Tim's archery tournament days. That's T E N X Timmy; all one word. Thanks, Tim. And thanks again to our sponsors, the Mountain Eagle and the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway. Our interview was recorded by a production intern Keith Kortright. Kaatscast is a production of Silver Hollow Audio. If you'd like to contribute, just click Support at kaatscast.com, and don't forget to follow or subscribe on the podcast platform of your choice for uninterrupted delivery every two weeks. Until next time, I'm Brett Barry. Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for listening. 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai / JL