"Stars in the Sky: A Hunting Story" Steven Rinella's Look at Our History and Heritage

Here's our profile and review of Steven Rinella's "Stars in the Sky: A Hunting Story."

Back in 2018 at the DOC NYC Film Festival, "Stars in the Sky: A Hunting Story" was first released. The film made its way to a full release, and it is currently available on Netflix.

This feature documentary from Zero Point Zero (ZPZ) Films was directed by the celebrated author and hunter Steven Rinella. ZPZ helped Rinella produce seven seasons of the "MeatEater" TV show. "Stars in the Sky" examines the lives of American hunters and their sometimes complicated relationship with their environment in an attempt to start the conversation between us as hunters and the non-hunting public.

In April of 2019, Rinella said, "I wanted to make a film that better explored the inherent complexities and contradictions of hunting, as well as the extreme physical beauty that can be found in the pursuit of wild food. The result is the documentary "Stars In The Sky: A Hunting Story," which I produced with my long-time creative partners at ZPZ."

For the uninitiated, MeatEater is an outdoor hunting and fishing lifestyle company founded by Steven Rinella who also hosts the Netflix show "MeatEater" as well as the MeatEater Podcast. As an ambassador of everything outdoors, especially hunting, fishing, and the excellent meat that comes from those great activities, Rinella has excelled and brought great focus to our outdoor passions.

Now, with the release of "Stars in the Sky," we have another exceptional resource that examines hunting and wild game to create a dialogue and bridge the gap between those of us that hunt and those that do not. The reality is that hunters and hunting have a decided disadvantage in telling their story due to the disinformation associated with the pursuit.

Hopefully, with attention paid to this film (much like a good hunting book), that will all change.

"Stars in the Sky" Synopsis

The connectivity between man and the wild serves as a basis for "Stars in the Sky." It gets far deeper than that, and it's tough to compartmentalize this film as one individual type.

The appeal, effect, and thought provoking ideas the film introduces are widespread.

Rinella said it best himself:

"The main thread of the movie is a hunt in the coastal wilderness of Alaska. Built around that hunt is a full exploration of the experiences and belief systems of a wide array of American hunters from around the country who are bound together by their love of wildlife and the natural world. The film also touches on history, sociology, ethics, literature and the skewed public perception of hunters. There is much in the film that will resonate with hunters and non-hunters alike. And there are things that will almost certainly make everyone feel a bit uncomfortable."

The movie's IMDB page helps wrap your head around the people interviewed, many of whom are regular characters in the MeatEater show and podcast, like Doug Duren, Steve's brother Matt Rinella, chef Eduardo Garcia, and Joe Rogan. Plus, some of the regular suspects of the MeatEater squad make up the film's production team, including Janis Putelis and Dan Doty.

Primal Human Activity

When I went about crafting the preface of my hunting book The Hunter's Way, I knew I needed to make a similar connection. I wrote: "Whether we want to admit it, we are all hunters."

And it's totally true.

As hunters, we like to say that we are at the forefront of the conservation of our environment, especially the wild animals. It can be a difficult thing to justify; by taking life, how are we conserving anything?

In his documentary, Rinella looks into the emotional reasoning behind why we hunt, from start to finish. He's at his best describing the controversies that surround hunting, including an honest assessment of why people look down on it.

It's a good eye opener for those who have yet to acknowledge that the hunt is not for everyone, while explaining why we started and why we will continue to hunt late into our lives.

Rinella is many things, but one thing he is not is afraid to accept the fact that there is always room for discussion.

The film does a great job of giving simple, in-depth descriptions of the wildlife conservation laws in the United States. It also makes it clear that the origins of such laws took great vision from, of all things, hunters. The film effectively gives an overview into how it all evolved into the game hunting laws of today. 

Our perspective as hunters is to be all at once one with our elemental nature while remaining quite human. We may not have to take to the woods and fields anymore to survive, but as men and women who have this primal urge will tell you: it is our grand desire to fend for ourselves and still live a subsistence lifestyle without any help from anyone else.

"Stars in the Sky" goes a long way towards making this all clear to anyone who watches it.

Concluding Thoughts

Of all the new movies and new TV shows available to watch these days, there are considerably few that deal with hunting as a central subject, and even fewer that treat it with the  respect this film displays.

"Stars in the Sky" isn't just another ecology documentary, but an honest exploration of the controversies surrounding our passion for the hunt. Rinella and his team have brought us another piece of great content meant to make us think about the hunt in a completely new and different way.

With the Alaskan wilderness backdrop, the film's full summary can almost be narrowed down to one simple statement: This is a film about hunting, created as much for non-hunters as it was for hunters.

As he has from the beginning, Steve Rinella has set out to explore the many ways to view and celebrate our lifestyle without pushing it on those who do not see things the same way. And adding to his filmmaking skills, he can be an altogether outstanding hunter, expert outdoorsman, and a cook of extraordinary talent.

We just hope that he doesn't get tired of all the accolades since he has set the bar so high for himself and his contemporaries.

To see available Steven Rinella books and other content on Amazon, go here.

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