True Life Experiences with OUTDOOR IDAHO

By Norm Nelson

It's amazing to think that Outdoor Idaho has been entertaining people since 1983! I have actually appeared on the show several times, due to my intense interest in backpacking and fly fishing, and because I think Bruce likes to interview his friends.

Norm Nelson on a backpacking trip

Being on camera never intimidated me, as I always got to talk about the outdoors in terms of my own experience, so it was fun. The crews make it a casual experience, as cameramen Pat Metzler or Jeff Tucker were always there coaxing me along.

On my first show, in 1990, Bruce wanted to shoot my brother Tyler and I filming our famous father, Morley, flying his white gyrfalcon. This was especially entertaining for the Outdoor Idaho crew, as the Nelson family spent much of the time arguing about the wind, where the falcon would dive, and where to put the cameras. For some reason, Bruce thought that was funny.

Watch "Bruce Reichert Remembers Morley Nelson" (February, 2005)

   Hi-bandwidth (watch here) Windows Media
   Hi-bandwidth (download) Windows Media

But we got back at him. Thor, the gyrfalcon, dive-bombed the top of Bruce's head, forcing Bruce to hit the ground several times. Thor was always defending her territory around Dad. Besides, Thor had a fascination for shiny objects.

My second encounter with the crew was visiting Hard Butte lake out of McCall, and fly fishing on a gorgeous day, with hungry brook trout keeping it interesting. A high mountain lake seems like the most pristine place to be, until you add the challenge of hauling the cameras, tripods, and other gear into the wilderness.

Shooting firefighters above Ketchum, Idaho

In 2007 I joined the crew as a cameraman, with a focus on the recent severe fire season. Bruce and I visited the Sun Valley fire, which was scary for the towns' folk, but humorous as well.

Ketchum was so appreciative of the fire fighters that anyone wearing a yellow fire shirt could get a free breakfast, gourmet coffee and rolls. Dressed to the teeth but definitely not looking like real fire fighters, Bruce and I entered the breakfast nook at the mayor's office. Before I even got a look at the food, I was asked if I wanted my croissant heated. "Absolutely, thank you" and breakfast was served.

We came clean after breakfast and interviewed the polite volunteers and ended up with both a fabulous meal and a nice sequence. Sometimes the glamour of Outdoor Idaho wins the day.

But sometimes the adventure turns against us. Shooting winter scenics of the Sawtooth mountains at 26 below zero was a challenge, to say the least. At that temperature, my eyes didn't work in the frozen viewfinder and tears froze on my face. There was also the small matter of the car window freezing in the down position, providing an invigorating breeze as we drove to our locations. Our five layers of clothing never seemed enough. We also discovered that Bruce's mouth doesn't want to work at 26 below.

The camera continues to work at -26

Furthermore, we had to walk to locations in snow shoes, where the crust broke through to pure powder. Not fun when you're hauling an expensive heavy camera and a tripod on unstable snowshoes.

But, I have to say, filming elk in winter, experiencing the piercing cold, watching the morning fog come off the Salmon River - it adds to the adventure of working on the show. For me it's challenging fun. Not really a job, but an experience, and I look forward to many more adventures.

I have to say, my greatest challenge has been trying to figure out how to fill out my time card on the internet. Other than that, I can only say, thank you to Idaho Public Television and Outdoor Idaho. Bring it on!