“I’m somebody that pretty much comes from nothing.”
Interesting words coming from the star of the very popular Brave Wilderness YouTube channel, Coyote Peterson. Peterson and his crew were recently in Seattle for a live show at the Showbox SoDo. What’s Up NW had a chance to sit down with him in the green room before he went on stage that evening.
Coyote Peterson, some might call him crazy for the things he does, if you have ever seen any of his bite or sting videos on Brave Wilderness, you might agree. But look a little closer and listen, you will see someone who is more a passionate educator than a wild man.
Peterson combined his passion for animals and visual story telling into his popular YouTube channel. Most would choose to take this passion and carry it into one of many veterinary jobs that deals with wild animals, which would be admirable, but Peterson is called elsewhere it seems. As he writes on his website, “With entertainment as the catalyst, [Peterson’s] goal was to make animal conservation and education entertaining for the next generation of outdoor explorers and animal enthusiasts.”
WUNW: Have you spent much time in the Pacific Northwest?
Peterson: “I have actually. We were up in the San Juan Islands last June, filming off Orcas Island, doing Killer Whales and a handful of other episodes. Infact, Washington is one of my favorite places. When I was just out of college, I was developing an independent film that was set in the Northwest, so we scouted locations throughout Washington, in the back country and through the Cascades. There is such a diverse climate to explore, but not a ton of reptiles and amphibians, which is part of why we haven’t filmed a lot up here. You do have those gigantic Northwest banana slugs, and a couple of other things, so we will be back to film here again.”
WUNW: Is there a Northwest creature you want to get up-close and personal with and why?
Peterson: “If I could get the cameras up close to Sasquatch, everybody would be pretty excited about that episode. I hear it is pretty hard to get that guy in front of the camera though.”
WUNW: You are very passionate about animals – at what point in your life did you know that was something you wanted to do?
Peterson: “Really early. I’ve been into animals since I was a little kid, you know, growing up watching Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin. Marty Stouffer was a big one for me. I love the whole cinematic aspect he did with ‘Wild America’. In high school and college, I became enthralled with the entertainment industry, looking at more behind the camera with producing and editing. A producer I was working with suggested we come up with a new age animal adventure show, looking at the example of Bear Grylls, but instead of eating animals – we are promoting education and conservation. So we took that and mixed it with old school adventure style, and the concept was born.”
WUNW: What was the most surprising encounter with an animal, something that amazed you personally?
Peterson: “I have had many, but most recently we filmed in South Africa. We had the intention to do an old school safari, like an 1800’s elephant hunt. We only shoot them with our cameras, but we wanted to recreate that experience. We were tracking down a very famous elephant on this reserve and we found ourselves in the middle of a fight between two bull elephants. I don’t want to jinx it, but it will probably be one of the most epic episodes on the channel.”
WUNW: You put yourself on the sting zone/bite zone with a lot of insects or creatures. We think that would be a terrifying experience. Do you feel fear – and if so, how do you handle it?
Peterson: “You are always a little bit nervous. I always have to catch it first, nobody provides them for us. So, can I find it, then can I catch it is part of the process. So after I accomplish that, I think oooh, now I have to take the sting from it. There is a break between that – though on the show it looks completely linear. There is always this gap, whether it is an hour or 24-hours between the catch and the bite or sting. And my mind is running all the possibilities, what if this is the one that doesn’t go right? Will I have a bad or allergic reaction? I need to remind your readers that the stuff that I do is well calculated and we always have a medical team on standby just in case. You never want to repeat any thing you see me doing on the show.
Ultimately, I get to that moment where I do take a sting – and this will put this creepy creature into the spotlight, and I am hopeful that it will encourage people to love and understand this animal and not be afraid of it. And if you see how painful a sting from this animal can be, it will encourage people to admire it from afar.”
Peterson’s new book, “Brave Adventures: Wild Animals in a Wild World,” came from the inspiration to not only write a book but hopefully inspire young readers to gain a better understanding about animals.
“Perhaps they will consider becoming writers themselves,” Peterson adds, “anybody can write a book, just how passionate are you about it and just not giving up on it?”