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TV outdoorsman and Watertown native Benny Spies visits Mitchell

Benny Spies. (Publicity image)

Benny Spies claims his 1973 Winnebago nicknamed “The Toaster” is more popular than he is.

Spies, an outdoor enthusiast and Watertown native who has his own TV show, said Tuesday afternoon The Toaster was in the repair shop getting regular maintenance.

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As fall gets deeper, The Toaster piles up more miles.

It’s hunting season.

“Hopefully she makes it there, because she’s going to attempt the big trip from Watertown to Mitchell,” Spies said in anticipation of his trip to Mitchell’s Cabela’s today in conjunction with the statewide pheasant opener Saturday. “She doesn’t run well. She’s a mechanical nightmare, but she gets us from A to B most of the time.”

Benny, along with his brother Joshua Spies, an international award-winning wildlife artist, will be at Mitchell’s Cabela’s store from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

His show, “Gun It with Benny Spies” is focused mainly on South Dakota and is airing its fourth season. Geared toward what he calls a melting pot of fans, his show originally ran in 2010 on Versus as an original, meaning it was a fully funded show. Versus eventually morphed into NBC Sports and his show became sponsor-driven. The show can now be viewed on the Sportsman Channel three days per week.

“We like to tell it how it is,” said Spies, whose first season included an episode in which he hunted whitetail deer during the winter on a golf course. “We’re not hunting around big farms and don’t have layup hunts. Everything we do is about as organic as it can be. We hit something, we show it; we miss something, we show it. We don’t hide anything and there are very little to no retakes in the show or clips we have to stage something.”

Although he doesn’t have any set plans as to where he’ll be chasing roosters for the start of pheasant season, opening weekend has always been special for Spies, who also writes a column for Outdoor Life magazine.

“It’s all about the experience, and anticipating opening day as a kid, there was so much anticipation that you can’t sleep the night before,” he said. “I was always super excited about going duck hunting in the morning and then when we were done with that, we’d do our pheasant hunting at noon.

“It’s still fun to get the buddies together. You hit something, you cheer, you miss something and you get three, four hours of crap. After the hunt’s all over and the guns are put away, you sit around and have a couple beers and talk about the day, enjoy the day and get ready for the next one.”

Opening pheasant weekend is exciting for any South Dakotan, but chasing waterfowl tops Spies’ favorite outdoor activities. His show has filmed snowy morning waterfowl hunts from the bank of the Missouri River.

Growing up in the northeastern part of the state, where water potholes are plentiful, drew him into waterfowl hunting. Spies’ first Canada goose was bagged in 1983 in Pierre, according to his TV show’s website, which has a picture of him as a youth holding up a honker by the neck. He credits his late grandfather, his father and Davy Crockett as the reason he grew up loving the outdoors.

“Two years ago I would have said duck and waterfowl hunting by far,” he said when asked his favorite type of hunt, “but deer hunting is closing in on that. I do love duck hunting. When you get those late-season, cold, windy, snowy days when those northern ducks are down, nothing beats that for me.”

Spies is exceptionally excited for the fifth season of his show, which will begin airing in 2014. The season will include a moose hunt in Wyoming and at least three episodes of outdoors adventures filmed in South Dakota.

“We kind of tell it how it is and that’s my goal and what I continue to want to do,” he said. “It seems like it’s been successful thus far.”

Spies’ show can be seen on the Sportsman Channel Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. The Sportsman Channel is No. 330 on Mitchell Telecom, No. 305 on Midcontinent, No. 395 on Dish Network and No. 605 on Direct TV.

Watch the show

Benny Spies’ show can be seen on the Sportsman Channel Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. The Sportsman Channel is No. 330 on Mitchell Telecom, No. 305 on Midcontinent, No. 395 on Dish Network and No. 605 on Direct TV.