As 2014 comes to an end, we asked the MeatEater crew to reflect back on their favorite and worst hunting moments from the past year, and to tell us about the hunts they are looking forward to in 2015.

STEVEN RINELLA, Host

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Favorite and worst hunt?
My favorite hunt of the year was chasing black bears in Alaska with Rorke Denver in June. We hunted our asses off, and it came down to the last minute before we found Rorke a bear. We lost the animal in some alders after spotting it, but then we drew it out with some rabbit squeals on a predator call. That bear came in hard and fast, a total rush. My worst hunt of the year was chasing blacktails in southeast Alaska with my buddies Joe Rogan and Bryan Callen. Horrible weather, barely any deer, miserable camping conditions. Getting skunked never sucked so bad. The only highlight was how cool Joe and Bryan were about the low-grade conditions and lack of success.

Favorite and worst field eats?
My favorite was a howler monkey. I’d always vowed to never eat a primate, but I busted my vows in Bolivia. After a day over the fire, it tasted a lot like smoked turkey drumstick. Tough, smoky, stringy, full of flavor. My worst meal was Rorke Denver’s black bear. That thing gave me trichinosis, which is a miserable (and expensive) condition to deal with.

Best wild game meal you’ve made at home?
I recently invented the greatest food in the history of the world, including ice cream. It involves homemade sausages, tomatoes, and butter beans.

Best trophy country you’ve seen/encountered?
A canyon in southern Arizona. It’s gorgeous and packed with Coues deer. No more details to follow.

Hunt you’re looking forward to in 2015?
Muskox on Nunivak Island in the Bering Sea. Leaving in mid-March, prepared to freeze my ass off.

DAN DOTY, Director/Producer

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Favorite and worst hunt?
My favorite hunt this year was the spring black bear hunt in Alaska with Rorke Denver.  We were way out there in some amazing country and the hunt had the drama of not having any opportunities until the last moment. The crew of guys on that show was great and we were all in sync making a great product. I won’t forget that one.

I hate shooting on Prince of Wales. I never want to do it again. Our blacktail hunt with Rogan and Callen was simply miserable, I slept on a line of pelican cases to stay out of the lake that formed in our main tent.  #neveragain

Favorite and worst field eats?
For the sake of memory, my favorite meal this year was a big chunk of red howler monkey smoked over a fire and stewed with plantain.  It tasted just fine.  The worst was every time I put a mint chocolate protein bar in my mouth.

Best wild game meal you’ve made at home?
For a party I made a big pot of bbq pulled-game out of a chunk of moose neck and a pack of elk ribs.  It’s the recipe from our forthcoming cookbook.  It wasn’t just good, it was the sort of thing that gave you a buzz.

Best trophy country you’ve seen/encountered?
We saw some incredible stuff this year, the Brooks Range was haunting, the Alaska range shone like a king, but right now I am in love with the view of the Bridgers that stand aside from our ZPZ West headquarters.

Hunt you’re looking forward to in 2015?
My first turkey, antelope, and elk hunts in Montana.

JANIS PUTELIS, Associate Producer

Favorite and worst hunt? 
My favorite hunt is really any hunt; that’s why I have the job I do.  If I had to pick though, my favorite hunt was our Wisconsin turkey hunt.  For many reasons: turkeys are absolutely awesome, we shot a good MeatEater episode with good friends and unbelievable action, and finally, because I was able to hunt with my dad for a few days afterward and kill my first Eastern turkey.

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My worst hunt was my personal Mule deer hunt this fall.  Although I killed a deer in the end, it was my worst because it originally started out as a six day hunt. Then, because of scheduling, it was cut to four. A thunderstorm induced missed flight made it three. The traveler’s diarrhea then sucked most of the life out of me for my first day of hunting so I was left with two. Agreed, two days of hunting are better than none, but jeez.

Favorite and worst field eats?
Certainly the worst will have to go to the black bear meal in the AK range. Although the meal was tasty, I got trichinosis from it, which is the worst. Favorite field eat was my last: Sandhill Crane breast grilled hot and fast. My personal nickname for it is the “Flying Tenderloin.”

Best wild game meal you’ve made at home?
My current favorite is Ossobuco.

Best trophy country you’ve seen/encountered?
Any great, big aspen tree grove of Colorado. Whether filtering a sunrise through September’s colors or blanketed in a foot of fresh snow, the trembling aspen’s grove is a magical place.

Hunt you’re looking forward to in 2015?
I’ve recently moved to Montana and will have resident status for 2015 which means I’ll have multiple big game tags in new-to-me trophy country. That’s exciting.  But if I had to pick one hunt, it’d be my spring turkey hunt for two reasons: I’m a certified turkey-aholic and I’m bringing along my daughter for her first turkey hunt.

MAHTING PUTELIS, Wilderness Production Assistant

Favorite and worst hunt?
Favorite hunt was being out in the Brooks range chasing moose. The remoteness and grand scale of this part of AK and the world is so great that you can’t not reflect on your place in the world. We had some great naps, shot some amazing time lapses, and we got to experience a harvest moon from the top of a mountain, watching the sun set and a full moon rise.

Favorite and worst field eats?
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So after our last trip my favorite, hand down, is the Sand Hill crane. Seared fast on the grill with oil and a bit of spice. It is only second to a elk tenderloin as far as favorite al time meats. My least favorite food in the field is Mountain House macaroni and cheese. It’s a serious gut bomb.

Best wild game meal you’ve made at home?
I was able to take home some moose ribs from our Brooks Range trip. I put on a dry rub and left them overnight.  Then slow cooked them for 8 hours in a crock pot and then finished them on the grill. They are the best ribs I’ve ever had.

Best trophy country you’ve seen/encountered?
It’s hard to not think of my home state of Colorado. I put in some big miles this year just to get skunked. But it was worth it. I traveled out of 5 new trail heads and saw some great views.

Hunt you’re looking forward to in 2015?
After hunting cranes as my first bird kill ever I am excited about going to Wisconsin in April and hunting turkeys.

MIKE WASHLESKY, Director of Photography

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Favorite and worst hunt?
My favorite hunt this year would have to be hunting Sandhill Cranes in the Texas Panhandle. It required a totally different approach to both hunting and production that we were really not expecting. I was under the impression it would be a cake walk and the birds would be falling from the sky like German Bombers over London. These birds are pretty smart and have pretty decent eyesight from what we could tell on the ground. They can span miles and miles of open terrain in a matter of wing beats. If you don’t manage to lay up in their flight path, you are going to get skunked real quick. 
After 2 days of hunting and filming these giant birds, I thought to myself that I would never personally hunt this animal since it requires too much planning, forethought, and equipment (decoys, layout blinds, etc) to make it worth the effort. And then I tried some of the meat. That changed my opinion on hunting Sandhill Cranes at just about the second bite. I was hooked. I will be back. And do me a favor and dont tell anyone how good it is.

Its hard for me to quantify a hunt as bad. Even when I don’t get an animal or we get skunked for the show, I still get to be outside and not behind a desk. Each hunt is challenging in its own unique set of qualities. And each has its own set of unique rewards, separate from the rest. Most of my hunts in 2014 have been for the show so I’ll pick from those but instead of saying a hunt is bad, I will say what was bad about each hunt instead: Alaska Black bear sucked because this was my first shoot and I thought I was in shape but I quickly learned I actually wasn’t. I also learned how much I really hate Alder. A lot. Bushwhacking through alder thickets is like trying to machete your way through a jungle with a butter knife. The Brooks Range Moose hunt sucked for me because of a cute little thing called a tussock. I actually hate tussocks more than I hate alder thickets. Walking 10 miles over tussocks is one of the most excruciating things I have done in my life. Little bastard ankle breakers they are. Prince Of Wales Island hunt: the rain was really oppressive. It was hard to work in those conditions and our gear paid the price but it did make for pretty pictures so it’s a give/take kind of thing. To describe Prince Of Wales is like grasping at clouds.

Favorite and worst field eats?
Best: Sand. Hill. Crane.
Worst: Energy Bars. Protein Bars. Anything “bars”.

Best wild game meal you’ve made at home?
B5Aj2r2CcAI7TKSVenison Molé Negro. Recipe coming soon to themeateater.com…

Best trophy country you’ve seen/encountered?
If I was to be forced to evaluate., and ponder on what area of land is visually the most appealing to myself personally…I would have to say the peaks that punctuate the cloud forests of Prince Of Wales.

Hunt you’re looking forward to in 2015?
Sandhill Crane January and December 2015. Oh yeah.