Mitch Petrie’s story is one of family. The Plymouth resident has built a successful career in the television industry with his company Muddy Boot Productions, but his greatest sense of pride comes from his wife and sons.
Petrie grew up in Mankato, spending his childhood fishing. Although his family wasn’t much for the outdoors, Petrie couldn’t get enough of it. “Kids in general are naturally drawn to fishing,” Petrie says. “Kids always smile when they catch a fish.”
At the time, Petrie had no idea he would build a career out of that outdoors lifestyle. As he got older, he spent less time on the lake, went to college at St. Johns University and ended up selling computer software overseas for five years. When he and his wife, Kristin, returned to the United States, he took a sales job at the family business, Range Systems.
He traveled to trade shows around the country and eventually met Steve Puppe, who had a history in the television industry. The pair hit it off, and they began working on a television show called Rocky Geared Up, a hunting program. The show fed their passion, but it was, Petrie admits, a novice attempt. He approached Ron Schara, a local outdoor television expert, for help with production value. Schara offered guidance, and was so impressed with Petrie that he hired him to be president of Ron Schara Productions in 2008.
Petrie continued working with Puppe on side projects while at Ron Schara Productions. Puppe, who was in Montana, had come up with the idea for a show called Wardens. The Cops-style show would follow game wardens around Montana. It was a show that had been pitched to television networks before, but Puppe had connections in Montana. Petrie and Puppe pitched the show to Outdoor Channel, and it debuted in 2011.
Wardens was an instant hit, becoming the top-rated show on the network. With its success, Petrie left Ron Schara Productions to form Muddy Boot Productions. It was a dream come true.
“I always loved being in the outdoors, having grown up on a lake and fished, but I never knew about the world I work in now,” Petrie says.
Most of his work is behind the scenes, from production and camera work to running the business side of things. “I do most of the boring strategy things,” Petrie jokes. “The people I work with get to do the fun stuff like hunt, fish and go on TV.”
Along with Wardens, Muddy Boot produces Bucket List on the Pursuit Channel. The show follows Jerry Klamer as he travels around the world to cross hunting destinations (such as New Zealand, Africa and the Yukon) off his bucket list.
Petrie’s modesty is rooted in the truth that he is exactly where he wants to be. He’s traveled to some exotic locations, but remaining behind the scenes allows him to spend more time with his family.
Most of his travels involve his wife, Kristin, and their three sons. All three of his boys compete in fishing tournaments, and the family takes hunting- and fishing-themed vacations all over the world.
“It is much more just being together in the woods or on the lake,” Kristin says. “It’s not about the actual hunting or fishing, but more about spending quality time together.”
Kristin took to the outdoor lifestyle just like their three boys. She might spend a little more time watching on the hunts (and gets to avoid the “icky” parts of skinning animals), but her family grew up as campers and hikers and she loves the outdoors as much as the rest of the family.
When Mitch guided her on her first turkey hunt, she realized how much fun she could have. It was something not many couples do together, and it set the tone for a family tradition of life outdoors. “Mitch’s passion is about getting other people outdoors,” Kristin says. “He spends more time doing that than his own hunting or fishing. He really gets great joy out of helping others.”
It’s the passion he shares through his television programming. For all his success at Muddy Boot Productions, he would gladly choose a day exploring the world with his family over one spent on the set.
The master of outdoor television, Schara, puts it best: “If Mitch admires me for my TV work, I admire him for his fatherhood.” That’s exactly how Petrie wants it.