John Jackson and Robin Vucinovich are storytellers.
Starting Saturday, Jan. 6, they’ll be telling those stories to Discovery Channel viewers through their “Out Da’ Bayou” way-of-life series. The network picked up the half-hour show in March. Entering its fifth season, “Out Da’ Bayou” previously aired on local stations, and, eventually, the Sportsman Channel.
“This is the stage I’ve always wanted to be on, and now I’m on it,” says Jackson, the show’s creator.
Honing his production skills at WBRZ from 1990 to 1996, Jackson then started his own company, producing other people’s outdoor shows.
Desiring to be involved in a series that goes beyond “watching two guys catch a bunch of fish,” Jackson came up with a pilot for his own show about five years ago.
“I always thought we were missing something, the people aspect of it, the stories that were wrapped around the outdoors.
“Everything good that I know comes out of the bayou, and so it’s the food, it’s the people, it’s a combination of both,” Jackson says.
There’s no typical “Out Da’ Bayou” episode. One week, Jackson and Vucinovich might be catching rattlesnakes alongside Interstate 10 in New Orleans East, the next, they’re pulling in swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico, the next, the pair is wade fishing off the Gulf’s Chandeleur Islands.
“We can pretty much do any subject. We’ve gone out and worked cattle, done cutting horses, catching rattlesnakes, fishing, spending days on crab boats and oyster boats,” Jackson says. “We’re even going into some of the coastal restoration things that have to do with seafood.”
Vucinovich adds, “If we do a fishing show; it’s not just going out and going fishing. There’s a story to be told.”
Jackson, a former “one-man band” operation, hired Vucinovich two years ago to share in filming, editing and writing duties and serve as the show’s operations manager.
“Robin hadn’t done anything outdoors, so I throw her into the mix (during shoots). She has no idea when it’s going to happen,” Jackson says.
With a grin, Vucinovich says “it’s always an adventure.”
Take the time Vucinovich thought she was going to the shooting range to film Jackson in a segment on gun safety. Before she knew it, she was learning to shoot.
“I want to show people, with the proper guidance, right there on the spot, you can overcome that little fear quickly and all of a sudden, the outdoors becomes fun,” Jackson says.
The team credits its show’s broader appeal for drawing a lot of female viewers.
“And not just because of the cooking,” he says. “We try to teach and educate.”
Jackson says many of the episodes spotlight people who still make a living on what nature provides.
“And if they don’t make it on that, they don’t make a living. They’re highly educated in nature. It’s a hands-on education,” he says. “And I think we’re losing that generation.”
Both stressed that “Out Da’ Bayou” is a real reality show.
“We don’t fake anything or reshoot anything. Everything that you see on TV actually happened,” Jackson says.
“We’re right in the moment,” Vucinovich adds.
That realness makes producing the shows more difficult, they say, because sometimes things just don’t happen, i.e. catching the big one, nailing that buck or getting a ‘gator in the boat.
Jackson believes the authentic storytelling is what attracted Discovery to their series, which will also re-air on sister network Destination America and stream on Amazon Prime.
Discovery is allowing “Out Da’ Bayou” to retain ownership, with the show and the network splitting commercial time, so “Out Da’ Bayou” can retain its loyal local sponsors, some of which have been with them for three seasons.
Last week, the team was putting final touches on the first five episodes of the 13-episode season.
“Our first episode is a swordfish show,” Jackson says. “Not many people know that we can catch swordfish 9 miles out of the Mississippi River, right where the continental shelf drops to 1,100 feet.
“We caught two that day and brought them to Louisiana Culinary Institute, and they prepared it for us.”
“‘Duck Dynasty,’ ‘Swamp People’ and all the other Louisiana shows have done a great job of bringing parts of Louisiana to a national audience,” Jackson says. “What we’re doing is bringing the rest of Louisiana to a national audience. …
“Louisiana is a unique, unique place, and it’s just one of the things that’s driven me to always find those stories.”
‘Out Da’ Bayou’
WHEN: 7:30 a.m. Saturdays
CHANNEL: Discovery (cable Channel 46)