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FLORENCE - The decor inside Jim Kinsey and Jana Waller's home east of Florence leaves no question they're dedicated hunters who've had their share of success.

There are white-tailed mounts, elk and numerous hides on the walls. There's even a Florida alligator skull sitting on Waller's workroom desk. It's quite a trophy, and perhaps just another hint there's a more to the pair's story than just trophies and hunting tales.

To land the skull, Waller hunted, then harpooned a 10-foot gator in an epic hour-and-a-half battle in Florida's Lake Okeechobee. The adventure was filmed by Kinsey, Waller's boyfriend and production guru. Waller and Kinsey make up the "two-man band" that created the new Sportsman Channel show, "Skullbound TV."

"Skullbound" premieres Saturday at 9 a.m. MST on the Sportsman Channel.

Waller is the show's host and assistant producer, and Kinsey serves as executive producer. He shoots Waller's adventures, then edits and finishes the episodes in a studio they've set up in their home.

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Hunting magazines often dub Waller a "bowhuntress," although she's handy with a rifle and rod, too.

"Hunting is about a connection to the planet," Waller says in "Skullbound's" introduction. "And its people."

A Wisconsin native, Waller grew up hunting and exploring the great outdoors. She took up bowhunting first, then learned to hunt with rifle. Of all her interests, she defines hunting as her passion.

Kinsey is a Maryland native who came to Montana in 1985. He worked at the U.S. Postal Service while doing his share of outdoor hunting and trekking. He's "techie," having done extensive filming and photography work, and left the Postal Service seven years ago to pursue his filming passions.

"Skullbound" takes audiences on Waller's hunting trips across the globe. It's the only show they know to be hosted by a solo woman, and the show promotes a conservation message. Cameraman "Jimmy" makes only occasional appearances.

The debut episode, "Montana Black Bear," takes viewers on Waller's trip to bag a black bear in Montana. Kinsey's footage includes stunning landscape shots and up-close scenes of exotic wildlife from all regions.

The third episode set to air follows Waller on a trip to hunt antelope on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. Two later episodes showcase Waller's gator battle in Florida.

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Another thing the show's introduction tells its audience: "She's an artist, but not on canvas."

That helps explain the show's title, and another set of art around the Waller-Kinsey home. The gator skull on her workroom desk is actually awaiting a transformation. It may end up adorned with crystals, beads, paint or feathers. Before Waller became TV show host, her name was known for her unique skull artistry.

Waller's dad first saw painted skulls during a trip to New Mexico. He suggested it might be something Waller could pursue.

"The painting evolved to stoning them with tiger's eye, jade, all sorts of beads. It just took off from there," Waller said. Waller's "Painted Skulls" have since become sought after pieces of art.

Skulls adorned with pheasant feathers are the most popular, Waller said. She has dozens of skulls around the house waiting and several commissioned pieces to finish.

That said, the art element of Waller's resume has taken a backseat while "Skullbound" gets off the ground.

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Waller and Kinsey met while doing freelance writing work for outdoors and hunting publications.

Waller had been in talks with another network that wanted to do a TV show focusing on her skull artistry. That fell through right around the time Kinsey was just starting out on his own with Kinsey HD Productions.

They hunted together often in their free time.

Kinsey filmed most of the hunting trips they took together, and they worked casually together on other projects.

"It works really well for us. We play off each others strengths and make each other better, whatever we're doing, whether it's filming, hunting, writing," Waller said.

Once they decided to go ahead with "Skullbound," Kinsey created an eight-minute reel from "re- purposed adventures" he shot with Waller.

"The trailer includes Africa footage, hunts in Wisconsin and Montana," Waller said. "It's a conglomeration of hunting and fishing trips from across the globe."

The Sportsman Channel picked up 13 original episodes.

Waller's tough charm and quick wit guide the show. Kinsey calls her a "one-take wonder" because of her ease in front of the camera and talent for bringing out the character in the show's featured hunters.

Waller says the production of "Skullbound" wouldn't be possible without Kinsey.

"I feel so lucky to have Jim as a partner, his cinematography is unmatched. Because he has such an amazing eye for filming, our show is all the better because of his talent behind the camera," Waller said.

Not only does Skullbound promote women's roles in sports dominated by men, each episode includes a conservation minute. They also show the entire adventure, including how the entire animal is used.

"I think it's important for people to understand hunters care more about what's going on in the environment than most people realize," Waller said. "Hunters are animal lovers."

The show's tagline is "Bound to make a difference," but they don't want the message to be heavy handed, Jim said. Instead, the point is to highlight all the work that is done by conservation and hunting organizations each year to improve the outdoors. Waller has donated several pieces of her skull art for organizations to auction.

Waller completed a guide course this summer to fine tune her skills for the sometimes dangerous hunting adventures. Kinsey and Waller will head to New Mexico in February to hunt audad, a North African sheep introduced there.

Their unique talents and relationship helped create the show, and now Kinsey and Waller have found a way to make their passion for hunting and the outdoors into a full-time job.

"We eat, drink and breath hunting and fishing. It's a fun adventure," Waller said.

 

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