If you spend 30+ years on television, you can’t fake enthusiasm. That’s why, through all these years, a natural bond has developed between Babe Winkelman and the people who watch him fish and hunt on TV. As the host of “Good Fishing” and “Outdoor Secrets,” Babe has succeeded in fulfilling his dream of being self-employed in the outdoors industry through a combination of hard work, good business instincts, and a gift for communicating his love of hunting and fishing.
Today, Babe Winkelman is many things: Husband, father, sportsman, television personality and businessman. He is an achiever, and has been recognized for his successes. In 1992, he was inducted into the prestigious Sports Legends Hall of Fame (alongside the world’s best athletes in baseball, football, boxing, etc.) by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio. Babe is the only outdoors figure to be so honored before or since. He was inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in 1988; and the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2007 he earned the “Excellence In Craft” award from the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Babe has spoken before American Presidents and has rubbed elbows with Hollywood stars.
Prior to building himself into a fishing and hunting icon, Babe Winkelman built buildings. He formed the Winkelman Building Corporation in 1969, and the company quickly grew. Babe’s passion for fishing and hunting grew too. He had a burning desire to find some way to make his outdoor interests his profession. In 1975, he made the leap by selling his Winkelman Building Corporation shares to chase his dream.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Babe takes great pride in teaching America to hunt and fish, and has done so since the 1980s. In addition to entertaining and educating his loyal fans every week on numerous cable/satellite and broadcast stations (including Versus and FSN), Babe has appeared on national talk shows and within the pages of People magazine, The Saturday Evening Post and other leading publications. He continues to write nationally-syndicated fishing, hunting and conservation columns read by millions.
According to hunter, angler and family man Babe Winkelman, “I’ve been blessed to make the outdoors my life for over 30 years. God willing, I’ll continue for many more.”
“I’ve been hunting since I was 8 years old,” Babe remembers, “when my dad would take us out for pheasants. I shot my first deer when I was 12.” A brief glance at Babe’s huge trophy room and you get a feel for his many accomplishments since boyhood. His most cherished trophies are the Pope and Young whitetails that adorn his walls, his moose that made the cover of Pope and Young’s magazine, and his Boone and Crockett mule deer and whitetail. He learned at an early age that things don’t just happen in nature, but that wildlife responds in predictable patterns based on a relationship of cause and effect. He learned to “Master the Patterns of Nature,” a truism which soon became the trademark slogan for the “Outdoor Secrets” television series.
Most people know Babe Winkelman as a world-class fisherman. His enthusiasm is amazing when you consider he’s outdoors as often as most of us are sitting at our desks. He’s been at it so many years you’d think a bit of the wonder would wear away. But it hasn’t. Prior to hosting “Good Fishing,” Babe spent years guiding, and fished in competitive tournaments beginning in 1970. He co-founded the Minnesota Bass Federation and served as its president in the early years. He also co-founded the Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC) and emceed its early events. In 1980 he started his television career and has hosted “Good Fishing,” America’s most-watched fishing show, ever since.
“When you’re married to Babe Winkelman,” Kris says, “you learn how to tame wild game in a hurry.” Kris admits she was not an authority on the preparation of game and fish before she married Babe. “Just about all the meals we eat are game and fish.”
Kris’ search for new and intriguing ways to prepare fish and game produced so many interesting recipes that she and Babe decided to start a cooking feature called “Kris’ Kitchen.” The feature was an immediate hit with viewers, many of whom wrote or emailed asking for a cookbook. “It’s been fun,” she says. “Not only have we put together a collection of the recipes we’ve developed over the last few years, but we’ve also worked up a lot of new ones.”
For the Winkelman family, preparing the wild harvest is a way of extending the hunting and fishing seasons. “This isn’t about gourmet cooking,” she says, “it’s about gourmet meals that anyone can make. My hope is that sportsmen and sportswomen across the country will enjoy these recipes as much as Babe and I have. It’s all about celebrating the outdoor experience.”