Joe Hutto’s remarkable ability to interact with wild creatures was previously portrayed in the award-winning NATURE film, My Life as a Turkey. His new wild family is made up of mule deer living high in the mountains near his home in Wyoming, and the extraordinary story of how he became one of them pushes once again at the boundaries of how we perceive wild animals.


“Touching the Wild” is a great documentary about humanity’s ability to identify with our animal brothers. Joe Hutto bonds with a family of mule deer and learns that the rest of humanity doesn’t share the same level of compassion for these creatures. Over time, he names and bonds with the deer until he becomes their matriarch. The deer remain scared of other humans, but they treat Hutto as their own. Hutto starts to feel at peace and then one of the deer is killed by a hunter.

Joe Hutto is a great guy to watch interact with animals. While he doesn’t take on the guise of the aging hippie liberal douche, he does come across as hippie dippie to a ton of people. The mule deer are normally scared of their own shadow, so it’s amazing to see how far they come in an hour long documentary. Plus, it’s harrowing to see a mother deer mourn for her fawn. So much of the material here will be hard for animal lovers to watch, but it is important to undertake. I love it when PBS can offer documentaries like this and I’m going to expose my daughter to them when she gets older.

The DVD comes with no special features. The Dolby 2.0 track works for a nature documentary. However, the transfer fails to impress. It’s not bad, it just never really pops. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase to fans of PBS documentaries.


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