During the eight seasons that Mike Rowe hosted Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs the show received a lot of complaints, but none as much as one particular episode where Rowe participated in the killing and butchering of a cow on camera.

Rowe said he was trying to do a show that better connected people to where their food came from, but the results turned out to draw backfire from animal rights groups, civil rights and even the Environmental Protection Agency, he said during a keynote address at SHOT Show 2017.

“We have 310 million people in this country, and 1.5 percent of them are feeding all of us three times per day,” Rowe said to the gathered crowd at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas this week. “And I just thought we could do a lot of good by shining a light on farmers.”

So Rowe connected with a man named Earl in Holland, Michigan who runs a mobile butchering operation called Earls Meats for an episode of Dirty Jobs. The pair went out to a family farm and met their cow. That’s when things got real.

“Earl handed him a rifle and said go ahead and shoot the cow,” Rowe related to the crowd. “Now I had done some hunting. I’m not a big hunter, but I’m not squeamish about it either.”

Rowe said he went ahead and shot it between the eyes. They then skinned and removed the head and cut it into four pieces and hung them in the back of the van. Later they would show how Earl turned that cow into about 800 pounds of meat.

“It was very instructive and very real and authentic,” Rowe said.

And although they did not show any of the gory details of the shooting, the show’s producers would be inundated with complaints in the weeks following the show’s airing.

“We got all these letters from Humane society, PETA, SPCA, EPA and the ACLU,” Rowe said. “She (his producer) had on her desk literally an army of angry acronyms. Everyone was freaking out especially the Discovery Channel.”

The bottom line is that Rowe was not to show any guns on his show in the future. They could show the butchering of meat, but not the gun used to shoot the animal. And it was conflicts like these that eventually led to the show’s cancellation on Discovery Channel. For two seasons up until last year Rowe hosted a similar show on CNN called Somebody’s Gotta Do It, but that show too has been discontinued.

Earlier this week, Rowe drew the ire of many of his fans for even speaking at SHOW Show. To one fan he had this to say on Facebook. The post has since been removed.

“How remarkable it is to see people who have never even held a gun go from uncomfortable, to tentative, to comfortable, to very comfortable, to empowered” Rowe wrote. “One day Marla, I hope you’ll have the opportunity to experience something similar, and listen to the stories of people who use guns to protect us.”

You can learn more about what Mike Rowe is up to lately on his website at MikeRowe.com.

Photo credit: MikeRowe.com