EPIC-elk-hunt-feature
May 09, 2016 • By

EPIC goes wild with new meat snacks

A once-in-a-lifetime elk hunting adventure through the Colorado mountains proved to be the springboard for EPIC Provisions in launching its new line of wild game meat snacks.

This month, EPIC – which joined the General Mills family in January – has gone wild, introducing a four-product line of wild game snacks in the venison, wild boar and salmon varieties.

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It’s a logical move for this passionate, fearless and traditional brand that has brought a new spark to the General Mills family, says Taylor Collins, EPIC co-founder.

“EPIC has always focused on staying ahead of other meat snacks and accomplishing this with unbelievable innovation,” says Taylor. “The idea to create an entire line of wild game products was in the spirit of using delicious and healthy meats that are widely accessible, but deep-rooted in the history of North America.”

The inspiration for the new products came from EPIC’s Kirk Blanchard, director of operations. His elk hunting dream spurred not only a bucket-list fulfillment, but new meat snacks for EPIC.

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Taylor explains that EPIC’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, includes a wall that employees write an “EPIC” thing they hope to accomplish before they die.

“The very first thing that appeared on this wall was from Kirk,” says Taylor. “It simply said, ‘Bow-hunt a monster elk in Colorado.’ When we read that, we immediately told Kirk to book this trip.”

Inspiration from elk-hunting trip
Last September, Kirk and Taylor traveled to Kremmling, Colorado, to hunt elk on the property of Brad Probst, the company’s first bison rancher who has raised hundreds of animals used in EPIC’s bars.

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Probst was their guide for the five-day hunt that was documented in this video that makes viewers feel as if they are hiking in the woods, camping, and smudging camouflage paint on their faces right alongside the hunting trio.

It marked Taylor’s first hunting venture.

“Respect, honor and gratitude toward nature was practiced during every moment of our hunt. For me, this experience has been the most transformative vehicle to connecting with my food,” Taylor says.

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On the last day of the hunt, Kirk – using his bow – shot an 800-pound cow elk. The hunters harvested 600 pounds of meat, which they used to make 2,000 limited edition elk bars.

Because federal and state laws prevent companies from selling meat from animals butchered or harvested in the wild, EPIC’s elk bars were given away to key brand partners, media influencers and core retailers.

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Wild boar, venison and salmon
Influenced by the experience, the EPIC team created three new wild game bars – Wild Boar with uncured bacon, Venison with sea salt and pepper, and Salmon with sea salt – along with a snack known as Salmon Maple Dill Bites.

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The boars – notorious for destroying crops – are trapped wild in Texas, and butchered at a USDA-certified facility.

The venison comes from deer raised wild on New Zealand’s South Island, and the salmon are caught wild by a small family fishing operation in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska.

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All of the products are available at Whole Foods Market stores as well as other natural food retailers. They’ve been so popular that the Salmon Bites quickly sold out.

The EPIC team already has gone on their next adventure – a wild pig hunt – with Robby Sansom, chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

And just why is meat from the wild better than store-bought meat?

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Says Kirk: “I would tell you that the animal, the meat and protein in my freezer lived a much better life and was taken in a fashion that the animal was honored, way beyond that piece of meat you picked up in the Saran wrap in Styrofoam off the grocery counter.”

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