By Kevin Canessa Jr.
When Fernando Semiao was a younger boy growing up in Kearny, he and his brother would spend hours away from home. But they weren’t playing soccer or baseball like a lot of other kids their age — and they weren’t playing manhunt in the streets, either. No, instead, they’d hop the backyard fence at their Sanford Ave. home, and venture out into the Kearny meadows, and spend hours out there, exploring nature and the incredible number of different species of animals that called Kearny home.
As they got older, they got their hunting licenses, and were trained to hunt with a bow and arrow. Their love for hunting grew and grew. And now Semiao, along with his son, Antonio, and friend Bill Abbott and his son, Willie, have landed on a TV realitycompetition show called “The Search” on the Pursuit Channel — and with just a few weeks left in the show’s run, they need your help.
After each week’s new show airs, viewers are invited to vote for the team of hunters they think should win. And the team that wins will, in 2016, get their very own hunting show on the network.
Semiao really wants to get that opportunity because he says people across America need to know New Jersey’s so much more than the industries on the NJ Turnpike that most people think of when they hear the name New Jersey.
“When most people think of New Jersey, they really don’t think of our state as a place with a lot of beautiful nature,” Semiao said. “They think factories. We’ve already shown there’s so much more to our state, but if we win this competition, on our show next year, we want America to know — New Jersey is a great place to live and to hunt.”
But the Semiaos and Abbotts haven’t just hunted in New Jersey. For the show, which they recorded with their own cameras, they’ve traveled to places such as Utah, Ohio [where Semiao owns land of his own], Arizona, New Mexico, Canada other spots in North America.
But he says it’s really not about getting to the animals, but more about being able to spend time with his son, who also has a love for hunting, while appreciating the greatness of nature.
“It’s an incredible thing to be able to be with your kid in the woods. There are no distractions — no cell phones, no texting. It’s just a great opportunity to teach your kid life lessons and to bond.
“You know, my son plays baseball. And with sports, you take your kid to the field — and then turn him over to the coach. I’m on the sidelines and don’t even get to talk to him when that happens. With this, it’s just you and your son and I love every second of it — as does Bill.”
But how do he and Bill and the rest of the gang pull it all off? Everyone’s got busy lives, especially the adults, both of whom are local business owners [Semiao owns a Century 21 real-estate agency and Abbott owns an insurance agency].
“It’s actually not as challenging as you might think,” Semiao said. “The sun’s up at 6 a.m., I’m in my tree by 5 a.m. preparing. From 6 to 9 a.m., you hunt while the animals are about, and then, by 10 a.m., I’m in a suit and tie in the office.”
How it all came about
About two years ago, Semiao got a call from a man in South Jersey looking for two hunters to join his team. They were known as “The East Coast Hit Men” back then. But then, this opportunity arose — and Semiao went out, bought some video cameras, and then became, with Abbott, one of five teams from across the U.S. and Canada who would be part of “The Search.”
While it was a lot of hard work — they were responsible for the filming — they took enough footage for 13 episodes. And now, with just a few weeks remaining before the final votes are tallied for the new show for 2016, Semiao needs people to watch the show — and then vote for the team, known this year as “The Jerzee Boys Outdoors.”
“For some of the other teams, this is all they do — and they’re all from the South,” Semiao said. “One team from Missouri was even featured on a local news station there. So we really need the votes because we want to show America what New Jersey’s wildlife is all about.”
“The Search” airs on the Pursuit Channel — Channel 604 on DirecTV and Channel 393 on the Dish Network — at 6:30 p.m., Tuesdays; 2 p.m., Wednesdays; and 5:30 p.m., Sundays. Don’t have DirecTV or Dish? Watch the show live, online and in HD at www.vidillion.tv/pursuitchannel. Visit “The Jerzee Boys Outdoors” on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jerzeeboyzoutdoor. Vote for “The Jerzee Boys Outdoors” at www.VoteTheSearch.com. You can vote once a week.