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“A Season to Remember” gathers note: Billy Kats gives tribute

The day sticks with Billy “Kats” Katsigiannis.

“August 29, 2007,” he said when asked what happened to his dad George V. Katsigiannis. “He used to work out all the time. He walked at a park [forest preserve] in Wood Dale with his buddies. He stopped with a hurting knee and said to go on. . . . He had a blood clot in his leg and it ran to his heart.”

When the call came, Kats went there immediately.

“I ran over, screaming, `Dad get up, Dad get up,’ ” he said. The authorities had to hold him back. His father was gone at 67.

That’s the human roots of “A Season to Remember,” a documentary tribute by Kats to the teachings and mentoring by his father.

“All the guys who hunt with me to this day were taught by my father,’’ Kats said.

The trailer–which had thousands of views within a day of its release Tuesday on billykats.com–picked up two best-of awards last month, one at the QDMA Convention and another at the Western Hunting Expo.

“It is going pretty crazy,” he said Thursday morning. “I talked to Babe Winkelman about it; spoke with Spence Petros this morning.”

There is more than the Greek connection with Petros. Kats, his dad and Capt. Chris Taurisano took Petros’ famous fishing classes. An outdoors connection turned into trips together.

There are a multitude of tributes by sons to their fathers on passing along the outdoor heritage. What sets “A Season to Remember” apart is professionalism and artistry.

Matt Arkins is the director and cinematographer. The editor is Steve Parisi of Frame-4 from the St. Louis area.

Arkins has a 20-year history both in commercial shoots and in the outdoors-related cinematography in such places as The Discovery Channel and National Geographic. He famously did a documentary on wolverines.

Kats met Arkins last year at the Professional Outdoor Media Association gathering.

Gary Wilson was showing films,’’ Kats said. “Matt walked in and I said, `We need to talk.’ ‘’

They did more than talk. They were soon shooting outdoors footage. “A Season to Remember’’ was underway.

They filmed a trip to Canada, one of places Kats visited annually with his father.

There is whitetail hunting footage in Illinois of which Kats will only hint, “It is epic what happened in the whitetail season. I cannot reveal it.’’

“Season’’ refers to more than just the seasonal changes in the outdoors. It is the seasonal changes of life and lives.

There is footage dating to the 1960s, back to the days of 8mm. Some of that will be converted and used in “A Season to Remember.’’

Kats grew up in Bensenville area and attended York High School and Loyola University.

The last major trip Kats and his father shared was to Africa in April of 2007.

“He never got to see the mounts,’’ Kats said.

He hopes to have the documentary of 45 minutes to an hour completed this year. Then he will either release it as a DVD or through the somewhere such as the online CarbonTV, home to many outdoors related shows.

The trailer is at billykats.com/a-season-to-remember/.