First Annual 2017 Wyoming Youth Girls Antelope Hunt
This hunt started out in my head as a fun opportunity for a couple of young ladies to be a part of our sisterhood and have an adventure with me. I played out my thoughts with my fellow Sisterhood Staff and other friends and before I knew it this grew into an event. I had supporters, sponsors and gift donors from Wyoming to Georgia providing 4 girls and their families an opportunity of a lifetime.
The day has finally arrived, the girls, their family members, mentors and photographers all gather together for a family style dinner and instructions on how our hunt would go. It was a night filled with hellos, and hugs, and laughter and smiles that I wish the whole world could experience. New friendships and bonds that grew with each day of our hunt.
Day #1: We met in the lobby of the Hotel. The “good morning” greetings, the nervous smiles, the double checking gear. We checked and signed licenses. Up to this point I was unsure of how to coordinate such a large group, but I knew that I wanted to have every single person there to join us on our adventure. So with my swift instruction the 4 girls loaded up with me, and 2 other trucks were loaded one by one with 7 family members, 2 mentors and 2 photographers and we headed out. If there ever was a hunting paparazzi, we had it, and how we ever managed to fill 4 tags I will never know, except I do believe some things are just meant to be great.
We played the game of rock, paper, scissors on each stalk to make sure each girl had plenty of chances. A first stalk turns up to a little bit tougher than I had anticipated with the wind blowing over 30mph the antelope were a bit spooky. We kept at it. With Maddie up next, the 4 girls, 2 mentors, and our photographer took off after we spotted a heard with a nice buck. Crawling through the grass, ranging, laying on our bellies, we got within range and Maddie had her first antelope buck down. The whole group joined us, we celebrated together and this is when the girls realized this was going to be more than just hunting. They hugged, they yelled, they high fived they now have a bond, a Sisterhood they will never forget.
We continued our hunt for the day with numerous stalks, long walks up long hills. Had some misses but these girls learned that antelope hunting was not that easy. The wind, the large group of eyes, and the long shots were going to make this tough. We had picnic lunches in the fields with the cows sharing stories. And then more long walks, and stalks on large herds of antelope. With the day coming to an end there stood a buck, so a quick game of rock, paper, scissors and Ella was up. Out of the truck, sneak to the dirt pile, get set up, and just like that Ella had her first antelope buck. The blue sky and smiles and the support from her fellow hunters will forever be embedded in my mind.
We finish the day with a family style dinner of course sharing stories of our days adventures and dreaming of tomorrow.
Day #2: The wind…the Wyoming Wind….It did not slow us down. Today was one of those days of hunting that you get every now and then. That no matter how hard you try you will never have another one. Only 2 girls left with tags and we hunted a herd of antelope for hours. Stalking them, waiting on them, stalking them, even got to take a couple shots only to come up empty handed. I got to watch these 2 girls grow into antelope hunters. I watched Audra go from being a bit timid the first day when it was her turn to hunt, to grabbing her gun and being ready to go. The one thing about this morning hunt was that both of girls said “I don’t even care that I didn’t get anything. That was so much fun”. This is what hunting should be about. We met up with our paparazzi had some lunch together and listened to the girls share their adventures with their families. We continued our day with a few more misses and a snow storm blowing in. One last spot to check, a buck spotted, a quick game of rock, paper, scissors and Audra was up again. Sneak up to the fence, get set up, wait, wait, shoot, and Audra has her first antelope buck. Her smile, and the Whoop from her fellow hunters tells it all. We again finish our day with a great family dinner. I stand back and continue to realize this hunt was meant to be great in so many ways. I am watching dreams come true and girls grow into confident hunters. If there was a way to share this with the world we would all be happier people.
Day #3: Mirra is the only hunter with a tag left, all of the girls and their families set out together for our last day. No one wanted to miss this. We had some struggles throughout the morning and decided to regroup over lunch. A quick talk with Mirra and some work looking through the scope, I think we finally had it figured out. With time running out she said that she wanted to take a doe if she could not get on a buck. I left the rest up to her as we hunted a few more herds with no opportunities for a shot, we closed in on a small herd of does and she said she wanted to take one. With her fellow hunters beside her, she gets set up, slowly picks the largest doe and waits for her shot. She shoots and fills her tag. She was proud, and her friends were proud. I was proud.
Our last dinner and Halloween party. A family gathering of thanks. I was proud that this hunt turned out the way it did. We did not get the biggest antelope on this hunt, but these girls knew that the ones they did harvest were meant just for them. I believe they truly learned that it is not about the size but the hunt as they each shared their thoughts and thanked everyone that got them here. We also taught lessons to their families what hunting is truly about. I got to hear a mother share her feelings about bonding with her daughter on this hunt, and having a new appreciation for what hunting really is. We finished our time together carving pumpkins and saying our good byes, for now.
These girls and families made this hunt great. My heart is full, my head full of memories. They began a tradition for our Sisterhood that is worth waiting for.
The Sisterhood of the Outdoors is already in the process of carrying on this tradition and planning the 2nd annual Youth hunt for 2018. This hunt, along with the full 2018 hunt line up can be found on the web page at Sisterhoodoutdoors.com. If you want adventure, stories, and great hunting memories and want to connect with other ladies that want the same thing, The Sisterhood of the Outdoors has an adventure waiting just for you.
I would like to thank Amy Ray & Carol Cherington from The Sisterhood of The Outdoors, Kinlee Denny from The Life at Table Mountain, Lindsay Stilwell from Wyoming Outdoors Women, Glenn & Vicki Connally with Connally Wildlife Photography, Jeff Farden, Samantha Strohschein, and Boulder Basin Outfitters.
A big thank you to Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Georgia without them this would not have been possible. Prois, Koehlers Meat Processing, Rusty’s Taxidermy, BNB Barber Shop, Table Mountain Outfitters, Rocky Mountain Discount Sports, Sportsmans Warehouse, Advance Truck & Auto and Connally Creations.