No one learns to hunt or fish on their own. I learned to fish as a child and I was raised in the outdoors, just not hunting. It never occurred to me to ask my father to take me with him on a hunt. I begged to go fishing, but never to go on a hunt. Thinking back on it I guess I didn’t think I could go. I bet he would have taken me if I had just asked. I didn’t grow up hunting, but I got here as fast as I could. My husband took me on my first hunting trip to his deer camp. He spent the time to teach me how to shoot a rifle, bought me my fist rifle and took me to get my first deer. About a year later he sent me on an all ladies duck hunt in Arkansas complete with a new shot gun and few lessons. I couldn’t believe I was 40 years old and driving across the country to meet women I didn’t know to hunt something I didn’t have a clue about. I have a saying I must use to get through the tough times and its – “BE FEARLESS.” Be fearless in your pursuit of what makes you happy. Finding joy in the outdoors has been life changing for me. As owner of The Sisterhood of The Outdoors I am blessed to have met many who feel the same way.
The year at the NWTF 2018 national convention I was asked to share about the business, The Sisterhood of the Outdoors, at the Brenda Valentine’s seminar The Era of The Woman Hunter. She has been “FEARLESS” in her pursuit of what she loves. She spoke about the days when she was not accepted as a female hunter. The days when women didn’t wear camouflage in public. And if they did wear it around town, they were looked at like a freak of nature. There have always been women hunters. When men were away at war women provided for their families. If you grew up in the rural country you learned to trap, shoot, and process your own game. Brenda truly paved the way for all women hunters when she stepped out and spoke up in public about her hunting adventures. We all should aspire to be as graceful and humble as Brenda. When she spoke about the barriers she faced it was clear that being a women hunter has not always been easy. She did it anyway. She did it to put food on the table and she did it because she loved it. And she is dang good at it!
Because of women like Brenda, we can enjoy the sport as much as the men. There have been times when I have been looked at like a freak of nature when I walk into a store in my hunting clothes. Men have made silly comments about women hunters, but it is so much better today than days past because of those that paved the way for today’s women hunters. The one thing she said that almost had my staff and I shouting “AMEN” was that there are some women in the industry who are not doing us any favors with the way they portray themselves on social media as hunters. We all see it and we all have different feelings about what that does to hurt our cause. I hold my staff to a high standard and remind them that all of us started out as a new hunter at one point in our journey. We can’t keep talking down to one another or judging how their journey started. I get that they are excited about the outdoors and hunting, I just wish they would think before they post on social media. I think the best way to influence these ladies is to set an example of high standards and remember where we came from. We go through phases of the journey and I have reached a point where I stay true to our mission to create opportunities for women to hunt, fish and shoot. Getting women outdoors is my passion. We are afforded the opportunity to do so because of ladies like Brenda Valentine.
I was so happy to see a room full of women and even some men who came to hear Brenda talk about the Era of The Woman Hunter. I am also happy to see the NWTF National Convention create a seminar session for women. The industry is very compartmentalized with many women’s groups and organizations. We have been around 8 years and we have seen an explosion of women’s groups. That must be a good sign for our future. Now that you are here, lets work for the good of conservation and pay more attention to the future of our sport and less attention to ourselves and our social media fame. The gun trigger and the animal do not care who pulled the trigger, male or female, we are all just hunters. Let’s protect our heritage. Brenda Valentine paved the way for our future and what a bright future it is!
So glad I got here as fast as I could.