I Got Here As Fast As I Could, The Era Of The Woman Hunter

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.


New Hunter

Everyone has their own story when it comes to their journey to become a hunter. Many may have been influenced by a family member and hunted throughout their childhood. Then there are those late bloomers, like myself. I grew up shooting guns and I have always loved the outdoors, but I never put the two together until I turned 19. My father has been an on again off again hunter. He took the sport back up again about three years ago, and I went out on a whim and joined him on this new adventure. I had many emotions going into this. I was thrilled to try something new, but I was uneasy at first about the idea of taking the life of an animal. These thoughts and feelings were overwhelming at times, but it made the anticipation of my first hunt more exhilarating.

When I first decided to go through with my hunter education and safety courses many of my friends, family, and peers were shocked to say the least. Those that were hunters welcomed me into the hunting world, a handful of non-hunters in my life were supportive, and then there were those that criticized my intentions. Although I never made a fuss about it, I was confronted with confrontational people. I was aware that there were individuals that did not support hunting, but I hadn’t expected as many people to respond the way that they did. I was caught off guard in the beginning of my journey with comments that I did not know how to respond to as a new hunter, such as…

“You’ll shoot an innocent animal?”

“She’s too pretty to hunt.”

“Why would you ever want to shoot animals for fun?”

“Hunters have no heart.”

“You’re a girl and you want to hunt?”

My first time out was in Northern Jersey hunting pheasant with my father, his friend, and a German short haired pointer. My father and I were lucky to have a supportive friend that has been hunting his whole life. He showed us the ropes and lead us through fields behind his trusty pointer. After that day I realized this was going to become a huge part of my life. Any hesitations or worries I had went out the door. There were so many aspects that hooked me into the world of hunting. It was the quality time with friends and family, being with nature, having a connection with my food, and pushing my own limits. I fell in love with hunting instantly.

I began to realize that I did not need to stay silent when faced with negative comments anymore. I was confident with myself and knew what I was doing wasn’t wrong at all. If my friend can post pictures of herself scoring the winning goal of her college soccer game then I can share my first buck. Just because it is a different type of passion doesn’t mean I should feel hesitant about sharing it with those around me. As my journey goes on my confidence and love for hunting only continues to grow.

Gaining experience and connecting with other hunters has advanced my skills. I have been blessed with meeting many experienced hunters that have taken me under their wing and taught me a lot over the course of the past three years. These hunters have been neighbors and friends that have turned into family. Most recently I have connected with The Sisterhood of the Outdoors. After waterfowl hunting with them in Maryland I gained even more knowledge and skills. These strong women have been a great influence in my journey as well. Having tremendous support and encouragement from this group solidified my desire to call myself a female hunter.

If you are a new hunter or someone who is thinking about joining the hunting world, roll up your sleeves and don’t be afraid to get a little dirty. There will be some people who won’t be supportive, but those that will outweigh those that don’t. Keep a positive outlook and surround yourself with ethical hunters that will show you the way and I promise you, you will learn and grow from these experiences as I did and will continue to do.

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