I am a hunter, but that’s not all that defines me. I’m also an environmental engineer and a mother of a beautiful, curious 6-year old boy. Why do I hunt? I hunt for several reasons. Hunting is a part of me. It’s our heritage gifted and protected through wildlife management made possible by great conservationists like Aldo Leopold and Teddy Roosevelt. Conservationists like these, along with my passion for God’s natural creatures and landscapes, have inspired me throughout life so much that I directed my career towards restoration. I had a pivotal moment when I was 15, camping with my dad at a high mountain Idaho lake. We had witnessed the single, lone sockeye salmon return 800 miles to a lake in Idaho that was named after these once prevalent fish. Just one. At that moment, I decided to dedicate my career towards conservation. And hunting and conservation go hand in hand. Hunters are the biggest financial contributors to proper game management because it is our livelihood and a heritage that we will fight to protect in order to pass on to our children.
Another primary motivator of mine is the childhood I want to provide for my son. My favorite and most vivid childhood memories are mornings spent with my dad in the cool fall air. It was those dark morning drives and the talks we would have as I marveled at the pink alpine glow of the sunrise. I would beg my dad to take me. That one-on-one outdoor time with your children can teach so many things about self-reliance, survival, confidence, kindness, and respect for all beings. And I learn more about myself, my son and being a better parent when I’m out with him. They say the biggest thing we can do with our children is spend time with them outdoors. I believe it teaches respect and humility, empowers them with confidence and survival skills, and fills them with memories.
These are the moments and the lessons that I want to share with my son. His dad never hunted, so it’s up to me to pass those experiences on and it allows quality time outdoors doing what we love to do. I also hunt a lot solo, which is how I started elk hunting. My dad was primarily an upland/waterfowl bird hunter so we didn’t kill a lot of big game together, and never an elk. I like to mention this because I think there are a lot of women out there with a similar desire and passion, but possibly intimidated by hunting solo. There was a steep learning curve and I made a lot of mistakes, but it was times I can laugh at and filled me with strength and memories. Now I’m at the point where I’m self-reliant enough to not only protect my boy, but also be able to call in a bugling bull and watch his face light up. That’s a moment I really look forward to! I learned some fundamentals from my dad, but much of big game hunting I learned on my own. Women don’t need to have a father or boyfriend to go out and do it. The first deer I ever gutted solo was almost comical. But I did it and I learned, and I had a winter full of meat because of it.
For me, it’s also about feeding my soul and reconnecting with nature and God. Life deals difficulty, and the best therapy I have is nature. Fred Bear said, “immerse yourself in the outdoor experience; it will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.” There is a peace that comes with the stillness. It’s also about the physical and mental challenge of it all. Challenging my body with 3,000 feet of climbing, and then bringing in a bull so close you can see its breath as you hear your own heart beating in your ears. Hunting the high country is not for the weak of heart. I spent over a decade as a competitive athlete and love feeling the soreness in my quads as I’m packing an animal off the hill.
There are so many reasons why I love getting outdoors and whether it’s high altitude elk hunting or chasing birds with my son and our new lab puppy, the benefits are numerous. And when we do gather around the dinner table, I’m providing healthy meat that invokes memories and stories that you just don’t get from a trip to the grocery store.
The number one benefit of the Extreme Huntress competition is one I never expected, it’s the opportunity to contribute back. Through the awareness of what I’ve done and my story, I’ve been able to help and support more women, have a platform to deliver the importance of getting kids outdoors, and partner with local non-profit organizations. I’m currently planning to host the local Hunting Film Tours coming to Boise (February 2016), and am proud to have been able to pair them with the folks I know at Hunt of A Lifetime to raise local funds that will take terminally ill children on their dream hunts. Contributions to my community at this level weren’t possible before the notoriety this contest brought to a small time Idaho do-it-yourself hunter, chasing game, making memories, and feeding my family.
Extreme Huntress 2016 finalist, a contest that highlights female sportsmen. Vote for me through the end of the year at: http://extremehuntress.com/
Be sure to get a print copy of this article at AVID Hunting & Outdoors