Why you should go on a women only hunt.

 

Women of the 2015 bear hunt in Maine

 

Hunting is a personal and individual experience that is amplified when shared. While reading about or watching video of a hunt is enjoyable, there is nothing greater than hearing stories, only hours old, told by someone sharing the same woods and chasing the same quarry.

When I first started hunting I had no idea there were other women like me who were passionate about hunting. It's hard to imagine now with the countless social media groups dedicated to women in the outdoors.

My first hunt at an outfitter was also my first women only hunt. I really didn't know what to expect but it was better than I imagined. I met women that are diehard serious hunters and good people. I've been on many women on hunts and have made many lifelong friends. The women that I have hunted with have all been supportive of each other, constantly encouraging and genuinely happy for the hunters who succeed no matter the size of an animal they bring back to camp. I've seen strangers become family around the dinner table, weaving wild tales of the day's adventures over a delicious meal. I genuinely miss those moments everyday and look forward to my next women's hunt every year.

Although they can be expensive, the memories you will make are priceless. Some hunts can be very expensive and some are cheaper than staying at a hotel for the same amount of time. If you do choose to go on a women only hunt, do some research, don't be afraid to ask questions or request referrals. Some women's hunts have a hostess that can help you with all aspect of the hunt from gear recommendations, to questions about tags, or even sitting with you if you are nervous which is nothing to be ashamed about. Hunting at night in the pitch black swamps of the South or bear hunting for the first time can be extremely nerve wracking if you don't know what to expect and your imagination runs wild.

Outfitters can be hit or miss depending on their additude towards women who hunt. The outfitters I've dealt with have been fantastic and they are always impressed about how the women are very serious about hunting. Depending on the game you are hunting, the season and the area of the hunt your chance of success can vary. A lot of success depends on the hunter, if someone is ill-prepared, distracted or can't sit still.

It takes a lot of commitment to spend money on a hunt and travel but what you'll find is a group of women just as committed to hunting as you are, coming together to share an experience.

If you are interested in a women only hunt there are many quality organizations that provide hunts. For me, when I first went to Maine it felt like home, Brenda, Pete, all the ladies that come year after year and even the new hunters – they have become family and Maine is my favorite hunting destination. Though on day if I win the lottery I would hunt every state!

I hope you consider going on a women's only hunt no matter where you go.

If you are interested in more information on an annual women only fall black bear hunt in Maine please visit Pleasant River Guide Service

 

 

 

Why We Need TV Hunters

 

We have told stories of our adventures since the very first hunt.

From the dawn of time story tellers have gathered around the fire to weave tales of the battle of survival. Often the first questions to the hunter are – how far did you shoot, how far did it run, what were you using?

The never ending quest to unlock the “secrets” of success has fueled the hunting industry though magazines, books and tv shows.

If we are lucky, we are able to spend time around the campfire or dinner table during hunting season with friends and family recounting the ones that got away, successes of past hunts, and game planning how to outsmart or prey. More often in our busy lives our storytellers come to us via our television or the internet. For a few dollars a month we get access to dedicated hunting and fishing channels.

Today's ever evolving technology allows us to be brought along on the story of the hunt, a step beyond an often embellished recollection of events. Through our televisions, our tv host take us to other states and countries on adventures most of us will never get to experience in person.

Unfortunately the hunting world is teeming with those that are critical of anyone and everyone who dares to hunt differently than they do. Added to the equation are those that despise tv hunters no matter what they do. Only the haters themselves can explain exactly why they feel the way they do, whether it's jealousy or misconceptions on exactly how hunting tv and the hunting industry actually work.

Most people don't understand that tv hunters aren't paid like Hollywood actors. Tv hunters pay for their shows to air, not the other way around. With enough money ANYONE can have a hunting show. This is where the hunting industry comes in, as sponsors of the shows.

One often heard complaint about hunting tv is that there are too many commercials, yet when a non celebrity has success they are asked what equipment they used. Sponsors keep the shows going, being a tv hunter isn't a get rich and hunt the world golden ticket. On the other hand there are companies you may have never heard of that make quality products and they only advertise through product sponsoring a tv hunter. Anything that gets small hunting industry companies a boost is a great thing!

Often tv hunters have one or more side jobs or tour to sell t shirts just to pay their bills, sacrificing even more time with their families and friends. Dynasties and Swamps are a different ball game not to mention a different network.

Another complaint is that tv hunters use outfitters too much and couldn't hack it on public land. Some of the anger from this stems from anger towards outfitters (another subject for another day) or assuming that outfitter equals penned hunt. A hunting show based on your average hunt wouldn't cut it, staring at trees doesn't make for good tv. Anyone can pay an outfitter but that doesn't guarantee success.

I'll say it again, ANYONE can have a hunting show. It just takes money. However, a successful show needs to be entertaining and educational. There are some shows that are a mind numbing boring wait for the kill shot, other shows you are pulled into the story as if you were there in the field yourself. To be educational you must first be knowledgable or be a good example of what not to do, which can be pretty entertaining as well.

There is a show for everyone out there, because these shows are about our passions, some fan's devotion and hate can rival any sports fan out there. People even judge you depending on what shows you watch as crazy as that sounds.

It's more than picking up a camera, traveling to exotic places and collecting a paycheck. It takes hard work and a passion beyond a regular 9-5. To take something you love doing and make it a job can take a toll on enthusiasm, but if you ask just about any tv hunter I bet that they would say that then don't do it for the kill they do it for the fans and the future of the sport.

When I first started hunting I didn't really care for hunting shows, at least until I saw one host shoot an arrow through a washer. It blew my mind and since that moment that show was and is an inspiration for me to be a better archer and hunter. I'll always be a fan.

If there is a show you like, let them know, tell the network, and buy some fan gear – it helps them get the shows out. If you haven't found a show you like, keep looking!

 

 

Why I’m a better hunter than you…

It never fails, anytime there is a post about hunting someone comes along and has to point out that they are the better hunter because ______. It's never ending! Guided trips, baiting, food plots, trail cameras, minerals, hunting shows – you name it someone will have a problem with it. Apparently, some hunting isn't real hunting and you must be told! These “better hunters” can't keep their mouth shut.

Most of these hunters have very strong opinions about things they have zero experience with and they have no problem sharing their angry tirades.

Guided hunts in my opinion are a time for hunters to gather together and have some fellowship when they aren't in a stand. Yes, someone else is doing the scouting, hanging the stands etc. So what? Not everyone has property or time to get out and do those things. Supporting workers in the hunting industry is important, guides support the hunting industry by buying in large volume, stands, seed, cameras etc. How would the hunting industry be different if they were just catering to Average Joe Hunter who only buys a new stand or camera every several years?

Baiting – this one always brings out the critics, especially with bears. Yet I don't see these critics going up to the thick overgrown woods in the NorthEast and spotting and stalking an elusive black bear. In Maine where there are plenty of bear, you have a 2% chance of getting a bear by not using bait or dogs. Read more about that here.

I don't know about you but hunting is about the experience AND about getting the meat. I don't see how an empty freezer is supposed to prove I'm superior. If it's legal, why not? Being able to see more animals and choose the best one to fill my plate sounds great to me. Baiting isn't a guarantee. Don't knock till you've tried it.

Trail cameras – being able to see what is in the area is too much for some. Nothing wrong with having an extra set of eyes, even digital ones.

Shot placment – this one is probably as big as baiting in the eyes of the “better hunter”. Everyone is a critic and just has to say something, especially if they have nothing else to pick apart. However, the animal is down and recovered, at this point does it matter? Of course the hunter knows if it was less than perfect, does that mean they don't deserve the animal?

Private land hunters vs public land hunters. A book could be written. Probably several volumes.

Hunting shows – ah yes hunting shows. Where people think TV hunters are “living the life” getting paid to run around and hunt for free with free stuff. It isn't all fun and games, you don't get paid to be on tv like prime time actors, most TV hunters pay the bills by selling shirts and appearances. The pressure to put on a good show can ruin the joy of a hunt. Nobody would watch a show where the hunter stares at squirrels the entire season. I don't know how many of us could hold up to thousands of people watching over our shoulder, ready to pounce at any wrong move. Imagine if your hunting life was on camera, how would you hold up? Would you like to be reminded of your mistakes over and over? Probably not.

Bottom line, there will always be someone that does it “better”. Gun, compound, traditional archery, spears or hand to hand combat hunting, where do the comparisons stop? Can't we all just be thankful that we can enjoy the woods? How lucky are we that we can walk out in the woods and provide food for the table? Why does it matter how someone else gets it done? Unless they stole the deer right from under your sights it has nothing to do with you.

If you have to criticize someone else to feel better, there might be something lacking in your life. Especially if you have to criticize a young hunter. Harsh words stick with people a lot longer than words of praise.

I issue this challenge, this next season only say postive things, aka “If you can't say anything nice, don't say nothing at all”. I think you'll find when you choose to see the positive in things you might be a happier person over all. Still feel the need to criticize? Spend more time in the woods or at the range than on social media.

We all might need to do that to be honest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When blood trails fail… coming home empty handed.

You spot a shooter, you line up…. BANG! – it’s a good hit! You smile big, high five your hunting buddy and breathe a sigh of success. 

You find the first blood sign and follow it through the woods, elation and doubt roller coaster as you search. 

And then…. The blood trail stops, nothing. No amount of searching, back tracking or sweeping the area reveals another speck. Which way could he have gone? 

Your heart drops with the setting sun. Exhausting all your options and most of your flash light battery, you call it a night. 

The next morning reveals even less, dew is everywhere, you realize how impossible it is to look for a downed animal in waist high brush. Hours later you reluctantly leave the woods, although not ready to admit defeat. 

Your mind won’t stop pushing you to return. What if you went left where you went right? What if it’s behind the next bush or just over the next hill. 
Those are the animals you remember the most, the ones you couldn’t recover. You will always look for them, when you roam the same woods. They will haunt you long after they are gone. 

It happens to us all, though those words offer no consolation to a restless mind. I don’t believe there exists any words that can sooth a hunter’s heartbreak.

The sinking feeling will go away, the what-ifs will stop, and you’ll get through the grieving process eventually; but not until you scan the sky for buzzards and a rock or log convinces you to hop out of your truck to investigate when you “happen to be in the neighborhood”.

When a fraction of an inch extends an animals life long enough to afford it a perfect hiding spot all we can do is hope that it won’t suffer and will pass quickly. 

Luckily, nature wastes no opportunities and there is a sliver of consolation in the fact that it’s not a complete waste. 

What does it take to be a woman who hunts?

Women are the fastest growing demographic in hunting. Many, like myself, are becoming hunters later in life. Without growing up hunting it’s very easy to get lost on your path to becoming a hunter.

What does it take to be a woman hunter? Equipment, knowledge, opportunity, skill and thick skin. Thick skin will be one of your most important assets.  It’s unfortunate that there are still people out there what will discourage women hunters, either by dismissing their skills and accomplishments or by judging them by their looks.

If you hunt long enough you will catch some grief. You will either be too young, too old, too fat, too thin, too plain, too pretty, too pink, or too feminine to hunt. None of these matter to the animal but they seem to matter to the shallow people of the world. Their criticism has nothing to do with you, it’s their own short comings manifesting in verbal garbage. Don’t let a man discourage you because he isn’t “man enough” not to be threatened by a woman. Only weak men are threatened by strong women. Just ignore them.

Heck yeah you hunt like a girl, be proud of it! You are a woman, you are a hunter.

Not only will you be judged by what you look like you will be judged by what you kill and what you kill it with. Ignore those people, if the weapon fits and you are skilled with it, the stickers on it won’t matter. I hate it when women or men are discouraged by what someone has to say about their equipment. There are NO women’s or men’s bows. Bows do not have a gender nor do you shoot them with your bits. There are tall and short women and men, pick a weapon that fits you and your budget. You don’t have to spend thousands to be deadly. Why are some bows labeled youth, women, or men’s? That’s called marketing.

My first bow was the one in the shop that was closest to fitting me. I bought a used PSE Bandit. Wheels and all it killed a hog in Hawaii and my first deer in Georgia. I would have loved to have an adjustable bow for my first bow! My PSE may not have fit well but it did teach me a lot and I still use it as a back up for bowfishing.

My first deer. My PSE Bandit wasn't my draw length and with wheels not cams it didn't break any speed records but it killed! I would have loved an adjustable bow for my first bow.

My first deer. My PSE Bandit wasn’t my draw length and with wheels not cams it didn’t break any speed records but it killed! I would have loved an adjustable bow for my first bow.

Nothing makes me more angry than seeing a post of someone with their first deer and some jerk just has to comment on the size of the animal or shot placement. As long as it’s legal why does it matter? Animals are all made of meat, granted you’ll get more meat on a bigger animal but a small animal tastes a heck of a lot better than a tag sandwich. Hunting is about so much more than inches or pounds.

These jerks will have something negative to say no matter what, either it’s too small or if it’s a record book animal they will claim that you either high fence hunted, someone had to have helped you, or you are posing with someone else’s animal.

What is the point of nit picking shot placement on a dead recovered animal? The shooter knows it wasn’t ideal, but guess what, they recovered it and it will provide some tasty protein.

What is the point of discouraging a new hunter at all? If you can’t say something nice, move along. They are proud of their accomplishment, they shouldn’t have to worry about what some clown says on Facebook. Even if it’s just one negative post in a sea of congratulations, that one post will stick out and stick with them. Think before you type.

If you are just starting out hunting, learn as much as you can, join some women’s groups and keep company with people that encourage you no matter what you shoot. We were all beginners at some point, the best teacher for hunting is experience. Even the most seasoned hunters make mistakes and learn something new each and every time they hunt. One of the best sources of hunting knowledge is other hunter’s stories, verbal or written they will provide you with knowledge that is priceless, learn from their mistakes and triumphs.

Never base your opinion of someone’s skills or knowledge based on gender. I know it’s social norm but it not true.  Women can hunt as well as men, in fact almost all of the outfitters I’ve been to have commented that they can’t believe how serious the women hunters can be compared to their average male client.  Never underestimate yourself, on one of my hunts the shortest woman hunted the hardest, staying out all day in the rain when most stayed by the fire in the cabin.

Now get out there, make up or not, pinked up or not, hunt hard and hunt like a woman!

 

Thanks for the steaks and the memories.

photo 2

Organic protein from the wilds of South Carolina

Cooking up some tasty venison steaks from a doe I took in South Carolina it brings back the memories of that trip. My husband and I drove from our home in New York so we could hunt with one of our good friends. It has become a tradition of sorts, and now that we are moving to South Carolina I hope to have many more hunting trips followed by campfires.

photo 1

I remember this hunt like it was yesterday.

My husband and I took our first South Carolina deer and it was the first time we doubled up, we shot our deer within minutes of each other on different stands. It was the last minutes of legal light, I heard a shot and waited for a text to see who shot. I peeked in my pocket that held my phone so i wouldn’t be illuminated, I saw it was my husband and put my phone away.

When I looked up a deer stepped out I waited since it looked small. A larger doe stepped out, she was under a pine tree but I could see her perfectly. It was just dark enough I could barely make out the cross hairs. Luckily I have a Konus scope with a lighted reticle, so I flipped that on and fired. She donkey kicked and took off. I sent a text out letting the guys know I hit one. It was four minutes after I got my husbands text. She didn’t run more than 60 yards.
We took our deer to Great Outdoors Taxidermy & Processing in Bowman and they introduced me to deer bacon, it’s better than bacon!

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Our hunting trips to South Carolina always include duck hunting and I was able to take some amazing pictures and later on my first hooded merganser.

duck

This trip we slept in a camper on the hunting property for about a week, then I hit the road to attend my first ATA convention and stay in a fancy hotel. Nashville was freezing cold but I got to see some old friends, meet some new ones and see the majority of the archery industry under one roof. I can’t wait for next year.

Its funny how a meal can bring back memories. I hunt for memories and meat. Long after the meat is gone the memory will be there. I can see that hunt as clearly as if it was yesterday. It was the perfect way to end 2013 and begin 2014.  I am very thankful to have taken that doe and enjoy the nature made truly organic protein.

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Blueberry Soda from Maine Root goes amazingly well with venison steak!