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.