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June 4, 2013

Why I’m Not a Hunting Widow

In almost any small town across the US, there are a few things you can count on. Neighbors help each other. You will almost always meet someone you know at the grocery store. Lots of guys hunt. And many of their wives or girlfriends don’t.

I have often wondered if this gender gap is a holdover from our prehistoric hunter-gatherer days when physically stronger men did the majority of hunting, or if women in general find the testosterone fueled stereotype of hunting distasteful.

Whatever the cause, there is no shortage of “significant others” who stay home and disapprove of their guy disappearing each fall to hunt. But I am not one of them – I’m part of a small but growing number of women who refuse to become hunting widows, because we take to the field with, and without, our men.

While recent studies show the overall number of hunters in America is holding relatively steady, the percentage of new hunters that are women is increasing, and sporting journals are filled with speculation on the reasons behind this demographic shift.

While I don’t speak for everyone of my gender, I’d like to share a few reasons why I hunt:

  • I did not grow up in a hunting family; in fact, I didn’t begin hunting until I was in my mid-30’s.  As an adult, I started finding out more about factory farming and the conditions animals are raised in, which encouraged me to become personally responsible for my own meat. I value the knowledge that it has lived a natural life, is always taken under fair chase conditions, and is treated as respectfully as possible.
  •  You can’t beat wild game if you are looking for lean, truly organic meat.  With the growing awareness of genetically modified food, and the secondary effects of commercial food additives, I prefer to know that the meat I eat is free of these types of concerns.  Additionally, being a successful hunter here in the Rocky Mountain west means I’m going to be hiking multi-day backpack trips at high elevations, and that’s a pretty good incentive to eat healthy and stay fit year round.
  •  I’m not embarrassed to say I love the great hunting clothes available to women these days. There was a time when any camouflage clothing that fit the female figure wasn’t designed for rigorous in-the-field use; that level of performance could only be found in gear designed for a man’s body shape.  Happily, the days of rolling up the cuffs on your husband’s or brother’s hand-me-downs are over. Today, clothing companies are making camouflage specifically for us, providing both the fit and functionality we need.  And the fact they look great doesn’t hurt.
  •  There is so much more to hunting than the split second it takes to fire a rifle or release an arrow. There’s an entire spectrum of mutual experiences that bring my husband and I closer – the anticipation of drawing tags, the planning and preparation, and the days spent together in nature away from cell phones and email. To me, the most significant moments aren’t the ones captured in the “hero shots” of a successful hunt.  They are the nights spent on a mountaintop in a tiny tent during a spectacular thunderstorm, the delight in stumbling across a patch of ripe wild raspberries and sharing the quiet, unrivalled beauty of a sunrise with the most important person in my life.

Ladies, if you have never hunted, keep this in mind – women today can and do hunt without having to become “one of the guys.”  Whether you have the opportunity to take to the field with your husband as I do, or whether you join one of the many women’s hunting groups that are springing up across the country, don’t mentally write hunting off as a “guy’s only” activity; to do so is to shortchange yourself some of the great personal rewards and satisfaction that come with it.

Guest blogger Catherine Thagard is the wife and hunting partner of TRCP’s Western Outreach Director Neil Thagard. 

One Response to “Why I’m Not a Hunting Widow”

  1. Michael Sabbeth

    Thank you for your compelling article. I found most affirming your willingness to take action to enrich your food, in terms of both the quality of the meat but also the ethical context of the animal’s life. Your narrative shows the power of the individual to positively influence his or her life, even in a mass culture, and even though it may be in a limited way.

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May 29, 2013

Mia Sheppard

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May 25, 2013

World Champion Women of Spey Casting

Mia Sheppard and Marcy Stone celebrate after the competition. Photo by James Chalmer.

This year marked the tenth anniversary of the world championship of spey casting known as Spey-O-Rama. Held at the world-renowned casting ponds in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the event is devoted to introducing the public to fly casting and angling.

Oh, and did I mention it’s a competition with a 15-foot, 10-weight rod and long belly line? Long belly lines are traditional fly lines that measure more than 55 feet; my line was 68 feet.

This was my fifth year competing at SOR and I was thrilled to take first place in the women’s division. What an honor to cast with so many incredible people. Together we work to get better and push the limits of the sport.

Check out the video of me training for the event.

When SOR first began 10 years ago, the winning cast was 120 feet for guys and 80 feet for women. This year, the longest cast was 191 feet for guys, a new world record set by Geir Hansen from Norway, and 144 feet for women.

One might wonder what goes into a cast like that. Just like any other sport, practice, timing and tempo are important. As I trained this year, I focused less on distance and more on timing and tempo.

I practiced my casting stoke but most importantly I focused on breathing. Maintaining a slow, consistent inhale and exhale with a pause in-between helped me keep my casting rhythm. This breathing pattern enabled me to deliver a smooth cast for six full minutes. When factoring in the long line and heavy reel and rod combo required for the sport, one can understand why breathing, timing and tempo are important.

I look forward to more competitions and, more importantly, more time on the water in the years to come.

Read more from Mia and check out her blog, Metalheads.

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May 23, 2013

Orvis Exec Picked to Lead Board of Sportsmen’s Group

Story courtesy of E&E News

 Phil Taylor, E&E reporter

Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today announced that David Perkins, vice chairman of the Orvis Co., will lead the TRCP board.

Perkins, an avid fly fisherman who joined Orvis in 1979, will replace Katie Distler Eckman, a former executive director of the Turner Foundation who has been chairwoman of the TRCP’s board since 2011.

TRCP partners with dozens of sportsman and conservation groups to lobby for greater access to public lands, conservation funding and balanced energy development.

“As one of the only conservation groups to focus on federal policy and funding that affects millions of acres to conserve habitat and access for hunters and fishers, the TRCP has the platform to make one of the biggest differences in preserving our natural heritage,” Perkins said in a statement this afternoon.

Perkins also sits on the board of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Orvis earlier this year announced plans to match its customers’ donations — up to $50,000 — to support efforts to oppose a sprawling open-pit mine proposed for Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, a project the TRCP has also vigorously opposed.

“At both a personal and professional level, Dave’s commitment to conservation and sporting traditions is unsurpassed,” Eckman said in a statement. “He has been a steadfast supporter of the TRCP since its inception, and we are privileged to have someone with his talent, dedication and vision take the reins as the organization enters its second decade.”

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May 22, 2013

T.R.’s Summer Travel

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

How well do you know T.R.? Give our Wednesday Win trivia challenge a try. 

Theodore Roosevelt had three travel related firsts as president.  He was the first president to ride in an automobile for state purposes; he was the first to ride in an airplane.  Do you know the third?

Leave us a comment below or email your answers to info@trcp.org for your chance to win a copy of The Gigantic Book of Hunting Stories edited by Jay Cassell.

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