Kristyn Brady

November 7, 2017

Lindsey Elliott Wants Everyone to Tell More Complex, Emotional Hunting Stories

Part Two in our series of conversations with women who are helping to shine a spotlight on habitat, access, and funding issues that impact hunting and fishing

Perhaps one of the best things to come out of recent threats to public lands has been a new kind of alliance between hunters, anglers, and other people who enjoy the outdoors, like skiers, hikers, bikers, climbers, and paddlers. Lindsey Elliott considers herself originally from this second group, but as an enthusiastic newcomer to hunting—she went on her first big game hunt last year—she’s become a very willing ambassador for our sports, especially with devotees of her business Wylder Goods, a built-by-women-for-women outdoor gear retailer she co-founded with her friend Jainee Dial in April 2016.

We talked to Lindsey about how she got interested in hunting—it involves her collecting roadkill, more on that later—and why she believes in weaving conservation stories into the marketing of a business that relies on the outdoors.

Photo by Jainee Dial.

TRCP: We first got to know you at the Outdoor Retailer show this summer, where you were on a panel about hunting and public lands with our president and CEO Whit Fosburgh. He said you had a really unique journey to discovering your love of hunting—can you share it with us?

ELLIOTT: Yeah, I was sort of the token beginner hunter on that panel, which was great because it’s such an interesting time to be joining the hunting community—there’s this bipartisan wave of support for public lands, and meanwhile women are increasingly getting into hunting as the overall number of hunters is declining. It’s part of why I’m motivated to share my story.

I don’t come from a hook-and-bullet background. I mean, I fished as a kid and I’ve gotten into flyfishing as an adult, but I don’t have any family members who hunt. I’d really never fired a high-powered rifle until last year.

I used to work in environmental education, and we’d show the kids things like primitive skills and basic firemaking. One day I found a dead fox on the side of the road—it had this really beautiful coat and it wasn’t mangled or anything, so I had an expert help me use it for a skinning demonstration. She did about half the job and talked me through the rest, and it ended up being this really incredible experience for me where I sort of felt like I was out of my body watching my hands move as if they knew where to go. I realized it didn’t matter whether I thought I could or couldn’t do it—it was biologically engrained in me.

That sort of lit a spark, and for the next eight years or so I just wanted more and more experiences like that. I got a collection permit to use other critters to teach my students, whether it was about feather design or what scavengers eat. I learned how to tan hides (not very well, because it’s super hard), and I just became the person everyone called when they had dead animals! I was like the roadkill queen of my community, which was pretty funny.

Photo by Jainee Dial.

Then I moved to Utah, and one of my friends here has been hunting for 25 years. His walls are covered in beautiful taxidermy mounts and skulls, and we’d eat these wonderful meals with wild game and I’d ask him about the stories behind all of it. He finally asked if I wanted to come along on a hunt and see for myself, so I got an apprentice hunter license.

I thought I’d just shadow him for the season, but then I got a tag and started training with a rifle, and since I wasn’t half bad it seemed like I could really go for it. Everything just kept lining up. By early fall, I’d spent about eight months reading a lot about hunting and sort of testing the conversation in my peer group, just exploring the idea. But now I really wanted to do this! I sincerely hoped I’d get the opportunity to shoot a deer—and I did.

It was a beautiful process, and one that I immediately felt aligned with. Since then, cooking that meat for friends has even deepened the spirituality of the experience. I was sure I’d know in an instant if hunting was going to be for me, and every part of my first hunt just confirmed that this is something I’m going to pursue for the rest of my life.

Photo by Abbi Hearne.

TRCP: You made a great point about this being a very big moment for public lands and maybe an opportunity for some non-traditional partnerships around conservation. But do you think that women who hunt are accepted by your customers who are adventure athletes? Is that a dated stereotype that there is mistrust between the two groups?

ELLIOTT: Coming from the climbing and biking side, I’ll say that it felt like a big risk a year ago to step out and start talking about hunting on the Wylder platform, because it can be such a divisive topic. But I have been so surprised at how interested outdoorswomen have been in my process and the stories that I’m sharing. Every time that I bring it up on social media, I get responses from a handful of women who say Thank you for sharing this, or I really want to get into this someday, or I just asked my dad if he would take me hunting for the first time. So, I do notice that there’s more genuine interest than I thought there was in a group where I was pretty concerned about broaching the conversation. That’s exciting.

Photo by Jainee Dial.

TRCP: You created Wylder because you saw a need to better serve women interested in outdoor gear made for them. Do you think the industry is evolving, and where do you think other women have an opportunity to help make a change?

ELLIOTT: The hunting industry does seem to be turning a corner, even in the short amount of time I’ve been paying attention, especially with Sitka’s women’s line coming out and there being more of an accurate representation of women in hunting magazines and videos.

Where I’m personally motivated is changing the style of storytelling, and I think that women should be a part of that: Let’s tell more complex, emotional stories about hunting, because there’s so much more to it than what a grip-and-grin photo shows you. You have this incredible moment of fear and anguish—I mean, I was buckling at the knees just watching from afar as my deer collapsed to the ground—and of course there’s a moment of relief that you finally got there, and you can eventually smile at some point for a photo. But I think a lot of that gets left out, and it could shift the public perception of what it means to be a hunter.

Photo by Abbi Hearne.

TRCP: Wylder is a certified B Corp, a for-profit company that uses the power of business as a force for good. Why is that important to you?

ELLIOTT: For us, it was part of the original conception of Wylder and really the only way we saw ourselves getting involved in business in the first place. We partner with four non-profits, donate two percent of our sales profit to them, and dedicate a quarter of our marketing to their calls to action and campaigns. Part of our goal is infusing learning and advocacy into the narrative of our online community so people feel less like visitors to wild places and more like part of the ecosystem. When I first learned about B Corps, it just struck me that we could start a business in a place where we are personally connected, where there’s a need in the market, and we can use it as the engine for driving attention toward the good work that we want to see happen in the world. It has been the biggest surprise in my career to end up doing what I’m doing.

Follow Lindsey at @lindenroams, @wyldergoods, and on the Wylder blog. If you know an amazing, inspiring sportswoman with a passion for conservation, tag us on social media and share her story. We’d love to feature more fierce females like this.

5 Responses to “Lindsey Elliott Wants Everyone to Tell More Complex, Emotional Hunting Stories”

  1. Hi Lindsey; Thanks very much for your excellent efforts on behalf of conservation, wildlife management, environmental education and fisheries science. Believe it or not, I have worked in all of the above fields for almost 50 years. I am a “true Believer” and have PLENTY OF STORIES to tell. These stories are humorous, unbelievable, pitiful, and amazing. They relate to how Americans (just like you and me) either relate appropriately or inappropriately to the natural world that surrounds them. My most memorable stories come from the 14 years that I spent as a Deputy Waterways Conservation Officer, PA Fish and Boat Commission. You can reach me via e mail: Llustig@ccg.carr.org OR via phone at 410-386-3705. Have a comfortable seat, and a pot of hot coffee, since I could share stories right straight through midnight.

    Warm regards… Loren Lustig, Biglerville, PA

  2. Kelli McDonald

    I have really enjoyed what you have to say about the more emotional side of hunting. I have just gotten into hunting the last few years. Part of that was wanting to be involved with my husband as he learned and also to add another aspect of enjoying the great outdoors. I shot my first deer last week and the amount of emotion was so unexpected. From anxiousness before pulling the trigger, to watching the deer fall to gutting the deer to take it home. I couldn’t believe how I felt, but also how satisfied I was about the whole experience and being able to share it with my husband and 2 sons. I think another part that is not being talked about is being a momma and an outdoors woman. Trying to balance life and outdoor adventures, individually as well as with my family, is something I strive for daily and having more women talk about it is making it easier to keep adventuring as life changes.

  3. Iris Britton

    I am not a hunter and have an ingrown adversion to killing game, especially if it’s not to be eaten. I’d like to broaden my thinking on the subject but have a couple of questions. How do you approach hunting as an ecological benefit? Does being a hunter mean adhearing to NRA type philosophies?

    • Anna Grubb
      Anna Grubb

      Hi Iris,
      Hunting is a management tool that helps keep wildlife populations healthy and in balance. You can see what sportsmen and women stand for here, which includes clean water, conserving public lands, and supporting more funding for conservation programs. NRA type philosophies are Second Amendment focused, which TRCP doesn’t work on. We work on conserving and balancing fish and wildlife.

  4. Also a climber, skier and hiker, slowly journeying to becoming a hunter and angler. More and more, I feel fulfillment in slowing down, observing and engaging with the natural world, rather then just moving through it. Knowing a place, not just being there.

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Anna Grubb

October 30, 2017

Q&A: Outdoors Allie on Artemis and the Modern-Day Huntress

Part One in our series of conversations with women who are helping to shine a spotlight on habitat, access, and funding issues that impact hunting and fishing

Long before Theodore Roosevelt hunted the badlands and remade himself from a sickly child into an American conservation hero, there were tales of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt. She is the modern-day inspiration for Artemis Sportswomen, a group that’s ready to change the face of conservation.

We caught up with one of their founding members, Allie D’Andrea—you may know her by her social media handle, Outdoors Allie—to hear what inspires her outdoor pursuits and how she thinks women can help advocate for America’s quality places to hunt and fish.

TRCP: How did you first get involved in hunting and fishing?

D’ANDREA: I grew up very much in the outdoors, but I did not start hunting and fishing until my college years. My boyfriend Nick played baseball, but after a serious elbow injury he needed to find a new way to fill his time in the fall. He began hunting, heading into the woods almost every chance he could. We had been together since I was 16, so this sudden change was noticeable, and naturally I wanted to see what the draw was!

I started out just observing him on hunts and ended up throwing myself into solo hunting, falling more and more in love with the pursuit. Now, I hunt for meat, for adventure, and to feel a deeper connection to our natural world.

 

TRCP: What inspires you as a sportswoman in conservation?

D’ANDREA: I absolutely love exploring Western landscapes—they are truly awe-inspiring. The more I see, the more I’m inspired to safeguard wildlife, wild places, and my right to explore.

 

TRCP: Can you share a recent epiphany you’ve had about conservation and your role as a sportswoman?

D’ANDREA: I’ve come to realize that there are people from all walks of life who care about conservation. Whether you are a hunter, climber, urbanite, or all three, it doesn’t matter. If we all care about the same issues, then it’s only natural that we should all work together. Of course, there will be areas where we won’t see eye to eye, and that is OK. It’s more about joining together where there is common ground for the greater good of wildlife and habitat.

As sportswomen, we are a piece of that puzzle. It’s our responsibility to not only join that conversation, but contribute to it.

 

TRCP: Why do you think it’s so important for women to speak out?

D’ANDREA: Because anyone who cares about conservation and has something powerful to contribute deserves to be heard. And with the creation of niche conservation groups like Artemis, it becomes easier to amplify those voices.

TRCP: What do you see as the biggest impediment for women who want to get into hunting, fishing, and conservation?

D’ANDREA: As the social norms have started to shift, the biggest challenge might be finding mentors. Personally, I was surrounded by such a welcoming group of men willing to help me learn. I would have been lost without them.

 

TRCP: How are you using your platform to promote R3 and make sure a new generation of sportswomen are introduced into this community?

D’ANDREA: On social media, I’m trying to create a safe place for anyone to be part of the conversation, from folks who are brand new to hunting to those with decades of experience. You can never stop learning, and I try to highlight the joy of learning in my own journey, hoping to inspire others to do the same!

Steve Kline

October 27, 2017

A Toast to the Patron Saint of Conservation on His 159th Birthday

If you’ve looked at the state of our country lately and thought, ‘What would Theodore Roosevelt do?’ this might be your answer 

Hunting and the American outdoors were fundamental to who Theodore Roosevelt was—without them, he would be unrecognizable. There have been other sportsmen in the White House (Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight Eisenhower were all passionate flyfishermen), but T.R.’s greatness cannot be separated from his passion for the outdoors, which is what makes him the patron saint of conservation in America.

So, it’s no wonder we’re thinking of him today, as his 159th birthday coincides with a pivotal time for our nation and the conservation priorities he helped to set in motion.

Theodore Roosevelt led with a clarity of purpose, and he would have seen clearly the task facing modern-day hunters and anglers—it is no less than the survival of our outdoor traditions. The future of hunting and fishing, not to mention our fish and wildlife resources, is in the hands of decision-makers who are often uninformed or downright hostile. But it is also in our hands. We must move fish and wildlife conservation up the hierarchy of our own political decision-making and vote accordingly.

If, like Roosevelt, hunting and angling are foundational to your very being, something you want to pass down to your children, then you can’t afford to be passive about policies that will affect your access or the responsible management of fish and wildlife habitat.

A generation ago, many elected leaders learned the language of the land as kids, knew the culture of opening day, and shared stories of blaze orange and bird dogs at the Formica counters of small town diners. But today, the lawmakers who understand our culture beyond its value at the voting booth are few and far between. This reality reflects broader trends: an increasingly urban population that’s more and more profoundly disconnected from wildlife and wild places.

Still there is no more important issue in this country than conservation, and to celebrate T.R. is to celebrate his famous maxim.

Subsequently we must hold our elected officials accountable when they make decisions that threaten habitat and access. We must inform others, and be informed ourselves, on the importance of the North American model of wildlife management, and explain how hunters and anglers play an absolutely essential role in the funding of conservation work. After all, following in T.R.’s footsteps, we are the prime authors of some of the greatest fish and wildlife conservation success stories in the history of the world.

To be a hunter or an angler in 2017 is to be a steward for the future. It is no less an essential call than the one that motivated Theodore Roosevelt and a generation of American conservationists, to whom we owe a profound debt of gratitude. The hunters of the next century need us to carry that mantle forward with our words and actions.

Get started right now by pledging to do more for America’s public lands. If we only rally around keeping them public and ignore the more complex issue of responsible land management, it’s possible for decision makers to make access promises while voting to undermine everything we want access to. Click here to learn more.

 

This post was originally published on October 27, 2016 and has been updated.

Scott Laird

October 23, 2017

This Rural Montana County is Rallying Local Governments to Stand Up for America’s Public Lands

Anaconda-Deer Lodge county commissioners join a growing list of elected officials across the West to pass resolutions of support for public lands, and they are urging other Montana counties to follow suit

After passing a resolution opposing any effort to transfer or sell federal public lands to the state or local governments, the Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Commission is trying to rally other Montana county governments around the value of public lands.

In a late-September meeting, Anaconda-Deer Lodge county commissioners voted unanimously to officially recognize the importance of public lands to the county’s 10,000 residents for attracting outdoor recreation tourism that drives the local economy. The Anaconda Sportsman’s Club approached the county commissioners about a public lands resolution, resulting in the vote. Nearby Georgetown Lake is a year-round fishing destination, and hunters from across the country come to the Pintler Mountains and Lost Creek to pursue elk, mule deer, and world-class bighorn sheep. The county seat of Anaconda is also located within driving distance of some of the most iconic national forests in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, with numerous opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, hiking, skiing, and backpacking.

Now, the ADL commissioners have sent a copy of the resolution with a letter to elected officials in every Montana county, urging them to take up official statements of support for America’s public lands and oppose public land transfer as a “short-sighted and ill-conceived” idea.

The letter claims that although land transfer has largely been defeated at the local level, special interests and lobbyists are pushing their agenda in Washington, D.C., by convincing lawmakers from states with few public lands that counties in Western states support the idea of transferring ownership. “As fellow Commissioners, we encourage your Commission to pass a similar Resolution supporting federal management of local public lands and honor the dedicated federal employees who manage the public lands and wildlife in your county,” the commissioners write.

“The Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Commissioners and the Anaconda Sportsmen’s Club should be commended,” says Scott Laird, Montana field representative for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “They’re the first county commission in Montana to pass a resolution supporting our public lands and opposing the transfer of these lands to state or local governments. It’s heartening to see this movement grow at the county and local level, where a vocal minority would have lawmakers believe that Montanans want transfer.”

“The County’s resolution recognizes the importance of public lands,” says Terry Vermiere, chairman of the Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Commission. “These lands bring irreplaceable value to our county’s economy, recreation, heritage, and quality of life.” Ben Krakowka, the county’s attorney adds, “This action was meant to send a message that selling off or giving away public lands is a bad idea. People come here from all over to vacation on our public lands. That opportunity doesn’t exist for many people from the eastern part of the country.”

A total of 30 pro-public-lands resolutions have been passed by county and municipal governments across the West in the past two years. Anaconda-Deer Lodge County is the first in Montana to do so. For links to these resolutions and other official statements of support for public lands, visit sportsmensaccess.org.

Kevin Farron

October 12, 2017

This Is One Lucky Dog

Meet the winner of our #PublicLandsPup photo contest and learn what her family loves about hunting and fishing on public lands

We’re excited to announce the winner of our #PublicLandsPup photo contest: Allison Carolan and her Labrador retriever Beau!

With hundreds of photo submissions to choose from, you guys didn’t make it easy for us to pick just one winner. But this lucky pup will receive a new dog bed from Orvis to rest up for her next public-lands adventure.

We talked with the winning #publiclandsproud photographer, Allison Carolan, and asked her to tell us more about the photo, her dog, and what public lands mean to both of them.

TRCP: Congrats on winning the #publiclandspup contest, Alli! Where were you when you took this amazing photo?

CAROLAN: I took this photo in December in the Nemadji River bottoms on public land near Wrenshall, Minnesota. My husband, Andrew, and our 7-year-old Labrador retriever, Beau, and I were looking for grouse at the time, and we had just walked some single tracks for an hour or so before pausing to take in the sunrise over the Nemadji River valley.

It was about three degrees that morning, and everything was covered with hoarfrost in the valley. The frost was so heavy that some of the crystals were blowing off the trees and shimmering in the air in a crazy, otherworldly sort of way. We stopped to stare at the scene and didn’t even care that we hadn’t flushed a single bird yet. It was actually so cold that some of my breath distorted the light just slightly in the photo.

7-year-old Labrador retriever, Beau, will be rewarded for her hard work with a plush dog bed from Orvis. Image courtesy of @alli_ac on Instagram.
TRCP: It made for a truly amazing shot. How does Beau like to enjoy public lands?

CAROLAN: Beau loves to hunt, especially pheasants, Hungarian partridge, and sharptails. She specializes in long, challenging retrieves on the big grasslands of western Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and central Montana. In fact, at this very moment, Beau is with my husband at a base-camp on public land outside of Lewiston, Mont., on the Pheasants Forever Rooster Road Trip. (You can follow along with the adventure here.)

Beau is a wild bird snob, loves an authentic hunting experience, and we really only take her to hunt on public lands. You can tell she loves the challenge of flushing late-season roosters that are holding tight in thick cover, the ones that other dogs might have missed.

TRCP: What about you? What attracts you to our public lands?

CAROLAN: As for me, I just completed my hunter safety course, but haven’t completed my field day training yet. For now, I’m content to walk along, watch Beau work, take photos, and contribute to the wild game dinners afterward. I am, however, an extreme frequenter of public lands. I’m an ultra-marathon runner and wilderness canoeist, so I spend the vast majority of my free time seeking out and training on all kinds of public lands. I’ve run on the backcountry ATV trails of western Montana, in countless national parks and forests, and around portage trails in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. In general, the wilder the place, the more I like it. Since I cover a lot of ground in my training, I’m a decent scout for everything from morel mushrooms to rare plants to birdy-looking areas. I sneak up on a lot of grouse during trail runs and take note of good future hunting locations when I find them.

I also grew up trout fishing in the Driftless Area of northeast Iowa and have spent many hours fishing on public lands in that region and out West.

TRCP: Knowing all this, it seems like Beau truly is a #publiclandspup and well deserving of a new bed from Orvis.

CAROLAN: For sure! Beau will absolutely love the new Orvis bed, and I’ll be putting it in her favorite place in the house—right in front of the fireplace. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it after putting in some hard work this week.

Below are some of our other favorite #PublicLandPup captures shared with us during the campaign.

 

Jake Koehn’s Lab, Milo, is all smiles after a successful pheasant hunt in North Dakota. Image courtesy of @jake_koehn on Instagram.

 

Ryan Cavanaugh’s dog, Daly, stays warm on a chilly duck hunt in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Image courtesy of @ry.cavanaugh on Instagram.

 

Fishing dog, Ginger, knows how to point more than just birds. Image courtesy of @phoebe_s_bean on Instagram.

 

Morgan Brown’s #publiclandspup Lily loves to fish! Image courtesy of @morgan_b_1 on Instagram.

 

Brian Riopelle holding his first Columbian sharp-tailed grouse thanks to the aid of his dog Sadie. Image courtesy of @ab_rio and @b_rio802 on Instagram.

 

Matt Martens’ pointer with his first bird in Idaho! Image courtesy of @matthew_tyler_m on Instagram.

 

Andrew Rappl with a limit of Utah sage grouse thanks to the help of his #publiclandspup, Ozzy. Image courtesy of @rapplandrew on Instagram.

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