TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation
Hometown: Cascade, Montana
Occupation: Freelance writer
Conservation credentials: Educated audiences on conservation issues as a TV news reporter; champions showcasing better hunting and fishing ethics on social media
Jackie Holbrook is the kind of outdoorswoman we want to be—whether she’s hiking, scouting, and fishing with her young daughter strapped to her back or reaching out to a new generation of bowhunters. Holbrook was raised in Helena, Mont., spent ten years challenging herself in the last frontier of Alaska, and has dedicated much of her career to sharing important conservation stories through her journalism. Here is her story.
My dad took me on fishing and hunting adventures from the time I was toddler, and I completed my hunter’s safety course at 15 years old—I was the only girl in the class. I will never forget the experience of shooting my first deer with my dad that year.
I got hooked on fly-fishing in college and met my husband after I moved to Alaska, which opened up an amazing new world of hunting and fishing opportunities.
I have fantastic memories of landing a 30-inch rainbow trout on the fly, shooting a moose with my bow, and coming face-to-face with bugling bulls, but getting engaged on a three-week hunting trip is probably my most memorable adventure in the outdoors. During the trip, we bowhunted caribou and brown bears and watched a wolverine race up the side of a mountain. My husband harvested two wolves, and I shot my first moose on the final morning of our trip. It was an amazing Alaska adventure.
None of these adventures would be possible without conservation.
Conservation is also a big part of my life and career. My “beat” as a former TV reporter was hunting and fishing. Most of my coworkers thought those issues were boring, but to me there was nothing more important than informing people about conservation issues. Now, as a freelance writer, a lot of my work is focused on recruiting bowhunters and giving them the tools to succeed.
I’m shocked by how many people are opposed to hunting without having a basic understanding of the facts. I think social media has made this attitude worse. Hunters are getting bullied online, especially young women, and I’m afraid this will deter younger generations from taking up the tradition.
Hunters are essential to conservation and that message often gets misrepresented. I think widespread misinformation can cause a lot of damage to the public perception of hunters. I also think this anti-hunting movement is dangerous to conservation when public opinion begins to overturn sound science in wildlife management decisions.
After a decade in Alaska, I moved back to Montana because I missed the hunting and fishing here. There is nowhere I would rather be in September than in elk country chasing bugling bulls. Now, we live along the Missouri River, and I love being able to walk out the front door and throw a fly at hungry trout with my toddler on my back.
Motherhood reaffirmed my commitment to conservation. Watching the world through the eyes of my daughter reminds me of its magic. My 20-month-old laughs and yells “fish” when my husband I are fighting fish. She also makes a pretty perfect elk bugle. Hunting, fishing, and the outdoors aren’t hobbies—they’re a way of life for people. At such a young age she’s already enjoying the gifts of conservation, and I want her to grow up with the same clean water, public lands, and healthy wildlife populations that I had.
Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a questionnaire.