Girls Gone Hunting: Kansas Goose Hunt

Hunter and I started the 16+ hour trek to Hutchinson, Kansas on February 1st. Headed to yet another hunting trip of the year, this time was a bit different. Instead of being the only girl in the blind, I would be one of six waterfowl hunters, all female. Oddly enough, the owner of Big Kansas Outdoors, Ben Webster, his guides and Hunter were the minority this time around!

We got in town that night and before heading to the cabin, we all met up at a little barbecue joint to have dinner. It was the night before our first hunt and we were excited to all be together and share a couple days of hunting in a prime location for lesser canada’s and specklebelly geese. Every single one of us was from a different state. Illinois, California, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Nebraska. I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world got us all together, and simply put it was the power of social media. Each of us has a strong following on Instagram and had spoken through messages and comments before meeting up. From there we had met at various trade shows and through companies that we worked with in the outdoor industry. It would be our second year hunting together, plus or minus a few girls. It is my favorite trip of all, being in February and after everyone’s hunting season was coming to an end. It allows us to chat about our hunting stories from the past year and plan for the following.

The guys at Big Kansas Outdoors would be our guides for the next few days, and they didn’t fall short of any expectations that we had. The first morning we had a 3 AM wake up call. After all 7 of us girls spent time getting ready out of the 2 bathrooms that we had to share, we headed to the gas station for coffee and to meet the guides. We drove two trucks and spent 15 minutes that morning jamming out to 90’s hits before the guides arrived. A hilarious, entertaining and oddly-hyper morning followed by our arrival to the winter wheat field that we would be hunting over.

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The first day, we left the field with 40 geese and were ecstatic. The guide, Austin Moffet did an impressive job at calling and getting the geese to land right on the spread where we wanted them. At one point, hundreds of geese were 20 yards above our heads and all around us. My eyes were huge, jaw dropped and I tapped him on the shoulder at least three times to show him my excitement and eagerness. Ya’ll, we were all in awe. It was an incredible sight to say the least.

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The second day we were surprised when we arrived to see about a dozen people getting the blind and decoys set up. The owner of BKO, Ben, had all of his guides come hunt with us. Hunting with 17 people is pretty rare, as it is difficult to hide that many hunters. At the same time, it’s just that much more fun. They set us up in A-Frame blinds, which made us essentially look like a standalone tree line. That day would be one for the books, one that none of us will ever forget. Not only did we see thousands of birds, but the guides worked them all around us and ended the day morning with a 17 man limit AND a band! The mood that morning radiated. It would be the best hunt of our lives. The people, amount of birds, the atmosphere – it was unrivaled.

Throughout my life, i’ve mainly hunted with men. My grandpa, dad, uncles, etc. I’m still getting used to being with a group of girls, who all shared the same passion for the outdoors and hunting. It’s not the norm, but we sure are working towards it. The conversations, the belly aching laughs, the unforgettable memories that we made those two days. The friendships cultivated and the incredible hunts that we got to experience.

That right there will go down in my history book.

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Meet the ladies!

Nicole Belke (@nicolebelke)

Sydney Meeks (@sydneyleann40)

Sierra Langbell (@sierra_langbell)

Jessica Byers (@followherarrow)

Courtney Smith (@sportswomancourtney)

Whitney Vau (@whitney_outdoors)

Kayla Hill (@kayla_h25)


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Big Kansas Outdoors (@bigkansasoutdoors)

www.bigkansasoutdoors.com

Booking Information: 620-200-4372

Thank you, Ben Webster & BKO for an awesome hunt & hospitality. Ya’ll are the best!


Thank you,

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Fly Fishing: Montana & Colorado

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The thought of traveling cross country can either bring about pure enthusiasm or utter disinterest. With wanderlust as my middle name, my first reaction is fairly easy to guess. When Hunter asked if I would fly to Bozeman, Montana and drive back to Destin, Florida with him following his elk hunt… I barely hesitated. To get the chance to drive through some of the most gorgeous states in this country? Count me in. If you type it in to Google Maps you’ll get directions for a 32 hour trip. Thankfully we decided to make a few stops along the way. We had planned to drive from Montana through Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia (to drop off the truck), Alabama and then finally, Florida. We took this as an excellent opportunity to do what we had talked about for so long – fly fish out West!

Shortly after flying into Bozeman midday on November 13th, Hunter picked me up and we made a pit stop at a local barbecue spot before heading to our first afternoon of DIY fly fishing. Our good friend Scott Mcleod graciously let us borrow his rods, flys and a little insight into fly fishing out West. He has been a fishing guide for years all across the country, even Mexico and Alaska! Our first day fishing was short, but long filled with memories and mess ups. Hunter caught the first fish of the day, because he has this certain luck that I just can’t put my finger on. I think it’s me, but we’ll let him think it’s all skill 😉 The sun went down and we packed our bags, threw our waders in the back, heading South for the night.

We woke up the next day in Wyoming. Eager to head to the very spot that our dear friend Scott insisted we fish at, we packed our bags and started there. We arrived in the tiny town, stopped at a local fly shop and bought a few necessities: our fishing license, snacks and a few flies. A 20 minute drive and we had arrived.

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The scenery was captivating – alluring, beautiful, magnificent. The canyon that we were in allowed you to look up and view the grand beauty that surrounded. Shortly after reaching the bottom of the canyon, we sat down, got our rods out and got to work. The hike upstream was nothing short of delightful. We casted everything that day; streamers, eggs, nymphs, trees and brush from behind me.. just about everything. I learned that day that fly fishing is so particularly detailed, much more than I had previously thought. I finally understood the obsession, the thrill and the lifestyle that many choose to live.

At this point, Hunter and I began looking for a permanent home in Wyoming. Not really, but we surely didn’t want to leave. After doing some research, Hunter found a guide service along the way and we planned a trip the next day at the Miracle Mile. Very few places conjure up better images than the Miracle Mile, a section of the N. Platte River. Just uttering those words fuels the imagination, especially an individual with a rod in one hand and a fly in the other. We drove to meet the guide, and after driving 40 minutes on a dirt road in the middle of n o w h e r e, we had arrived. The Miracle Mile lived up to it’s name. The scenery is excellent, and the trout are epic. Our guide was phenomenal – he not only paddled us up and downstream but also switched up our weights, changed flies and told us exactly what we needed to know in order to land these tricky fish. An unforgettable day filled with lifelong memories. You can find Hunter and I  already planning our trip back to the great state of Wyoming.

For photography inquiries, contact Hunter Forbes at h.forbes.h@gmail.com 

For booking information, contact Jenna Taylor at jktayl07@gmail.com or Hunter Forbes at h.forbes.h@gmail.com

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Whitetail Heaven Outfitters: The Harvest & the Hunt

Turkey season: It’s the month or so in which thousands of lucky hunters across the world take to the ripe green fields, plant their bosoms next to a cedar tree and patiently wait for a mature Tom to come strutting amongst their decoy(s). Spring turkey season brings (mostly) beautiful weather, growth, rebirth, and renewal. Antlers start to grow, flowers begin to blossom. It is a fresh start – an awakening. As a child and young adult, I used to love spring, yet despise winter. The frigid temperatures, lifeless trees and hibernating animals that were copious examples of the winter season at hand. However, as I matured I began to realize that without winter, the spring would not be so lovely. Without despair and hardship, the good times wouldn’t be so good. Since we are able to compare the two, we can experience joy. This remembrance is critical to a life worth living.

So, as springtime comes about – Turkey season quickly follows. This year, I was fortunate enough to get to spend opening weekend in my home state of Kentucky at the absolutely incredible, breathtaking lodge – home to Whitetail Heaven Outfitters. I drove down to Nicholasville, Kentucky after work around 5 PM on Friday, April 15th. I had met the guides and owner at the ATA show in Louisville earlier in the year, and was delighted to be invited, thus experiencing the Southern hospitality that they’re known for. I got to the 5500 sq. foot lodge around 6:30 PM or so. I pulled up – not knowing much about the night ahead – and was pleasantly surprised when I saw 25-30 cars lined up on each side of the driveway. We walked up to the door & we were greeted by the owner, Tevis McCauley. Tevis is a horse trainer, owner of Whitetail Heaven and owner of Whitetail Seduction Trophy Deer Minerals. Tevis is also a husband and a father. He is married to the marvelous chef at Whitetail Heaven, Hannah McCauley. Hannah is the sweetest, most down to earth gal, and she makes the BEST homemade southern dishes that I’ve ever had. No joke. Tevis’s sons – Micah and Westin – are just as you’d expect. Sweet as can be, with either a baseball or a fishing pole rested in their hand. I had the pleasure of hanging out with little Micah and was BLOWN AWAY at his turkey calling skills (check out the video on my Instagram – @_jennakaye). I had him put in a Field Proven diaphragm call and he quickly showed me up. I asked him if he would come hunt with me but he had a baseball game to win.

The next morning was opening day. Saturday, April 16th, 2016. We were told they would be gobbling around 6 in the morning, so we were on our way to the spot at 5:15. We hiked down the side of a pretty steep hill, and sat in the middle of a few trees that were down just off the logging road. We had never been here before, and did not choose to bring a guide with us. After a few minutes of getting settled, we blew the owl call. We immediately heard 3 gobbles across the river, and 2 or 3 to our left. We knew right then that it would be a great morning. After about 35 minutes passed, we decided to get up & relocate. I looked at the aerial map and saw a field along the river, 150-200 yards away. We got up, grabbed our decoys and started walking that way. As we reached the edge of this small field, we blew the owl call once again. Suddenly, I heard a loud, deep, and fairly close gobble just north of where we were standing. Realizing that we needed to move quickly to cover, I sat my things next to an oak tree, put a deception outdoors hen decoy 20 yards in front of me, and ran back to the tree. Laying on my belly with my gun propped up on a log, I was ready for whatever would happen next. A few short cuts and we knew he would be heading our way. A few minutes passed and I see him coming down the steep hill, to my 2 o’clock. He was headed my way, coming in hot! Soon, he was 60 yards from me, just out of range. Thinking that he will be within my pin in seconds, he decides to pick around a bit. Does he see the hen? Does he want the hen to close the distance? So much was running through my mind at this point. We waited for what seemed like 30 minutes (was only 10 in reality), and watched as he 3/4 strutted back and forth in a small circle, still 60 yards away. It was starting to heat up, and my heart was POUNDING. I saw his paintbrush of a beard, and his huge tail fan – and boy did I want him bad. Thinking he would just strut away and out of sight – we hear a shuffle in the woods to the right. Two jakes quickly made their way to the hen decoy, and immediately began the attempt to mate with her. After pouncing on top of the decoy a few times, I began to see the anger in the Tom’s eyes. His head was burning red and within seconds, he came down the hill and right where I wanted him. Jon was sitting behind me with the camera, and whispered “whenever you’re ready”. It took me 2 whole seconds to make sure my shot was on him and pull the trigger on my Beretta. Right then, I had harvested my first gobbler of the season.

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Field Proven Calls – http://www.fieldprovencalls.com

Now the next things that I do – I swear to you, I couldn’t even handle. I couldn’t control it when I got up and began jumping up and down. Laying on the floor and then slowly approaching the Tom, falling to my knees to pray to God for the harvest, the hunt, and the life that He has allowed me to live. I thank God everyday for giving me not only the strength, but the ability to hunt, harvest organic food, and share unforgettable memories with others. I pray that you too find God in all things, but especially when you’re surrounded by the glory of nature and the outdoors.

For more information/booking, contact Whitetail Heaven Outfitters below!

Whitetail Heaven
2047 Hall Rd.
Nicholasville, KY 40356

Phone: 1-859-509-2704

Email: info@whitetailheavenoutfitters.com

P.S. – Stay tuned for a short clip of my hunt, which I will post on Instagram!

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Spring Turkey Hunting: Youth Season 2016

Youth turkey season in Kentucky is consistently one of the best weekends to be out in the woods. This year it fell on the first weekend in April, when the birds have lacked pressure and began to embrace courtship.

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It was one of those lovely days when the wind blows cold and the sun shines hot. The eminent chirp of the Kentucky blue jay, and the quaint sounds of the newly bloomed leaves brushing against one another. A delightful afternoon spent in the shade of oak trees, alongside loved ones patiently awaiting a gobblers demise and a young hunters victory.

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This year I had planned to take my cousin Noah. I had deer hunted with Noah numerous times, but had never gotten the chance to sit back and enjoy spring turkey hunting with him. Noah is a 14 year old Christ-driven outdoorsman who enjoys every minute of nature & the outdoors. He appreciates all that it has to offer, and is an absolute joy to be around. It has been splendid to see the way that he has adapted and grown as a hunter and how my uncle Tommy has raised him with the foundations of Christ, family, and hunting.

It was the afternoon of April 3rd, 2016, around 2:45 PM. We pulled up to the farm, unlocked the gate, and slowly pulled in. As we stepped out of the truck, we looked up to see 3 toms strutting nearby a few hens. Only about 150 yards away, we fell silent, froze, jumped back in the car, and slowly reversed back out of the gate. We changed our tactics and got ready by the road, ditched our snacks and slipped in to the tree line.

As we began our quest to assist Noah in taking a gobbler down, we realized that we didn’t have the time nor space to traditionally set up and wait for them to come to us. So as I sat back in the tree line, Noah began to army crawl towards the gobblers. With a Deception Outdoors full strutter and a fan from one of the past years, he eased over the hillside and got within the boundaries of the toms.

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Watching their heads burn brighter red, we knew this had done it. We had gotten too close and these gobblers were ready to fight. As the fan was gracefully presented to the toms ahead, they began to get closer and closer. Attempting to protect their courtship and keep another strutter from stealing their ladies, they had unknowingly gotten within the confines of the shotguns spray. Within seconds I called the shot and Noah swiftly pulled the trigger. Immediately looking up, we realized that the shot had somehow missed the gobbler. He instantly took off and was out of range within seconds.

As a hunter, we realize that missed shots are inevitable. With time, practice, and patience we confidently make the kill shot with the goal of a sudden death and no suffering to the animal. But as I said, that is sometimes unavoidable and bound to happen – so we don’t lose hope. We learn from our mistakes and we get better so that the next time, we can avoid those mistakes.

 

Changing tactics once more, we decided to take the trail leading to the middle of the farm where the woods make a V. There is open field to the left, right, and directly in front. It’s an apparent funnel for all wildlife, and we figured we could catch a bird going to roost – or hopefully get one to come in using our Field Proven Calls. Every 20 minutes or so, we let out a few clucks, chirps, and purrs with both our FP diaphragm calls and FP friction calls. It had been at least 20 minutes since we called last, and as we lay there silent soaking up the cool 55 degree weather, fully immersed in nature – a hen slowly and silently walks by to my left. I quickly whisper to Noah to get ready. As they’re going back & forth, I look back over my shoulder to my left again – this time to see a red head inching closer. I get Noah’s attention, and we are suddenly frozen in time. As the gobbler swiftly rounds the corner (now in front of us), he begins to persistently peck at the decoys eyes. Soon thereafter, the gobbler pounces on the decoy, and puts on a full show for us. At last, he fly’s 6 feet up in to the air, and violently comes down on the full strutter. As his head comes up I call the shot – for the second time that day. Noah, with his shotgun rested on his knee, promptly pulls the trigger and at last – the gobbler goes down.

“You got him!” I cheerfully announced, and soon thereafter my eyes closed and I thanked God for the hunt, the harvest and the wonderful memories.

We all got up, gave Noah a huge hug, a fist bump and a congratulations… wrapping up an unforgettable hunt.

A few things to remember/learn from this hunt:

  1. SHARE YOUR PASSION! As a hunter, it is our responsibility to share that with others. Don’t be selfish with your hunting spots – I promise that the reward of helping a friend harvest a turkey or deer is far better than anything you can do for yourself.
  2. Be ready to change tactics. As you heard from our hunt with Noah, you have to be able to adapt to your surroundings and change tactics when necessary. Turkeys especially.
  3. Invest in good, quality decoys. As you know, turkeys have great vision. They can see up to 3 times greater than 20/20 vision. Turkeys have an approximate visual field of 270 degrees and they see in full color. Deception Outdoors decoys are hand painted, hand crafted works of art that trump any other decoy that I have seen. See for yourself below. I took this picture as we walked up to the bird, and you can hardly tell a difference between the decoy and the wild turkey.DSC_0023
  4. Don’t forget the ultimate goal. To share the love of Christ and to educate others about the outdoors and conservation. We are the reason that wild turkeys have gone fom 100,000 to 7 MILLION since the early 1900’s. This was due to conservation programs which were funded by hunters licenses (48.7%), excise taxes (25.7%) and other hunter-related contributions.

Apparel: SHE Outdoor – Bass Pro ShopsRealtree

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Turkey Calls: Field Proven Calls

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Decoys: Deception Outdoors

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Camera/Optics: Nikon

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Firearms/Ammo: Beretta / Hevi-Shot
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Thank you for reading, feel free to reach out with any questions or comments. Happy turkey season & best of luck!

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Gear List: Spring Turkey Hunting

So you want to give turkey hunting a go this Spring, but don’t know where to start? Well lucky you, I’ve compiled a list of all the essentials that you will need to take down a thunder chicken this Spring. Categories include apparel, weapon, calls, decoys & miscellaneous items. Click each picture to be directed to the website where you can purchase or find out more information.

1. Apparel

SHE Outdoor provides high quality, flattering gear that has been tested in the toughest conditions. All of my SHE Outdoor gear is in Realtree camo, which is by far my favorite camo pattern.  You can purchase SHE Outdoor products at Bass Pro Shops, online or in store. Below are some of my favorite choices for Spring turkey hunting.

SHEOUTDOORGLOVES

SHE Outdoor Liner Gloves for Ladies – $14.99

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SHE Outdoor C2 Hunting Jacket for Ladies – $66.77

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SHE Outdoor C2 Hunting Pants for Ladies – $66.77

SHEOUTDOORSOCKS

SHE Outdoor Pro Team Trekker Socks With Scent Control for Ladies – $10.99

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SHE Outdoor Cougar II Hunting Boots for Ladies – $69.99

SHEOUTDOORFACEMASK

SHE Outdoor Lightweight Face Mask for Ladies – $19.99

SHEOUTDOORHAT

SHE Outdoor Camo Meshback Hat for Ladies – $14.99

2. Weapon

You have the choice of harvesting a turkey with either a shotgun or a bow. I shoot a Beretta AL390 with the Beretta OptimaChoke Tube seen below. This year I will be venturing out of my comfort zone and attempting to harvest a turkey with my bow! I shoot a Bear Escape SD with the Muzzy broad heads shown. Having a good sight is also VERY important. I shoot a single pin HHA sight and I would recommend switching to single pin if you don’t use one already. My accuracy has improved dramatically! If you do want to use your bow, my only recommendation would be to practice practice PRACTICE! Every hunter knows how important an ethical shot is. It can definitely be done though. Just ask my girl Sarah Bowmar (Click HERE to see the EPIC video)

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Beretta A400 Xtreme Max5 – 12 ga

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HEVI-SHOT Magnum Blend Turkey Ammunition 3-1/2″ 2-1/4 oz. #5, #6, & #7 (Box of 5) – SALE $33.49 $28.49

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Beretta OptimaChoke Plus Extended XTRA FULL TURKEY – SALE $63.00 $31.50

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BEAR Archery Escape SD – IBO: 325/4LBS/6″ BRACE HEIGHT/32″ AXLE TO AXLE/55LB PEAK DRAW/75% LET OFF – MSRP $999.99

HHAOPTIMIZERULTRA

HHA Sports Optimizer-Lite Ultra – $299.99

MUZZYBROADHEAD

MUZZY M.O.R.E. Turkey Broadhead (3″ cutting diameter/125 grain) – $39.99 (3 pack)

3. Calls

My absolute FAVORITE turkey call is Field Proven’s Zebrawood Combo. The zebrawood used in this call is known for it’s durable characteristics and acoustic quality. This call is by far the best on the market. Alongside having a friction call, I would most definitely recommend having a few diaphragm calls on hand. You want to limit movement as much as possible once a thunder chicken eases closer, and learning how to use a diaphragm call is fairly easy. Lastly, you will need a locator call, either a crow or an owl. You can also learn to make these noises on your own if you’d like!

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Field Proven Calls Zebrawood Combo – $69.99

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Field Prove Calls Dymondwood Turkey Striker – $19.99

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Field Proven Calls – BAT WING Diaphragm (Rasp Rating 3.0)

You can purchase all (3) calls above with the “Turkey Call Combo Pack” for $24.99, click here.

4. Decoys

These decoys will blow you away. Deception Outdoors is a custom decoy company that produces the most durable and realistic decoys on the market. Their paint is flexible so that it can withstand impacts/abrasions and will not flake off or chip. They are also HAND PAINTED! These guys are the real deal. Click the picture to be directed to the website, or contact Grant Doyle below.

grantdoyle@deceptionoutdoors.com

(620) 262-6315

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Deception Outdoors – Full Strutter Combo 3-pack (Full Strutter, Boss Hen, Miss Priss) – $375

5. Miscellaneous Items

This girl can’t WAIT for YETI to release the Rambler bottle. This will be perfect for an all day turkey hunt. Alongside water, I make sure to bring some snacks as well as my ThermaCell. Bugs annoy the HECK out of me, and my ThermaCell has proven to be a great purchase.

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YETI *COMING SOON* – Rambler Bottle – $69.99

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ThermaCell Mosquito Repellent Unit & Lockback Knife Combo – $39.99

Thank you so much for your support & for reading – please feel free to message me with any questions or comments & don’t forget to subscribe to my website!

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Female Hunting Problems

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Growing up, my nickname was animal (yes, really) – From what I’ve been told, I was a sweetheart and SUCH a lover – but I was also a crazy tomboy who never wore shoes, enjoyed climbing trees, and somehow had dirt on me at all times. I was continually yearning to be in the outdoors – whether that be at our family cabin hunting with dad and cousins, playing sports, creek walking, or anything else I could get myself in to. Well, I am now in my 20’s and not much has changed. I still love climbing trees, spending time with family and friends hunting/fishing, and I also still have dirt on me most days of the week.

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On the other hand, I love makeup. I love having my nails done, getting my hair done, going to sappy movies, and crafting. I am a GIRL. (shocker, I know) My point is, you can be a girl and still LOVE to hunt. Don’t get me wrong – I am not a “girly girl” by any means (I think dude is one of my top 10 words). I was raised and taught to pull my weight and to work hard no matter what. But I can do that with painted nails. And makeup.

The main reason that I bring this up is because far too often, I get individuals who comment on pictures that just outright attempt to degrade the human being that I am (too bad daddy raised a strong, confident woman who doesn’t take those words to heart!) These individuals look at my physical appearance, and seem to suddenly know exactly who I am and how I hunt. Well folks, I will continue to wear makeup and get my nails done; all while harvesting animals that will feed the hungry, my family, and myself. Shocking, I know – but none of these things affect the way in which I hunt, nor do they affect you. So ladies, let us continue to break stereotypes & rock the outdoor world!

Read below for a few female “hunting problems” that I’ve had to deal with – & message me if you have any suggestions!

  1. Trying to find camouflage clothes that FIT, and don’t include pink on them.

Growing up my hunting clothes consisted of a few army green shirts, my dad’s old jean camo pants, and probably a few other items that could be found at Walmart. Now that I am older and need clothes that have been tested in the harshest conditions, I choose SHE Outdoor (Bass Pro Shops) gear to equip me all year round. The SHE Outdoor clothing line can be found here, and is in my opinion, hands down the absolute BEST female hunting clothing on the market. They incorporate style and fit with comfort, high performance gear, and their clothing contains NO PINK (wahoo!!)

  1. Having to pee in the tree stand/field

Yep, I went there. Ladies, you’ve probably invested in the “Go Girl” or like me, you’ve learned to either hold it in, or you’ve gotten creative with your ways. The struggle.

  1. Never taken seriously (I could write a short novel on this one)

My family and friends know me better, but this couldn’t be truer in regards to individuals whom I meet for the first time – whether they be hunters or not. They immediately assume that I hunt maybe once or twice a year for the approval of others. Little do they know that I eat, breathe and sleep all things hunting, outdoors, and conservation. And believe me sweetheart, I know how to load a lot more than just a washer and dryer.

  1. Wanting to utilize everything possible for decoration

Antlers? Definite yes. Shotgun shells? YES. Turkey spurs? Oh yeah. Random bones found in the woods?……okay maybe that’s just me.

Thanks again for reading Wild4TheWoods! Follow me on Instagram and don’t forget to like my Facebook page.

“Connecting people to the outdoors and one another…”

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What Gets You Outdoors: Photo Series

SHE Outdoor Waterfowl Apparel – Avery Outdoors Decoys – Realtree Camo – Field Proven Calls

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