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2012 Prois Award Finalist Spotlight! Meet Jennifer Brockman!

MY HISTORY
I am a nurse by profession, a business owner through love, and an avid huntress by obsession. I have been a registered nurse for over ten years. I have been married eight years to my best friend, business partner, and trusted hunting buddy. My husband and I are owners of a local gunsmithing/gun shop. We opened five years ago with only a handful of guns, worked out of our garage, and with a bit of blood, sweat, and lots of tears we have grown and continue to grow, now with our own product line.

I am a dedicated supporter of Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and the Big Bucks Club, and member of the NRA. I recently have been working with local law enforcement to become an NRA Instructor and to start a women’s gun league in our area. Shooting a gun is, after all, is what sparked my interest and lead me to hunting.

MY JOURNEY
I did not grow up in a hunting family. My husband’s family, on the other hand, lives and breathes hunting. To say I am passionate about hunting is the understatement of the century. It all started eight years ago when I picked up my first shot gun. I would blow through box after box of shells trap shooting, my shoulder would be bruised and sore, but I would keep shooting. My first hunting adventures were pheasant hunting. A year later I graduated to a muzzleloader and went on my first Iowa whitetail hunt. I took down my first doe and became a hunting addict for life. After a few years of hunting with a muzzleloader I decided to take on bow hunting, which quickly became my first love. After my first night in the stand, with my husband close by, I knew for certain I had found a new obsession.

I have encountered success and failure, and lessons learned over the years. My first bow hunt will be one of those stories I will tell my kids over and over, and they will roll their eyes at me I’m sure! Sitting high up in the big cottonwood, the creek below us, surrounded by timber, corn and bean fields. It was early in the season, the leaves were turning, and the weather was comfortable. I could hear pheasants across the creek in the tall grass. Everything was so still. That is one of the many things that I appreciate about hunting, the tranquillity, being surrounded by nature, and waiting silently for a deer to move stealthily into sight. Life is never more peaceful, than when you are up in your treestand.

I spotted three deer across the creek; a large eight point, a spike buck and a doe. They crossed the creek, came through the timber and stopped right under my treestand!! The eight point was a nice full bodied mature buck. I could have shot any of those deer ten times over in the length of time they stayed to nibble on the greens below my stand. Instead I just stood there, arrow nocked, bow in hand, but didn’t pull back. They were 10 yards away! I wasn’t shaking, or sweating whether or not I could make the shot. I, being an inexperienced bow hunter, was afraid pulling back would get me busted! Not to mention the fact I had never been so close to a deer. It was an awesome experience. I didn’t want to move! My husband was sitting in a stand below me. Not knowing the reason I wasn’t pulling back, he couldn’t believe I was passing on such a nice buck! All too soon the three of them moseyed away, back into the timber, without ever showing a sign that they even knew I was watching them from that tree.
I didn’t take down an animal that year, but nothing was going to discourage me from coming out again the next year, or any year after that.

MY PASSION
I have gotten tougher, become braver throughout the years. I have grown from only hunting and shooting with my husband to now scouting on my own, shooting on my own, and hunting on my own. I am now comfortable with myself and my skills as an accomplished huntress. It gives me an “I am outdoors woman, hear me roar!!” type of feeling.

I embody the average Great American Huntress. I don’t believe a woman’s status as a huntress is measured by the number of kills, the size of our game, or the locations we have had the opportunity to hunt. I do, however, greatly admire and respect the women who have worked hard to gain the opportunities to hunt game all over world. Unfortunately, sometimes even the most skilled extreme huntress may not be granted the opportunity to afford an over-seas or out-of-state hunt.

I believe the heart of an extreme huntress is built by our drive and desire. By the passion we exude. The image of a great huntress is created by our courageous nature and ability to take every obstacle head on. Huntresses are skillful creatures; built tough and with an unwavering determination.

I have a hunger for knowledge and an unrelenting desire to experience every opportunity to the fullest. I embrace my responsibility to pass on my skills and knowledge to others and take every opportunity to do so. As a successful business woman and skilled huntress I am always on display, and I use that influence to my advantage, to be a positive role model for other women and young aspiring hunters and huntresses. I proudly display my title as a huntress!

MY DESIRE
Hunting is not just about the kill, it’s the whole hunting experience that compels me to pull out my bow or gun year after year, months before season even starts, and count down the days and hours until opening day. I have two sons, 7 and 2 years old. I have witnessed the relationship between my husband and his father, built by many years spent together hunting, fishing, and being in the outdoors, teaching my husband to be the outstanding man that he is today. I want to do that for my boys; be present, teach them to be lovers of the outdoors and to respect wildlife, instill in them the values and ethics that we hold so high. I aspire to pass on my enthusiasm for the outdoors and hunting to my children. I hope to ignite a life-long passion that will produce years of enjoyment for my family, and their families as they grow. Life is an adventure; I choose to experience it outdoors doing what I love with the people I cared about the most.

The attached photo is from my favorite hunt. I am going to take a risk and go against the grain. It is my first kill with my bow and my very first solo hunt. A hugely proud moment for those reasons! That was one of the most memorable moments of my hunting career.

2012 Prois Award Finalists~ Meet Michelle Bodenheimer!

It is a moment I will never forget… that moment when I first heard the bugle of a majestic bull elk echo through the forest. I was in my early 20s. Although it was my first big game hunt, I realized it would not be my last. I was captivated by the sights and sounds of those Central Idaho mountains; they had stolen my heart.

I quickly fell in love with hunting and the idea of harvesting my own food. I immersed myself in instructional clinics, read about our local flora and fauna, and studied the hunting greats. It was not long before I knew my way around the woods, and had mastered my shotgun, rifle, and bow.

Over a decade later, I have traveled the globe on many hunting adventures. I cherish the memories my hunts have given me, the cultures I now know, and the people I have met along the way. The experiences from my hunts have helped define me. I am not only a wife and mother, but a dedicated conservationist and community activist. As a huntress, I recognized my vital role in protecting our natural resources. I am an active member of a number of wildlife conservation groups, including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation, and I serve on the board of directors for our local Safari Club International chapter. My hunts abroad have also allowed me the opportunity to serve my fellow man outside the boundaries of North America. In 2009 I was introduced to a wonderful humanitarian relief mission in South Africa which I now diligently support and visit as often as possible. The mission provides much needed aid to orphans and impoverished refugee families.

When I am not hunting for myself, I spend a large portion of my time working to preserve our hunting heritage. I cherish my time volunteering as a shotgunning coach, guide and instructor for several non-profit organizations. There is nothing better than guiding a group of young hunters on their first pheasant hunt, and watching their faces light up when they harvest their first rooster; or leading a new huntress into the forest in pursuit of her first deer.

I do not measure my success as a huntress on the size or quantity of my harvests, but rather on the quality of my memories from the field. This last year my son, Wyatt, became old enough to join me on more challenging hunts. Although I have been blessed with the opportunity to hunt in a number of exotic locations, my most favored hunts have been at home in Oregon with Wyatt. Creating these memories with my son is a much greater trophy than any head I can hang on my wall.

Last fall, however, I feared my outdoor adventures had come to an end. My doctor phoned with questionable results from a biopsy. The next week I was having surgery to remove a mass of breast tissue. My world was crashing down. I questioned whether I would be able to continue to share my passion with Wyatt or others. Although I recovered from my surgery, I was left with permanent nerve damage to my right arm… my shooting arm. Had my last hunt been my last?

I refused to relinquish my passion for the outdoors. I am a huntress and will always be a huntress, and I was not about to let any disability stand in the way. With hard work and determination, I retrained myself on how to position my shotgun and rifle, and how to draw my bow. Within two and a half months, I was back in the field guiding, instructing, and living my dream. I coached Wyatt to his first 3D archery tournament win this past summer, and last month I was again in the forest hunting for myself. I was breathing in the fall colors, the smells, and the sounds. I was where I was suppose to be… in the great outdoors.

2012 Prois Award Finalist Spotlight! Meet Candace Crick!

I’m Candace Crick, mom of 5 boys, married to my best friend, hunter, competitive archer, angler, and outdoors enthusiast along with a lengthy compilation of various other titles. 6 years ago, I met my husband, who changed me indefinitely. When I first met him, I thought he was crazy spending so much time in the woods, but eventually I was curious to see what all the hype was about. He was leery of me wondering, and I leery of the hype. After experiencing buck fever for myself, I am transformed for life.

Archery hunting became my biggest endeavor. For 2 years, I spent playing reindeer games with whitetails in the woods, often left frustrated and in tears. I have been busted flinging arrows from rooftops and ladders, practicing the real elevation scenario presented from the old might tree stand. Eventually, I discovered archery competitions, a perfect opportunity to help me flourish as an archer. Much to my surprise, I won gold in my first tournament leading to several other rankings from thereon out. In 2011, I won a 2 week elimination style shoot out. I aspire to become more involved in ASA on a national level, and have started my venture of a Grand Slam with my bow. Archery is my fire, I live it, love it, breath it!

In 2012, I became the first certified 4H archery coach for Lincoln County, since the 1980’s. It is not just about teaching my children, the art and skill of archery; it’s about the younger generations as a whole. I take pride in the journey I have gotten to experience with my children, not just being a mom but a coach and teammate as well. The mere fact, that I can inspire one to pass this on for generations to come is a reward in itself.

I was once told by a man, women belong in their women’s clubs back home not at deer camp. Who was he to deem what club I should join? I am not angry with this man, as he has become my motivation. I found out there all kinds of women’s hunting clubs, and even banquets. For the past 2 years, I have been on the banquet committee, for our local NWTF WITO, Camo & Pearls. I aspire to make this event grow in mass numbers. We are here to support each other; we are the vitality that will make this dream a reality. There are so many of us in today’s society affixed on winning gold for themselves, or bragging about the “booner” on their wall, confined with dark walls of self-greed. It is my goal to be devoted to sharing my love and passion of archery and hunting, even if I have to share all my secrets. I want to set an example in the industry. My motto is practice what you preach, and preach what you practice.

I, like others, have had my fair share of losses, as well as success stories. It’s called hunting for a reason, if we are all rewarded each time we went out then what would be our drive? In 2011, I harvested my first traditional archery harvest, a 250 lb. wild boar. I have camped in the mountains of Idaho, harvesting a cinnamon color phase black bear with my compound. I have camped in the bush of Alaska, being one with nature and the grizzlies, harvesting my first Yukon Moose. I learned the art of fly fishing, by catch and release only, and have had the opportunity to fish the sea for Halibut, the fish with 2 eyes on one side. I have eaten yellow fin tuna hearts for the simple tradition of fisherman’s luck. I have driven to the furthest tip of Northern Quebec, on a DIY Caribou hunt, blessed with opportunity to witness at hands length, the migration. Something I feel the Discovery Channel can’t do justice of its sheer beauty. I am currently active staff for several outdoor companies. I had my first magazine article published in 2012.

All things are possible in life no matter what we may deem unconquerable, whether it’s accomplishing shooting a bow, or the finesse of fly fishing. Sometimes we just need a helping hand and open heart. I hope to be that person to as many as I can possibly touch. By being nominated for the PROIS Award, I hope to be one step closer to my goal of illuminating my raw felt passion and love of the outdoors, one arrow at a time!

2012 Prois Award Finalist Spotlight- Meet Amber-Lee Dibble

Story by: Amber-Lee Dibble
2012 Prois Award Finalist

My story has to start with the fact that I am simply a farm girl at heart. I didn’t start hunting until I found myself in Alaska following an article I had read about Pioneer Outfitters in the Paint Horse Journal. I will be 42 this year and about half of my life has been spent learning and growing with Master Guide Terry Overly as my mentor.

I am an Alaska Big Game Guide and walking any other path could have made that the end of my story. Finding Pioneer Outfitters, knowing and being taught by one of the last and the youngest old timer in Alaska, a true bush pilot, changed my life.

Learning to guide and in turn, learning to hunt, has always struck me as a funny way to find my direction in life, but that is what happened. Becoming one of the top hunting guides in Alaska and the manager of Pioneer Outfitters put me into the middle of circles of people and organizations that I would have never had the opportunity to meet and learn from, otherwise.

One of my biggest passions for hunting is in actuality for the Guiding industry. The incredible age of the history of guiding and what it really takes to be an outstanding Alaska guide is the base of that passion. To ensure safe hunting and navigation through some of the most unforgiving land in the world is a heavy responsibility and one that I, as a trainer and we, as Pioneer Outfitters, take very seriously.

 

The first project that caught my heart and mind in its importance and many avenues that touch it was introducing Hunt of a Lifetime to Pioneer Outfitters. Pioneer Outfitters is all about family and what better way to open our hearts than to open our doors to Tina Patterson and her Hunt of a Lifetime hunters.

2012 Prois Award Finalist, Amber-Lee Dibble

As the lead guide for both Hunt of a Lifetime hunts the year we found each other, I realized that there was so much more we could and would do, for families, for young people and for our nation’s military men and women.

The next project that brought me even deeper into the guiding world and all it entails, was when the state of Alaska Commercial Services Big Game Guide Board asked me (me!) to create for them, an online Professional Guide Ethics Class for ensuring a better explanation and example of what Guide Ethics are and a straight forward way to reinforce what stands for the absolute best of us.

I believe I am a good candidate for an example of the 2012 Prois Award for being a hardcore female hunter. As I stand, next to a client looking at his dream come true, his hands shaking, I understand again what makes me ride another hour, climb another 100 yards, cross another icy river and leave the safety of my home and my children again, year after year.

As I step out to draw a Grizzly Bear’s attention away from my hunter, as I turn my horse back into a raging river to find a safe way, as I call to draw a testosterone-mad 1,600 pound moose into the open and directly to me, I trust no one more than myself and I will protect those around me.

The point? When I learned to Guide, I learned to hunt. When I learned to hunt, I learned to protect. Hunting has made me a survivor, on the most basic of levels. More, it was the door that opened to helping others. Helping by training Professional Guides, and just as importantly, by allowing others to be able to experience the incredible lessons hunting teaches us and to experience all Alaska offers. Safely.

Prois Award Finalist Spotlight~ Meet Tia Shoemaker!! Badassery Defined…

 

It was a pitch black night on theAlaska Peninsulawhen the tired hunters stumbled into the cabin. Packs heavy with meat and antlers hung from their weary bodies. After another long day in the field, there were trophies and stories to attest to the elation each hunter felt in their success. By age five I knew I wanted to be that hunter who comes through the door, tired to the bone but happy because at the end of the day I have hunted.

 

In my early years, my brother and I contented our hunting drive by chasing ptarmigan barefooted, over the tundra, flinging arrows.  They cunningly dodged our arrows until at the age of six I learned to shoot for the heads and we began bringing home dinner.  It wasn’t long before our mother put a two-a-day limit on our hunts and we were only allowed to hunt birds once off our 40 acre homestead.

 

My father’s rule for hunting caribou was that we reach the height of our five foot mother’s shoulder and prove competent with whatever gun we chose. Despite many attempts to stretch myself, I had to wait until age nine before I could take my first caribou. It was a beautiful bull from one of the winter herds that moved through our secluded valley. This was the first time I was filled with such a vast amount of pride in providing for my family, a real sense of self and such intense despair at having taken an animal’s life.  All hunts to this day have paled in comparison.

 

In my early teens, I started questioning my desire to hunt. Was it something I did only because it was ingrained in me from early on? I had hunted since childhood and at age eleven I was going into the field to learn the skills of a hunting guide.  By sixteen though I had hunted enough to know I was hunting for my own reasons.  I hunt because of the delight I feel in the wilderness, surrounded by the animals’ environment. It is the feeling of testing my limits; the emergence of some primitive self.  I never feel as alive or trust in my instincts as much as I do when hunting. Nothing else gives me the sweep of emotions, from pure elation to the entwined sadness that follows. My father always said, “The day you quit feeling sad over a life you have taken is the day you quit hunting”. I came full circle and knew I would be a huntress for life when I found the quote by Jose Ortega Y Gasset, “One does not hunt in order to kill but kills in order to have hunted”.

 

By eighteen, I had earned my Alaskan guide license and pilot’s license because I had decided guiding was the life for me. I attended theUniversityofIdahofor the bird hunting and spent many hours chasing chukars, huns, pheasants and quails. Back inAlaskaI guided hunters on successful moose and brown bear hunts and made time to hunt caribou and bears in the interior as well as black tail deer on Kodiak for myself.  I made a few trips toNew Zealandand hunted chamois and red deer.

 

My love of hunting and the outdoors inspired me to take a role in education.  I become an instructor for Alaskan Hunters Education as well as an instructor and eventually director of Classroom with a View, a nonprofit outdoor education program based inAlaska. We take teenagers on backpacking courses where we teach ecology, conservation, appreciation for wilderness and leadership.  As a guide I am able to educate and inspire young women in the field of hunting and find it most rewarding to guide female hunters.  I had the honor of guiding the 2010 Dianna Award winner Charlotte Pyrek for brown bear but have equally enjoyed guiding novice female hunters as nothing beats the enthusiasm of a first time hunter.

 

Many of my dreams formed back at our remote homestead have been fulfilled by helping run the family guiding business, guiding hunters, working with youth, and hunting for myself and my family. When I have children I hope to teach them, as my father and mother taught me, to hunt, appreciate the land and animals for their own intrinsic value and to pass the tradition of hunting on. I hope my children have many dreams but above all I hope their dream will be to hunt.

 

2012 PROIS AWARD FINALIST SPOTLIGHT….Meet Candace Crick!

With the hoopla slowly dying down after the 2012 Prois Award announcements, we at Prois felt there was no better time than NOW to start highlighting the amazing finalists to our prestigious award.  Each of these ladies possesses a dedication to hunting, conservation and community that is awe-inspiring.  With that, meet Candace Crick!

I’m Candace Crick, om of 5 boys, married to my best friend, hunter, competitive archer, angler, and outdoors enthusiast along with a lengthy compilation of various other titles.  6 years ago, I met my husband, who changed me indefinitely.  When I first met him, I thought he was crazy spending so much time in the woods, but eventually I was curious to see what all the hype was about.  He was leery of me wondering, and I leery of the hype.  After experiencing buck fever for myself, I am transformed for life.

 

Archery hunting became my biggest endeavor.  For 2 years, I spent playing reindeer games with whitetails in the woods, often left frustrated and in tears.  I have been busted flinging arrows from rooftops and ladders, practicing the real elevation scenario presented from the old might tree stand.  Eventually, I discovered archery competitions, a perfect opportunity to help me flourish as an archer.  Much to my surprise, I won gold in my first tournament leading to several other rankings from thereon out.  In 2011, I won a 2 week elimination style shoot out.  I aspire to become more involved in ASA on a national level, and have started my venture of a Grand Slam with my bow.  Archery is my fire, I live it, love it, breath it!

 

In 2012, I became the first certified 4H archery coach for Lincoln County, since the 1980’s.  It is not just about teaching my children, the art and skill of archery; it’s about the younger generations as a whole.  I take pride in the journey I have gotten to experience with my children, not just being a mom but a coach and teammate as well. The mere fact, that I can inspire one to pass this on for generations to come is a reward in itself.

 

I was once told by a man, women belong in their women’s clubs back home not at deer camp.  Who was he to deem what club I should join?  I am not angry with this man, as he has become my motivation.  I found out there all kinds of women’s hunting clubs, and even banquets.  For the past 2 years, I have been on the banquet committee, for our local NWTF WITO, Camo & Pearls.  I aspire to make this event grow in mass numbers.  We are here to support each other; we are the vitality that will make this dream a reality.  There are so many of us in today’s society affixed on winning gold for themselves, or bragging about the “booner” on their wall, confined with dark walls of self-greed.  It is my goal to be devoted to sharing my love and passion of archery and hunting, even if I have to share all my secrets.  I want to set an example in the industry.  My motto is practice what you preach, and preach what you practice.

 

I, like others, have had my fair share of losses, as well as success stories.  It’s called hunting for a reason, if we are all rewarded each time we went out then what would be our drive? In 2011, I harvested my first traditional archery harvest, a 250 lb. wild boar.  I have camped in the mountains of Idaho, harvesting a cinnamon color phase black bear with my compound.  I have camped in the bush of Alaska, being one with nature and the grizzlies, harvesting my first Yukon Moose.  I learned the art of fly fishing, by catch and release only, and have had the opportunity to fish the sea for Halibut, the fish with 2 eyes on one side.  I have eaten yellow fin tuna hearts for the simple tradition of fisherman’s luck.  I have driven to the furthest tip of Northern Quebec, on a DIY Caribou hunt, blessed with opportunity to witness at hands length, the migration.   Something I feel the Discovery Channel can’t do justice of its sheer beauty.  I am currently active staff for several outdoor companies.  I had my first magazine article published in 2012.

 

All things are possible in life no matter what we may deem unconquerable, whether it’s accomplishing shooting a bow, or the finesse of fly fishing.  Sometimes we just need a helping hand and open heart.  I hope to be that person to as many as I can possibly touch. By being nominated for the PROIS Award, I hope to be one step closer to my goal of illuminating my raw felt passion and love of the outdoors, one arrow at a time!

Introducing the 2012 Prois Award Recipient…. RUTH CUSACK!

A very hearty congratulations to your new 2012 Prois Award Recipient….RUTH CUSACK! We have absolutely no doubt that Ruth will be a great representative for Prois and the women in the hunting industry! She is amazing!! Congratulations, Ruth!

 

Each and every contestant in this award is quite simply amazing in their own rights and we want to congratulate each of them for making it to the top 12. We also have to say that we are so proud of the grace and dignity with which each of these ladies has conducted themselves during this contest. They are all amazing and we are humbled to have learned more about each of them.
This is the second year Prois Hunting Apparel for Women has held the prestigious Prois Award, which was created to honor the amazing huntresses out there who also commit their time and efforts to conservation, management and community education.  This year, over 80 entries were submitted and the top 12 finalists were chosen by our elite panel of judges who include Ron Spomer, Diana Rupp, Guy Eastman, Julie Golob, Craig Boddington, Tracy Barnes, Jim Zumbo, Lanny Barnes and Kirstie Pike.  The top 12 finalists worked furiously to obtain online votes and the online voting ceased at midnight December 16th.  At that time, Prois added the cumulative judge scores to the online scores to determine the winner.
Ruth will win an amazing prize package including a 2 species hunt in Namibia with Mogwadiri Hunting Safaris, gear package from Prois Hunting Apparel for Women, firearm by Weatherby, Heartbreaker Bow from Bowtech, bow rest from Rip Cord, Optics by Swarovski, knives from Buck Knives,  arrows/broadheads/logowear from Shoot Like A Girl, scent-free products by Her Camo Shop, customized journal by Hunter Hills Journals,  shooting sticks from BOG,  European mount racks from Skullhooker,  boots from Zamberlan and high altitude drinks from Acli-Mate!  Whew.
Ruth will also be flown out to attend the 2013 SHOT Show press conference which will introduce her to the industry media.

Prois Announces the Prois Award Top 12 Finalists for 2012!

Prois Hunting and Field Apparel for Women is pleased to announce the top 12 finalists for the 2012 Prois Award!  With over 80 amazing entries, the panel of celebrity judges has narrowed the field to 12.  Online voting will begin on Friday, November 2 and end midnight December 15th 2012.  Once online voting has ended, the Prois Award Committee will add the cumulative judging scores to the online vote total to determine who will become the esteemed Prois Award Recipient for 2012.

Ah…but winning the Prois Award does not just provide a great title.  The 2012 Prois Award winner will win a Kalahri Springbok and Oryx hunt in Namibia with Mowgwadiri Safaris.  Accompanying the winner will be Susan Ebert of Sporting Classics Magazine who will be penning a feature story for the publication.  An unrivaled prize package from Prois Hunting Apparel for Women, Bowtech, Weatherby, Swarovski, Buck Knives, BOG Gear, Rip Cord, Zamberlan Boots, Acli-Mate, Skullhooker, Hunter Hills Journals, Shoot Like a Girl and HerCamoShop will also be awarded to one lucky lady.  This prize package rings in at $40,000!

Judges for the 2012 Prois Award Contest include Craig Boddington, Diana Rupp, Ron Spomer, Julie Golob, Guy Eastman, Tracy & Lanny Barnes, Jim Zumbo and Kirstie Pike.  Media sponsorship for the Prois Award include Sporting Classics Magazine and the Women’s Outdoor News.

Introducing the Top 12 Finalists for the 2012 Prois Award!

Amber Lee Dibble

April Mack

Brenda Valentine

Candace Crick

Janice Loudermilk

Jennifer Brockman

Joella Bates

Kathleen Lynch

Marlene Odahlen-Hinz

Michelle Bodenheimer

Ruth Cusack

Tia Shoemaker

 

So, cast your vote for YOUR choice for the 2012 Prois Award!  Head on over to the Prois Award Website at http://www.proishunting.com/proisaward/.

2011 Prois Award Finalist Spotlight~ Meet Stephanie Wottrich!

 

I am an extreme huntress, and extreme outdoorswoman in general. I am very passionate about the hunt, as well as on educating others on why hunting is valuable to sustaining our natural resources. I began hunting in 2000 when my boyfriend (who is now my husband) Jerel took me on my first hunt. I loved it, and could not wait for the next trip. I have since hunted and/or fished 10 countries on 4 continents, collecting over 43 species of big game animals. I am active in fishing and bowfishing, as well as duck, goose, dove, and upland bird hunting.

 

Many of these hunts were physically challenging… mountain hunting inSpainandNamibia… stalking Asiatic water buffalo through the swamplands of the Northern Territory of Australia as well as the Cape Buffalo in the Okavango Delta region ofBotswana.

 

The most rewarding trophies have been the ones I have worked the hardest for, and those which have presented the most danger. The adrenaline of hunting an animal that can hunt you right back is something I can never get enough of!  I have currently taken two of the “big five”, buffalo and lion, along with several species of plains game and small game.

 

I hunted the forest buffalo along with my husband hunting a bongo on a combo hunt in the rainforest ofCameroon, and hope to do so again soon, with success this time! I went on several unsuccessful stalks for buffalo. My husband harvested his bongo on the second to last day of the hunt. We encountered several challenges on the hunt, with the weather not cooperating, my eye getting lacerated by a thorny vine, which of course in the heat and humidity was almost immediately infected. However, what affected our hunt the most was our head tracker, a pygmy by the name of Jean Quatre, was killed right in front of us by an elephant. This affected us on many levels, the hunt was stopped for two days for the funeral and grieving, but when we got back to hunting, everyone was working hard to get the animal Jean Quatre was hunting for. Many tears and cheers were shed when the bongo was down, with toasts for Jean Quatre.

 

Two years later, my first African PH, Christo Kaiser, was killed by a cow elephant inBotswanawhile he was with clients fromSpain. Both of these occurrences enhanced my appreciation for the danger of the hunt, and reinforced the need of continued focus and determination during the entire hunt.

 

There are multiple reasons I love to hunt. There is the social aspect, such as bird hunting, which is always great. Every year, September 1 is a huge day in our family. We gather friends and family for a hunt. When the hunt is over, we all get together, talk, clean birds, then enjoy a big dinner. The beginning of a new year of hunting inTexas!

 

My passion for the hunt led me to see what I could do to preserve our precious resources, and I became involved with Safari Club International as well as the Sables (SCIF Educational Division) on a local and national level. I am a life member of both, am past president of ourAustinchapter, serving other offices as well. I chaired Safari In A Box, now called Hands On Wildlife, nationally for the Sables for four years, and served as a national director on the Sables Governing Board and Steering Committee from 2007-2011. I have also served on several other committees and boards, both locally and nationally. I have completed the training and am a Master Measurer for SCI Trophy Records.

 

I am also a member of Texas Wildlife Association, National Rifle Association, Coastal Conservation Association, US Sportsman Association, as well as many other conservation organizations and chapters.

 

The education of our youth on why hunting is important to our resources is something I am extremely passionate about. As such, I am active with teaching Safari In A Box at local elementary and middle schools, as well as training teachers on its use once placed in their schools. I have also lectured at WestRidgeMiddle School6th Grade Social Studies Classes on topics of the cultures Africa andAustralia, in their similarities and differences with ours.

 

I volunteer with many and events, such as Cabela’s Kids Outdoors Days,TexasParksand Wildlife Expo, and I Support Outdoor Ed, as well as several others.

 

2011 Prois Award Finalist Spotlight….Meet Kathleen Lynch!

I never thought of myself as a hardcore hunter until I started to write this story for Prois and took time to think about how much of my life, outside of work and family obligations, revolves around hunting.

Beginning in January, I attend the Sportsmen’s Expo where if I get a “deep down” and the price is right, I’ll book a pig hunt or an elk drop camp. Then it’s to the Internet, applying for licenses/tags for Nevada deer, Wyoming antelope, Colorado elk, and deer in California X Zones. After the paperwork, I’m off to the alfalfa fields with my Cooper .17 HMR to help the farmers in California control their ground squirrels. In March I take to the foothills with my Benelli Sport and slate to call in gobblers. In summer, I satisfy my craving for the woods by fishing and do some practicing at the range. On September 1st, it’s time to fill the freezer; doves in California foothills and Arizona desert, blue grouse in the Sierras, local blacktail deer, Idaho whitetail, Thanksgiving turkey, and if lucky, an out of state draw . I chase after valley and mountain quail until December band-tailed pigeon season and then it starts over.

I admire the woman who takes to hunting on her own initiative. I have been blessed. I owe my start in the sport to the man I married 34 years ago. He taught me how to shoot and is my lifetime hunting partner.

My affection and passion for the hunt first emerged after I put the crosshairs on a blacktail buck in the Sierra Nevadas in 1981 and made the decision to squeeze the trigger. There were tears of joy and sadness, words of gratefulness to the deer gods for allowing my shot to ring true, and thanks for a life quickly given. These emotions I had not felt before and would feel many more times throughout my life. The complete satisfaction and gratitude that I feel when a hunt is terminated in a successful kill after seasons of physical work cannot be associated with anything else that I have accomplished in my life.

Hunting is my inspiration to stay fit. It gives me the opportunity to keep my senses and women’s intuition honed. It has taught me many valuable lessons, especially how to learn from my mistakes. In Idaho after many days of hunting in the rain and snow, I came across a fresh scrape and tracks Next morning, I crept to my vantage point to grunt and watch. A whitetail buck appeared. As I raised my rifle to put him in the crosshairs the sun, which had been scarce for days, peeked out from the clouds. I was looking directly East. All I saw was a bright light. I watched with my naked eyes as he walked into the forest unaware and untouched. Those difficult times have humbled me, given me a greater appreciation for the prowess of my quarry and the ethical importance of the fair chase.

Hunting is my meditation. I can sit for hours, my mind focused on one goal, blocking out all other worries and troubling thoughts. I am at peace. There are times when that peace is broken, a split second decision must be made, or on occasion when I have time for conscious thought, a chance passes without any action…and it is fine.

I have gained a great respect for wildlife. I am an intruder in their home. I have been charged by a bull moose, buzzed by a rattler, stalked by a mountain lion, approached by a bear, and bitten by no see’ums. I have endured the whims of Mother Nature, her below zero temperatures, bone chilling winds, knee deep snow, throat parching heat and have gone more than 10 days without a toilet or a shower. I have had many reflectful encounters. Standing still, deer have approached and sniffed me, I have felt the wind off the wings of snow geese and an owl has replied to my turkey locator call. I have seen wolf tracks in the snow, listened to coyote’s evening serenade and watched a herd of elk mingle within 50 yards of me.

Once successful in a hunt out west, only hard work can be associated with getting game back to camp or the truck. Sometimes that requires hiking miles of rugged terrain to retrieve the deer carrier. Sometimes quartering the animal and packing the meat out on my back is the only way. The reward, fresh backstrap for dinner.

The horns and mounts on my wall tell their own stories; the 25” blacktail that my hunting partner pushed out of the manzanita at 50 yards, the 4×4 muley that I shot across a ravine in Nevada at 330, the antelope whose blood trail I tracked across the Wyoming plains, and the 5×6 Colorado bull that took me three hunting seasons and much sweat and angst to get.

For 13 years I have organized and taught an introductory women’s shooting clinic. Nearly 400 women have overcome their apprehensions and taken their first steps into the world of sport shooting. My daughter, who has hunted since she was 10, inspired me to teach kids how to shoot. Since 2002 I have devoted six months of the year to helping coach the A&A Shooters, a team of over ninety 6th through 12th grade kids in the California Youth Shooting Sports Association trap program. The personal satisfaction that I get from these endeavors, much like hunting, keeps me coming back..

Am I a hardcore hunter… if my most cherished possession is a Winchester Model 70 or there is a ziplock in the glove compartment with permission slips and keys, or if for a laugh I read Bill Heavey, or if in my nightstand there are seven hunting journals, or if I have read Theodore Roosevelt’s “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman & The Wilderness Hunter” or in my wallet are NRA and NWTF membership cards, or if instead of a trip to the spa for my 50th birthday, I bought myself my first guided hunt and my best birthday present ended up being a Deer Triple Crown, a Nevada muley, California blacktail and Idaho whitetail?

As my life passes at an ever increasing rate, I feel a sense of urgency to spend even more time in the field before I can no longer physically do it. Thoreau said it best, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…” let’s go hunting!