Born and raised in British Columbia, Canada, to a supportive and active family, I was no stranger to the out-of-doors. This lifestyle was intensified at the age of 11 when I made my trip up to a remote hunting lodge in Northern B.C. It was 'love at first summer' up in that northern getaway, and I instantly became smitten with the lifestyle. From 11 years old and onward, I have been headed to the hunting lodge and after proving myself proficient in horsemanship and showing a knack for judging animals, my guiding career took off at 19 years old. Love for animals and conservation earned myself a scholarship from the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia towards my studies at the University of Victoria under the faculty of Geography with emphasis in Ecology. Since then, my guiding career has expanded to include such species as Stone's Sheep, Mountain Goat, Rocky Mountain Elk, Canadian Moose, Timber Wolf, Black Bear, Dall Sheep, Alaska-Yukon Moose, Mountain Caribou, Wolverine, and Free Range Plains Bison. Internationally, species now include Red Stag, Fallow Deer, Wild Boar, and Himalayan Tahr. In January 2011, my career took the interest of Jim Shockey and his crew, and was quickly brought on as a 'Rookie Videographer' and 'Guide.' During 2011 and 2012 I traveled and worked for the company at their various Canadian outfits, and was noted as the first female character on Jim Shockey's 'The Professionals'. This opportunity fueled a desire to help educate and promote women in the industry. During the summer of 2011, my dream of reaching out became an international reality when I was approached to be a columnist for an Australian publication, Wild Deer and Hunting Adventures Magazine.
Working with national and now international organizations (such as Dallas Safaris Club, Wild Sheep British Columbia, Wild Sheep Foundation, Eastern Wild Sheep Chapter, Dixie Deer Classic, and various other chapters) to help promote opportunities in the outdoors has become my greatest ambition. After touring the USA and Canada in 2012 for the first time, I was inspired to share a message. My hope is to use personal stories to help inspire generations, male or female, young or old, to get back to nature. In the fall of 2012 I had a dream and a mission. I began cold calling organizations, and asking for a spot to host a seminar. Pretty soon, word spread, and notable chapters where interested. Whether it is seminar spots speaking to peers at national shows, or presenting to school aged audiences, I have embarked on my biggest mission yet. My idea is to reach out, and why not start at the age group that is at it's most influential stage of life- our youth. They make up at least 25% of our population today. The future of hunting, conservation, and community relies upon their interest in the heritage of the sport. That is where my story takes me today.
It's a profound feeling when you realize where you are meant to be. At the age of 25, I am making my dreams a reality. I guide for more than 6 months of the year, from the northern reaches of Canada, to the South Pacific. When I am not out in the field, I am dreaming about it, and writing stories about it. As a small town Canadian girl, I write to you from Phoenix, Arizona. I am down here helping with out with a non-profit organization, Outdoor Experience 4 All, who is personally responsible for getting 398 youth into the outdoors in 2012 (www.oe4a.org). Through your vote, my goal is to help empower women to realize their potential in the hunting world. To show them that there is a network of women who are empowering each other. And this is only the beginning. Whether it is guiding, or hunting with friends, it's the experience more than anything. It's the science behind the species and the conservation efforts that help protect and preserve the right to hunt. It's the camaraderie that develops. It's the tear on a persons face as they accomplish a hunt of lifetime. It's sharing every step with them and making their dreams become a reality. Hunting is so much more than pulling the trigger on a hunt. It's the past, it's the present, and hopefully, it's the future.
Meet Rachel Ahtila
"Finding your passion is one of life's greatest moments. Being able to live it each day, and share it with others, is priceless.