Monday, March 1, 2010

Thoughts About The Hardcore Huntress Contest and Do It Yourself Hunts

Alright, I have honestly stewed on this for quite some time now. That being The Hardcore Huntress Contest that recently took place. Let me say that by the lack of comments I've seen on blogs,(virtually zero) I don't think I'm alone with my thoughts. So much to comment on and just where to start?

I will spare you the nitpicking from every angle, instead touching on what I consider to be the more important points regarding the contest.

I will open with the basic premise of the contest name and what can be read into it or not. At first read, it hit me as depicting a woman who is dedicated in pursuing her quarry within her own means, not an outfitter guided pursuit. The majority of women hunters are not financially able to afford the luxury of guided hunts. That's why much emphasis is placed on DIY hunts and the rewards of such efforts. Not to mention that DIY are public lands and not leased or private game management areas. The work involved in packing your own gear and scouting months prior are far and above more rewarding than the other. Writing a check, mailing it in, driving or flying to where your guide is then being escorted to where you'll be able to have a shot is not the same as DIY in my book. While the majority of top ten women wrote of being guided in exotic countries in search of trophy animals, this was a very disappointing selection by the judges in my opinion. To me it was a direct reflection of the judges themselves, how could it not be? Instead of the judges choosing a woman who has never been on a guided hunt to have such an experience and may never have the financial trappings to do so, they chose mostly individuals who had been guided once if not several times. Ultimately choosing a winner who had also been on guided hunts. It was about the almighty dollar and the chosen few, not the majority. I am not saying that the women in the top ten nor the winner did not shoot straight, only that the majority were not DIY in the truest sense of hunting. Was I in the minority thinking this contest was about DIY and in being so was optimistic about entering? Perhaps, yet this contest in the end seemed to be more about deep pockets and not hunting the lower 48. There are shooters and there are hunters, I proudly fall into the latter. Obviously there are guides because it is a lucrative business and for those who are able to afford guided hunts that's great, just don't knock DIY on public lands.

Let me move on to the next bone, that being what seems to be a diss on public lands. Have we not already lost enough property to those who have deep pockets, anti hunters and the environmentalists? We must not lose sight of what Aldo Leopold, Teddy Roosevelt and others of their fabric have done to protect public lands, for the PUBLIC! Perhaps I am off the mark here although I bet there were more than a few top ten who took their trophies on leased or private lands. We need to encourage stewardship and protect our public lands for us to have a future in hunting and for the generations that follow.

Of my greatest disappointments were the fact that in every photo was a dead animal. Granted this contest was about hunting, yet I sorely missed the respect and dignity due the animal, let alone the appearance and lack of conscious moral character chosen by the contestants. In my opinion there does not need to be dead animal photos to show ones self as extreme. What it showed me was a lack of respect for the animal and more so about the conquest and ego of making a kill. Call me harsh if you like, but I have been a hunter for more than 35 years and I feel it is a hunters responsibility to ask, Why Do You Hunt and to be clear about ones intentions. To do anything other, is disrespectful to our quarry, our heritage and the future of hunting.

Lastly I will touch on the aspect of glam hunting. Is there really such a thing? Well, from the results of the contest it seems so. Considering the major sponsor being Tahoe Sports Ltd. who will be filming the winners hunt and airing it on VS, they do have a interest in what appeals to the viewing public. I just ask that there be less emphasis on eyeliner and more on hunting. I don't feel that a woman's pursuit of hunting is any different then a mans. The goals are the same, the weapons used are the same, the efforts exerted and the shots made. Other than men being physically stronger there are no other differences in the pursuit of hunting. Hunting is without gender bias until the marketing intercedes. Can you tell I'm not a fan of pink camo?

I want to suggest that perhaps the next time a Women's Hardcore Huntress contest is launched that there be clearly defined guidelines. Better yet lets have a contest for the woman hunter who saves all year or for years, to hunt in her own state with a friend on public lands doing it on their own without guides or outfitters. Gee, what a concept. I bet there'd be a lot of wonderful stories with much less bravado, more humility and respect to the animals.

Let me close by saying that I have thought plenty of times about going on a guided elk hunt, yet a part of me feels that by doing so I would be giving up instead of stepping up to the challenge. I don't want to buy a Bull Elk, I want to earn it. I will get my bull elk on my terms doing it myself when I have paid my dues the hard way and have risen to the task. For me that is what hunting is about. Here's a link to my Extreme Huntress Contest essay and what extreme hunting means to me.

Congratulations to the top ten contestants and the winner. Truly have a great hunt.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt

14 comments:

Emily said...

Great thoughts here, Terry. I always enjoy reading about your hunts. Keep up the great work!

P.s. I saw pink camo jackets in the hunting section of a major outdoors store not too long ago. I think the dude working in clothing heard me grumbling a bit under my breath b/c there was only one clothing rack of women's hunting gear and half of it was taken up by pink camo. What is that all about? The next time I was in the store the "fashion jackets" were in the ladies section and not in the hunting section. Made me chuckle a little.

suzee said...

It's funny you addressed this... I had my ideas of who should qualify for this... and you expressed it very good!... it was my feeling also that it should be someone who loves hunting in the truest sense, and had never had an opportunity like this before...There was one contestent I was very impressed with. Ironically she and her family have a outfitter and guide sevice in Montana. Her name is Donna McDonald. She helped develope a program called Big Hearts under the Big Sky. This program offers dream trips to children with life threatening illnesses, wounded warriors and women with breast cancer.This was the accomplishment she was proud of... not all the animals she has taken... she said, "Extreme Huntress is not about the places youv'e gone or the number of animals you harvest or how hardcore you may be. You must have respect and admiration for the outdoors and wildlife. look to preserve the future of the sport and encourage others to become involved."... she sounds like a woman after your own heart Terry...
I do understand what how you feel about DIY hunting...it is so rewarding to challenge yourself...

Terry Scoville said...

Emily, Suzee,
Thank you both for stepping up and sharing your comments. Just seemed so odd that nothing had been expressed on a blog about the contest. I think in this instance much was said by the silence and lack of writing in the blogoshere.

Suzee I do recall reading Donna McDonalds essay and I too was most taken by hers. What a great human being she is to offer her services for those who are less fortunate. Something to aspire to.

Camp Wild Girls.com said...

I feel the same way about pink camo, but as a person that sell to the hunting community I have added some lifestyle pink into the line. The Camp Wild Girls gear is really about lifestyle and fun and our Prois gear is for the "Real" hunt. I am actually amazed at how much pink goes out the door since I have never been a pink person!

On the other issue, most of the year I hunt at home, do the scouting etc. etc. However if I head somewhere else, I don't have enough time to do everything so I would hire a guide. I would want to participate as much in the process as possible but you don't always have enough time to do it.

Last, I do feel that any kind of contest for an extreme huntress or hardcore hunter should not involve guided hunts. Maybe you and I should have our own contest and set up the rules. Not sure about what they would win, other than the satisfaction of knowing they are really good! lol (nothing where others have to vote because then it is just a popularity contest, who knows who)

Jennifer Montero said...

Well put Terry. I think your thoughts are shared amongst a lot of your followers. Personally I'm most proud of my fieldcraft and how it's progressing. That improves with every hunt, regardless of what, if anything, comes back for the freezer. The joy is that I still have lots to learn and that what drives me to go out there with my dog & gun, or sometimes just my binos and a flask of coffee - that doesn't sound very hardcore does it?!?

I admire what you do and your ethos behind it, which is why I read your blog. I still think you should develop or at least advise clothing makers on a suitable line for women hunters. Pink camo? It's insulting. Like you said, it's one of the few sports where men and women can participate together.

Congrats to the Extreme Huntress finalists and winners.

Jennifer Montero said...

Actually - in defense of pink - I use a pink lanyard, pink dog lead and have a pink hip flask. 1) it's easy to spot when I drop it and 2) none of the guys I work with want to steal it!!

Terry Scoville said...

CWG,
Thank you for your contribution. I too have thought It would be fun to have a contest that was entirely DIY. Maybe we need to pursue this?

Jenn,
Well said in defense of pink and all excellent reasons for its usage.
I learn much more when I am doing it myself and remember it longer too. Not to mention the satisfaction that comes from those endless hours spent afield. As for the clothing line, thanks for your vote of confidence. If only I'd get the call, or email. Not having much luck with the lottery. Thank you for your comments!

The Rabid Outdoorsman said...

"Of my greatest disappointments were the fact that in every photo was a dead animal . . . I sorely missed the respect and dignity due the animal." - Great thought and something I certainly will think about when I publish photos and post. Thanks!

gary said...

Way to sling it Terry. I had read about halfway down before I checked back up to make sure you didn't have Sue as a guest writter. I had been hearing a lot of these same things from her. I lost interest real fast in the contest when she read me a few of the bio's and I quickly come to the conclusion that this was going to become a popularity contest instead of what it was supposed to be. A good idea gone awry to my thinking. Good to hear the voice of 'Reason.'

Terry Scoville said...

Rabid, you're welcome!

Gary, thank you and it's nice to know I wasn't alone with these thoughts. So much for commerce,eh?

EcoRover said...

You are so totally spot on. YOU GO. The commodification of hunting -- outfitted hunts behind high fences, but also techno-dazzle -- is as large a threat to the hunting spirituality, public land traditions, and our personal sense of connection to nature as is the anti-hunting movement.

PS: spending a few days in Portland OR, saw a few salmon boated out on the river yesterday.

Terry Scoville said...

EcoRover,
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. The techno world is most certainly a threat and I will do a post on that topic soon.

G2G Extreme said...

Hi Terry,
I read your post and do agree with DIY hunting. My wife works very hard at hunting with me and has just fell short on harvesting a Big Bull several times, but she hikes and hunts the highest parts of the mountains and the rugged parts with out so much as a grumble. So I too had heart burn with the guided photos and the lay out of this contest. But on the other hand I like to see that women hunters will pose with the animal they shot. Although i like the mountain top pictures looking over the land also.

Great Reads!

Lady Archer said...

I found this article very interesting. I wish I would have stumbled upon it sooner, however, being that I was one of the contestants that made it to the top 10, I feel I have a little explaining to do.
First to address the DYI vs. Guided hunts, unless the essay said so, you, the reader didn't know one way or the other. I personally have NEVER been on a guided hunt and have ALWAYS hunted free ranging animals on public land. But since my essay, which was limited to only 500 words, didn't specify that, you may have gotten the wrong perception.
Secondly, with reference to the almighty dollar, I would like to add that my husband and I have blue collared jobs, however we made a decision over 15 years ago to start a hunting savings. Of course, at first, there wasn't much to work with, but because we were disciplined, it now allows us to venture off on some incredible experiences. This discipline was completely driven by our passion of the outdoors.
With regards to posing for pictures with "dead animals", I DO pose with my harvest if blessed with one. I am very particular about cleaning it up so that it represents the beautiful creation that it is, but my favorite family pictures have been taken around these majestic, amazing adventures we enjoy together.
Lastly, I hope that everyone can keep an open mind and be slow to judge future contestants. I have submitted a new essay for the contest this year and if I am fortunate enough to make it to the top ten again, I hope that I will have your support. Although, I cannot speak for everyone that made the top 10, I hope that I have given you something to think about. My essay this year is very different and it is kind of funny that I came across this article because it addresses some of these very concerns. It will touch not only on my accomplishments in the field, but on my volunteer time year 'round to secure the future of our wildlife and hunting heritage.
Best of luck this year and happy trails!
Marcy

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