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