by Karen Butler, Founder/President, Shoot Like A Girl - Tuesday, June 28, 2022
When you think of your very best hunts, what comes to mind? For me, it’s the stories of adventure. One of the first memories that popped into my mind was when I was archery hunting elk in Montana. A huge thunderstorm rolled in and I can still remember the feeling I had as I huddled up under a tree while Miranda, my guide, and I experienced this force of nature. I didn’t get an elk that day, but I had the adventure. Of course, if the rain stopped and an elk appeared, followed by a good shot, then that would have put the adventure over the top.
This past turkey season, Shoot Like A Girl had the great honor of hosting two all-female hunts and I also went on a hunt with our leadership team. We were incredibly successful, with 20 of the 21 hunters harvesting birds. Many of our hunters were first-time turkey hunters, making our success even more special. At the end of the hunts when the ladies were packing up, the stories they shared were about the adventure and not the harvest. That’s when we knew we had made a positive impact on them.
The first hunt we hosted was the Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Shoot Like A Girl Signature Rio Turkey Hunt in Great Bend, Kan., with the guides at Kansas Trophy Experience. All eight of our hunters filled their tags. One hunter, Cathy, touched my heart and inspired me when she shared how her daughter, who was six months pregnant, wanted to attend but that none of her friends were available. Because participants had to book in pairs, Cathy—a non-hunter—said she’d accompany her and buy the hunt for her birthday, which fell on the last day of the hunt. Cathy was nervous when we patterned her shotgun, hoping she would not disappoint her daughter. As she and I hunted from the blind, a nice bird came in, but first we couldn’t get off a shot then, there was a miss. She showed emotions that only parents of adult children understand based on a desire for your children to find new respect and admiration for you. We made a ton of noise in the blind as we talked, she cried, and I reminded her of the steps she would need to take to get off a shot. After all this commotion, I asked her whether she wanted to try again, and she said yes.
We pulled our facemasks up and started hunting. To my surprise, I called in another group of birds, and she made a beautiful shot. The next day, she said that not only did her daughter have a new respect for her, but Cathy also had a new respect and confidence in herself. Her story is an adventure of a lifetime and is like a good book. She experienced many emotions and was the heroine of her adventure.
In our next turkey hunt, we hosted an all-girls industry hunt for Beretta at Midwest Whitetail Adventures in Clay Center, Kan. Again, we heard how our impact went way beyond hunting, even for the one hunter who didn’t fill her tag. As part of this hunt, Beretta and Shoot Like A Girl host a contest to bring one non-industry person who is new to hunting on the hunt.
Due to a last-minute cancellation by one of our guests, we had two contest winners this time. Again, these ladies had incredible stories to tell at the end of the hunt. I especially loved that Beretta brought Kim Rhode, a six-time Olympic medalist, on the hunt as its brand ambassador. The best part of the hunt happened inside the lodge when Kim, who had brought her medals for us to see, let the ladies try them on. As one of our guests got her photo taken with Kim and her medals, she said, “I feel like the National Anthem should be playing.” I started softly, “Oh, say can you see,” and the entire lodge stood up and sang the National Anthem. It gives me chills just thinking about that moment of pride for our country and our Olympic athlete, Kim. Granted, we would not have won “American Idol,” but you never would have known it from how loud we sang. That hunt was a marvelous adventure.
Our team hunt didn’t disappoint either. We paired up into two teams: Melanie and Christa, and me and Dub. Mel and Christa doubled on the first morning. Their story is filled with adventure as they hadn’t expected the second bird to come in as they clumsily rearranged their positions to make it happen. Dub and I had an equally exciting adventure. Unbeknownst to us, we set up right underneath a roost. I have never sat so close as to hear turkeys repositioning on the branches. Of course, they probably spotted us setting up, which is why they flew down on the opposite side. This was followed by an opportunity to call in a big tom to us. We positioned ourselves and I started to call. That’s when I noticed that I had placed the Avian X decoy near a fence post. Usually, that would be no big deal until I realized it was made with a six or eight-inch metal pipe, and we were 10 feet from it. We moved away from the scenario and tried again. That afternoon we called in two birds and also doubled. However, what I remember, other than the joy of getting Dub her first bird, was the story of the fence. Now that was an adventure.
What do you take away from your hunts? I hope it’s the experience. I encourage you to take out someone who has never hunted and create an adventure. Be sure to share your hunting stories with your network of friends and family and improve the understanding of the fact hunting is more than just the harvest.
2021-2022 The Hunting Wire Voice of Leadership Panel
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