For the past two years, I’ve been focusing on things that I’ve always wanted to do. The biggest of those ambitions was learning to hunt. I’ve always been interested in hunting, but I don’t come from a hunting family and I didn’t have the opportunity for anyone to take me hunting. This year, that all changed.
When I was 9, I told my parents I wanted to become a vegetarian because I saw a truck driving pigs to be slaughtered. My dad told me I could do that when I started buying my own food. Needless to say, I’ve never been a fan of the meatpacking industry and how animals are treated. On the other hand, I probably won’t become a vegetarian or vegan anytime soon, so I saw hunting as the solution to that problem. Also, the health issues both me and my father were having at the time made me want access to the most organic meat on Earth. But how do you start hunting when you have no friends or family who hunt? It’s not the easiest, but it’s worth it.
First, I talked to everyone I could. I reached out to people on social media and looked up outdoor and sportsman’s shows. The first show I went to was the Garden State Outdoors Show, which is where I met my first mentor, Jim. Jim was volunteering at the NWTF booth and I had already bought my ticket to the annual convention, so we had plenty to talk about. The majority of people I spoke with are extremely excited when they learn a woman wants to hunt, since there are such fewer numbers than men who hunt. That March, Jim took me on my first turkey hunt and my first hunt ever, and it was amazing! (Read the story here)
I also met a lot of people through different conservation organizations, mainly the NWTF. They have two mentored youth and women’s hunts during the year, and that’s where I met my second mentor Christina. She mentored my spring turkey hunt and my fall deer hunt. During the turkey hunt, we heard absolutely nothing, but she sat with me for 8 hours. During the deer hunt in the fall, she was extremely patient and comforting as I placed a poor shot on a doe and was unable to recover it. Then she was kind enough to invite me on another hunt a few weeks later, where I harvested my first deer, which was a beautiful 8 point buck. Ironically, we were doe hunting but she told me to buy a buck tag just in case. We were hunting out of a tree stand over corn, and I was able to watch this buck make a scrape before I placed a 16 yard shot on him. Then Christina and her family helped me butcher it which was more than I could possibly ask for.
Lastly, I connected with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection. They offer mentored hunts and workshops for people new to the hunting world, especially women. I’m actually going on a women’s mentored waterfowl hunt at the end of this month, and I’m sure I’ll meet more great people there as well.
I am extremely grateful for all of the new friendships I’ve made through learning about conservation and hunting, and I’m grateful for the meals I can provide for myself and my family. There is something cathartic about harvesting and butchering your own meat, knowing you are responsible for the quality of food that will fuel your body.