Earlier in the year a group of women that I’m friends with and are fellow hunters had thrown our hats in the ring in an effort to win a chance at a BeyondBOW hunt that the La. Wildlife and Fisheries was offering. My friend Rhonda’s daughter was the only one lucky enough to snag one the 4 available spots. We were thrilled for her, but honestly a wee jealous too. In an effort to assuage our bruised feelings, my friend Donna decided we’d have an event of our own. I called it the DamnitI’mHunting@Donna’s Event.
She and her husband have 800 acres of beautiful land that they have been hunting on for years. She graciously offered to allow us to come hunt. It turned out to be an amazing weekend. Late one Friday evening, four women descended upon Donna and her husband, Vince. We spent the weekend hunting, laughing (A LOT) and consuming a ridiculous amount of food. It was amazing.
Among the five of us, there is a huge range of experience. Rhonda and Billie Ann are the veterans. They are seasoned, experienced hunters. I don’t think it’s an overstatement that my friendship with Billie Ann and Rhonda is the one of the main reasons why I am a hunter. Rhonda encouraged and invited us to attend BOW events which planted the seed and Billie Ann is why I’m a bow hunting fool!
One of the things that kept coming up over the weekend was how we don’t see ourselves or anyone we know (male or female) in most of the current outdoor programming. The overemphasis on rack size, the unrealistic portrayal of ease, the extreme bravado that so many of the shows seem to glorify is something that is foreign to us.
Where are the hunters, female and male, that hunt to fill their freezers? Where are the hunters that sit for hours and don’t come home with venison but still consider it a successful hunt? Where are the hunters that juggle their family lives with their hunting lives? Where are the hunters squeezing hunts in between work hours? Where are the women hunters sweating and swearing while hanging a tree stand? In general, I’m not seeing that on my TV.
I can’t help but think that in addition to sending a mixed message to hunters-that it’s easy, that it’s a rack race, that it has to cost a ton of money- what message are non hunters getting when they flip by the hunting channels on their way to their favorite shows? Is the current programming adding fuel to the anti-hunting fire?
The general consensus among the ladies I hunted with at Donna’s is that there are some shows that are doing it right but in general there’s a lot of room for improvement. Hunting for us isn’t about trophies on the wall. It isn’t about killing. It’s about sitting in a stand and hearing the world wake up. It’s about seeing a doe and her fawn play in the dew. It’s about the squirrel that stalks me at my stand. It’s about feeding my family healthy protein. It’s about sitting around a campfire with other hunters laughing and learning. Don’t get me wrong…I want a monster for my wall but that’s not the reason I hunt.
I follow a gentleman on twitter who is getting it right. Rudy has taken it upon himself to document real hunters. Huntography is what he calls it. It’s pretty fantastic. Real people, hunting in real situations. Realism…kind of crazy.
I am hopeful that I will see myself and the people I know on television one day. A hunting show with REAL people becoming the norm. Fingers crossed.