Don’t call me huntress or any other fabricated term created to equalize, feminize, or commercialize a way of life that has existed since the first rumble of hunger erupted within the belly of a caveman (not cave[woman]).
I don’t clean my rifle to give a shout out to my lube or ammunition sponsors, I clean it knowing someday it will no longer be mine, and in the hands of my children. I run WD-40, which makes most cringe, but it has fought the elements of the Pacific Northwest and saved my firearms from rust and corrosion for the past two decades.
I don’t clean my shotgun and go over the upcoming gear “you won’t want to miss” to snag a check from my highest paying sponsor.
I clean it instead because it’s my time to reflect. With sore muscles, an endless shiver, and weary eyes, I recall the day I had and revel in the memories I am already nostalgic over.
There may have been a fight with the tide times and getting the boat into the sloughs, or, wondering how we’ll get back out. I remember inhaling the potent, crisp, sea air and the occasional taste of salt from the crash of a wake. Or perhaps my memory drifts to the somber excitement receiving the last duck of the day retrieved by our gray faced 12 year old Chocolate Lab knowing all too well she closed another day of her final season. It’s the success of an impossible shot and a pat on the back from your glowing father. It’s the moments in your life that stack up and remind you that there will always be gear, and never enough time to live the lifestyle you wear it in.
I don’t take photos kissing, sitting on, or biting the heart out of the animals I harvest, nor do I slit the throat of a harvested ungulate, because I am not an uneducated barbarian.
What I do have is the utmost respect, and decency when taking photos in an effort to immortalize the moment. A wash of happiness and heartbreak becomes me, as if something in myself died in order to make room for all that is on the horizon. I marvel at the animals that fall before me with sheer admiration. I leave with all that is edible, knowing that I would never forget the experience nor all that transpired. The days, weeks, months, even years of planning all accumulate as minuscule acts of fate that led to a final defining moment. I would never defile or mock the death of an animal.
I don’t post photos of my chest or ass poking out because I was raised by a man who taught me self-respect. If I were shooting in prone position, the end photo would be of the groups I achieved or a side view of the equipment I ran. The act of shooting and the shots made after tirelessly studying and equipping myself with what works for me should be front and center, not a picture framed around my butt taken at a horrible angle. I don’t, because it would disappoint my father if he knew I had belittled my self-worth or demeaned what it is to be a woman by sexualizing myself for social gain. If I seek any affirmation in this world, it surely isn’t from the internet.
I don’t bother with face paint because most of my kills took place in blue jeans and a red hoodie.
I don’t add an asinine number of companies I prostaff for under “jobs” on my Facebook profile because I’m not on any and actually work in office for the brands themselves.
I don’t run women’s camo that has pink, blue, or any other feminine color on — it’s as useless as a screen door on a submarine.
It is distressing to see the number of women who “do.” These huntresses reach digital stardom within an industry that they would have previously had no interest in. They lack the knowledge, experience, and humility that comes with being a hunter. Unearned opportunities, product, and guidance are being handed out without questioning the individual’s professionalism or ability to be an authentic representative of the brand. It is an absolute mockery of an American tradition; a charade that will continue so long as companies sign checks for huntresses to make brainless remarks, review products out of context, and promote brands solely based on their reach and engagement analytics.
I was born to a man who sought to experience the natural world in its rawest and most rugged form. He welcomed the freedom afield with a smile and embraced whatever challenging adventure lay before him. He raised me how he saw fit; to be capable, and to be self-reliant. To be a woman of grit.
I’ve never wanted credit for being a woman in a man’s world.
It’s the only world I’ve known.