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BIG GAME / 10.15.2017

My husband Gray first introduced me to hunting as an activity we could enjoy together, and hunting has been central to my life ever since. But before we ever pursued an animal, he helped me to understand the fundamentals.

We started with the concept of “field to table” and how we, as hunters, contribute to ensure that future generations will have the same outdoor opportunities for years to come.

Once he felt I had a clear understanding, he introduced me to firearms. We covered everything from mechanics and cleaning to proper hold and stance, ballistics, reloading, and everything in between. More importantly, he taught me gun safety. These words will always guide me as a hunter and gun owner: “Never point the muzzle at something you are not willing to shoot.”

I will never forget the first time he took me to shoot clays to see how good of a shot I was. He handed me his semi-automatic Beretta shotgun and launched the first clay. My first shot broke that clay, and then the next 10 shots all broke birds. Gray got awfully quiet and then turned to me and asked, “Are you sure you haven’t done this before?” It felt so natural, and I credit his methodical approach and instruction for that.

You can teach anyone to shoot, but not everyone has the desire. For me, it’s part of my DNA. Being a woman hunter presented its own challenges. I was entering the fraternity of what was a male-dominated industry. I was always the “only girl” on hunting and fishing trips. I learned how to carry my own rather quickly and strived to be the real deal.

I also learned about the six stages of a hunter’s development: Shooting, Limiting Out, Trophy, Method, Sportsman and Give Back. I skipped the Shooting stage where the hunter shoots anything just to shoot the gun. I skipped the Limiting Out stage where the hunter’s main goal is to just shoot a limit. I skipped the Trophy stage because I am not focused on the size or score of the animal. I choose instead to be more focused on the experience as a whole and started this journey at the Method stage. My focus was on the steps it took to get the end result: reading the wind, developing a load for my gun skills, etc.

Today, I go back and forth between the Sportsman and Give stages. Even though I have now hunted all over the world, there are still many more hunting experiences I would love to share with my husband. I am focused and passionate about creating opportunities for new hunters and giving back to our industry that blessed me with so much. In many ways, conservation is as important to me as hunting.


Conservation and hunting go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. I became actively involved in conservation from the beginning, and I credit a lot of that to the way I was introduced. Rather than just picking up a bow or a gun and shooting away, the focus was on building a solid foundation on what it means to be a hunter, what conservation is, and how the two connect. Only then could I define why I hunt and understand why hunters have a responsibility to promote and protect the resources of the great outdoors.

Most people have heard the over-simplified statement “If it pays, it stays.” The truth is, for wildlife to be sustainable in the modern world, it must have value to compete with other land uses (homes, livestock, shopping malls, etc.). Regulated market hunting has proven to be the most effective way to establish value for wildlife.

For example, wild sheep populations in North America were reduced from an estimated population high of one to two million in the early 1800s to only 25,000 by the 1960s due to unregulated market hunting, habitat loss/fragmentation, and primarily disease contracted from domestic sheep and goats. Through the efforts of the Bozeman-based Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) and their chapters, affiliates and state/provincial conservation partners, bighorn sheep numbers have increased to more than 85,000 today. That’s a three-fold increase funded almost entirely by hunter-conservationists and the high value these conservationists place on the resource. Since forming in 1977, WSF has directed more than $110 million to transplants, relocations, habitat improvement and protection, and other programs benefiting both bighorn and thinhorn sheep.

The Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance (RMGA) — also based here in Bozeman — serves as a respected voice for science-based expertise related to mountain goat conservation. RMGA works through collaborative efforts with local, state, and international industry organizations as well as state wildlife agencies to establish baseline data for management plans on populations, distributions and diseases. RMGA is actively participating in many conservation projects across the U.S. and recently produced a cutting-edge public education film that highlights Rocky Mountain Goat gender identification, ecology, biology, field judging, aging and trophy scoring.

Hunters and groups like WSF and RMGA are largely responsible for the thriving populations of wild sheep and goats we enjoy today. Today, I’m proud to say that women hunters are also critical role players in these efforts.

Since 2009, women have been reported as the fastest emerging market within the shooting sports and hunting communities. Those of us in the hunting industry have been seeing the increase in the number of women attendees at hunting shows, and this number continues to increase.

By nature, women are nurturers and the key to the family. Once you have her buy-in, you have the entire family. Hunting is also something the whole family can enjoy and do together. Women will really become significant players as the locavore movement continues to expand. Women are the primary decision maker when it comes to making food choices for the family in the majority of households today. Our messaging needs to appeal to these women. The connection between hunting for food and providing a healthy, organic, sustainable and trusted food source to the family is a powerful story that gives hunters credibility. Our communication, whether collectively as an industry or as individual organizations, must effectively tell that story and rightfully define the hunter as the foremost conservationist.

I am both blessed and humbled to work with an incredible group of men and women who are not only committed to developing the finest technical outdoor gear for the family but also to playing a larger role in conservation. Each and every one of us at SITKA share a passion for the great outdoors and a genuine respect for the land and wildlife. These core beliefs and values continue to guide us both as a business and as hunters and conservationists. 

I feel very fortunate to have the hunting opportunities I do, and I’m so grateful for the many dedicated conservationists who worked so hard to give us the wild places and wildlife we enjoy today. And I’m of course very thankful to my husband for introducing me to hunting, which continues to provide us with uninterrupted quality time together and a strong sense of camaraderie with other hunters. Being able to escape day-to-day modern life – when the only connection you have is between the outdoors, the wildlife, and your hunting companions – grounds us as human beings, gives us a greater appreciation for wildlife, and instills a commitment to protect our resources and ensure these opportunities exist for future generations. 


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Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance

Our mission is to increase and enhance the management, range, and populations of Rocky Mountain Goats across both native and suitable non-native North American habitats without negatively impacting native ungulates while educating the public of ongoing conservation projects and petitioning for the expansion of sustainable hunting opportunities across the continent.

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Wild Sheep Foundation

We enhance wild sheep populations, promote scientific wildlife management, educate the public and youth on sustainable use and the conservation benefits of hunting while promoting the interests of the hunter.

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