My teenaged son’s voice was in my head as we bounced along a dusty ranch road through west Texas saying, “Mom, don’t make a fool of yourself.” Yup, he knew full well there was a pretty good possibility I’d make a fool of myself on my first-ever hunting trip.
To make things worse, I wasn’t out there with your average group for my first time. Being the only novice in a group of professional hunters, custom AR firearms builders, outdoor writers, ranchers and hunting prostaff was seriously intimidating. Well, it wasn’t only nerve-racking, it was terrifying!
As a small-town girl from Western New York, what could I possibly know about finding prairie dog towns, or calling in coyotes in the vast wilds of west Texas? My Grandpa taught me how to fish, and I’ve shot a shotgun a few times at targets, but that’s nothing like pulling the trigger on live game.
As the marketing coordinator for Crosman Corporation I have a little experience shooting airguns, but only at targets. In fact I’ve never killed anything on purpose… well, maybe a stray centipede or spider, but nothing with 4 legs and fur. More importantly however, I’d never been hunting before. I knew it and my son knew it – hence his friendly advice. My goal was to make sure no one could tell by looking at me how nervous I was.
My Crosman colleague, Chip Hunnicutt and I traveled from our company headquarters in Bloomfield, New York all the way to expert predator hunter Barry Stewart’s ranch in Van Horn, west Texas. Our assignment was to film our newest hunting air rifle, the Benjamin Rogue .357 caliber air rifle taking a wily Texas coyote.
So here I am, this inexperienced northerner, pretending to know what she’s doing with a bunch of seriously experienced hunters. In my duties at Crosman, I have the pleasure of talking with practiced hunters every day. And while I’ve learned a lot from them, talking about a pursuit sure isn’t anything like being out there with a live-one in my crosshairs.
Over the next three days, the gang of experts took me in and taught me what they knew. Their generosity of spirit and advice was not only helpful, but supportive in a way that helped my confidence grow. “American Huntress” Carol O’Day was particularly encouraging and made me feel like a “natural”. She’s my hunting superhero!
By the end of the trip, I had taken three prairie dogs. Not much in comparison to the remarkable stories my new hunting friends shared, but it sure was a big deal to me! I was more surprised than anyone when I took my third dog at 350 yards with a single shot. Of course I had to go out and get my picture taken with it, otherwise, what proof would my son have that I didn’t make a fool of myself?
Despite the fact that we didn’t get on film, any coyotes taken with our astonishing new Rogue air rifle, the trip was a personal success. I brought home some important lessons from Texas: The unspoken camaraderie of hunting is amazing. I arrived as a stranger and left as a friend. I learned that I really can hunt! With a little encouragement from friends, I accomplished something I only dreamt about. I learned more in a few days in the field than in a lifetime of listening and reading about hunting.
As a woman, mom, wife and daughter, I lacked the confidence to give hunting a try. I thought it was a man’s sport. Boy was I wrong! I’ve always loved being outside with my hands in the dirt, or around a fishing pole and enjoying nature. Now I’ve tasted an experience that puts you in tune with nature like nothing else and I can’t wait to get out there again. “Take it outside,” and please trust me, if I can do it, anyone can! Future plans? I aspire to become the first female member of Crosman Corporation’s prostaff team.