Rochelle LeClaire | Mossy Oak ProStaff
Before my son Colton was born, I went to Sedan, Kansas, with my dad, my father-in-law and my husband Nathan to hunt on 300 acres with our friend Tim Berlin of Antlers, Inc. Every year those three go to Kansas to hunt deer, but now I don’t like leaving my children and being gone for 10 days while they are young. My daughter Skyler just turned one year old. I’d like to travel more and hunt different states, but I want to wait until my children are older before I’m gone for long stretches of time out of state.
Nathan has done really well in Kansas. He will walk in as far as he has to go before daylight to reach a place where he thinks he has a chance of seeing a nice buck. My dad and my father-in-law have taken some really nice bucks, and they have missed some very nice bucks there, too. When we go to Kansas, we always bowhunt, which makes missing deer much more likely than if we’re gun hunting. My dad has a friend who leases land in Kansas, and we pay him to be able to hunt on that property that he leases. I think the property is at least 1,000 acres, and he only allows five hunters per week to hunt that property. Nathan took an 8-pointer this year when they went to Kansas.
I’m often asked when do I hunt with my husband, and when do I hunt with my dad? Right now, my dad is my during-the-week hunting buddy, and Nathan is my weekend date to hunt. My husband and I love to film our hunts with our Tactacam 4.0 camera. My brother Scot, is my every-now-and-then hunting buddy, and he has some properties that he can hunt and take me, which the rest of my family can't hunt.
Different family members have various places they can hunt, but finding private land where the landowner will allow certain people to hunt is really difficult. That’s the reason we all try and locate various places where we can hunt and possibly take one of our family members. There’s only so much private hunting lands where we live, and those lands are owned by only a few people. So, when we go looking for land and knock on people’s doors, Nathan likes for me to go with the children so the landowner knows that we are a family.
We also tell the landowner, “If you need any help to do anything on your property throughout the year, please call us. We’d love to help you take care of your land to have the opportunity to hunt this property. We will help you cut hay, mend fences or whatever else you may need done.”
This past spring, we obtained permission to geese and turkey hunt on a property by meeting the landowner, talking with him, getting to know him and offering to help take care of his land. Most of this property is in fields and is better suited for geese and turkeys than deer. During resident goose season, we can take 15 Canada geese per hunter per day, and then during the flyway season, we can take three geese per person. Although I am primarily a deer hunter, I also hunt turkeys and geese and will take a coyote if I see one.
I like to fish, too, and my husband and I compete in carp shooting tournaments (bowfishing) during the summer months. I always have loved to be outside, and I guess that’s due to my dad always taking me with him when he went hunting and fishing. I’m only 1-1/2 years younger than my brother, but I think I’m more into fishing and hunting than he is. Of course, that may be because he has two children and is pretty much limited to hunting deer, geese and turkeys.
One of the biggest reasons I think women should consider hunting with their families is for the memories. We just have the very best times of the year when we all hunt together. Besides that, managing wildlife is the role of the hunter to not only keep the populations at a sustainable rate but also to help preserve the sport we all love and to harvest delicious meat to eat. When I’m in the woods, I feel like I'm grocery shopping. However, instead of using dollars to pay for my meat, I use broadheads and bullets. I guess if I’m really honest, there’s no place I find more peace than when I’m alone in the woods - even for only a couple of hours. Any women who have youngsters like I do can understand what I’m talking about, because as mothers of young children, we all understand that alone time is hard to find.
Rochelle LeClaire lives in Schaghticoke, New York, in eastern New York, and has been a member of the Mossy Oak ProStaff for five years. She hunted with her dad, grandfather and brother, until she was old enough to get a hunting license. Although married and with two small children, Rachelle hunts as often as possible and enjoys preparing and eating wild game.