My love of the outdoors doesn’t stop when I get home. I enjoy preparing the meat I've harvested for the table. One of my favorite wild game to cook is antelope. However, antelope can be a little challenging to cook, depending on what the animal has eaten before he’s taken. My number-one rule when preparing antelope for the table is to cook it on low heat and slowly. I prepare numbers of antelope roasts and antelope stews. My favorite wild game is elk. I'm as happy as a frog on a lily pad when I can take an elk backstrap, put it in a cast iron skillet and fry it up with peppers and onions. With the white-tailed deer we take, we make a lot of jerky. The only problem with jerky is that generally we eat it as fast as we make it. We use more wild game meat than we do beef. So, I've always got some type of wild game burger or wild game steak or roast that I can mix up with any recipe I want to cook.
I'm also asked, “How did you get into hunting?” I guess I got into it backwards from how most people get into hunting. I had a good friend who was also in a wheelchair. He wanted to start a nonprofit organization and invite people with disabilities from all over the United States to come out to Wyoming and hunt. In 2008, we founded the Wyoming Disabled Hunters Association. I think the guys kind of wanted me to be in this organization, because I had good computer skills. They asked me to be the secretary, and I was their token female. I didn’t know it then, but I found out later that they also wanted to see if they could interest me in going hunting. So with my husband Russ’s support and the encouragement of the Wyoming Disabled Hunters Association, I went on my first hunt in 2009. That hunt was a mule deer archery hunt, and I was hooked! I fell in love with hunting! I love preparing for the hunt, and I enjoy being on the hunt. I enjoy processing the meat, cooking the meat and eating the meat. I’ve also learned so much about conservation, and the role that the hunter plays as a conservationist.
Since that first hunt, I've pretty much hunted as much as I possibly can. I'm also going to be hunting with an organization this spring in Indiana called Turkey Tracks that honors Eric Corey, a youngster who died from ALS at age 16. This is another nonprofit organization that lines up hunts for people with disabilities. One of the things I want to do is build a list of organizations and people who are willing to share hunts with people with disabilities.
I also hunt with an organization here in Wyoming called the Wyoming Women’s Foundation that raises money for women in Wyoming. Every year this organization holds a Wyoming women’s antelope hunt for people with disabilities, and I’ve been working with them for several years. I’m actually the only women with a disability who has been involved with that hunt. Women with disabilities who love the outdoors and want to be active in the outdoors are a rare breed. Most of my friends with disabilities who hunt are guys. I'm constantly looking for women with disabilities to hunt with or help them learn how to get involved with hunting.
One of the blessings for me has been becoming a part of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff. Tim Anderson, who’s in charge of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff, has introduced me to a large number of other Pro Staff members. At this year’s Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, I talked with Rusty McDaniels about some TV opportunities that we might be doing together, and I really enjoyed meeting Toxey and Daniel Haas there too. Mr. Bill Sugg also has been a real encouragement to me.
I'm really looking forward to this coming year and working with more of the men and women who make up the Mossy Oak Pro Staff like Brenda Valentine, Eva Shockey and Taylor Drury, who all have been very supportive and very helpful in helping me reach out to people with disabilities in the outdoor industry. Brenda Valentine has been especially supportive in encouraging me with the promotion of my new book,“A Redefined Life: Lessons From a Pitchfork.” I call bad things that happen pitchfork moments, and I think there are great lessons to be learned in those pitchfork moments that we all encounter in our lives. In my book, I share how my pitchfork moments have helped me redefine my life and have caused me to want to help more people to learn and understand that pitchfork moments don’t have to change your life.They can just help you redefine it.