Editor’s Note: According to Mossy Oak Pro Brenda Valentine of Puryear, Tennessee, known as the First Lady of Hunting, “I don’t let much grass grow under my feet. If I’m not flying on an airplane, driving somewhere in my truck, using my tractor to turn dirt or bush hog weeds, riding my horses, tending to my garden, spending time with my four grandkids, testing new outdoor equipment, writing a column for ‘Turkey Country Magazine,’ being at a Bass Pro Shops grand opening or representing the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) somewhere, I’m hunting.” But for Valentine, this schedule is greatly-reduced compared to her earlier years in the outdoors when she traveled all over and out of the country gathering content and video footage for three different TV shows at the same time. If ever someone has lived and still lives the Mossy Oak lifestyle, it’s Brenda Valentine.
Thirty years ago I didn’t know any women who were part of the outdoor hunting industry. However, I loved to hunt and had hunted all my life. I’d shot my bow and arrow for many years. But I guess the first time I ever saw other women involved in the outdoors was when I started shooting 3D archery. I began to see more women at the 3D archery tournaments I attended, who were very proficient with their bows. Most of them were strictly target archers, and I didn’t know if any of them bowhunted. Now, perhaps some did bowhunt, but I didn’t realize that. Today the outdoor industry has embraced women, and I think that the industry has been shocked that women can climb trees, put up their own tree stands, scout and find their own critters to hunt and take them with bows and/or guns.
I got the feeling years ago that most people in the hunting industry thought women were tagalong hunters, and that it would be cute if we actually could shoot something. I’m not sure that the outdoor industry ever thought that women could become the hunters they are today. These folks forgot what we women always knew while living in the country that, “If you want the mice killed out of the barn, you put a Momma cat in there.” In many of the predatory species, the females are the hunters.
I went on a hunt many years ago with my friend, outdoor writer and TV personality Jim Zumbo. We each had harvested a feral hog. To be helpful, Jim told me, “I’ll skin my hog, and then I’ll help you skin yours.” I said, “I’ll skin my hog, and then I’ll help you skin your hog.” Jim laughed, but I had my hog gutted, skinned and quartered before he had field dressed his hog. Jim looked at me and said, “I’ve never seen a man or a woman who can butcher a hog as fast as you can.” Of course, Jim didn’t realize that I’d been helping butcher hogs since I was a little girl.
When I first went to hunting camps that consisted of all men hunters, I even had men leave camp who said that, “Hunting camp is no place for a woman.” At other camps, men were offering to help me find a place to hunt, put up my tree stand or drag out and butcher my deer. They were being very nice, however, I think they really didn’t believe a woman could do all those things.
However, attitudes in hunting camps definitely have changed now. I think many women in the out-of-doors have proven that they are as proficient at hunting, as their male counterparts. If you watch outdoor shows on TV, you’ll see numbers of accomplished outdoor women who take all kinds of critters with bows, blackpowder guns and modern rifles. When I go to hunting camps today, I’m treated much more as an equal than I was back when I was the only woman most men hunters ever had seen in a hunting camp. No longer do the other hunters look at me like I’m a 3-eyed oddball.
For more information on Brenda Valentine, visit: https://www.facebook.com/brenda1valentine, https://www.facebook.com/BrendaValentineFirstLadyOfHunting and www.brendavalentine.com.
To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook and print book, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or Smartphone.
For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from http://johninthewild.com/free-books.