Editor’s Note: Brenda Valentine, the "First Lady of Hunting" ™ - from Puryear, Tennessee, represents women in the outdoors for the (NWTF) National Wild Turkey Federation and co-hosts Bass Pro Shops' outdoor TV shows on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. She’s been a member of Bass Pro Shops National RedHead Pro Hunting team for 17 years, a Mossy Oak ProStaff member, a pro staffer for Hunter Safety Systems and Orca coolers and a past national archery champion.
Since 1992, I’ve earned a portion of my living as a professional hunter, TV host and spokeswoman for several organizations. In 1996, I sold my hair salon and became a fulltime professional hunter and outdoors woman. I’ve had a great life and lived a bigger dream than I ever can have imagined, because of the friends I’ve made, and the opportunities I’ve had as an outdoor professional.
The list of places I haven’t hunted is shorter than the list of places I have hunted. I’ve hunted in most of the states in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, nearly every province in Canada, Mexico and Africa eight times. I’ve hunted in the Yucatan Peninsula. I’ve been to Europe, but I didn’t get to hunt there. I represented the hunting industry in Europe and in Asia on the Outdoor Legends Tour. In 2012, I got a call from the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and was asked if I’d be willing to go to Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Germany and other places where American soldiers were living and fighting, defending our country and the peace of the world. The Pentagon wanted to thank our troops for protecting our American freedoms and to let them know how much we appreciated them. Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland and Jim Shockey from Mossy Oak and Bill Miller from the North American Hunting Club were supposed to go too. “Cuz” had a family emergency and was unable to go, but the rest of us went into Special Forces camps and forward outposts in Afghanistan. We had to wear full body armour and helmets. We met and talked with Americans who had boots on the ground and were in harm’s way on the front lines. We rode in tanks, and we shot rocket launchers.
I’m often asked, “Brenda, what’s the toughest hunt you’ve ever been on?” I guess one of the harder hunts I’ve been on, even though it wasn’t a long hunt, was a mountain lion hunt. We were hunting in snow country 6-miles from the British Columbia border in temperatures of -20 degrees. We had to trudge through belly-deep snow. We went as far as we could go in a truck, next as far as we could on a snowmobile and then as far as we could walking. When we couldn’t go any farther walking, we went as far as we could on our hands and knees. Often, we were pushing snow with our noses. We were chasing a big mountain lion that I finally took with my bow.
When we reached the tree where the dogs had treed the mountain lion, the cat was on a sheer rock bluff. Once we got almost to a spot where I could take a shot with my bow, I couldn’t believe what happened! The mountain lion jumped off the bluff he had been standing on, jumped right over the top of me, the outfitter, the cameraman and the dogs that were barking at him and started running. The hounds chased him.
We had put the dogs on that cat about midnight the night before and had been hunting all morning, trying to get to the spot where the dogs had the cat bayed. When I could see the cat, I thought this ordeal was about to be over. But apparently, the mountain lion had had time to rest, while we were trying to catch up to him. Once we were almost close enough to take a shot, he jumped over us, and the race was on again. We were exhausted, and the poor dogs certainly were exhausted too. They were running through snow that in many places was waist-deep on us. When the cat jumped out and began to run, he got on the trail that we had broken coming up the mountain. Before too long, we treed the mountain lion again. But by the time I got to the tree, my mechanical release that I use to draw my bow had frozen, and the wheels of my bow were packed in ice. We had to cross a slough and break through water. There was so much ice and snow we couldn’t tell how deep the water was at first. When we finally got to the tree and saw the cat, I tried to knock the ice out of the wheels of my bow. I couldn’t open my release, because the jaws of the release were frozen shut. So, I put my mechanical release in my mouth to get the release warm enough to open the jaws to then clip the release onto my bow string.
The mountain lion was treed in a big ponderosa pine. I thought to myself, “I’ve come through all this ice and snow since midnight last night, I finally have the cat in the tree, and now I’m not sure I can get my bow to shoot.” Finally, I got all the parts of my bow to work and made a one-shot kill to take a huge mountain lion. When we got back to camp, the mountain lion weighed 160 pounds. I’ve got him mounted in my office.
Check out Brenda Valentine at http://www.brendavalentine.com, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrendaValentineFirstLadyOfHunting/info.