Hen Outdoors

4 minute read

Jessica lives in Idaho, where she was raised, and she is a life-long hunter and angler. Even as a baby, her family included her in photos of game they had harvested. She grew up camping, shooting guns, riding motorbikes in summer, and riding snowmobiles through the hills in winter.

While she had the good fortune of being introduced to hunting at a very young age, she knows that is not how everyone comes to hunting. When asked if she has advice for new hunters, Jessica said, “Do what you love to do and do it for the right reasons. Hunters are conservationists and should seek to always do what’s best for the animals.”

She says that new hunters should know that it’s ok to not know or understand everything. Hunting is a lifelong sport and it takes a lot of effort to get good at it. She says it’s important to ask questions and when you fail, to remember that great hunters have been doing this for a long time and have just already put in the hours. Everyone has gone through the same stages at some point. Most hunters have stories about that one time they forgot to load their gun or forgot to pack their licensesor even shook so bad out of excitement that they missed a shot.

“As long as you learn from those mistakes you will grow and that is what’s most important.”

A Family Tradition

Jessica’s dad was an outdoorsman. Her family was always doing something outside and planning the next adventure. She lost her father in 2012, but hunting and fishing continues to be one of her favorite ways of remembering him now.

When Jessica was in high school, she met another family that hunted and fished and they taught her how to be the most ethical and respectful outdoorswoman she could be.

“I started racking up some pretty amazing adventures,” said Jessica. “I’ve done everything from shooting a Pronghorn Antelope with my bow, harvesting a Rocky Mountain Elk with a handed-down 6mm rifle, and treeing elusive mountain lions while hiking in knee-deep snow following dedicated hound dogs.”

She said that she appreciated seeing ethical ways to harvest game. She truly admires the whole process, which includes making a clean shot and not wasting anything, no matter how many miles she has to hike or how cold or tired she is. For her, that approach changed hunting from a hobby into a passion.

“The thing that stands out the most,” said Jessica, “that made me really love and want to keep hunting was the way the people around me showed so much respect for a harvested animal.”

This past year has been full of amazing hunts for her. She has enjoyed harvesting a coyote, seeing a big tom turkey strut into range, watching white-tailed bucks sparring before harvesting one of them, and hauling bear bait before getting to watch several bears come and go.

However, her favorite hunt happens to be one where she came home empty-handed.

The Elusive Bull Elk

Jessica has harvested multiple elk with her rifle, but after a number of tries, she has yet to harvest one with her bow. One morning in September of last year, she was sitting on the forest floor surrounded by heavy brush and trees.The brush was so thick in places that the visibility was barely ten yards. This is, of course, where the elk live. 

She only had a cow call but after locating a herd bull and moving in, the bull started moving his cows in her direction. The cows started working their way around her on either side, talking to one another and trying to find what they thought was another cow. A smart and probably large bull never showed himself.

Later that day, her hunting party played tag with a bull that wouldn’t commit to fighting. At times, Jessica could hear his breathing through the brush, but could only see slight movements of brown through the trees. After about a dozen times he finally slipped away.

For Jessica, bugling back and forth and moving through the timber and brush was exhilarating. She was very close to bull elk a number of times and any small change could have made the bull come into range. That feeling can be frustrating, but mostly, it is also exciting. For Jessica, harvesting is the obvious goal, but she thoroughly enjoys the challenge and even though she never connected with a bull this year, she is glad put in the effort.

Jessica is hoping to start learning how to hunt wolves next. 


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Hen Outdoors

Hen Outdoors

Hen Outdoors Founder, Kari Ann, is an avid outdoors woman who's mission is to champion for women outdoors and inspire other women to do the same.

Comments (2)

Brenda Fahnholz
Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018

I love to hear your words and the love of the outdoors and of course the hunt!!!

Darlene Welch
Wednesday, Jan 24, 2018

Wonderful story! I'm one proud momma! She amazes me every single day!

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