Episode 194: Why We Hunt

Episode 194: Why We Hunt

To help paint a picture of hunting that reflects a spectrum of perspectives, Gabaccia talked with women who hunt from different generations, locations, ethnicities, levels of experience, and choices of weapon. By no means is every woman hunter here represented, but the few that are, have shared valuable lessons that anyone can learn from.

For far too long, we were told that Man was the hunter and Woman the gatherer. Are we surprised to have witnessed a “hunting industry” that for decades has only catered to the interests of men? Recent studies actually contradict the beliefs that prehistoric women weren’t hunters and in this episode, residency host Gabaccia Moreno is our guide through the stories and reflections of women who have found a role for hunting in their lives, only about 10,000 years after our predecessors did.

This is the fifth of six episodes hosted by Gabaccia Moreno this year as part of our She Explores host residency program. Interested in learning about other women who hunt? You might enjoy this episode featuring Brianne Lauro.

Find the episode below, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you stream podcasts.

Featured in this episode: Tracy Ross (she/her), Kamilia Elsisie (she/her), Jess Johnson (she/her), Gabi Peña (she/they), Miriam Garcia-Jorns (she/her), and Lydia Parker (she/her); Voice submission from Gabi’s father, Angel Peña.

Hosted & Produced by Gabaccia Moreno

Additional Support by Gale Straub

A production of Ravel Media

Sponsored by Yonder, Danner, & Rumpl

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Featured in this Episode

Gabi Peña

Gabi has helped her family create and deepen their relationship with the outdoors through hunting, fishing, and other activities.

Jess Johnson, Co-founder Artemis Sportswomen

Jess Johnson, photo by Rick Smith

Lydia Parker, ED & Co-Founder, Hunters of Color

Lydia Parker, ED & Co-founder Hunters of Color

Miriam Garcia-Jorns

Miriam talks about the patience she’s learned through hunting.

Kamilia Elsisie

Kamilia speaks of the memories that time outdoors hunting creates.

Tracy Ross

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TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

I’m Gabaccia Moreno and you’re listening to She Explores.

Kamilia Elsisie:

You may not have cell phone service, so you’re not immersed in the digital media. Like you’re not on Instagram, you’re not on Facebook. It forces you to be present in the moment. And I think that’s something that as a culture, as we’ve evolved, we’ve lost, we’ve forgot what it’s like to be present and just enjoy the moment everybody’s so caught up in wanting to capture that moment instead of actually being present and taking it all in. And I think hunting really makes you sit there and be with your thoughts. And sometimes that’s pretty scary for some people, cause they don’t know how to handle it.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Hunting has been a way of life, a way of survival, a crucial aspect of evolution, for humankind, since time immemorial. In our times, hunting has also become known and practiced as a sport – perhaps a symptom of capitalism. But this is not an episode about hunting for sport or trophies. This episode is about how women have come to reclaim this ancestral practice in our own modern ways, allowing us deeper and more meaningful connections to the lands we love and the food that nourishes our bodies. As we dive into these stories, it’s important to note that no two hunts are ever the same. First think of how each person’s traditions, choice of weapon, and goals would impact a hunt. And then, consider how the type of hunt makes things a bit more specific, whether one is hunting for birds or big game, for example.

Lydia Parker:

I learned really quick that hunts are all so different. So waterfowl hunting and Upland hunting, we were walking around and talking really loud and uh, you know, having a good time didn’t really matter. The birds didn’t really care. Uh, same elk were elk were being quiet, but we were able to walk around sticks with crunch and it was kind of loud. But the second we got to turkeys, apparently turkeys, spooked super easily. And so we had to, I learned really quickly. You’re not supposed to have to go pee in the middle of sitting during a Turkey, Turkey hunt.

Gabaccia Moreno:

That’s when they’re going to come.

Lydia Parker:

Exactly. And the second I had to get out of the, we were in a little ground blind and the second I had to get out, Jimmy was like, what are you serious right now? And so I learned that you can’t just move around, like you would, uh, you know, if you’re Upland hunting, for example. So it’s amazing how different everything is.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

The diversity of opportunities in hunting, pushes hunters to be perpetual students.

Kamilia Elsisie:

You’re always learning. I don’t think you ever stop learning, especially when you come to hunting. Cause there’s just so many more things that you can do so many more species that you can harvest depending on where you hunt too. Just the region. I mean, west is completely different from the east compared to say hunting in Alaska or hunting in the swamps of Louisiana, you never stop learning.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

For far too long, thanks to contemporary gender biases in academic fields, we were told that Man was the hunter and Woman the gatherer. Are we surprised to have witnessed a “hunting industry” that for decades has only catered to the interests of men? Recent studies actually contradict the beliefs that prehistoric women weren’t hunters (I invite you to check out the resources linked in the show notes) and for the next few minutes, we’ll have a close listen at the stories and reflections of women who have found a role for hunting in their lives, only about 10,000 years after our predecessors did. To help paint a picture of hunting that reflects a spectrum of perspectives, I talked with women from different generations, locations, ethnicities, levels of experience, and choices of weapon. By no means is every woman hunter here represented, but the few that are, have shared valuable lessons that anyone can learn from.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Despite the obvious differences between them, all these women have reasons in common as to why they hunt. Family was a common thread amongst many of them, Tracy Ross, an outdoor writer and author of the source of all things shared with us. Some of the childhood memories that inspired her to try hunting as an adult.

Tracy Ross:

My grandmother who grew up in Hollywood and swam at the Beverly Hills athletic club with Tarzan moved to Idaho when she was a young woman and was also a very avid pheasant hunter. And we’d go out with her women, friends and hunt, and another really powerful, early memory for me is hanging out underneath her dining room table. When I was a very little girl with her German short hair, retriever, Josephine, and all these people, all of her hunting friends, men and women would be at the table eating these lavish beautiful meals and just partying. And it was a very buoyant, wonderful atmosphere. And I just remember being, you know, under the table and really in all of this community of people that I did not witness in my own family with my mom and dad, and just knowing that they were sharing something very, very special.

Tracy Ross:

And then later in life, more recently, I’ve been interested in hunting for a really long time. I have my grandmother’s guns at two 50 Roberts and a 20 gauge. And they have been sitting safely in my house for a very long time. And for years I’ve wanted to learn to hunt with them as a way to connect to my grandmother who has now passed away. And also just connect to a tradition in our family, particularly with this strong woman through learning, to hunt myself and eventually using her shotgun to get my own pheasants and create dinner using her recipes.

Lydia Parker:

My name is Lydia. I am from the people of the Flint Kanien’kehá:ka Mohawk tribe. I’m from New York and I’m currently calling in from Corvallis, Oregon, the ancestral lands of the Chepenafa band of the California.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Lydia Parker, the executive director of hunters of color bow hunting was a better fit since she doesn’t have an interest in firearms for Lydia hunting is both a connection to her ancestry and a reminder of what’s important.

Lydia Parker:

And it’s amazing that hunting, I think gives me that feeling of everything is right. Everything is right with my body and with nature and with the earth. If I’m doing that, if I’m outdoors and doing what my ancestors always did and doing what we’re supposed to do now is be outdoors and be connected to the earth and to our food sources in a way that it’s hard to d o a lot of times and twenty, twenty, twenty, twenty one.

Gabi Peña:

I’m Gabriella Peña. I was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I was 13 years old and my pronouns are she/they.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

I personally know Gabi through my colleague and ED of NTCP Angel Peña, who happens to be her dad. For them, hunting became a way to further connect with their food and the land that surrounds them:

Gabi Peña:

I guess It started with my dad and me. We just started going on hikes a lot and because of some of my dad’s relationships with other hunters, um, it just started getting us interested in going out and actually trying to like work more for our food rather than just get it from a store and have more of a connection to it.

Gabaccia Moreno:

So why is it that you said that you like the most about going on a hunt?

Gabi Peña:

I’d say probably hiking and the places I get to go to because when you go hunting, you get to go to all these cool places for Turkey or deer, or even just quail hunting. Right. And they’re all like super beautiful. And since we live in the desert, there’s quite a bit of places to go in. Some places that I haven’t even been before. So

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Gabi is not only a young committed outdoorswoman, her passion for the outdoors is also shaping her family.

Angel Peña:

My daughter is really the reason I go outside and the reason we are always making memories together, um, and having adventures on our lands. And that’s because I’m a, first-generation Mexican American. My upbringing didn’t allow opportunities for, for me to be outside. My, my parents worked outside. So the last thing they wanted to do on a Saturday was go outside. And it wasn’t until I became a really young parent that I realized that going out with my daughter can be something we can do together. Um, and so first we started just picnicking at parks. Then we started hiking and our mountains, and now we’re flying. She’s a fly fishermen. I just hang out with her driver around. She’s really the hunter. I just, uh, make sure we have tags and that we have a full coolers and a big campfire. She’s really the person who inspires the drive to, to, to be outside, to play outside

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Hunting can give us a sense of purpose and place that very few other activities can. This is disregarding whether we harvest meat or not. The act of going on a hunt is the act of stepping into ancestral footsteps and understanding our most basic purpose as humans: to survive. Most women I talked to agreed that food security, knowing the are able to provide for themselves and others, is a big motivator for them to hunt. Likewise, the connection and relationship to the land that gets developed as a huntress provides much value for these women. Several shared that they now tread lighter thanks to having learned the ways of life of the species they pursue and their own impacts in the ecosystems they come in contact with. Just as each hunt is individual, so is how these women got into hunting. For the most part, there was a man, most commonly a romantic partner, who introduced them to the practice.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

There are exceptions to this though — as you heard at the start, Tracy Ross learned because she wanted to be connected to her grandmother. It was Gabi Pena who encouraged her dad so that both of them could learn… But a lack of women mentors, amongst other inequities, has historically held us back from hunting. That’s why there are people out there hoping to change that.

Jess Johnson:

I am Jess Johnson. She, her hers, and I live in Lander, Wyoming, Western central Wyoming. I work for the Wyoming wildlife Federation as their government affairs director. And I am also a co-founder of Artemis Sportswomen.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Jessica started hunting in her early twenties after an injury, kept her from pursuing her passion in dancing and theater.

Jess Johnson:

Theres a lot of similarities between archery and valet in the discipline, in the sort of flow like Zen mental status that you can get into. But it also tied in something from my roots that was deeper than dance, which was this love of wildlife and the outdoors and big landscapes. And so hunting just bottle-necked all of that.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Jess is one of several founders of Artemis Sports Women, which was created to fill a huge gap in the hunting community side note. It just feels weird about the use of the word sport when it comes to hunting, which is kind of the same reason why I’ve been trying to use the word practice versus sport when speaking about it.

Jess Johnson:

Uh, Artemis is a program initiative of the national wildlife Federation and it came about four or five years ago when we sort of took a look around at the landscape of what hunting was and realized that the strongest voices out there sort of the men and the sort of, I would just say, even white men.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Sure.

Jess Johnson:

And it’s leaving a lot of people out of the conversation. It’s the recognition of the idea of like, to get more people into something you must first demonstrate that there, that it’s one it’s safe to be in that it’s a supporting community. And to build that you have to have role models that are willing to sort of break those glass ceilings. So to speak. Artemis has set out to help give a place for networking and learning and leadership and support all based around the idea of bringing women’s voices up onto the platform in the hunting world. And by also hunting conservation world, because of the way that we view it, as those two are inextricable, you can’t, you can’t have hunting without conservation. And we understand that you can have conservation without hunting, but that’s not the world that we want to, uh, see.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Exactly.

Gabaccia Moreno:

What do you see as very unique challenges for specifically women who want to get into hunting, but maybe they don’t know anyone that hunts, or they’ve never owned a firearm or, or a bow. Like what do you see as the biggest challenges for them?

Jess Johnson:

I probably have a lot of answers for this, but the one that’s hitting me today is like the mentor, um, or the lack of a mentor or the lack of a, how do I, cause I don’t want to, a lot of people that are out there that are, they’re taking people out into the woods are amazing and their hearts are still in the right places. But if you’ve been raised in a sort of traditional, you know, been hunting since you were legal of age and your grandfather hunts, and you’re a man who’s been in all of the out camps and then you switch to taking a woman out, especially if it’s like an adult onset. So someone that like hasn’t grown up outside or in that kind of lifestyle, there’s a lot of things that I think when you’ve grown up in it, you forget about, or you forget how to communicate or you get numb to, and it can come off as uncaring or brash or just unsavory, you know, it’s, it’s it’s, but that’s not everyone.

Jess Johnson:

And it’s just sort of like this ability for a mentor to reign in and still pull from their experience and their knowledge, but maybe to reign in some of the, maybe more machismo stuff that’s been bred into some of the hunting industry right now. But, you know, I say that having been somebody who is an adult onset hunter, having had a male mentor who was amazing and gave space for me to have emotion and to feel trepidatious about things and to question and to ask and to not laugh at me when I told him I wanted to be a bow hunter, not a rifle hunter. So it’s, it’s really a lot about the mentor. And we focus a lot on bringing new people into the outdoors, whether it’s hunting or not, you know, just bringing new people into the outdoors. And we don’t focus as hard on teaching the mentors that are taking these people to not just create good experiences, but to create conservationists, to create more than just a user like mentality, but a giver and a reciprocity mentality.

Jess Johnson:

And so I see like the, everything I’ve heard from new hunters or people that are looking into it is how off-putting the hunting community has been in a lot of their messaging. And we haven’t been focusing on the mentors who our, our, our loudspeakers to the new people coming in. And so I think finding a good mentor, finding one that you feel good with, and, and everything’s not actually very easy to do still. It’s getting better. There’s a lot of them out there it’s just connecting.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Yes.

Jess Johnson:

And then, you know, of course, as with everything, at least for women and, and something I experienced is it’s always the gear, you know, we’re, we’re always getting clothes that fit that are comfortable and not $10 more, but four sizes smaller than all of the men’s stuff. And, and things like that. Again, all of this landscape is changing, but it’s still a challenge. And it’s still a barrier that I think women face maybe a little more uphill than men.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Jess also acknowledges the importance of representation if we want to make hunting more accessible and inclusive.

Jess Johnson:

There needs to be new voices telling new stories that are relatable to new faces in the hunting community. And the hunting community has been pretty ancillary and ostracizing, uh, in its past. And I don’t necessarily think maliciously, but maybe culturally. And it takes all hands to change things.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

After the break, we’ll hear from the leader of another organization that is lifting up underrepresented folks in the hunting community, Lydia Parker of hunters of color.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

We’re back. I want to take a moment to acknowledge that hunting has very unique and complex barriers to entry compared to other outdoor activities. Hunting is not an accessible practice by default. The cost of tags, weapons and ammo is high logistically. You will require a certain privilege to take time off work, to hunt during your permit windows and have better odds at harvesting. The management of weapons requires safety, education, commitment self-awareness and understanding. There are also barriers that are unique to people of color. I

Lydia Parker:

I am the executive director of Hunters of Color, a brand new racial equity based BIPOC led organization, working on increasing BIPOC participation in hunting.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Hunters of color is an organization and brand dedicated to amplifying and inspiring the participation of diverse communities in hunting. Lydia shared some of the unique barriers for hunters of color.

Lydia Parker:

When people ask us about barriers to entry for people of color, cause people are always like what? There is no other barriers. I’m like, oh yeah, there are. And one of the main ones that we find, just because, so we’re so multicultural and very diverse we’re uh, our board is super diverse or founders are diverse, you know, were founded by me and indigenous woman. And then Thomas who’s black and Jimmy who’s Asian, Pacific Islander and Latino. And so we have like all these really interesting perspectives into what the barriers have been for us as individuals. But one of the most revealing barriers that keeps coming up, especially for people who identify as Latino or Latin X is the, this barrier of, oh yeah. My family hunted all the time in Mexico or Uraquay or Venezuela or wherever you’re from. But then for some reason that gets lost for a lot of people when they move to United States. And it’s so interesting to me when I like Jimmy’s best friend Raul in Sonoma, he tried to take him hunting. And he was like, nah, man, we don’t do that. And he’s like, Raul, what are you talking about? Your dad? And I talk about hunting all the time. And he’s like, yeah, that was in Mexico. We don’t do that here.

Lydia Parker:

And it’s so Interesting as a barrier to entry, that’s like almost as myth that a lot of us have accepted. That’s like, oh no, we as BiPAP or people of color, or however you identify don’t do that because you know, the statistics say that hunting is 97% white. And I think that it, it compounds upon itself, but it’s been a huge thing for us to be able to break into and recognize and call out that stereotype and that barrier and say, actually we do hunt here’s proof like here’s Jimmy hunting.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Exactly. Yeah. Just because we’re not hunting here in the us and because it, you know it, and I’m glad you brought that up because that barrier is very real and it probably has to do starting with language, right? Like yeah. Going into these websites and right. Again, access to a computer because you do need a computer for most of these websites, at least, I don’t know your state, but New Mexico or nonresponsive. So you can not get away with going on the phone or you can, but it’ll be very small and you have to zoom in and out all the time. It’s really annoying. Anyway. So there’s that right? Like, and then obviously, um, immigration status, because a lot of folks are not able to process things in these kind of realm of being documented and having identifications and things like that. And then it’s obviously also not cheap, right? You need to get the licenses and the tags. I mean, all that adds up, um, gear, which there’s something about the gear that you can get away with other stuff that’s not made for hunting, but you, and I know that if you’re going to buy a certain thing, that’s camouflage, like it’s gonna cost you $20 more than the version that doesn’t have the camouflage. And that’s already like a barrier.

Lydia Parker:

Yeah, absolutely. Those that you touched on a bunch of things that we always talk about as far as barriers to entry and we’re working, we’re partnering with different clothing brands and different organizations that have, um, gear, accesses and gear reserves that we can use so that people don’t have to feel like that is a barrier to entry. Um, cause it is, I mean, if you wanted to, you could spend thousands of dollars on one outfit for one species, you know?

Gabaccia Moreno:

Yeah. Oh, geez. I know like, I mean, we, we started with quail and then that’s a little chill, you know, cause you don’t need that much more or anything, but like you said, the birds don’t care. Like they’ll see you and they’ll probably stare at you until you’re about to step on them. And then they fly and you’re like, oh my goodness. Um, but yeah, once we got into Turkey and then now that we’re getting into elk, you know, now we get to, we need to buy the colors and there’s other stuff. And the, when we get into deer, there’s going to be more stuff. And it’s just each thing that you want to explore. It’s really like a budgeting issue.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Lydia also recognizes why she has had more access to hunting than other people of color.

Lydia Parker:

I recognize my privilege and even Jimmy’s privileged too, as like lighter skin. And then, so I always want to throw that into like, we are people of color who have more access because we are a lighter skin tone. And part of our work through hunters of color is acknowledging even that privilege that I’ve been able to experience things that, you know, my friends who are black or darker indigenous have not been able to because of further barriers to entry because of the color of their skin. So that’s something that I always want to acknowledge in this kind of space that we’re working to make the outdoors for everyone is our slogan. But I always want to acknowledge that, that if someone hears me talking about having these experiences, um, I recognize it’s a privilege that I’ve already been able to experience these things and I I’m fighting to make sure that everybody can.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Thank you. I really appreciate that. And I also appreciate you folks using that privilege to, to expand visibility of people of color that are also hunting right now. Cause I know that that is inspiring more people of color to get curious and also give it a try.

Lydia Parker:

Absolutely.

Gabaccia Moreno:

I wanted to ask you, um, what is it like being a Latina hunter?

Miriam Garcia-Jorns:

It’s weird. I, I never pictured myself like this or I never really heard about Latino hunters and I just thought it was something we couldn’t do. I guess Latinos, we come from, you know, other countries and thinking, you know, well, we don’t have access, you know, a hunting license and that’s completely wrong. You do, you have the right to that. Yeah. And that’s, that’s what I thought, you know, for a very long time as well. I, I can’t do that and sure enough, my husband, God bless us all. He’s so supportive. He was like, yes, you can. And I’m gonna teach you. So I went through all the hunting course and I learned, you know, you got to want it, I think, but it’s always nice to have somebody to push you to want it and say, Hey, you can do it.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Ever since Miriam started hunting, she has found a new meaning for moments of peace, presence and patience.

Gabaccia Moreno:

What have you learned about yourself through hunting?

Miriam Garcia-Jorns:

Patience? So much patience to be connected to what you’re doing and to be connected to essentially what the earth has given you. Like you can’t get better meat than out there. For me, I’m such a quick person. Like, you know, I grew up doing things fast. You know, that’s just how my parents raised me is quick, quick, quick do things quick. Now we got to get here quick, taking up hunting as has helped me like relax, breathe and be patient. And that’s cleared my mind, you know, growing up as a hunter. And it’s awesome. Not to always, I guess, not always feel like you need to do something quick where you hunt, you wait for the animal and you learn to be patient.

Gabaccia Moreno:

What is hunting to you?

Miriam Garcia-Jorns:

Dang. That’s a good question. It’s providing for my family, a good quality source of meat and it’s to always keep learning no matter what it is. And I think that’s what hunting does for me. It helps me keep learning and it brings more knowledge to the table. You grow up and you know, you get into a routine, you know, you work, okay. I know work, you know that it becomes mindless to a sense, but when you pick up punting, like you don’t stop learning, there’s always a new animal. That’s going to catch your eye and you’re going to want to learn about it. Like I think for me, I’m going to dove, hunted this September and I’m learning about it. This is your first time. Yeah. So it’d be my first time, but it’s just, I don’t stop learning. And that’s the beauty of it. It keeps, keeps me on my toes and I love it.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Earlier in the episode we heard how Tracy Ross had inherited her Grandma’s curiosity for hunting. Here’s Tracy again, sharing what hunting means to her.

Tracy Ross:

Hmm. That’s such a great question. And it’s a really hard one to answer because there’s so much to it. And I’m currently a deep in the beginnings of working on a book-length project about hunting. And so I’ve been thinking about it a lot, but I think it is an incredible way to connect to the land and the food that we eat and communities of people who we might not otherwise connect with.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Tracy also shared how meaningful her first harvest experience was.

Tracy Ross:

First of all, I think harvesting is an interesting word and it’s one that I’m playing with myself. It’s like, what is, what was it like to go out and kill something that, you know, that weighed more than me. And that was a sentient being and also harvesting, but it was maybe the most powerful experience of my lifetime outside of having children. Wow. Yeah. And I get emotional when I think about it. Not because it was bad because it wasn’t bad. It was just so overwhelmingly, like fundamentally cell brain, soul, and heart changing.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

This could be a single episode, but I do want to take a moment to speak to it: taking a life, even if for sustenance, is not easy. Not only from the technical perspective of understanding how to use one’s gear, or from the odd chances that one may have to harvest an animal. The act of taking a life, of seeing a life ending, is nothing to be taken lightly, and yes it can be painful to the hunter to experience. Coming face to face with the most basic expression of one’s survival, especially for the first time as an adult, will be a powerful and intimate, even spiritual experience. Also, as hunters, we’ll always strive to give the animal the least painful and fastest death it can have, one that would seldom be even possible without a hunter involved. As a hunter, you have a unique opportunity to provide for your family, to give an honorable death to an animal, but also the responsibility to be disciplined enough to make this a clean process.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Next we’ll hear from Kamilia Elsisie. I met Kami at an Artemis Sportswomen Quail Hunting event she organized earlier this year. I could instantly tell she was passionate about sharing her joy for connecting with wildlife and land with others.

Kamilia Elsisie:

Would say over the, over the years, the definition of hunting for me has definitely changed. When I first started, it was all about being able to enjoy a hobby with my partner and being able to go out with him and hunt with him and just have these experiences. And that is now pretty much changed into a tradition for my family every year, my dad and his brothers and myself, I’ll put in for tags on the Navajo nation. And when somebody draws, we all go out to the Navajo nation, like the entire family just gets together and we’ll go out and we’ll hunt for four or five, six days in hopes of being able to harvest an animal. And so now it’s one of those things where every year it’s become a tradition. I think we’ve done it now for three years. This will be our fourth year.

Kamilia Elsisie:

So we’ve created our own tradition and it’s amazing because every time I go out, I learned something new. My dad will tell me a story or my uncles will tell me a story or they’ll talk about tracking or the way the animals will move on the land. And so there’s just these things that I pick up that I didn’t know that my family or even my dad knew about. And so that’s something where I can actually say, you know, we do have a family hunting tradition, and I would say hunting has also inspired me to be more of an educator and more of an advocate to get people out there. My current partner, um, my boyfriend, he had never hunted before we met. And he has now put in for tags and his first hunt he ever went on with me was he got an antelope DOE tag in Wyoming.

Kamilia Elsisie:

Unfortunately he wasn’t successful, but this year he harvested a Rio Grande Turkey. And then next year he will also have an on range, orcs hunts. And he also has a bull elk muzzle loader hunt, which I’m extremely jealous of. And so this guy who I met two years ago, no hunting experience at all is now drying some of these amazing tags and is now fully involved in, in hunting. And he’s super supportive. He comes to all the events and he’s actually looking to buy a bird dog. It’s exciting. And I’m so passionate about it. And so me, for me to be able to like share that with him and for him to become passionate about now. Yeah. Hunting is just not, it’s not just hunting to me. There’s so much more that’s involved in it and being able to share it, educate people. I genuinely like love what I do.

Kamilia Elsisie:

I love the organizations that I’m involved in. I love that I can share my passions with people and make the relationships and these friendships and these partnerships with people. I probably never would’ve had the chance to had I never gotten into, into hunting. And I’m always so proud when I see a fellow sports man or sports woman, and they’re doing something so amazing and you see them on, you know, good morning America or whatever. And you’re like, oh my God, I know that person, like I was hunting with them like five months ago. And it’s so awesome to just see people progress and do these amazing things in the outdoors. And I’m just like, so humbled being able to be a part of, of all this, like I just, the friendships I’ve made and the relationships it’s priceless. So I guess if I had to define it, I would say to me, hunting now is just, it’s priceless because of the I’ve made the relationships and the memories that I can say that I’ve been a part of for people who maybe shot their first quail or shot their first Turkey or have had, you know, unfortunately tragic things happen to dogs, but it was all learning experiences, just all these things that I’ve been able to be a part of in all these educational moments is just legitimately it’s it’s it’s priceless.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

I want to add here, that when you hear hunters talking about fun, this is not the type of fun you would have on a night out on the town. The fun of hunting is more a joy for learning, for creating a reciprocal relationship with the beings around you, and for sharing what you’ve learned with others. And ultimately, it can also be the moments experienced by the campfire or the disco or the grill while sharing a harvest with friends, or the bloopers that can happen while out in the field, spooking a deer, or getting a shot blocked by another animal. Sure in memory it all sounds and can be described as fun, yet it is not to be confused with a lack of respect for the animals harvested or the experience itself of taking a life to nurture one’s own.

Lydia Parker:

So I have ADHD and it’s something that I’ve always kind of thought was a barrier for myself in a lot of ways. But I learned that I have so much more patience than I thought

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

We’re hearing again from Lydia Parker of hunters of color.

Lydia Parker:

I think that hunting and being outdoors as much as hunting requires, has really shown me that I’m much more in tune with my body and much more in tune with the earth than I ever thought, because I had kind of put this on myself and thought, oh, this is, this is something that’s wrong with me. And in reality, I think that H part hyper activity, and when I’m outside, when I’m hunting, I get so hyper-focused, it feels so natural to be outdoors and to be tracking and breathing fresh air and experiencing the ecology and playing a role in the ecology in a way that, you know, I don’t do in daily life and when I’m just working all day. Um, so I think that that’s really, it’s been encouraging to me. It makes me feel like I can, I can do more than I thought I was able to do.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Lydia also shared with me what hunting means to her.

Lydia Parker:

Hunting to me is a way that if we choose to eat meat, it’s a way that we can be the most human. I think that it’s as primal as it gets. And as instinctive as it gets, as much as, like I said earlier, I can work all day at my computer inside, but when I’m outside tracking or hunting or fishing, I feel alive. And I think that that’s how a lot of people are too. Whether or not they know it yet, just because it is a connection to our ancestors. If you’re alive today, it’s because your ancestors hunted at some point and were successful at some point. So I, uh, I think that that’s what it is. It’s a connection to the land and to our ancestors. And it’s a right. It’s a human. Right.

Gabaccia Moreno:

Would you say that hunting has brought you closer to your dad?

Gabi Peña:

Um, for sure. Yeah. So my dad’s more of a Fisher and I like the hunting, but whenever we want to go hunting, it’s cool. Cause usually it’ll just be me and him, whether we’re going for deer or Turkey, it’ll just be me and him. And other times we’ll bring other people to just hang out with us, but nice. But when you’re out there all the time, just hiking, trying to come up mountains to see stuff. Yeah.

Gabi Peña:

Here’s more from Gabi Peña.

Gabaccia Moreno:

What have you learned about yourself through experiencing the hunts that you’ve gone on?

Gabi Peña:

I’ve learned to be more grateful for the food and also it feels better when you like, for me in my experience, it feels better when you catch the food. Like when you done the work to earn that.

Gabaccia Moreno – Narration:

Beyond everything else, for these women, hunting has played a big role in reconnecting to themselves. The complexity of the skills needed to thrive during a hunt challenges us to be better hunters and better humans. Sure over time hunters have made mistakes, endangered species, even eliminated some species from their homelands…luckily, some said mistakes have been reversed successfully. Many lessons have been learned and today hunting is more often than not synonymous with conservation. Just to give an example, hunters account for over $1.6 billion dollars per year towards conservation programs. No other recreationists give back to nature more.

In my opinion, hunting is an ancestral skill worth preserving and sharing, as it serves as a practical reminder of the actual hard work it takes to provide for one’s family in an era where our food comes from cans and boxes, from exploitative agricultural operations, from unsustainable practices. It also connects us to roots we’ve forgotten we have, to the reality in which we were able to become predators through the use of technology and stopped being only prey.

For the length of this episode we could barely scratch the surface of relationships that run deep within each of the women who shared their stories. But I do hope that as a listener you got to learn something new, maybe you felt heard, or maybe you were able to see hunting through a lens you didn’t know was possible. Perhaps you even got curious to give it a try or learn more… if so, check out the resources linked in the show notes – I’m adding some articles I found while researching prehistoric hunters and also links to HOC and Artemis where you could find mentorship for your own journey. I also invite you to reach out to me with any questions, though I don’t know much, I’m always excited to learn and share what I do know.

This episode was inspired by the many women hunters I’ve met since I embarked on my first hunt this year. If I’ve crossed paths with you virtually or physically, know that I am grateful for you keeping this tradition alive.

  1. LARDECHOIS says:

    I love your website that i recently have discovered.
    As a foreign reader, I appreciate the transcript for each audio. I hope the same in the new website after its updates
    Good job
    Thank you very much for the work

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