This past Christmas, I cooked a delicious Venison Wellington that I can’t wait to make again! It was the first Christmas I cooked the entire dinner myself and I knew I wanted to make something special. I had backstrap still in my freezer from the doe I shot the year before, just waiting for the “right” recipe to use it.
This past spring, I attended the Washington Outdoor Women’s “Duck Hunting 101” workshop. It was a day long workshop consisting of four separate stations: clay shooting, setting decoys, using a hunting dog, and duck hunting and gun safety. I took their shorter version of the Duck Hunting workshop at their fall retreat and loved it, so I was really excited to go to this.
The workshop was being held at a private hunting club—a men’s only hunting club to be exact. But, for this one weekend out of the year, ladies took over! The hunting lodge itself was beautiful. I wish I could’ve gotten pictures inside of the big vaulted ceilings, wood and stone work throughout, a huge fireplace, and big leather couches to relax in. I’d love a hunting lodge like that one day!
About 30 women attended, plus all the instructors. The day began with breakfast. Washington Outdoor Women sure know how to feed you well at all their workshops! Breakfast was a huge spread of options, several home cooked. One dish was a delicious salmon egg bake that I’d love to try and make myself. After everyone was fed, we had a quick intro then broke off into our groups.
The ladies were separated, groups A-D, and would rotate through all the stations. My first station was clay shooting. I ended up in the group with women who had previous gun experience, so we shot first. Everyone else took the gun safety workshop before getting to shoot the shotguns.
A father and son taught this workshop. They quickly went over the basics and it was time to get shooting! Each woman had 6 chances for their turn. I’ve only shot clay pigeons one other time and it was during my Hunter Education field test where I hit it on my first try. Definite beginners luck!
The first couple women who went missed all their shots. To be fair, we were having some problems with the machine shooting the clay pigeons. It wasn’t shooting when it was supposed to. It was my turn to get up and the instructor said he thought I’d shoot one since I shot a deer last year.
I yelled pull and sure enough, he was right! First clay pigeon shot of the day! I’d really love to get more into trap shooting. It’s a lot of fun and I feel like it’s something I could become pretty good at with practice. It’s also so satisfying to see your clay target break into pieces!
We had an hour at each station and boy did that hour fly by quick! Each woman went through the station once. A couple women were pretty new to using shotguns and they went another time so they could hopefully shoot their first target.
One of the reasons I love learning with a group of women is they’re incredibly encouraging. Everyone cheered and was genuinely happy when a woman did finally hit her first target. It’s an incredibly supportive environment to learn in.
Our next station in the Duck Hunting workshop was setting decoys and we were getting out on the water to learn!
To be continued…
You read that right—I used to be a vegetarian long before I became a hunter.
It’s why when my dad tells people I shot a deer, he follows it up with, “she’s the LAST person I ever would’ve thought would shoot a deer.”
So how did I end up here? Now butchering my own meat.
When I was around 16 years old, my best friend and I decided we’d become vegetarians. There wasn’t much to it. We likely watched some ridiculous video or read an article and decided it was a good idea. To be honest, I think it had more to do with being an angsty teenager making things difficult for my parents by refusing to eat meat. Sorry guys! I’m sure karma will come back my way when I have my own children!
Here’s the thing, I still loved meat. Not a day went by that I didn’t want to eat a piece of bacon or a steak. It hurt to see someone ruin a perfectly good steak by ordering it well-done instead of medium-rare. Obviously I wasn’t the greatest vegetarian.
So after a year, being a vegetarian became a thing of the past. Fast forward more than a decade and now I’m a proud hunter.
How did the pendulum swing so far?
When I started learning more about hunting, one of the things to spark my interest was being able to provide organic meat for my family. Knowing exactly where your meat is coming from really intrigued me. It’s why when I shot a deer, I wanted to watch and learn all I could about skinning and gutting a deer.
Later, when my brother showed me how to butcher the meat, I was still intrigued to keep learning. It was fascinating seeing how all the cuts are connected. You don’t really realize how it’s all put together when you only buy packaged meat from a store.
Learning how to process a deer myself really gave a new appreciation for meat and where it comes from. And now I’m able to cook delicious meals with venison and I have no questions about the quality of the meat. I know because I was involved in the processing of the deer from step one.
So it’s a little funny when people who don’t agree with hunting tell me I should be a vegetarian. Been there, done that—it’s not for me. Just like hunting might not be for them.
I’m going to keep eating meat whether I hunt or not. I’d just much rather the meat come from the field than a store!
So, what about you guys? Anyone else make the same change from vegetarian to hunter? Share below!
So, you want to learn to hunt and don’t know where to start? That was me a couple of years ago. It can be hard as a female to break into the men’s world of hunting if you don’t have a man helping you along.
I started my hunting journey with a boyfriend, but when that ended, I decided to continue to learn more on my own. It meant a lot to me to be able to do it on my own, so I found myself seeking other women to learn from. Read below for my tips to meet other female hunters and get more involved with hunting!
I’ve tried to meet as many women as possible to help me, but I’ve also gotten help from men along the way too. Through researching and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I’ve learned a lot and met some really great people in the process!
First things first, take a hunter education course if you haven’t already. You can’t start hunting without getting your hunting license. The class is easy and incredibly informative. At the end you should know if hunting is really something you want to learn more about or if it’s not really for you.
There will also likely be other women in the class you can meet. Just be sure to look into classes early! I was on a waiting list to get into mine.
If you know you like hunting and want to learn how to get more involved, click below to read my 5 ways to connect with other women to learn more about hunting.
Another year means another set of goals! It’s a little late, but here are my hunting and fishing goals for 2016.
01. Get in shape
Like last year, this is my main goal. I’m already off to a good start! I signed up for a 5k in March that has kept me training consistently. I also plan to get into weight lifting to help me build arm strength for bow hunting.
02. Buy a bow and practice weekly
I’m hoping to be able to buy my first bow in the next month! I have a friend who is willing to join the same shooting range with me so we can go practice together.
03. Shoot my first buck
Last year, I shot my first deer which was a doe. This year, I hope to shoot my first buck!
04. Hike and scout more
Living in a new area, I have a lot to do to learn the land around me. I plan on looking into public land around here to then go out and hike/scout. Hopefully I can find some decent public land spots around me.
05. Learn how to use my elk call and get out for elk season
One of my presents for Christmas was an elk call which I’m so excited about! Now I need to learn how to use it because I’m sure the sound I’m making is NOT right. I hope I can get out for an elk hunt too!
06. Cook more wild game recipes
I’m going to steal from the Deerslayer’s Wife here and add that I want to be more adventurous in my cooking! I’ve got a good chunk of deer meat left that I need to think of great recipes to cook it with, I’m excited!
07. Find a good, local spot to fish
I really want to get out fishing more this year. My goal is to find a spot near me that’s good for fishing that I can go to often.
08. Go duck hunting and get my first duck
I’m hoping to attend a Waterfowl class this year, put together by Washington Outdoor’s Women. Since the timing never worked out last year, my brother has promised to get me out a couple times this year.
09. Go upland bird hunting
This may require me to head back toward the area I used to live, but I’d love to get out for grouse or pheasant hunting this year.
10. Get involved and volunteer with a conservation group
I’m really hoping to get more involved with conservation groups this year. I’m attending some events, but I’d love to be able to volunteer and help out with their conservation efforts.
Hopefully I’ll be able to mark the majority of these off at the end of the year! My main goals are to get into bow hunting, go elk hunting, and volunteer with a conservation group.
Most importantly, I just want to enjoy the year and get out to enjoy the outdoors more. I can’t wait for it to be spring so I can get back outside! I miss the sunshine!
Do you have any big goals you’re hoping to achieve? Share them below!
Victoria over at A Texan In South Africa created a great new group called Huntresses United. It’s for women who are passionate about the outdoors, educate others about conservation through hunting, encourage and support women in the outdoors, and embody being an ethical hunter.
I love her idea and gladly joined! Even as a female hunter, it can be hard to find other outdoorsy blogs written by women. Huntresses United is a place to easily find other blogs by female writers sharing their outdoor experiences, be it hunting or fishing.
Check it out here! Find other great blogs to follow or join the list yourself!
Thanks for putting this together Victoria! It’s great you’re bringing huntresses together!
Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s already 2016! I don’t know about you but last year went by in a flash. I hope everyone had a great holiday with family and friends!
It’s crazy to have my first year of this blog in the books.
I thought it’d be fun to do a look back at the 10 most popular posts from the last year… so here we go! (Click any of the titles to read the posts!)
- The Value of Female Hunters
Remember when a man working a booth at a hunting expo ignored me and focused his attention on my male friend? This was an unexpected post I never thought I’d be writing, but I loved all your comments and learning about the experiences other females have gone through being in the male dominated hunting world.
- Huntress – What’s In A Name?
The word huntress — surprisingly debated in the hunting world. I personally like it, how else would you know a lady ran this blog if I just called it Country Hunter? Again, it was great to see how other women view the word and what they like being called! Regardless if you love it or hate it, we should support all female hunters.
- Salmon Fishing in The San Juans
This was a lovely trip to the San Juans and I was lucky enough to catch my first salmon. The backdrop was absolutely gorgeous! I actually have several pictures from this trip framed in my room.
- Washington Outdoor’s Women – Duck Hunting
One of my posts from the women’s retreat I attended last year. I learned so much about duck hunting and met some great women. I’m looking forward to going to their duck hunting workshop this spring!
- Surf Fishing on the Oregon Coast
This was a great experience learning about surf fishing. Not sure when I’ll get the chance to do it again, but it was definitely cool to see. It was another weekend that had gorgeous sunsets for the backdrop.
- Washington Outdoor Retreat – Day 1
What a great weekend, I encourage any women in Washington to attend this next year. If you live in another state, see if there’s a similar retreat for women that takes place! I’m definitely planning on going again this year!
- Shooting My 1st Deer
I’m so happy I was able to make this post this year. I shot my first deer and learned so much that I’ll carry with me every hunting season forward.
- From Field To Plate
My delicious first meal I cooked with the venison meat that I was taught to butcher myself! I promise I’m posting that recipe next, it was so good!
- Failure To Launch: Learning How To Fish
This makes me laugh this is one of the more popular posts I had last year. My somewhat embarrassing first moment of learning to fish at night. I’ve grown a lot since then and now enjoy night fishing!
- Taking A Woman Hunting? Avoid These Mistakes!
A great read for men who plan on taking a woman out to hunt for the first time! I’ve definitely had my own experiences that sound like what’s listed in the article. How you act on a woman’s first hunt can definitely shape how she sees hunting and if she’ll keep her interest.
Thanks for reading along as I continue to learn more about the world of hunting. Thanks to everyone who helped make some of these posts possible!
Here’s to a great 2016!
What was your best hunting moment of 2015? Share below!
This past weekend, I served my first meal from the doe I shot weeks earlier. It was a great feeling!
I used my new meat grinder to make ground venison for a delicious meatloaf recipe. I’ll share it later this week, everybody loved it!
Everyone has their own reasons for why they hunt. Providing meat to eat is probably my biggest reason. I can’t wait until I have my own family and I’ll know exactly where the meat they’re eating came from. It’s feelings like this that make me so happy I got involved in hunting.
When I got back from my hunting trip, I had four deer quarters to butcher.
My family has always hunted with farmers so they’ve harvested and processed their own deers for decades. Thanksgiving morning my brother came over and taught me how to butcher the meat.
We both started with one leg. He showed me how to work the filet knife between the different muscles to start separating the meat. He said the knife will do the work, just follow where the tension is. It was interesting to see how it was all connected.
He also showed me how to use your hand to feel where the muscle goes. Eventually, we got out our first big steak. Then came what he said was the most important part—cleaning the meat.
I got off all of the film that keeps the muscles together. Then I worked to cut off all of the silver skin, that part wasn’t easy! If any of the meat had fat left on it, I also cut that off. It took awhile, but when I was done we were left with really nice cuts of meat.
The reason he said this step was so important was all of those parts added to the gamey taste of meat. So the less of that on the meat, the less gamey it’ll taste.
It took us a couple of hours but we finished butchering two of the quarters. We were left with steaks and stew meat mostly. I learned a lot, my brother was really helpful at showing me how to do everything. It was nice being able to learn the family tradition of what they do after someone gets a deer.
He took two pieces of meat we’d cleaned and grilled them in a cast iron skillet. With only salt and pepper to season it, it was a delicious piece of meat! Not too gamey at all!
A few days later, I finished butchering the last two quarters. It took me a few hours. It probably wasn’t the best butchering ever done, but it was a good feeling to do it myself. It’s a lot of hard work, but rewarding to see all the meat you’re left with.
For Black Friday, I purchased a meat grinder from Cabelas. I’ll be using it for the first time this weekend as I grind stew meat to make a venison meatloaf. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!
Do you butcher your own deer or take it to be processed at a wild game butcher? Share your family’s tradition below!
If you missed Shooting My First Deer – Part 1, read it here!
I had just shot my first deer and now the hard work started as we began to track the blood trail.
Kelli and I began make our way through the thick salal bushes that were much taller than us. To be honest, I don’t know how she cleared a path for us to follow because the second we went through, the path was swallowed up by branches and leaves again.
Trying to follow a blood trail in that brush seemed impossible. We worked our way to one clearing and no blood was to be found. We looked in every direction she could’ve gone but nothing. We each took turns going back into the salal to try and see if the blood trail moved farther into it in another direction.
Eventually we decided to move from where we were to try and get farther back in the brush near where we saw bushes move. We made our way back in and again came to another small clearing. I looked down and there was another patch of blood—back to tracking once more!