Mentioning the word “hunting” often yields a mixed response, from those who hunt for themselves through to the shock from those who see it as a barbaric sport. In a world where supermarkets supply our endless chain of demands - turkey at Christmas, a leg of lamb over Easter, foie gras for those fancy days - we’ve become disconnected with our food production: housed, raised and slaughtered out of sight. For me, hunting provides a tangible relationship between myself, a respect for nature and what, ultimately, nourishes my body.
Growing up on a sheep farm in rural Victoria, Australia, hunting has played a large role in my community. From a very young age I was aware of where our food came from and it’s been unsurprisingly confronting for others to discover that I helped my very hard working parents to harvest, butcher, and cook my first animal at about 7 years of age. For us, it was our way of life, our provision.
"I was too rough, too uncultured
and far too country"
When I moved to the city to start university, I found it difficult to fit in. I was too rough, too uncultured, and far too country. I found solace in books, preferring to hide away in an imaginary world than face society. After nearly 10 years conforming to a more PC lifestyle I finally got the courage to take charge of my life, and in no time at all things started to fall into place; a new start, and new life, and a new love.
Passionate, outgoing and spontaneous, I met an avid outdoorsman, who invited me to join him on a hunt. I was nervous because I had never been encouraged to participate in this “boys” activity before. I felt as though I was being snuck into some secret club! But, as those feelings from my childhood rushed back, I knew that hunting was for me. It was physically challenging, required excellent knowledge of my quarry and environment, allowed me copious amounts of time outdoors, and above all, gave me an opportunity to harvest my own meat. I was home again.
"...I feel a great sense of
I was raised on the traditional meat and three veg. We farmed our own meat and vegetables, so there was a direct line between the paddocks to our plates, but have discovered so many people in adult life who are blissfully unaware of where their food comes from. For myself, I enjoy eating meat, and personally feel ethically bound to know my food has lived a long, happy, and hormone free life. As a Biologist by profession, I have an immeasurable fondness and respect for animals. Contrary to many forthcoming opinions, I do not want an animal suffer, and I feel a great sense of responsibility to be sure that a kill is swift.
After attending countless hunts as the pack mule (the runner), learning more with each outing, I decided I was ready to take the challenge head-on. So, I - along with my partner - embarked on a search for Fallow deer. I did my research, studied the maps of my intended area, and set a plan for my approach. As we drew near a clearing, a doe and fawn presented through some thick brush, completely unaware of our presence, and continuing to feed on happily. But something didn’t feel right.
As a beginner, I was not yet confident in my ability to take a standing shot, I also didn’t know if the baby was weaned so couldn’t bring myself to take its mother and potentially leave the baby to struggle. We moved on to find a more appropriate opportunity.
In a clearing I came across a young male; he was alone, feeding, and mature enough to be considered. I took my time to lie down, prepare, breathe, aim and fire. My first kill shot was over in an instant. No suffering and effortlessly peaceful. My first reaction was to cry. Relief flooded me that I had been capable of an ethical shot, grateful that an animal had given its life so that I could feed my family and friends, and satisfaction swelled that my hard work had paid off.
"I struggled...I sweated and panted...
more tears before the hunt was
through, but it was worth the effort."
In our home we use as much of our harvest as we can, so, I carried this deer out whole… on my back. I felt a certain responsibility to carry the weight of him, both in thanks for what he would provide, and in respect for his life. He was heavy! At that stage my fitness was vastly inferior to what it is now, and I am by no means in good shape. I struggled my way up hills and over trees. I sweated and panted, and may have had a few more tears before the hunt was through, but it was worth the effort. That night we had fresh venison fillet for dinner and it was the most tender meat I had ever eaten, even more so for the effort I put in to get it there.
In the U.K. the stigma on hunting is starting to change, and there are more and more opportunities for women to get out and get involved. Femmes Fatales is an online community holding many events throughout the year where women are encouraged to give it a go, no matter what their level of experience. Also, if you’re looking for inspiration, check out Rachel Carrie on social media - she's fearless, honest, and feminine.
"I have seen more sunrises and sunsets
in the past two years than I did
in the 20 before it"
Hunting for me has provided so many opportunities to understand and be connected with nature. Unsurprisingly, I’ve found a new strength in my body and my mind; lost over 10kgs; I have seen more sunrises and sunsets in the past two years than I did in the 20 before it; and I have met an amazing community of likeminded women from all walks of life. I’ve met girls who are barely 15 and have hunted for half their life, and some who are in their 50’s and just beginning their journey. Some women are mothers and wanting to provide for their families, and there are the girls who are rowdy tomboys who hone their shot impeccably. Hunting is a community for everyone and I have found my true self within it.
Looking for your next adventure? In collaboration with No Boundaries, Get Out Girl is running the Women's Adventure Retreat on June 15th - 17th. For more information, booking & additional dates, click here.