We ask a pair of huntresses why they hunt, what their thoughts are on woman in hunting and what conservation value they see in hunting a vulnerable species.

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19 September, 2014

EVA SHOCKEY (ES) is the daughter of Jim Shockey – hunter, writer, photographer and guide who owns his own hunting adventure company. Eva is the co-host of Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures and a representitive of the Outdoor Channel.

BRITTANY BODDINGTON (BB) is the daughter of hunter and journalist Craig Boddington. Brittany herself is a writer, hunter and was the first woman to ever appear on the cover of Petersons Hunting Magazine. She is also a frequent guest host on Petersen’s Hunting Adventures, previous host on The American Huntress TV show and is currently collaborating with her father for The Boddington Experience for 2015.

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Left, Eva Shockey and right, Brittany Boddington on the covers of popular hunting magazines.

 

Africa Geographic (AG): Why and when did you start hunting?

ES: I have gone out hunting, camping and hiking with my dad my entire life but I never actually shot an animal until I was 20. My mom was a professional ballet-jazz dancer and my dad was the hunter of the family. It took me awhile to realize that I could still be a lady like my mom and also love to hunt.

BB: My dad started hunting (in) Africa when he was very young … I was excited to see the magical place that he had always told me stories about but I was not interested in hunting. .. My graduation present was a trip to Africa. In the weeks leading up to the trip I started to research Africa. I eventually started looking into the hunting side of African tourism and I fell in love. I loved the idea of being out in the bush in the middle of nowhere, the excitement of sneaking through the brush with animals all around. I asked my dad to teach me how to shoot. He was shocked! I had always been against hunting, I never wanted to talk with him about it and I carefully avoided telling my friends that my dad was a hunter. The sudden turn around caught him off guard… That safari was unforgettable and since then I have been back over a dozen times.

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Eva Shockey takes aim under the guidance of her father, Jim Shockey. Image courtesy Eva Shockey and Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures

 

AG: Why do you hunt?

ES: I am motivated by the healthy, organic wild game meat I get out of a hunt. I grew up eating moose and deer meat and now I have a hard time buying beef from the grocery store.
My favourite hunt to go on is a moose hunt up in the Yukon with my dad … We are in the middle of the wild lands in the most beautiful place on earth with some of the most magnificent animals, and to top it off, I get to share it with my dad! Heaven!

BB: I love to hunt because I feel that it connects me with nature and I get very primal enjoyment of harvesting my own food. I love to hunt in Africa, that is where I started hunting and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

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Brittany Boddington with her father, renowned American hunter Craig Boddington. ©Brittany Boddington

 

AG: What are your thoughts on women in hunting?

ES: I love hunting with other women! It brings such a different element to a hunt and I still get caught off-guard when I am surrounded by other girls who have the same passion and love for hunting as I do – it makes me so happy! I went on an all-girls hunt in Alaska for reindeer a few years ago and it was one of the most enjoyable hunts I’ve ever been on.
The increase in female hunters over the last few years is HUGE! When I used to attend hunting shows when I was young, my mom and I would often be two of the only females in the entire place. Now when I go to hunting events, it’s nearly split 50-50 between men and women. My favourite part of my job is meeting female hunters and encouraging them to keep hunting!
The industry is adapting and is making room for female hunters. There are products specifically made for women now, like bows and guns… There are hunting TV shows hosted by women and hunting products endorsed by women and mainstream celebrity females announcing to the world that they are proud hunters… It’s a good way to get kids involved with hunting, it’s fun to spend time with wives/girlfriends/sisters/mothers out in the woods – the hunting demographic has changed for the better and the industry is continuing to adapt to these changes.
I am very active on Facebook and that’s mostly because I know there are women who keep up with my page and go from non-hunters to “well if she can hunt, then I can hunt” and sooner or later, they go on their first hunt. I hear this often and it makes me so happy and proud that these women believe in themselves and have changed their mind about how they thought of hunting in the past. The more accessible women hunters are, the better for the growth of women hunters.

BB: I love to hunt with other women. I live in Los Angeles which is not a hunting friendly area and yet several of my friends from LA have become avid huntresses.
There has been a major boom in the number of women hunting in the last decade. I think women are doing a lot of sports that were previously male dominated. The world has changed and women are just as capable and sometimes even better hunters than men… Hunting is a wonderful activity for families and it teaches strength, patience, respect and responsibility.
I’m very proud of the way women have risen in modern media. There are several notable huntresses that have made themselves known and are striving to educate the public on hunting and conservation. It is unfortunate that they get attacked in the media. The anti-hunting media has focused its attacks on female hunters… I can only assume that they see us as weak targets because we are female. They obviously don’t know any female hunters because weak is not a term I could ever associate with any of the ladies I know.

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Huntresses bonding over their kills. Images courtesy Eva Shockey and Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures (left) and Brittany Boddington (right).

 

AG: Many conservationists question the conservation value of the hunting of wild free roaming animals in Africa. Focusing on lions, the species is under threat (wild population 23,000-39,000 from 76,000 in 1980), the meat is not sought after by local communities, there are excellent predator/human conflict strategies in place in many areas and only 3-5% of hunting revenue actually does trickle down to the relevant communities (source: Economists at Large: The $200m Question). What then is the value to lion conservation of the trophy hunting of free roaming wild lions?

ES: I will refrain from commenting on the question.

BB: Having never hunted a lion and being unfamiliar with the statistics you mentioned I would prefer to stay out of that conversation.africa-geographic-logo

 

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  • judy mare

    Perhaps they should have been asked more of the uncomfortable questions at the end. Made them think a bit more.

  • john

    “I love to hunt because I feel that it connects me with nature and I get very primal enjoyment of harvesting my own food.”
    how is taking a trip to africa specifically to kill animals connects you to nature? and what primal enjoyment are you feeling, with your sniper rifle?
    i could maybe agree with you, if you lived with the hunter-gatherer tribes in africa and hunted with a bow and arrow you made yourself.
    what kind of a challenge is hunting? during the photography safaries i’ve been to, we were meters away from wild animals, they didn’t care about us. you don’t need to chase them.
    the world would be a far better place if you used cameras instead of rifle.

    i recommend this interesting article-

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/reminder-why-killing-a-lion-is-the-most-cowardly-thing-you-c#3hv8vb

    • wilbii

      The meat that is harvested goes to starving communities. And the money the hunters pay to go on safari supports the economy. It’s not as bad as you make it out to be. Also the animals are hunted so that they can keep the population down.

      • john

        if they were doing it to help the economy, they wouldn’t brag about it with all the photos of themselves with sniper rifles and the big smiles next to dead animals. and i didn’t know there’s an over population problem of hippos, orix, warthogs..

      • laura

        MY dear , the starving communities have much best hunters then you. They can hunt by themselves. They are trackers, as you know, because without their help you would have no idea of what is going around and where to find the animals before they find you!

      • Pterocles

        Not to mention the fact that the purchase of hunting licenses commodifies animals like lions and elephants that are otherwise seen as pests by the local communities. This makes the “pests” gain value in the eyes of the people, who then take steps to protect their newfound resource.
        It’s actually one of the more effective conservation methods, especially with lions in East Africa, where there was a great deal of trouble with poaching.

    • Diane Anderson

      read the article with interest, and yes, what drives these humans to kill for pleasure, and on a so-called hunt. Thank you for sharing – just feel so disgusted.

    • tom

      John, animals in parks are accustomed to humans and vehicles. They are not wild.

  • Shannon Manson

    Clearly their fathers didn’t teach them how to dodge the conservation bullet!

  • john

    Stick to the day job girls and leave the animals alone!

    • Diane Anderson

      does not matter male or female, to kill for pleasure disgusts me. To pose with your trophy, a magnificent animals killed by a bullet, being close to nature she says, is sickening. Sorry cannot get my brain around this one. For them, its a murderous pleasure seeking thrill – OH MY, LOOK WHAT I DID.!!!!!

  • Diane Anderson

    I agree Judy, they found they could just not comment.

  • SnowFairySugar

    I think they would find that they are more connected to nature by just sitting there, in silence, watching the beauty around them and taking in the natural surroundings. I personally feel that people that hunt are missing something else in their lives. And I’m sorry, I just do not get the conservation card… they could not even comment on it themselves?? If you want to conserve, then conserve!! They want to kill. Period.

    • PietVanPoer

      And you sitting there staring at animals contributes absolutely nothing to conservation. At least with hunting there are significant economic factors at play. Economic factors that contribute to the incentive to conserve many of the larger charismatic species and their habitats. So please, go back to fairy land.

      • SnowFairySugar

        I work for a conservation organisation actually! And we are directly involved in many successful community programmes, of which only one makes its means off hunting. So believe me I understand full well the benefits to the communities of hunting (just dont agree with it personally) as well as conservation agriculture and the many other ways we have uplifted communities in Africa without the need to hunt. I believe this form of conservation should be done humbly, and not boasted over and splashed all over the internet like you have won a prize. No living creatures life is a “trophy”. People who truly do it for conservation do so with honour, not with pride.

        • Pterocles

          I appreciate your sentiment, but the more pride people have over a kill, the more each hunting license will sell for. There was recently a black rhino hunting license which sold for $350,000. That might have been $350,000 less for conservation efforts, had “bagging a rhino” been a shameful act with negative stigma.

          • judy mare

            So how come so many other people can raise thousands of dollars without killing any rhinos????

  • Gordon

    I don’t understand the purpose of a conservation magazine interviewing proponents of wanton slaughter.

    • judy mare

      So these same girls will read the article and hopefully realise from all the comments how disgusted people are by their behaviour.

  • Gikku

    Surprised that Africa Geographic even encouraged the huntresses to air their views on hunting/killing innocent, beautiful animals.

  • Animal Lover in South Africa

    Cant you just shoot at a target instead if you so trigger happy people. It has no blood after shot at “oh i forgot its the spilling of blood that drives you, its the thrill of taking off our magnificent planet animals that give birth like your mothers did, bleed and eat as we do, feel pain as we do, imagine hunting your mother with a gun and no weapon to defend herself, shame on you people, Africa is our land not yours, stop taking our animals for your walls. Eat fruit and veg its healthier.

  • Animal Lover in South Africa

    I only want to know woman with a concience my gosh how do you sleep at night, a heart and a genuine relationship with nature, I don’t think woman hunters are weak, cause only the weak know how to care for animals with passion, killing someone or some animal who cannot defend themselves, nope…sorry I can’t see the difference, just because they can’t speak does not mean they don’t breath and think and feel pain. Stop making local poor communities an excuse with your money, hell most of our poor communities grow and eat their own food without your help…that statement is so lame only a fool will believe it and then maybe not even they would, only you believe it, because its all you want to believe in order to justify what you do. Wicked ugly people, cant imagine you have much of a life if you need to kill to satisfy your boredom…disgusting.

  • Joseph Cole

    I’d encourage people to listen to this article from the Joberts which debunk many of the myths presented by pro-hunting camps in Africa. http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/12/05/hunting-is-not-a-hot-topic-an-interview-with-dereck-and-beverly-joubert/ . It’s particularly interesting that the money brought in by true conservation efforts have a 300% ROI when compared to the little money brought in by pro-hunting camps (most of which is hoarded in offshore accounts). I would really love to see an article from AG which actually shows the ill effects that hunting has on the environment and economy. I do applaud AG for bring these people to light, because without these articles it would be harder to understand the psychology of hunter(ess)s / poachers in a different light (if at all possible). Without understanding what motivates them, then the harder it is to help drive change.

  • andrew

    Before commenting, please ensure that the terminology used is correct. By definition, Conservation is the sustainable utilization of a resource. So, if the hunting is sustainable then it is conservation.

  • Pterocles

    Can we all stop and take a moment to appreciate the profoundly positive effect hunting licenses have had on conservation efforts?
    Hunting licenses give value to animals that communities would otherwise consider to be pests, and are the most effective method of passively controlling poaching.
    Secondly, there are a finite number of hunting licenses granted per year, and this number is calculated to allow the population to grow.
    Yes, the lion population is down, but how much further down would it be if these huntresses hadn’t been there to give would-be poachers a reason not to kill more lions?
    Do some research before you rant at what you call “wanton slaughter”.
    Here’s a good start: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/opinion/a-trophy-hunt-thats-good-for-rhinos.html?_r=0
    And another, more technical bit: http://www.fws.gov/policy/library/2005/05-17432.pdf
    To wrap it up: http://www.cbs.umn.edu/sites/default/files/public/downloads/Effects%20of%20trophy%20hunting%20on%20populations%20of%20lions%20and%20leopards%20in%20TZ.pdf

  • Rob

    A very irresponsible article as it seems to condone a practise which is going to rob the world of its remaining wildlife. The only sensible question asked was the last one and the two women were unable to answer it – which just about says it all. There are far more anti-hunting people than hunters in the world (as the comments below testify) but sadly that fact does not prevent the wholesale destruction of wildlife which is happening on a massive scale. When lions are extinct (and, yes, it could happen) we will look back and wonder how we allowed it to happen.

  • TrophyKillersAreSick

    This is why people hate trophy killers – because they just don’t care about life, period: Please call on the USFWS to ban all lion imports into the U.S.

  • Denis Rousse

    I know some people get disgusted about other people hunting. Personally I like to hunt. I don’t see a problem with hunting as long as you will be eating the meat. If you won’t eat the meat then don’t shoot it. Hunting for trophies and wasting the meat is senseless. Our ancestors were hunters long before they grew their own food. Also some people are disgusted about us killing an animal for food. Well do you eat? If yes, whatever you eat was once alive, regardless it’s meat, fish or plant base. The fact that you don’t hear the plant scream doesn’t mean it was not living. So please have respect for others and stop bashing them for their choices of food or how they gather the food as long as it’s being consumed and not wasted. Beside if society breaks down like in other countries( it definitely could) supermarkets will stop functioning and then how do you get fresh meat, fruits and vegetables? And don’t tell me that you will go to the next town, they most likely will have the same issue.
    You definitely could grow you own food as well.

    For the conservation card as some said, take for example deer. In my area Deer hunting is not allowed at all and guess what, once they run out of food in one area due to overpopulation or us building in their area. They end up roaming the road and then they get killed by vehicles which end up having deer killed needlessly and people get injured or die. Conservation means that we shoot deer for hunting and preventing overpopulation for a given territory and keep the animal from starving and help them being healthy.

    Well that my 2 cents ( with inflation they are worth about 1/2 penny).