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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.