I’m a female that partakes in several male dominated sports, and works in a mainly male dominated industry. I have, a time or two, experienced the wrath of the superior male. My ankles have been bitten by the herd of sheep, both men and women, that closely follow. I have felt hushed, silenced and alienated when trying to give my opinion or share my thoughts on a topic that I am passionate about. It can be really intimidating, and very discouraging.
Passion is an emotion. I’m human. I feel things. So, sue me.
I grew up Anglican. My mom taught Sunday School at our church. I was in the choir. I have some embarrassing photos of myself as a child, dressed as the star of Bethlehem in the church Christmas play. I was raised well. My mom is a saint. I often try to think of what she would do in certain situations before making a decision. However, I also have a father that raised me not to take any shit off anyone, male or female. To stand my ground, and fight for what you believe is right.
Nowadays, I’m not much of a churchgoer. I may go on Christmas Eve, but that’s a big maybe. I have gone through some shit in my life that has really changed me, and I believe it’s been for the better. I don’t seek answers or solace in religion, I never did. Over the years, I found that it was always nature that I would turn to. I started hiking, I bought a motorcycle, I started target shooting with my little 10/22 Ruger. Those things were all a lot of fun, but somewhat seasonal. Over the winter of 2013, after my endless complaints of boredom, my friend suggested that I try tying flies. From that, my obsession snowballed to fly fishing itself, to backcountry camping, partridge hunting, whitetail deer hunting, and most recently archery. When you immerse yourself that deeply into nature, you can’t help but want to protect it.
Since success in fly fishing and hunting heavily rely on weather conditions, it’s hard to deny the fact that the Earth is in a constant state of change and evolution. Environmental turmoil is a better way to put it. As both a hunter and angler, I am constantly being made painfully aware of the bad place we are in, and hurtling towards. I am quickly learning it is us, as hunters, anglers and residents of Planet Earth, that have to change our lifestyles and plans of pursuit to accommodate nature.
Nature does not owe us any accommodations. Remember that.
It’s the sport that must evolve to compensate for these drastic environmental changes to ensure that our resources are kept as healthy, and as safe as they can be.
As a woman, I feel like we are generally more sensitive to the needs of others. Therefore, I think it’s only natural that female hunters and anglers are more caring and compassionate in regards to their quarry. If you’re a hunter or an angler that doesn’t strictly practise catch and release angling, how the animal or fish is treated in death is just as important as their quality of life. I cried after my first successful partridge hunt. I cried because I was happy, and I cried because I had just taken a life. I don’t take this kind of thing lightly.
I’m not new to these touchy subjects. I openly voice my opinions on the current state of our forests, and consequently, our rivers and oceans. I speak freely about the proper handling of fish, if you are practising catch and release. Also speaking out with my thoughts on using an abrasive cotton glove to tail, and handle Atlantic Salmon and Brook Trout in the Eastern provinces. I am a relentless broken record, repeating over and over about the consequences and seriousness of fishing in high water temperatures and poor water quality. I passed up on a shot at a nice little 4-point buck during my first deer season because it didn’t feel right, and I have taken shit for all of these opinions. Mainly from these dominant “superior” males and their sheepish following. Which actually helps to tighten up your inner circle, in reality.
The longer you’re involved in the sport, the better you will get to know the others involved. You gain a better understanding of which crowds to distance yourself from, the ones that expect nature to accommodate their need for a wall-mount or grip and grin fishing photo, yet expect the resource to remain plentiful. You’ll learn to read people and know who to gravitate towards. The ones that accommodate nature in her times of need, and they are many.
Go with your gut.
I recently took the international bow hunter’s training course, and in that course they talked about choosing your own code of ethics, and sticking to them. To preach them, and to instill those morals and values in those around you, and the next generation of hunters and anglers.
Social media followers, likes and sponsorships have their time and place, but don’t get lost in the hype and pursuit of instant gratification. They should not come at the cost of the very resources that sustain us.
This means sometimes you don’t fish, sometimes you don’t pull the trigger, and sometimes you don’t release the arrow.
Speak up about the issues that set fire to your soul.
Follow your heart.
Go with your gut.