Women in the great outdoors

Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Sara Bradshaw (submitted photo)

While hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits have always been hobbies of men in Southeast Missouri, more and more women are enjoying those activities as well.

"Permits sold to females for deer and turkey hunting, and female deer and turkey hunters have increased a great deal over the past decade," says Candice Davis, media specialist of the Southeast and Ozark regions for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Sarah Goodwin, who has been hunting for about 15 years, says she began hunting when she started dating her husband, Mike.

"My dad took me along when I was a kid, but I didn't carry a gun," she says.

Goodwin took the hunter safety course with her husband, and they have enjoyed hunting deer, turkey, dove and duck together ever since.

"My husband still goes hunting more than I do, but it's great that it is something that we can do together," she says.

Her husband even planned a romantic getaway for the two of them that revolved around hunting.

"We have a friend who runs an elk camp is Colorado, and he sets up mountain lion hunts when he has one tracked," says Goodwin. "My husband called me on a Friday afternoon with the idea of flying out there and going mountain lion hunting. I was afraid if I said no, he wouldn't invite me on a romantic weekend getaway again, so we packed up, got arrangements made for the kids, and took off!"

While they didn't get a lion, Goodwin says it was an exhilarating experience that she will never forget.

"The lion was back in a cave crouched down so I had to crawl into the cave," she says. "It was dark and very hard to see, but we put a flashlight in the cave and I actually saw the lion's eyes! I was so scared, but it was so exciting!"

Fishing, fish gigging, trapping and hunting are all outdoor sports that Sara Bradshaw enjoys.

"We trap for coyote, bobcats, raccoons, skunks and fox," she says. As for fishing, Bradshaw prefers crappie or bluegill, but jokes that she'll take "anything that bites!"

Hunting has been a lifelong passion for Bradshaw, who started going with her parents when she was 7 years old, but didn't carry and shoot her own weapon until she was around 11.

"My nickname was 'dead eye' when I was a kid," she says.

However, in recent years bow hunting has become Bradshaw's favorite ways to hunt. She got a spring turkey with a bow here in Missouri, and a Merriam turkey when she and her husband took a hunting trip to Nebraska.

"When I got my spring turkey, my husband got one on the same morning," says Bradshaw. "That's the first time in 12 years that we both got a turkey on the same day."

Bradshaw hopes to someday get a grand slam, which is one of all four different species of turkeys.

"I have two down and two to go," she says.

Like Goodwin, Bradshaw shares her outdoor passions with her husband, Brandon, and expecting their first child hasn't slowed her hunting down.

"I got my spring turkey this year when I was four months pregnant, and I got my Merriam turkey when I was five months pregnant," she says.

Age is no boundary for women who hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors. Jeannie Haertling, who is in her 60s, loves to hunt, fish, kayak, and canoe with her husband, John.

She got her first deer with a bow when she was 58 years old.

"I had never shot a bow until I was 58, and I didn't think I'd (have the strength) to pull a bow back," says Haertling.

With her husband's encouragement, she tried bow hunting and got a deer her first year.

"My husband, John, didn't get (a deer) that year, so took a lot of teasing since I did," says Haertling.

On the other end of the spectrum, Holly Spain, who is 18, just began hunting about a year ago. Her boyfriend, Jacob, got her interested in the sport and she has fallen in love with it.

"I went deer hunting for the first time in November (2011)," she says. "It was the last day of deer season with only 30 minutes before shooting was over, and I was sitting with Jacob in the pouring rain and lightening, and suddenly three deer walked into the food plot. "I've always had trouble keeping one eye open and one eye shut when I shoot, so we put duct tape on one lense of a pair of glasses, but the other lense kept fogging up because of the rain. I ended up taking the glasses off and Jacob held his hand over my eye. His hand was shaking and so was I, but I ended up getting a healthy doe!"