The guide called up to my perch on the game platform, “We’ll keep moving and try to circle around on him.” As he reached down to start the ignition, I continued glassing the field where the brown and white form had disappeared. Two horns popped up over a patch of tall, dead grass on the right side of my scope’s view. Barely breathing, I shifted ever so slightly and placed the crosshairs directly behind the now exposed left shoulder. My thumb flipped the safety off. Without hesitation, I slid my finger over the trigger. I inhaled. In one smooth exhale, I squeezed.
Christian, next to me, had seen the entire thing go down, but from the cab of the Jeep, we hear a “What in the! … Well, did you get him?” The guide was bewildered. We had scoped the blackbuck out in a thicket over 300 yards away. Not an impossible shot, but certainly not one he expected a first time hunter to take without warning. But, I had taken him – my first harvest, a blackbuck, with one, clean, lethal shot at 330 yards.
There are no words for the flood of emotions that washed over me after the gunshot rang out and I saw my bullet hit its mark. In the moment, I was cool, calm and collected. My purpose was absolute. I was the predator, and I had locked in on my prey.
Walking up to my first animal was surreal. He was a beautifully coated blackbuck antelope with chocolate brown eyes and long, twisted horns, which we scored to be 18.5”. In this instant, I became a hunter.
There are many motivating factors for hunting. Our ancestors hunted to harvest food for sustenance, goods to barter, and pelts for warmth. But, in this day and age, we could easily opt to source our food from the grocery store. Our trade takes the form of plastic and paper currency, and modern technology affords us warmth via electricity.
Why then, people ask, do you hunt?
I challenge this question with a rebuttal inquiry. (A few actually.) Do you eat meat? Do you know where your meat is sourced? Do you enjoy a hobby that allows you to explore unadulterated valleys and ridges, spend time with friends in the middle of nature, and put free-range, organic food on your table?
My answers are all yes.
For me, the sport of hunting is a significant draw. There isn’t a time I’ve been in the field or in a blind and not felt a sense of adrenaline when taking aim. But, there’s more to it than the experience. The 2017 season has enabled me to sustain myself on nearly 80% wild game meat for the first year ever, and I’m more passionate about hunting than ever before.
My blackbuck was cured into pounds of jerky that became the favorite midnight snack of my dorm hall mates, and I have a gorgeous hide pillow that is an evocative adornment on my bed now. I forever have one of my best friends, Christian, to thank for introducing me to this sport that I’m proud to be an advocate for. Particularly as a female hunter, it’s a challenging industry to be a public proponent of. I hope that through sharing my journey, I can help change the stigma around hunting, and influence other women or men, young or old to keep an open mind and perhaps become future hunters.