First and foremost, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for reading, sharing, taking the time to respond, and most of all for the love. It’s been just over a month since I started Wild Woman and I see no end in sight, simply opportunity.
I started this project for many reasons, but a big goal of mine is to empower women. I want all women to know that they should do what they love, without any hesitation. My question lately has been, how? How can I spread the word? How can I reach as many women as possible and establish these connections? How can I turn this into a community? How can I really make a difference? How do I inspire other women?
One night as I scrolled through one of my favorite Facebook groups, made up of all women share this passion for hunting, this post caught my eye: “I’m a huntress trying to empower all women to be fierce and full of FIRE. Hunting brings out my inner courage and strength. It allows me to escape this world and be in pure peace and tranquility for a time where nothing else seems to matter. Hunting isn’t about killing, it’s about living. God bless all you strong women. Keep being fierce and full of FIRE.” Immediately, I wanted to write about this woman. I wanted to share her story and spread this message of empowerment. I thought, maybe this is how.
So let’s do the damn thing! I am kicking off a new monthly feature: “Wild Woman Spotlight.” Each month I will share another woman’s story, in hopes of building a powerhouse network of women.
To start things off, Stephanie Williamson.
Stephanie responded to my outreach so quickly, was so kind and willing participate. I wasn’t sure at first how I was going to relay her answers to my questions, but as I read what she wrote I quickly realized all I had to do was share the content. The emotion. The passion. The honesty. The heart. It’s all absolutely perfect. A huge thank you shoutout to Stephanie for taking the time to put this together to share her story and her passion. Click here to follow her on Instagram.
Stephanie Williamson resides in Southeast Georgia and is a middle grades English Language Arts Teacher. Read her powerful, passionate story. I hope you’ll share it with anyone who will listen. Let’s build connections and keep spreading the word that women can do anything because we are “fierce and full of FIRE”.
The beginning…I began hunting at the age of 17 when I started dating my boyfriend then, husband now, Brandon. He and I had attended school together from the time we were in Kindergarten, but didn’t begin dating until our senior year, 2003. He, his father and grandfather hog-hunted with a kennel of dogs, deer hunted, and turkey hunted. I was oblivious to any of it, but fell in love with him quickly and knew I either would hunt or be left at the house while he was doing all he had ever known. I immediately took on the task of learning all the ins and outs of the sport and quickly realized I enjoyed it. I also felt the need to prove myself to Brandon and his family because they were skeptical of whether or not I would be able to hang with their family’s lifestyle coming from the city and not having any hunting background of my own. I took it on as a challenge that gradually became a passion.
Hunting experience…Now, I am 35 and have been hunting for 18 years. Brandon and I got married in 2007 and have two beautiful, little huntresses, Gracie 11 and Claira 7.
Inspiration…My role-models run a close race. They are the three men who took me in and accepted me as one of their own. My husband (Brandon), father-n-law (Keith), and grandfather-n-law (Kenneth)…the patriarch of the family where all of the hunting originated over 75 years ago, have all played essential roles in my abilities to hunt and become good at it. I have listened to their conversations, learned from their suggestions and sometimes very critical critiques, and modeled their methods as my own. Over the years they have spent countless hours helping me locate hunting property, put up stands, feed deer, call in turkeys, chase hogs, and clean the kills. Without them, I would be lost as a hunter.
Partiality…Out of all of the species I hunt, I would say bow-hunting white-tails is my favorite. Being able to blend in to your surroundings well enough for one of God’s most conscious creatures to come within steps of you is exhilarating. Getting a massive, mature buck within shooting distance of my bow, pulling back, and making an accurate shot is a major accomplishment for me as a hunter.
Venturing out…Most of my hunting has always been done in Georgia, but two years ago, my husband, father-n-law, and I travelled to Illinois to bow hunt white-tails during early November, rut season. The deer there are twice as big as what we hunt locally. I remember arriving late our first night, driving by the endless corn-fields around the Mattoon area and having the largest doe I had ever seen run out in front of our truck. Its body was larger than any mature buck I had ever seen in GA. Our trip had several close calls with giants in the state, but I was actually the only one who tagged out and brought home an Illinois trophy that year. There had been a snow storm and the temperatures stayed in the lower teens the entire time. My last morning of the last day a broken 8 point came right in and without any doubt, I pulled and harvested the Illinois giant. His antlers weren’t the highest scoring, but he was the largest deer I had ever taken. My husband and father-n-law were so proud we weren’t going home empty handed and I knew I had accomplished something I had never dreamed I would. We traveled back the following year with my husband lucking up that year and currently have our trip booked again for the upcoming season. It is definitely our new tradition that I pray one day we can include our girls in as well. I love getting to see new land, meet new people, and most of all hunt the various wildlife.
Differences…As a woman in the sport of hunting, I feel like there are differences in the physical limitations of hunting for me compared to a man. I am obviously not as strong, so I have to rely on some assistance usually with preparation and loading after a kill. I’m unable to run in and tackle a 200lb boar hog or pull back an 80lb weighted bow. I can’t load a mature buck alone or climb 20 foot up in a tree with a climber. But with all of those challenges, I overcompensate in other areas to claim my worth. I’ve learned to tie the hogs in less time than most men…assuring it won’t get loose, I practice and pull my bow back countless times to ensure a kill shot regardless of my lesser pull weight, and I look forward and cherish the time I have with the men who come and help me load my harvests getting to share the stories, trial the blood, and drag the deer together. In my opinion, these differences cancel each other out as long as you are giving it your all in what you are able to do and you have a hunting community who picks up where you lack. Everyone, man or woman, must prove themselves in this sport so I believe you speak with your actions and earn the reward of respect regardless of your sex. Over the years, I have become mostly independent in all aspects of hunting except for these challenges, so besides the physicality, I believe hunting is a fair sport if you put forth the effort to master it well and give it your best “shot”.
So lonely…On a personal level, I definitely feel like a loner most of the time with my interests compared to the interests of most women in my life. I am usually listening in opposite directions and find myself always caught more intrigued with the hunting side of the conversations. I take pride in being a strong representation of fierceness and fire having the ability to hunt. In my profession as a teacher, I take the time to encourage my female youth to try hunting and see what it’s all about. In the past several years, I have been presented with countless stories and photographs of my girls killing their first deer and sharing memories with their fathers or mothers that will last forever. There is no better validation to this sport than knowing you ignited someone else’s passion for it. I also find my greatest comfort and reassurance as a female hunter on social media. I have followed many women over the years studying and trying to be a percent of that they are as bold huntresses. Tiffany Lakosky, Eva Shockey Brent, Kendall Jones, and most recently Sydney Leann, are amazing inspirations to the increasing hunting world of women and have played a great role in the ignition of my own fire to HUNT.
Take it or Leave it…The best advice I’ve ever received in hunting came from my husband. He is really hard on me, but truly believes in me more than I usually believe in myself. When I miss a shot or make a mistake he tells me to LEARN from that exact moment and let the overwhelming disappointment drive my desire to do better next time. I take that advice more seriously than he will ever know. I hunt for my own satisfaction and tranquility, but due to him being the reason I started this lifestyle in the first place, I also hunt for him and his countless efforts to help me be successful. I love him and it’s important to me to make him proud.
Proud Hunting Mama Moment…I have had many proud moments in hunting. I think most hunters would agree every kill holds a special place in your heart. I can remember each and every animal I ever harvested like an animated film in my mind. One particular moment that stands out is not a hunt of my own, but the first deer taken by our 7 year old daughter, Claira. I began working with her early in age shooting a .22 with a scope practicing looking through a scope and squeezing the trigger. My husband and I decided this past season, she was old enough to go and actually shoot. We had a beautiful 10 point coming regularly and captured multiple pictures of him pinning him as her target. Our oldest daughter had killed several deer at this point, so she and I ventured out in one direction on the property, and Brandon and Claira got settled in their spot. My daughter and I were watching a group of deer when out of nowhere; we heard a gunshot from Claira’s direction. I nearly jumped out of the stand in anticipation to hear from my husband, spooking the deer Gracie and I were sitting over. Seconds later the text, “She Got Him!” came through. We rushed over to them, followed the blood trail together as a family and found the most beautiful 10 point buck! There I stood in astonishment as my little family screamed, cried, and gathered around my baby girl’s first kill. It was full circle to me as an emotional and spiritual moment. I thanked the Lord for his most amazing blessings with the gifts of my children and their love of hunting. I absolutely love hunting and shooting, but nothing measures up to the successes of your children’s hunts and kills.
Other Hobbies…If I am not hunting, I am spending time with my parents, my sister-n-love, going to Saint Simon’s Island, attending church, and loving on my 85lb black and white pit-bull named Rip Wheeler, after Yellowstone’s hottest and boldest actor, Cole Hauser.
Future…My goals for the future are to continue to travel to different places, see new land, and meet other hunters that share the same passions I do in the hunting world. The only way to become the best we can be as hunters is to challenge ourselves to new adventures and share our experiences with others. I also want to keep encouraging my students to hunt and carry on hunting traditions through our next generation that could easily be forgotten if we don’t support and include them in the sport. Most importantly, I plan to continue taking my own girls as they grow and keep them in the woods as much as possible. I want them to have the ability to stretch their limits and accomplish whatever their hearts desire in the hunting world as females knowing they have their mom and dad there to help and guide them every step of the way.
Advice…I want any woman interested in hunting to know that for me what I do isn’t about killing, it’s about living. I feel most alive and connected spiritually to God when I am in the woods. I am able to be in peace and quiet, focused on the amazing natural beauty around me that only God could create. I sit for countless hours and think, reflect, and reconnect with my inner strength and hopes for the future. I am recharged as a mother, wife, teacher, and Christian when I am hunting by releasing any stresses the world has placed upon me. I get lost in the serenity and challenges of the hunts. It is my happy place! Give it a try and see if you find the same gifts I have been so very blessed with.
It is GOD who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of DEER and sets me on my high places.
One thought on “Wild Woman Spotlight – April”
Stephanie, I have really enjoyed reading about your adventures. I have two daughters of my own so I know the joy your parents must fill when you harvest a trophy. Your parents are my dear friends and we will share your travels through emails. Best wishes for many great hunts.