By: Sheila Rockwell
Kristy, tell us when and how you first discovered your love for the outdoors and hunting?
“The love of the outdoors and hunting is a part of my DNA. There is literally not a time in my life that I did not want to be in the backcountry atop my favorite mule, fishing the high lakes and camping with my family. I would go afield hunting with my dad as often as I could, of course always wishing that I was old enough and big enough to go with my own tag in hand. Learning how to handle, ride, and pack mules, call elk, and successfully hunt public land from the time that I can remember with my dad made my life what it is today. I can’t imagine living any other way.”
What is your favorite animal to hunt, and why?
“For me, there is nothing that compares to the intoxicating sound of a bull elk bugle as it echoes across a canyon. The bull elk is sacred to my heart and I spend all year long reliving those moments in the backcountry and training, planning and preparing for the coming season. The thrill of getting a bull all fired up to fight, first hearing then watching him charge in is an indescribable experience. When you are blessed enough to have that moment nothin
g will ever again compare and there is not a day that goes by that I do not think about elk hunting.”Remove featured image
As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, do you feel any certain pressure to perform at a certain level, or that you are ostracized or treated differently from men in the industry?
“I am fortunate enough to have grown up in a home where both my mother and father encouraged me to follow my passions and hunting was that passion. My dad always taught me that I can learn to do anything and that I am physically capable of anything that I put my mind to. For me, there has never been any pressure to do or be anything other than what I wanted. I am blessed to work with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation- they made me part of their family and welcomed me into that family with open arms. On all of my hunts, I expect to be treated the same as the guys. That expectation has set the tone for me to be always treated with respect and equality. I do put a lot of pressure on myself, as I truly believe that when that moment of truth comes, we do not rise up to the occasion but simply fall back on our level of training. When that moment arrives, I want to know that I have trained and done everything possible so that I am comfortable and competent to take that shot from the standpoint of a marksman, be it with a bow or rifle. It is critical that hunters understand their equipment limitations and personal limitations with both a rifle and a bow. Training in hunting-like situations makes all the difference in success with our equipment and health fitness.”
Let’s talk for a minute about anti-hunters—what kind of negative feedback do you get,(if any), and how do you handle it?
“Anti-hunters haven’t targeted me personally to any major degree. There have been a few instances, however, I do not bring attention to myself when anti’s attack me or my beliefs. I handle it quietly and with class; there is no reason to fuel their fire. My goal is to teach and inform them how hunting is conservation and how hunters are truly the greatest conservationists in the history of the world. The anti’s cannot argue facts and their emotional based rhetoric is simply that. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation launched the #HuntingIsConservation social media campaign in January of this year with the goal of educating how hunting benefits wildlife, wild places, the economy and more. You start demonstrating those statistics and the anti’s disappear quickly.”
Is there an animal or hunt that you’ve not yet been on that you would consider your “dream hunt”?
“My heart is in the mountains and there is nothing that I love more than backcountry mountain hunting. There are so many iconic wildlife species that live in these rugged places and I have plans to hunt the mountain landscapes of the world, not just North America. Backpacking, horse packing, the more remote, the better.”
Working with the NRA as a host for the NRA News I am Forever show, how important do you feel it is at this particular time to be an ambassador for gun rights and shooting sports?
“Common Sense should tell you that when politicians and elites, whom are themselves all protected by guns, want to disarm the law abiding citizen, we should be very afraid. Firearm ownership is still relevant in today’s society and culture; we have a God-given right to protect and defend ourselves and we have the right to keep and bear arms that is granted to us by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution. Men fought, bled, and died so that we have that right. It is up to us to educate the world why and how, now more than in any other time in history, there needs to be an understanding by everyone of the importance of firearms ownership and our hunting heritage. We need to educate how they are connected directly to the positive impact that the sale of firearms makes upon this world, not just the negative narrative that the mainstream media likes to tell. We need to educate that hunting is not just for the provision of meat for the table, but how hunters and good folks are working hard to improve, conserve, enhance, and fund more land projects that are directly benefitting wildlife and wild places than any other group or organization in the world.”
What do you feel is the most important issue for Americans during this election year?
“The Second Amendment is on the ballot this year. We are at a critical turning point where the law-abiding citizen must defend our right to keep and bear arms with our vote. As a citizen of the United States of America, I have the right to defend myself. The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun- well, I do not want to be rendered helpless hoping that someone shows up in time to save my life. Gun-free zones are the first places that terrorists and the mentally deranged target. Beyond that, if our Second Amendment goes away, so does hunting and conservation as we know it. Our founding fathers died for us. We have to vote. We have to win.”
How do you encourage and or promote hunting to other women and/or perhaps children?
“We live in the greatest country on earth, we are free to travel the world and live out all of our hopes and dreams, but first we must plant the seed of a dream. Today both women and children are accepted with open arms into the hunting and shooting community. This is represented everywhere from firearms manufacturers to gear, magazines, online forums and television. In order to ensure the continuation of our time-honored traditions, it is widely recognized that women are the key to that future. And, we are gaining more respect for our experiences and expertise than ever before. Uniting to mentor and educate is the key to promoting our hunting heritage. For example, helping someone learn to call elk and strategize in the field will ultimately give them the knowledge and skills to hunt solo on public land. When it comes to kids, life’s lessons are best learned in the field with family and friends by their side, helping them to develop sound personal character and values. We need to get kids disconnected from technology and get them afield. Experiences on the mountain where they are making decisions to do the right thing, not the easy thing, helps to develop ethics and realize the value of perseverance through adverse weather conditions and fatigue. The mountain teaches us to dig deep and most importantly, to find purpose within ourselves and always keep going. Start with the small and build every day and every trip success upon success. Begin with the end in mind and work backwards laying out all the steps you need to take to reach your goal. Some goals may not happen overnight, over the course of a year or even longer, but keep at it and eventually they are all possible.”
Are you involved in any charities? How do you “give back”?
“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has been part of my family since I can remember and I am a proud life member. I actively volunteer for RMEF chapters across the country and do a lot of youth mentor hunts with those chapters. I work extensively with the NRA as a Pistol Instructor, Refuse To Be A Victim Instructor, and Range Safety Officer offering women’s-only instruction. This year will be my second year on the NRA Women’s Network with a series of Tips & Tactics that are designed for women shooting sports enthusiasts. As a patriot of the USA, I actively volunteer and support Wounded Warrior Outdoors which is a program where active duty servicemen and women embark upon therapeutic outdoor adventures as referred by military hospitals.”
What are your goals regarding your career?
“That is an ever-evolving question. First and foremost, I love giving back to those important to me, such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Cabela’s, Swarovski Optik, Buck Knives, Wilderness Athlete and NRA. RMEF is launching an online digital network that I am going to be a big part of and I am filming another series of Tips & Tactics for NRA Women’s Ne
twork. Beyond that, I have huge firearms training goals that I am planning to continue into 2017. There is more that I will share as it develops but there is so much awesome in the works.”
“Lightning Round” Questions:
Bow or Rifle? I love them both!!! However, I LOVE long range shooting as a hobby.
Makeup or No Makeup? Always makeup
Tent or Hotel? Tent
Mountains or Beach? Mountains
Favorite gun: 6.5 Creedmoor- it has very little felt recoil and the bullets have an outstanding ballistic coefficient.
Favorite Knife: Buck Knives Open Season Caper with the S30v Steel Name one essential hunting tool to keep with you at all times in the field: GPS
Favorite Food: Street Tacos
Ideal Vacation: Variety is the spice of life. I want to go everywhere and do it all so I change it up constantly.
Favorite Movie: I don’t watch TV or movies.
One Beauty Item that you can’t go without: I have to get my nails done.