VICTIMS AND VALIDATION
When I was 12 years old, I remember going to school and meeting boys that hunted. I remember the looks on their faces when I told them I was also hunted, showing them pictures and getting competitive with them about it. The dumbfounded faces are something I still experience 18 years later, and I still love it. Some may say that’s a sexist reaction, or be offended, but the competitive side of me thrives off it. I love that surprised look guys get and I love showing them I’m capable. I'm able to hold my own.
I got together with the guys of Chase Nation TV to do some late bow season deer hunting. It was my first time ever hunting with them. While doing a drive, I made a suggestion for how to approach the hunt to my friend, Sam. Sure enough, there was that same dumbfounded look. He replied, "I hadn't even thought about that. That's a good idea!" Later on, we started to meet up with the rest of the group. I overheard him talking to some of the other guys, telling them about my suggestion, and saying how I really knew my stuff. It made me feel pretty dang good! I was proud of myself and I felt my confidence boost(and probably my ego, because I'm only human).
I couldn't help ask myself, "why," though. Why did I need to hear that to feel that way? Why did I need that validation? I knew that my idea was a good idea. It was exactly how I had done spot and stalk hunts and drives at the property I hunted. The terrain was relatively the same, and I knew it was a tactic that worked for me in the past. Based on how we were approaching the timber, the time of day, and where I knew the deer would be bedded, I thought it was the best way. To hear someone validate what I already knew, was bizarre but a great feeling nevertheless.
I realize that might sound cocky, but honestly, I dumb myself down as a hunter sometimes. I feel less confident because there might be someone who hunts harder than I do, or there might be someone that has more years of experience. That specific situation, however, made me take a look at myself and realize I have almost eighteen years of experience. I have done my fair share of solo hunts, and have been successful on several of them. I have learned so much from my triumphs and some of my absolute failures. I've forced myself to do and learn new things on my own in order to become holistically better, and with that has come confidence. So there I was, patting myself on the back, while asking myself, "Why?" I'm not saying that I don't want the compliments or validation, because everyone enjoys that, but I'm starting to realize, I don't need them.
On a different but similar note, something I see a lot of lately, is more and more articles and posts about being a woman in the hunting community. Posts whining about how unfairly we are treated by other hunters (male and female), posts defending ourselves, and posts trying to justify our reasoning and ways. I've even wrote some myself, but I came to the realization that it has to stop. If you're truly passionate, know what you're doing, are a confident hunter, and have the knowledge, you do not need to justify yourself or be validated. I'm sick of seeing some women play the victim role. If we continue on this path of whining and complaints, it doesn't become a discussion about hunting anymore. Quite frankly, people take you less seriously if you play those cards.
There is a right way and a wrong way to make arguments, but I think the best a woman, or anyone, really, can do, is to show people what they're made of, what they're capable of, and show them that you have something to bring to the table. So share your ideas about hunting, back it up with successes, and even talk about your failures, just don't sit and whine. Get outdoors, and learn new skills, perfect old ones, and do things on your own. That confidence will come with time, and it will show.