Throughout history, both men and women have played prominent roles in the wild history of North America. A number of women’s skills and enthusiasm for the shooting and outdoor sports has been well documented but unfortunately these stories are few and far between. Annie Oakley was not only a renowned trick shooter that showed off her skills to royalty and dignitaries around the world, her abilities as a hunter and trapper paid the bills during her early years before reaching the heights of her fame. And she wasn’t alone; one of her biggest competitors was another young lady by the name of Lillian Smith.
Fast forward to the twenty first century and women are now the fastest growing segment in the outdoor industry. The hand that rocks the cradle is now also a force to be reckoned with in the outdoors.
Well, what now? What about the modern woman? Nowadays, industries are slowly beginning to take a woman’s physique into consideration when it comes to hunting gear, and the various accessories a woman might need.
Like so many of us, my introduction to the outdoors came through the mentorship of family and friends. But what if you are not presented with that opportunity? What if a modern day gal would like to pick up a bow or gun for the first time? It can be intimidating for any aspiring hunter to try and sift through all the information required to get started, let alone a gal with no one to turn to for advice.
And although there are more and more women playing prominent roles in the hunting and outdoors industry and media, outside of the spotlight it’s still “a man’s world”. Women need a place they can go and ask questions. They need to be able to use our modern day resources to help fulfill their outdoor dreams and adventures and make confident decisions that nurture them to move forward with their goals and aspirations.
Enter The Women of Weatherby. Supported by the innovative thinkers at world renowned firearms manufacturer Weatherby, we are a team of professional guides, hunters and enthusiasts who are dedicated to educating and involving women in all aspects of the great outdoors. Our website, is our base camp on the internet and is a useful tool for information sharing as well as a great way to build and nurture the outdoorswomen’s community. It might seem somewhat counter-intuitive to use a modern tool like the internet to help us connect with those that prefer the remote corners of the globe, but in this day and age, it’s never been easier to share information with your peers or seek out the mentorship of those with more experience. Our goal is not just to inform, but also to inspire confidence and help those who have always wanted to pick up a rifle or a bow do just that.
Photo credit Weatherby Inc.
The Women of Weatherby themselves are a fantastic mix of ages and backgrounds, from moms to students. We are all completely dedicated to the outdoors and able to provide a wealth of information from a variety of perspectives to suit the needs of women today.
Meet the ladies:
Haley Heath is a noted TV personality and huntress in the southern states. Her start in the industry was with Family Traditions, a TV shows series that ran on the outdoor channel. She is one of the founding women of the outdoor TV industry who not only has had a successful hunting career, but is also managing to raise a young family in the public eye. Her dedication as a mother and passionate advocate for the outdoors is a crucial role in any woman’s life where you are not only balancing your own needs, but that of your family.
Karisssa Pfantz is your girl next-door sweet heart. Hailing from an outdoorsy family in Montana, Karissa is a noted “DIY Hunter” in the rugged backcountry. Don’t let this young gal fool you, not only is she just finishing up her freshman year in college at Willamette with a 4.0 GPA, her talents in outdoor recreation are complimented by a knack for writing and playing music. Karissa represents every young girl in her late teens and early twenties. Balancing a life dedicated to the outdoors while juggling the demands of earning a degree make her one of those true role models for young women trying to juggle career choices and the excitement and challenges of the outdoors.
Jessie Duff joins us as a member of Team Weatherby, and advisor to the Women of Weatherby. Jessie began shooting at a tender age alongside her father, a World Champion Shooter in Cowboy Action. Jessie competes in Multi-Gun & NRA Action Pistol, along with SCSA and USPSA, a career that so far has brought her over 40 National and World Champion titles. Her passion for shooting, hunting and the outdoors has also landed her a host position on the NRA’s hit TV series “NRA All-Access.” The legitimacy of this dynamic woman’s ability to make brass and burn powder has earned her recognition as one of the most versatile female shooters in the world.
I personally had the opportunity to grow up in a family of outdoor enthusiasts in the south Okanagan. My father grew up hunting with family and friends, and my mother spent her summers and holidays fishing both fresh and salt water along British Columbia’s vast coastline. Combine this family history with an opportunity to head to an outfitters camp at the age of 11, and the stage was set for a life in the outdoors. It was a wonderful set of circumstances that required hard work, determination and a certain spice for life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Through the years, I’ve had the opportunity to guide and pack into some of British Columbia’s most remote regions in pursuit of game. As we all do, I started out as a wrangler and then worked up to a guide position and since then guiding has opened doors to ply my trade not only here in BC, but in the Yukon and Northwest Territories and as far away as New Zealand. As a woman in my mid-twenties I am regularly faced with having to struggle through some of the stereotypes in the outdoor industry, while balancing career moves, and a drive to continue my passion for a life on the path less taken.
We do not claim to know everything, but our careers and life paths have given us very unique experiences that will hopefully help answer your questions, and inspire you to push yourself out of your comfort zones. Our commitment to the readers and generations to come is to help inspire more women to take up hunting and shooting sports.
One of the coolest projects we are currently working on is putting ideas together for what would make the ultimate woman’s rifle! Some of the biggest questions women are faced with when they get into to hunting and shooting boil down to the appropriate calibre of rifle, which loads to use for what game, and what optics would be the best bang for their buck and we are working to resolve all of these questions and more! We are not simply going to take a rifle meant for younger shooters and make it pink. We are working on a design that suits the needs and physique of female shooters specifically. This will be a rifle designed by women, for women!
Photo credit Weatherby Inc.
Recently, Haley, Karissa, Brenda Weatherby, Jen Rodman and I all had to the opportunity to go on our first WOW (Women of Weatherby) hunt in Cheyenne, Oklahoma. With many of us hailing from the Western Provinces and States only a few members of the WOW team had ever actually hunted turkeys. We used the Women of Weatherby site to share messages, ask for advice on what gear to bring and what to expect on a hunt like this. With our individual experience being so diverse, we had the opportunity to collect what information we needed to enhance our chances of success and more importantly enjoyment!
With May being the month of Mother’s Day, I ask you to thank the women in your life. If you are an outdoorsman and have a woman in your life that might want to try hunting or fishing, I encourage you to pass on our message. The Women of Weatherby are here to help. We are hunters and we are conservationists, and together we are making sure women have a bright future in the hunting and outdoor field for generations to come.
About the Author:
Rachel Ahtila is an international hunting guide that was born and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia. Growing up with an outdoorsy family harbored her passion for the outdoors, leading her to an outfitters camp in northern British Columbia at the age of eleven.
Rachel has fifteen years of working in this industry under her belt at only twenty-six years of age. She travels internationally during the guiding seasons, and hosts a variety of seminars at international tradeshows during the spring.