Parent Category: Staff
Category: Meet the Ladies
Written by Linda Thompson
I would like to welcome you to womenhunters.com. I hope you will take advantage of all the expertise my fellow lady writers and I have to offer you. We are here to help you learn, enjoy and become successful in the wonderful world of hunting.
Some of you might remember me by my maiden name of Judson. I wrote the "Bear Essentials" column for Michigan Bowhunter News for three years back in the mid-80's. I continued that column for Woods-N-Water News a few years after that. Perhaps you've seen my articles published in Bowhunter Magazine, Michigan Sportsman magazine, Buck Fax or Great Lakes Bowhunter.
My background in bow hunting starts back in 1969, thanks to a boyfriend who got me started. I didn't come from a hunting family. My father didn't hunt, nor did my 3 brothers. Neither of my grandfathers hunted. However, my great uncle, who lived next door hunted, and I can remember every fall when he was successful, I was excited to see him bring home his prize. I was a little jealous when my cousin Bruce, who was a little younger than I, began to hunt. Not long after that, is when I met my boyfriend, who bowhunted, and that's how it started.
The first animal I ever took with a bow was a black bear, back in 1972. It took me another 10 years to finally get my first deer. However it is now rare that I don't take an animal with a bow. So far, I've taken over 27 whitetail, 2 mule deer, 2 black bear, and 5 turkeys. I've also taken 4 turkeys with a shotgun, 14 whitetail and 1 elk with my rifle, and 2 deer and a mountain lion with a handgun. My greatest accomplishment was being the first woman in Michigan to take the Michigan Bow Hunter Grand Slam. In 1990 I shot a bear, a deer and a turkey, all in 11 days! That same winter is when I took my mountain lion.
As you can see, I love to bowhunt. In the 32 years I've been doing so, I've seen bowhunting go through many changes. Look through an archery catalog and you will see a wide array of bows, sights, stabilizers, arrow rests and camo clothing. It would be difficult for a newcomer to choose wisely. You would be at the mercy of the store clerk, who may or may not know what would be best for a woman. When I started bowhunting in 1969, we didn't have all those choices. We made due with what we could find or make. I was lucky to find a 35# Bear Kodiak Hunter recurve, painted olive green right from the factory. I hunted with that for the first 10 years. It now adorns my wall with Fred Bears signature on it. I used to make my own camo clothing, because nothing was small enough for me. I even had to make my own "St. Charles" back quiver, because none existed short enough for my arrows. I was shooting 24" 1716 Swifts, because that was the smallest aluminum arrow I could find. My Bear razorheads fit over the shaft. However, my hunting equipment did the job, because that's what I took my first bear with.
When I started bowhunting there were approximately 35,000 bowhunters in Michigan. Now, there are over 300,000! The substantial growth has been good for bowhunting because manufacturers are constantly striving to improve their products and the bowhunter benefits from higher quality and a larger selection. Women are finally playing a vital roll in hunting, and manufacturers are beginning to take notice. I say it's about time!
The drawback to bowhunting's popularity is, the woods are becoming overcrowded and there aren't enough "old-timers" passing on the ethics and skills necessary to become what I call a "real hunter". What I mean by that is, it takes skill and experience to be a hunter. Anyone can shoot game. A real hunter will always strive to make the best shot and pass up a bad shot (even at a trophy-class animal). A real hunter has a deep respect for the animal hunted and the environment in which it lives. There isn't an unlimited supply of game and a real hunter is not a game hog. Hunting season and bag limits are set for a good reason. In my family, we have self-imposed limits. We take rabbits and squirrels during the season, only when we want them for dinner. When we fish, we keep enough for the evening meal. My husband Patrick and I can legally take at least five deer each during the combined bow and rifle season, yet each year, we take only what we know we will use for the year. We always have leftover tags.
The biggest problem I see today is, too many gun hunters who turned to bowhunting don't know how to properly track a bow-shot deer. It can be a long, difficult job, and I hear of too many people giving up too soon. I was fortunate to have been taught how to track by some of the best bowhunters in the country (in my opinion).
People like outdoor writer Richard P. Smith, bowyer Phil Grable, and Dave Borgeson (Michigan DNR) took the time to teach me how to track wounded deer. In my early years, these men had lots of patience, because I gave them lots of opportunities. Because of their teachings, I now recover 99% of the deer I shoot. The other 1% live to see another season.
Please take the time to email me with any questions you may have about hunting, choosing equipment, bow tuning, shooting problems or whatever. With 32 years of bowhunting experience, there's not many mistakes I haven't already made. My husband Patrick is extremely knowledgeable about guns. We have over 30 in our collection right now. He has helped me hone my skills with a rifle and shotgun. Pat has gun hunted all his life, and between the two of us, we can help you become successful too! Linda Thompson