Montana Hunt Eventually Has Arrived
My husband, Todd, and I arrived at Upper Canyon Outfitters yesterday! What a day of traveling from not so warm Alabama, to ruggedly cold Montana! I was a bit of a stress case about our rifles and luggage, and all my wonderful hunting clothes from Haley Vines Outdoor Collection and Prois arriving with us. Yes, I did say Rifles! I am going to harvest my first game animal with a rifle this trip…well, at least that is the plan…I sure hope the Elk are cooperative! My trainer Natalie, always enforced that eventually, I would be stronger and able to do even harder exercises….well, eventually has arrived, and now we need to see if the hard work at the range and in the gym pays off in a successful hunt.
It is pretty exciting around the lodge, there are three ladies here (left to right), including myself, with big announcements in the last week. Donna McDonald, my good friend and our outfitter (hers is a story of inspiration in itself), is a finalist in the Prois Hunting Apparel Award Finalist! It is no accident that she made this esteemed list! You read about her hunting accomplishments and vote for her at http://www.proishunting.com/proisaward. I am named one of the Outdoor Life 25 Leaders in Hunting, Fishing and Conservation. Also, Miranda Brown, a guide at the ranch has been nominated in the Extreme Huntress Contest. Miranda is only 20 years old, but her hunting maturity is that of a very wise and experienced hunter. You can read about her and vote for her at http://tahoefilms.com/contests/extreme-huntress-contest/#miranda. Then, I was recognized as an Outdoor Life Top 25 for the work I’ve been able to do in encouraging more women to participate in shooting sports with confidence! This is a great honor, and eventually will go to voting too, you can read about this honor AT http://tahoefilms.com/contests/extreme-huntress-contest/#miranda.
This morning, we shoot our rifles and check that they are still dialed in. Todd and I are curious to see how much the temperature effects the trajectory, since we sighted in at 70 warm degrees, and it is way less than that here at Upper Canyon Outfitters. I must say, I miss my bow, but I’m sure that this experience will be just as satisfying, awe-inspiring and rewarding as any archery hunt. Time now to go watch the sunrise!
DAY ONE - The first night at Upper Canyon Outfitters, just before we turned in for the night, Donna said, “sleep in tomorrow, it will be the last day you can!” So, of course yesterday morning, Todd and I were up at 0600…central time; so 0500 here in Montana. It was a great relaxing morning. I got to look out the window and glass a Bighorn Sheep on the hillside. They are protected here, so he just idled around for hours. After a healthy and warm lunch of soup and salads, we got geared up and checked to ensure our rifles were still sighted in after the travel. Interestingly, both Todd and I were two inches high, and two inches left. A few minor adjustments we were dialed in and good to go from 100 yards to 300 yards! Then it was to the horse barn. I am lucky to be able to ride the same horse I rode when I was out here at Upper Canyon Outfitter’s this summer, Bingo…Jake makes you sing his name…with enthusiasm if you want him to leave you alone..
DAY TWO - Morning came early, but sleep hardly came at all. I was so excited. When it was finally time to get up…Todd said, “ok, you can go see what Santa brought you now!” It was that exact childhood memory of Christmas Morning. We had breakfast, packed a lunch, and we were off. It was a fabulous day! I have to say that I am proud of myself for accomplishing so much today. No, we didn’t get an Elk, but it was a full day from 6 am to being back in the ranch around 7:30pm. We went to hunt Bone Hollow…I have no idea why it is called Bone Hollow, but maybe because it chills you to the bone. To get to Bone Hollow you have to climb a mountain… seriously, I do not know how to explain this, other than to say it is steep steep steep. When I got to the top, and turned around to see the entire surrounding mountain ranges, from what to me seemed the top of the World. Half way up, I have to admit, I did not think I would make it, but I did….only to find out that we then had to go half way down the other side to get to the area we would hunt. It was a hike, and thanks to Natalie I made it! In honesty, I did suck wind for the entire time…I’ll blame it on altitude, but the truth is for as hard as I prepared, I definitely could have done more. Then we looked for Bucks and Bulls. We saw about 21 Doe and 2 bucks.
DAY FIVE - I’m on the plane reflecting about my hunting trip to Upper Canyon Outfitters in Alder, Montana. Todd and I had such a good time visiting with our friends Donna and Jake McDonald and making new friends.
I am so thankful for the experiance and want to thank Donna Tate McDonald and Jake McDonald of Upper Canyon Outfitters, Bill Wood (my guide), Brian Smith (Todd’s guide), Haley Vines Outdoor Collection clothing, Prois clothing, Leupold Optics (scope and binoculars), my Tikka T3, .30-06, Natalie Westbrook (my trainer), and most importantly my husband Todd for his steadfast support and encouragement, and God who gets credit for all.
Women of Inspiration in Shooting Sports
by Karen Butler
Although, Muzzy is a sponsor of Shoot Like A Girl, I had not spoken with Michele prior to the interview. She graciously agreed to an interview, with little notice. At first, I was slightly nervous; I’m not going to lie. I had done my homework. Michele is a very accomplished woman, She is the CEO of one of the greatest broadhead companies in the world, the Chairman of the Board of the Archery Trade Association, a television celebrity, a lifelong accomplished hunter, and to top it all off a devoted mom and wife to three boys and wife, to in her words, a “great husband.” However, after only talking to her for a few minutes, it was like talking to a long lost friend. She is definitely someone that you would want as a friend.
I am more proud than ever that Muzzy has signed on as a Shoot Like A Girl Corporate Sponsor. Muzzy has a similar view as we do; let’s work together to get more people and particularly women, involved in archery. As a matter of fact, the key take away to me was the saying that her Dad coined, that she carries with her, “There are those that want to be something in archery and there are those that want to do something for Archery.” Michele and Muzzy “do something for archery”, evident not only in how Michele maintains their long standing family business traditions and integrity; and in their product line, where they deliver dependable products to their customers; but also in their sponsorship of Shoot Like A Girl.
Let me tell you how in fifteen minutes, Michele inspired me and hopefully will inspire you too. First, she has been hunting her entire life and has had a bow in her hand since she can remember. She is the first girl in her family to hunt with a bow; however, her mother had hunted with a rifle and had always been extremely supportive of the hunting lifestyle, and as an older adult is now a bow hunter too! (There is probably a good story of inspiration there for us, too!). The overarching message that I took away from the interview was how archery provides the best sport for families: dads, moms, grandparents and kids. She mentioned how her three boys all play sports, and she loves to go and watch them play, but she is a spectator. When they go out and shoot their bows, she is a participant…everyone is a participant; including her mom.
Michele is an accomplished hunter who hunts for meat, and “any animal taken with a bow is a trophy.” Of course, she has been blessed with opportunities of wonderful hunts like Moose on the Yukon. But, what was her favorite hunt? Well, it was hunting frogs with her three sons and her husband with recurve bows. At first, she said she was concerned that the boys wouldn’t hit anything, but they couldn’t miss! They taught the boys how to clean the frogs, and they ate frog legs! She values the time she and her family spend together, and she loves to develop the passion for the outdoors in them. Michele doesn’t stop with her own family, she promotes shooting sports and outdoors everywhere she goes.
Michele told me a story of how she was able to help encourage another woman to begin hunting. A husband had wanted his wife to go hunting, but she had not committed to the hunt. Michele talked to her and found out, like many of us, she was afraid of not being able to make the shot she would have to take. She didn’t want to disappoint her husband, and felt it was too much pressure. Michele explained to her that she didn’t “have” to take any shot. She stated that bringing home an animal is not what hunting is about. A good hunter will never take a shot they aren’t comfortable in taking, and that if she didn’t take a shot at all, it was still a successful experience. Well, the woman took her advice and has been hunting and even harvested some animals!
Since these articles are going to focus on Hunter Safety System Pro-Staff, I asked her what advice she has about tree stand safety. Her answer was simple and haunting, “Always wear your vest”. She had a friend, who had a tree stand accident. Thank God he was not killed, but unfortunately, he was left paralyzed. The effects of this injury didn’t just impact her friend, but his family too. This type of accident affects the entire family. I asked her if she had ever had an accident, and she told a story of sliding down a tree once, long ago. I asked these questions, because we all need to be aware, that despite our experience level, accidents can happen. As Michele so directly stated, “Always wear your vest.” Michele also recommended that first time tree stand hunters practice just a few feet off the ground; this will give you more confidence when you are up high.
Another tip Michele gave is to have women who are getting started in archery get a bow that fits them correctly and is comfortable to pull back. “There is no need to over-bow yourself when first starting; concentrate on good form, and have fun; it isn’t fun if you’re struggling,” she said. I also asked her, other than Hunter Safety System Vest what does she recommend as must have equipment. At this point in the interview, she proved to me that she is the real deal. She could have used this opportunity to promote Muzzy, to talk about their product line, but she didn’t. Instead, she said everyone needs to carry a lighter in their pocket. She specifically said, “Not to put it in your pack, but in your pocket. Especially if hunting alone, if you have the ability to make fire, you have the ability to stay warm.”
Michele Eichler, in my opinion, is an inspiring woman. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to talk with her. She seems to have it figured out, how to balance the demands of a career, with the joys and obligations of being a wife and mother. When Michele isn’t hunting or shooting, she enjoys gardening, canning and horseback riding. Her family has a three night a week electronic free zone; which is a parenting tip I wish I had implemented when our boys were little. At the end of the interview she was talking about her recipe for Bear Pot Roast; and how much she enjoyed sharing it with others. So, although I started the interview slightly nervous, I ended it with this overwhelming respect and gratitude for her leading and inspiring others (especially women) to participate in shooting sports with confidence!