Colleen Payne

About Colleen:

I am a native New Mexican born and raised in a hunting culture. My family instilled in me at an early age that every animal harvested had its life taken to further the lives of our family and it was our duty as outdoorsmen to be stewards of the land and wildlife. My first hunt was for northern New Mexico mule deer at the age of 12 and it was every meaning of the definition of “becoming a woman.” Every time I squeeze the trigger on an animal it gives me the same rush of excitement and achievement that first hunt did. The opportunity has graced me to hunt seven of the twelve big game species in New Mexico as well as white-tail in Oklahoma and Texas. My interest in animals was so in depth I became graduate of New Mexico State University holding both a bachelor and master’s degree in Animal Science specializing in reproductive physiology.

How I got involved in shooting and or hunting:

I got involved with shooting and hunting at a very young age when my father introduced me to firearms and hunting. He was a hunter so naturally I was accustomed to the lifestyle. As I got older my interest and activity level in shooting and hunting grew. To help put myself though college I began working at a large chain sporting goods store in the camping department and eventually moving fulltime to be the only female in the hunting department. Submerging myself in all things hunting and outdoors related and getting to meet conservation leaders in my community sparked an interest in getting involved with various organizations. My volunteer and community engagement has started with volunteer activities and grown into high level leadership roles within my community and state. With my interest in wildlife management and conservation efforts, it led me to an appointment on the Board of Directors for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. I have been an active member of the board for two years by offering a scientific approach to public policy and wildlife management issues, providing support with NMWF special events such as annual legislation meetings, sportsman’s summit meetings and annual banquets. I feel my most important role on the board is to represent the growing demographic of hunters, youth, young adults and women. My involvement with local conservation organizations such as National Wild Turkey Federation and Mule Deer Foundation the past seven years has led me to a leadership role I couldn’t be more proud to hold. I am currently the New Mexico State Chair as well as the Tri-County Chapter Chair for the Mule Deer Foundation. I believe it is critical to ensure a positive role in the community to encourage youth and fellow hunters to follow my example by means of caring for the land and wildlife. My involvement will not end here and will continue to help make a difference for the benefit of wildlife and the people who are committed to preserving it.

Why I like encouraging/introducing women and beginners into shooting sports/hunting:

I enjoy introducing both women and men into this lifestyle because it is something that is meaningful to me. This is more than just a “sport”; it is a lifestyle and a tradition and to encourage others to get back to their roots and appreciate the great outdoors is not only rewarding to me but it becomes meaningful to them as well. Hunting and shooting helps to teach a person confidence, empowerment, self-sufficiency and a set of life skills that not any other sport can do. To not only am I as a woman in the industry becoming a role model for others, but the women who are interested in learning, getting involved, concerned about conservation and want to make a difference, they are the ones who inspire me and are the true role models.

Other outdoor/shooting activities:

I participate in 3D archery competitions which are a great way to stay fine-tuned for hunting season and meet some great fellow women hunters.

Quick Facts:

How many years have you been shooting a bow? I have been shooting a bow for six years competitively.

Who introduced you to a bow? My dad introduced me to a recurve bow when I was a child but more recently my fiancé, Rusty introduced me to compound bows for competition and hunting.

How many years have you been shooting a firearm? I have been shooting firearms for sixteen years.

Who introduced you to a firearm? My dad also introduced me to firearms and taught me how to shoot. From working in the hunting retail industry and selling firearms, my supervisors and co-workers helped introduce me to a broader range of firearms and their various characteristics.

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