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Donna McDonald

About Donna:

My husband, Jake, and I own and operate Upper Canyon Outfitters, a guest ranch and fly fishing & hunting outfitter in Southwest Montana. Our ranch was homesteaded by my grandfather in 1910, and we raised our two children here, with our daughter now living in Bozeman and our son in Washington DC.

I have been a licensed outfitter with the state of Montana since 1989. One of my goals and passions is to stay involved in the hunting industry both on the local and national level to help protect the hunting heritage and introduce others to the sport. I have been involved with the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA) Board of Directors for nineteen years, serving as the first woman President of MOGA in 2008 and 2009. I have served over six years on the Governor’s appointed Private Land/Public Wildlife Council, a council of citizens representing the interests of hunters, landowners, and outfitters. I have also been involved in several major legislative accomplishments such as introducing the Coming Home to Hunt licensing campaign, half price youth licensing, and establishing more access to land for hunters. One of my most passionate goals was helping organize Big Hearts under the Big Sky. This charitable partnership program provides military service men and women, children who face the challenge of a life threatening illness, and women who suffer the challenges of breast cancer the opportunity to enjoy Montana outdoors at no cost. Currently, I also serve on the Board of Directors for the Ruby Water Shed Council and America Outdoors.

How I got involved in shooting and or hunting:

My first memories of hunting were as a young girl. I often followed my father through the mountains of Montana with my single shot 22 rifle.

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

learning about my own abilities and challenging myself personally. It has inspired me to participate directly in conservation efforts at all levels in an effort to make improvements for the future. I have grown up with the outdoor and hunting culture all around me, and likewise it has been a portal for me to raise my family and to share with so many friends. What good is this incredible industry if we do not share it with others? Who will be there to not only enjoy in it, but to perpetuate the work we’ve done thus far and progress?

Being a woman in the hunting industry today is much different than it was thirty years ago, but we still have a long ways to go. I am fortunate to be involved in an industry where I have access to helping women become more involved in the sport of hunting. I enjoy introducing and promote hunting in an ethical manner to women, children and new hunters. I try to broaden my scope to target women of different ages and backgrounds, and create a diverse and robust population of women hunters. We have to champion people to believe in themselves and provide opportunities to get more women involved in the hunting industry. I urge men and women alike to become part of the solution by supporting women’s exposure to the sport. Hunting is really a way to share in our love for the outdoors, quality time with our families, and bring awareness to ourselves, actions, and impact on our environments.

Other outdoor/shooting activities:

I am fortunate that I am the owner and outfitter of a fly fishing and hunting business. Daily I feel I have the opportunity to encourage more women and children to become involved in outdoor recreation of all kinds, and consequently the conservation efforts that protect our access and ability to enjoy these activities. I believe hunting is a tremendous privilege that needs our constant attention and support. We are keepers of the future, and getting others involved is my way of ensuring that future generations will enjoy the same opportunities we have in the outdoors today.

Quick Facts:

How many years have you been shooting a bow? I’ve always had a passion for bow hunting, but didn’t really get into it until about fifteen years ago.

Who introduced you to a bow? We had bow hunters at our lodge and I did a lot of elk calling for them. Then, a good friend once said he would guide me. He encouraged me to start doing more bow hunting for myself. Some of the most enjoyable times I’ve had have been carrying a bow.

How many years have you been shooting a firearm? I can’t remember not shooting a firearm. I would guess I started around eight years of age.

Who introduced you to a firearm? My father introduced me to hunting, and gave me my first firearm – a 22 rifle. He was an avid hunter and I feel a deep and enduring sense of gratitude to my father for his encouragement. He gave me opportunities that men of that generation rarely did, joining on many male only hunts. No one accomplishes anything all alone.

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