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Lauren McGough Apprentices with Eagle Falconers in Mongolia

Lauren McGough Apprentices with Eagle Falconers in Mongolia

Bridging the Gender Gap in a Male-Dominated Sport   It had been a particularly grueling day for Lauren McGough, her golden eagle heavy on her hand and her body sore from traversing miles of mountainous Mongolian terrain on her horse. She was searching for fox, but the light was fading, and it seemed that the day was going to end with an empty bag. Just when her spirits were at their lowest, Kukan, a falconer and her teacher, cried out as he flushed a fox. McGough’s eagle bolted from the glove, powered across the darkening sky and slammed into the snowy hillside in a spray of powder and with a fox in her feet. Elated, Lauren whooped and galloped down to her bird. Once the eagle was fed and the fox attached to the saddle, Lauren fell into satisfied silence that held until her teacher asked no one in particular, “Why didn’t I ever take my daughters hunting?” Getting to Mongolia Lauren McGough fell in love with golden eagles when she was a child and was determined to get involved in the sport of falconry, hunting with birds of prey. When she became a falconer, however, she found she had a serious road block. She couldn’t find anyone in the United States to teach her how to hunt with a golden eagle. So, McGough applied and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to spend a year in Mongolia where falconers not only train eagles, but depend on their hunting skills for sustenance and fur. Rather than packing a lot of gear, McGough said that she packed a lot of trinkets....
Why Every Outdoorswoman Needs Tracking Training

Why Every Outdoorswoman Needs Tracking Training

One of the wildest places I’ve ever traveled convinced me of the importance of animal tracking skills. Southwestern Alaska’s Katmai Brown Bears routinely weigh over 1,000 pounds, and when you’re traveling through the Katmai National Forest you’re sharing their territory. At times, you’ll see them clearly at a distance: a massive, dark shape across a beach catching salmon or playing leisurely with their cubs. In other cases, you’ll be hiking through the tangled and dense woods that are often called “bear corridors” and need to be aware of your surroundings while sharing their trails. There’s nothing worse than surprising a bear. Being able to read signs and track animals can save your life in wilderness contexts. Whether you’re hunting or hiking, the ability to track game and animal signs is an essential skill for the well-rounded outdoorswoman. Let’s take a closer look at different uses of tracking, how it can increase your effectiveness as a woman with an outdoor lifestyle, and some different strategies for learning this ancient art. Animal Tracking: A Short History Animal tracking is an ancient art that’s part of the shared cultural history of all humans. Anthropologists have revealed that for thousands of years, most of our ancestors were nomadic. Their paths followed the seasonal migrations of animal herds and flocks of birds. Tribes followed in the wake of animal life – whether they lived in North America, Africa, or Europe – using tracking skills to ensure that they were in the right locations for the season’s best hunting opportunities and food gathering. As societies became more static, tracking remained an essential skill to find...
Sleep Tight: Finding the Perfect Women’s Sleeping Bag for Your Outdoor Adventures

Sleep Tight: Finding the Perfect Women’s Sleeping Bag for Your Outdoor Adventures

Like most women involved in the Prima Outdoor community, I love venturing off the beaten path. I’ve spent a lot of time camping on Alaska’s rugged coastline. The views are exquisite: miles of sand stretch before you unmarred by a single footprint. And there is nothing in the world like waking up on a deserted beach and watching whales breach while you boil coffee over a driftwood fire. In my adventures I’ve found a proper sleeping bag is indispensable for creating a blissful camping experience. Attrib: Flickr – public domain Finding a Bag Designed for Your Body The “perfect fit” should be high on your list of priorities when looking for a sleeping bag. For decades companies manufactured one-size-fits-all bags, evidence of which you can see languishing at thrift stores and garage sales everywhere. You know the ones – beige behemoths that look like hideous fabric slugs. Thankfully, many companies now offer bags tailored to women’s needs. These features typically include a shorter length, more space at the hips, and extra insulation in the torso and foot region, according to outdoor writer Steve Tischler.1 You can also purchase a unisex bag. Look for one that provides roominess in the chest and hip areas; I’ve found this is essential for curvy women like myself to have a restful sleep. Most large outfitter stores have display bags you can test out before making your decision. Warmth: Essential for a Good Night’s Sleep Besides fit, warmth is the most important consideration when hunting for a sleeping bag. On many adventures my brother or partner would be nestled down in their cocoons while I...
She Loves To Fish

She Loves To Fish

By: Ashley Rae Several years ago, I found myself very frustrated in tears in a parking lot after trying to find a pair of waders for fly fishing. I traveled out of my small hometown to a larger city, which I thought would have a better selection. I was greeted with laughter from the two male associates when I inquired about waders for women. I then asked for the equivalent boot size in men’s to find that that was not an item they carried either. I told them I was just looking for something that would fit me properly and they laughed and replied I would have to wear ‘chin waders’ because they didn’t make anything for ‘little people’. It felt like a slap in the face. Introduced to fishing by a family friend, I have been fortunate to experience time on the water since the age of five. No members of my immediate family fished so it was with friends throughout my life and joining a local bass fishing club that I was able to experience fishing. Each experience and outing left me wanting more. After graduating college and having more financial stability after paying back student loans, I decided to buy a fishing kayak so that I could be independent. I wanted to fish as I pleased and didn’t want to wait on anyone anymore. I learned a lot out on my own without any time limits and being able to go where I pleased and fish as long as I wanted. Working in the Office Administration field after college for a few years, I realized that...
Just the Beginning

Just the Beginning

By: Rihana Cary My passion for the outdoors started at a very young age. My favorite family vacations consisted of camping, fishing and looking forward to any outdoor adventure. I remember the first time my grandfather took me fishing when I was seven-years-old. I caught seven fish (way more than my limit) but Grandpa wasn’t counting, and I was hooked. Being a “do-it-myself” kind of girl, I not only had to cook the fish, but also insisted on the dirty work of gutting and cleaning. Even though I lost interest by the second fish, some of my fondest memories are fishing with my grandfather. Fishing and mushroom picking were the extent of my family’s dinner harvesting and I grew up thinking steak came from aisle 12 at the supermarket. We were carnivorous non-hunters that enjoyed the outdoors. I was always interested in nutrition and once I realized the real world wasn’t high school sports and boys, I set my sights on the health care industry. Anatomy, health and nutrition became my favorite subjects, and I enjoyed learning about enzymes, clavicles and glomerular filtration rates. As I began looking closer at the facts of nutrition and investigating the foods we put in our body, I learned a harsh reality. With the help of movies like “Supersize Me” and “Food, Inc.,” and the plethora of books blowing the lid off the money-saving tactics of the agricultural businesses, I quickly realized the lack of nutrients I was getting from the antibiotic-pumped, farm-plumped protein I was consuming. Armed with this new outlook, not so surprisingly, I became vegan. I know, I know, the...
Inspired By My Dad

Inspired By My Dad

By: Dani Bergen It seemed so big, a dream I had played over and over again in my mind, till one day I woke up and realized that it truly was a dream. A reality dream! The darkness was so engulfing. I was scared I was going to wake up and it would all be over. My eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to my new surroundings but somehow I just knew it was real. There was nothing more reassuring of my location than the, every so often, squeeze of my dad’s hand on mine and the clink of his shotgun strap every step he took. I couldn’t see his face but somehow I just knew he was smiling and I was the luckiest girl in the world. My little five year old body was swamped in my dad’s large camouflage onesie, the velcro on my hunting hat was as tight as it could go, and a bottle of pepper spray was clasped in my left hand. Every step made my dream so much more of a reality, the true reality of the beginning of so many more pitch black nights of walking out from an evening of hunting. I knew it was real and I was living in the reality of a dream I had dreamt every night my dad tucked me in and told me stories of his hunting adventures. This evening was not being lived in my imagination. The walk in, the extra tree stand my dad set up just so I could come along, the young black bears, and the dried tears I could now feel on...
A Family Affair

A Family Affair

By: Taylor Reisbeck I grew up roaming the mountains of Montana with my parents Kasey and Tabatha, and my brothers Tucker and Walker. From being packed on my parent’s backs to holding hands down the trails surrounded by tall pine trees and into open meadows, my parents were a big inspiration as to why I love hunting and being in the outdoors. Honestly, all I can think about is my next outing into the beautiful Montana mountains. We as a family were always hunting, fishing and driving on the old rocky roads in the Big Sky Country. I can’t remember driving into the mountains unless it was to hike, fish, shoot gophers or to even try to get my brothers to sleep when they were young. My parents tell me that they would ask me, “What does an elk say?” and I would respond with an elk bugle, which was my first animal sound. My dad would bugle all the time, whether it was from his bedroom, garage or yard (getting some of the neighbors to bugle or cow call back at us). Meanwhile I would grab my mom’s vacuum hose from inside the house and try to copy my dad. You know, practice makes perfect. My brothers have learned the skill of elk calling and have become great callers too.  Tucker signed up for a bugling competition in Lincoln, Montana when he was about 11 years old, competing with other kids and adults.  He was sort of a shy person, so to our surprise he actually did it.  Tucker took second place and boy oh boy my dad...
Houndswoman

Houndswoman

By: Shayla Pukas Hunting is a way of life for many of people in the world. I wasn’t always a hunter, but the day I pulled the trigger on my first whitetail buck, I knew it was in my blood. At the age of 14, I was introduced into the hunting world by one of my friends and ever since I have been hooked. After a few years of hunting big game like whitetail deer, elk and mule deer, I was introduced to a whole different type of hunting, hound hunting. I rescued my first hound dog from the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA); he was a 4-month-old bluetick coonhound. I wasn’t very familiar with hound hunting, but that soon changed after I began hunting with a few local houndsmen. After seeing my first majestic cougar, sitting perched high in a pine tree, and hearing the amazing hound song, I knew this was the life I wanted to live. Gunner, my bluetick, soon learned how to track and tree cougars himself and I realized I needed to get him a hunting partner. I now have a plott hound, Jane, an english hound, Storm and my trusty bluetick Gunner. Being a houndswoman is more than just having a dog, it takes guts, trust, stamina, patience, heart and a whole lot of outdoor knowledge. You need to know how to read a GPS; figure out how old a track is; do what we call “homework” once you find a track; and really study what the cougar, bobcat or lynx is doing and where they are heading....
Aim to Connect

Aim to Connect

By: Jackie Bartz I’ve made a career of telling stories but they are always other people’s stories. As a journalist I’ve shared thousands of people’s stories but my name is always in the byline, never in the text. A good storyteller connects the audience with the character and in this story I am both. I’m a writer and a hunter, and I always aim to connect. I vividly remember the first time I connected in the field. I was 15-years-old and had completed my hunter safety course that year (I was the only teenage girl in a room of adolescent boys). One afternoon my dad picked me up from school and we headed out to hunt. Just before dusk, we spotted a pair of mule deer. Slowly and as quietly as I muster in my jeans, we put my first stalk on an animal. We snuck into range and my dad laid on the cold ground for me to rest my gun across his back. Seconds led to minutes, quite a few minutes in fact, my poor dad about suffocated trying to hold his breath before I took a shot, but I connected. That connection changed my life; it’s what fuels my passion today. The excitement of harvesting my first animal is a feeling I will never forget but what I remember most is the smile on my dad’s face, the hug and the lifelong connection it forged between a father and his camo-clad daughter. Throughout high school and college, I chased elk, deer and antelope with my dad. I never took any trophies but every single one was...
Genesis

Genesis

By: Tricia Ricks The buck stood quartering-to, distracted by his current love interest but fixated on my location ever since I had belly-crawled over the ridge. He was a handsome deer, with wide, evenly matched antlers that stood starkly against the snowy backdrop. Taking into account the wind and range, I slowly crushed the trigger and forever tied our two lives together. Standing in the echo of the shot, I reflected on the journey that led to this moment. I grew up with two older brothers in the boreal forest of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Although the area is steeped in a rich hunting heritage, my family didn’t hunt. We barely fished. In fact, to this day one of my brothers still won’t touch a fish. Instead, like many families, mine bonded over competitive sports and I became a driven and focused young lady. I met my future husband in 2002 and he quickly introduced me to fly-fishing. I loved learning about the many facets of the sport: reading the water, the varied casting techniques, entomology and fly selection. It all seemed so tantalizing and quickly became a passion. The quiet anticipation of a strike is so exciting; the steady pull of the current, so relaxing. In 2006, we decided to move to Montana, to live our dream and one day raise a family in a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities. At the time, I still did not hunt. I’d tag along on backcountry elk hunts or assist in training our new puppy to become a hunting retriever but I still felt like an observer, not a participant. One late...