Candy Yow of La Pine is one of the best known hunters in the Northwest
For many years, maybe even as far back as the first caveman, hunting has been traditionally carried out by the males of our species. However, things are changing today as women are representing the fastest growing part of the hunting industry in the country.
In the Northwest, Candy Yow of LaPine is taking the bull by the horns, or in this case, by the antlers.
My life has always been spent in the outdoors and as far away from people as possible, said Candy. She grew up on large ranches and loved getting on her horse first thing in the morning and riding all day exploring the beauty of the backcountry.
As would be expected we hunted most of our meat in those days, she said. We lived a long ways from town and more often than not we had venison for dinner. From this came my deep respect for wildlife and hunting.
Growing up on the ranch she never really thought much about women hunting - everyone pulled their weight whether it was field work or hunting.
Of course for her, hunting was more fun than some of the other jobs. She often wondered why other women would talk about the men going hunting and the women staying home.
Why would you want to miss out on all the fun, the opportunity to see the surroundings and the wildlife? she said. Its definitely hard work and your body aches at night from the miles of hiking, climbing and carrying, but you do that at the gym too.
When there was a long hike or a climb involved in a hunt, Candy would jump at the opportunity. How else would you see the beauty and fill your soul with the peacefulness? she said.
So when she met her husband a few years ago and realized his whole world was hunting, she fit right in. They now have a western big game hunting show called Extreme Desire TV, which can be seen on MAV TV, in Canada on Wild TV as well as two Central Oregon stations (KTVZ and COTV). Candy is happy to see more women getting involved in hunting. Each of their shows has a woman involved at least to some point in the hunting.
She started volunteering for projects like Women on Target, which teach women the basics and safety of firearms for protection. She said this opened her eyes to the fact that most women would like to learn these skills but either cant seem to learn from their significant other or dont have the self-esteem they need.
I watched as lives were changed and self-esteem grew to amazing levels, she said with excitement in her voice. With this in mind I decided to become a part of helping more women enjoy the outdoors and grow in their outdoor skills.
She started first by applying for and becoming part of The Prois Posse, a group of women who stand for and represent Prois Hunting and Field Apparel for women. This group of women is all very active in promoting and living the outdoor life, from profession shooters to hunters to just outdoor activists.
Still, this wasnt enough to satiate Candys outdoor appetite so she entered the Extreme Huntress Competition, which is an international competition with the goal of creating positive role models for women who want to participate in hunting.
Candy wrote an essay to try for the semi-finals and was shocked to learn that she made the top 20. Then she had 30 days to get as many online votes as possible to make the top 6. Those competitors would then go to the 777 Ranch in Hondo Texas where they would compete in a head-to-head competition for seven days, showing off their shooting skills, knowledge of all aspects of hunting as well as some endurance skills. They would also harvest at least two animals while there.
I wanted to go to Texas so bad but could see right off the bat I was going to have a battle trying to sell myself online for votes, Candy said. I felt I would do much better in the hunting competition.
She missed the first week of voting while in the backcountry bear hunting but came on strong the next two weeks but just couldnt pull it off in the end, although she came real close.
There was some very tough competition and I am honored to have made the top 20, but believe I can do it next year, she said. I learned a lot so I will be back and try again to make it to Texas to try my skills against the other ladies.
This only sparked her interest more and in May she began the 1st Annual Northwest Ladies Hunting Camp to teach and incorporate all skills used while hunting. She brought in several of her professional friends in different aspects of the hunting world and the first camp was held at Luckiamute Valley Pheasants in Monmouth. She said it was a smashing success.
With a small class of 30 there was plenty of one-on-one attention for the ladies. Classes included Basics of Hunting, Safety, Shooting Ranges for Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun and Archery. Each lady shot and learned safety at each range.
After shooting, they covered topics such as how, when and where to put in for tags, upland game bird hunting, how to pack your backpack, how to pack a kitchen for camping in the backcountry, Dutch oven cooking, wildlife photography and how to set up a tent for all weather conditions.
By the end of the weekend, Candy said everyone was exhausted but knew they were on to something that would grow to be a big hit in the years to come.
So with this in my mind, I head into hunting season with more ideas of how to welcome women into this great world I love and live for, how to get them more involved, how to encourage them to step out and go enjoy the beauty of the wilderness, how to learn to harvest their own food and gain respect for it and feel the aching muscles it takes to get it, she said. Its the most satisfying feeling, and my goal is to help as many ladies as possible achieve their goals in this area.
It wouldnt bother me a bit if my wife took up hunting. It would at least double our chances of getting meat in the freezer, and maybe even guarantee it since she usually catches more fish than me anyway.