You Never Know Unless You Try by Jennifer Bickel

You never know unless you try. That’s a motto I have definitely learned to live by. It’s actually how I ended up in my first MMA (mixed martial arts) cage fight a couple years ago. I figured I didn’t know if I enjoyed getting punched in the face unless I actually got punched in the face. The same has gone for my hunting. I started out just going along with people hunting when I was young, doing things like baiting barrels for bears and spotting deer. Then when I became old enough, I started rifle hunting. I enjoyed it, I liked spending time with my family and being outdoors. I had always loved the outdoors, some of my fondest memories were fishing and camping with my family. Then it happened. I was handed a bow and was taught about bow hunting. Suddenly my heart was full, I had found my passion!


Starting out bow hunting as a female was a bit difficult. Not in the ways that you would think though. It seemed like everyone thought I should be able to go from the hunting world to the runway in one step. That was the last thing on my mind. Big bugling bull elk and mule deer with tines to the sky are more like it. I didn’t care what my hair looked like or if I had sweat all my makeup off walking in and out of the canyons in my search for big game. Most days my camo doesn’t match and I could probably beg for change on the street corner after a day of hunting. I have a very short frame and I fit better in youth clothes more than I do women’s clothes. But I will hunt harder than most people in my camo pants with the button buck picture on the pocket and “I hunt for hugs” written underneath. All I need is a bugle in the background and I can power through anything. I don’t care what the weather is, how deep the canyon is or anything else. I just want to get to the source of that bugle.


I self-teach myself a lot of things to see if I have an interest in them. If I develop an interest, it becomes a full blown obsession. I will do everything I can to learn as much as I can. The first year I decided to try baiting bears, I didn’t have a darn clue what I was doing but I decided to try. The first bear I caught on my trail cam I knew I was hooked. I didn’t care if I ever killed a bear off those bait sites, I would bait them just to get the pictures. The whole thing was fascinating to me. I found myself researching everything I could about it in the off season to prepare myself for the next season. There really are no “off seasons” for me. If I am not hunting, I am preparing for it. Even every failed hunt has a lesson in it, something we can learn from and become better from.  A lot of the time, the unsuccessful hunts are the most successful. I have experienced some of the most amazing things that I can’t even describe.

jen6Another thing I loved when getting into bow hunting was all the naysayers. I was told I shouldn’t do certain things because I am a woman. I’m one of those people that love a challenge, tell me I can’t and I will show you I can. It’s not just about proving other people wrong, it’s about proving myself wrong. I enjoy pushing past my own limits and discovering just what I am made of. I truly believe in the saying, the only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday. This was how I got into solo hunting. I had always enjoyed the mountains with other people. It wasn’t until I had nobody to go hunting with and a limited draw elk tag in my hand that I decided to try to do things solo. It was a learning experience the first few years. I can’t lie that it was all easy or fun and games. There were times I swear I should have brought extra pants. Like the time I was charged by a long horn while elk hunting. I also found that my track skills from junior high really paid off in that chase. So, big shout out to my hurdles coach! I never thought everything I learned about jumping hurdles in track would come into play while running through the mountains from a long horn hurdling over sagebrush and fallen trees.

My most favorite thing about being a female hunter, is other female hunters! The companionship I have found in other female hunters is absolutely incredible. I have met more hardcore, real true women since I started hunting than I ever have before. There’s a bond between us all, it’s unexplainable. I enjoy watching each one and learning more about their lives. We each have our own story of how we got into hunting and what drives us. But we all have one thing in common, the love of the hunt.

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