Julie McQueen found her way into the hunting industry as a pro staffer back before any other girl had even tried. Julie has also made a name for herself in the fashion industry by working in Los Angeles, New York, and all over Europe. She just might be the only girl to fly from a photo shoot in France, land in the US, and climb directly into a tree stand. Her trophy collection speaks for itself, but she isn’t doing this to prove a point or to try to compete with the boys. She hunts simply because she loves it. Julie has made a perfect addition to the Backstage & Backroads team because of her passion for the outdoors.
What’s one rookie mistake you’ve made hunting?
I definitely made a rookie mistake last mule deer season. I’ve been bow hunting long enough to know that I need to range my surrounding landmarks. Knowing yardage gives me an advantage, and it only takes a few seconds. Last season in Arizona I had to run to my spot under a juniper tree with my guide in order to cut off a moving buck in a drainage, and when I got set up I tried to calm my heart rate before the buck stepped out. Instead of ranging the treeline in front of me, I relaxed. If I had taken the time to get accurate I wouldn’t have missed that shot. My arrow went over that bucks back. To make it worse, the deer was a potential state record buck on public land. Now I take time to check my yardage every time, even when I’m in a rush. But, I’m human. We all make mistakes and then we learn from them.
What one hunting skill that you most want to improve?
I would love to improve my long distance shooting skills and marksmanship. Long range shooting is becoming more mainstream and I think it could be useful in the field. My shooting skills up to around 400 – 500 yards are very good and I trust myself in those situations, but I would enjoy shooting more confidently at 1000 yards.
Who do you admire most in the hunting and conservation world and Why?
Instead of choosing a person who has a large public platform to admire, I have to say that the people who aren’t on television or in print ads inspire me. Our hunting community is filled with talented, brilliant, and dedicated hunters and conservationists who I’ve never met. People all across the world are going out there and getting their hands dirty, they’re harvesting food for their family, and they are working to preserve our hunting heritage. They don’t need to be on television to be heroes in our field. Many times we give the popular people the credit for what the “nameless” people are doing. I admire all of the people out there who hunt because they love it. Not because they want recognition for it.
How were you introduced to hunting?
I always say that I was “called” to hunt by some kind of ancestral voice in my head. I wanted to hunt, but nobody ever really introduced me to it. When I was old enough to take responsibility for myself, I went out and bought a bunch of books and magazines about hunting and I learned from them. I bought a hunting license and deer tag in Missouri, and I borrowed a gun. On my first whitetail hunt I sat by myself in the woods until a nice mature 12 point buck walked by. I shot him. It was the first time I had witnessed an animal losing it’s life, and it was also my first harvest. Needless to say, it was a turning point for me. I studied even more and worked on my skill set so that I could ultimately become a conservationist and responsible hunter.
This story is also the reason why I am so excited to see young people becoming introduced to the outdoors. I love to know that they get to experience that at a young age, and they have someone to mentor them through it. Going at it alone isn’t easy, but it certainly was rewarding.
What advice would you give someone just getting into hunting?
My advice to someone who is just getting into hunting would be 3 parts:
- Take your time. Many of us have spent years in the field hunting and we still make mistakes. In time you will become more comfortable with all aspects of the hunt. Handling the gun, recognizing the game, aging animals when they are alive, and cleaning the harvest…. All of these things come in time. Pay attention and enjoy your moments as they come to you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Typically, people who hunt love to talk about it. They are also flattered when you ask them about anything hunting related. There is no bad question, and curiosity will lead you to some truly amazing knowledge. You just have to verbalize your curiosity and soak the information up.
- It sounds cliché, but this really isn’t about the trophy. We all hunt for a trophy in some ways, but some of my most profound moments in the field have come from disappointment. When I miss a shot, or when we don’t have a successful hunt, it makes the experience more memorable. I can name the times when I’ve missed my shot. I can’t name the times that I’ve hit true to my mark. With time, you come to acknowledge your faults and learn from them, which makes you a more responsible hunter overall.
What species would you most like to hunt?
I’ve been fortunate to travel the world and hunt some incredible animals. One thing that I still have not been able to achieve yet is a caribou hunt. I actually sit and think about my dream caribou hunt sometimes when I have a moment to daydream. I absolutely love caribou meat. My husband harvested two of them a few years ago and we still enjoy a good caribou steak every couple weeks. We’re almost out of the meat now, so I need to replenish our supply. The caribou migration amazes me and I would like to witness it for myself, and I’m confident that their herd populations are thriving. That’s important to me prior to planning a hunt. I won’t hunt an animal that is struggling to survive the hunting pressure.
What gear do you carry that you could not live without?
For spring turkey season I have to have a Thermacell. Our mosquitos in Tennessee will carry you off if you don’t have protection.
My Remington Versa Max is my all time favorite shotgun. If I need to bring a shotgun on a hunt, that’s the one I pack. Mine is tactical black, and it shoots as good as it looks.
For big game season, I don’t go anywhere without my Buck Knife. I have about 10 knives that I carry on a rotation basis, and I don’t even go to the grocery store without one on me. When I go for a run I have one strapped to my side or to my dogs harness.
And last but not least, I lose a lot of left-handed gloves; just the left ones, not both. So I always have a spare set of gloves in my pack to protect my hands from the elements. And I never find out where my left gloves end up. It’s quite a mystery.
What is your perfect big game rifle and bullet set up?
I spend more time in the field than I do out of it. Over the years I’ve had some pretty incredible rifles, but one stands out more than the others.
I have a Remington .300 Ultra Mag that I don’t leave home without. It’s rugged, so I’m not worried about loaning it out. You can run through the brush with it strapped to your back and it will be just fine. Actually, in the past year I’ve witnessed about 7 people using it to fill their tags. They borrow it from me because it’s a great gun, and it’s accurate. I also love its versatility. I can take it on a hog hunt, then over to a whitetail hunt, and all the way up to an elk or caribou hunt. The velocity of that bullet hitting almost any animal is enough to not only knock it over, but it does enough internal damage to keep them down. Shot placement is a key element, but if I only had 1 rifle for the rest of my life it would probably be that one.
What is your most memorable hunt?
I’ve only hunted one time with my Dad, so that has to be my most memorable hunt. He traveled to Missouri to hunt whitetails with me one season about 10 years ago. I put up a double ladder stand in the corner of a big field. We sat in that stand one day and watched many does come out to feed. Finally, a big mature doe walked out and we decided that he should shoot it. I had never seen my Dad shoot an animal before. At that point I had harvested a lot of deer by myself, but I had never been a witness. My Dad can shoot either left or right handed, so he switched it to his left hand, took aim, and shot the doe. We celebrated and cleaned the deer together. I haven’t had the chance to hunt with him again since then, and it’s by far my best hunting memory.
What five pieces of gear do you carry with you on every hunt that you could not live without?
- I always have food in my daypack. Cliff Bars, granola bars, PopTarts… Anything that can be consumed quickly if someone needs fast energy.
- I’ve recently found the incredible benefits of wearing gaiters. They keep the stickers out of my pants and protect me from snakes. How did I not know about them sooner?
- Range finder. Even on rifle hunts it can be necessary to know your yardage quickly. With archery hunts, it’s a no-brainer.
- A good knife or two. I typically have one in my pack and one attached to my side. Something about having a knife on my side makes me feel brave. I like Buck knives because they’re made in the USA and they have a wide range of useful styles.
- Cameras. Obviously we film everything, so having the best camera gear is absolutely necessary. I usually have a Canon 5D with me, but we also use GoPros, and a Sony FS700 regularly. With the cameras and snacks in my backpack I usually have to carry a heavy load!
What three tried and true tips do you have to offer hunters for Spring Gobbler Season?
In my home we practically live for spring gobbler season! It’s a holiday up there with Christmas on our list! My husband Daniel Lee usually calls the birds because he speaks their language perfectly, and I get the added benefit of being the first to hunt every season! Here are my 3 best pieces of advice:
- Don’t have too much coffee (or anything to drink!) before you settle in for the sunrise. Usually when you set up in your first morning spot you’ll be there for a while. Sometimes the birds fly off of the roost late and you might be sitting there for 2 hours waiting on them to meander over to you. I can’t tell you how many times my hunting buddies and I have nearly peed our pants because we don’t want to spook the birds. It’s a painful truth!
- Practice deep breathing. I’ve had the privilege of harvesting many big game animals around the globe, and I’ve always got the added stress of being on camera for the event. Out of every animal that I hunt the gobblers still get my heart racing more than any other. They come booming into my world looking for their hen, they strut around putting on a show, and they would know if I even blinked at the wrong time. They are my ultimate heartthrob in the field. So deep breathing is my key to success. Otherwise I’m a total mess when it’s crunch time.
- Rush the bird. When you pull the trigger and your body recovers from the recoil you should be getting up on your feet and moving. Run to the bird as fast as you can. This prevents the bird from flying away out of range and then running from you. If it’s hit then you should be able to get another shot off at him to finish it when he begins to run. If he’s not hit, he will outrun you anyways.
In all of the years of hunting what is the most important lesson you have learned from the outdoors?
My years of hunting have taught me that I won’t always be able to make other people happy, but I can allow myself to be happy. Sometimes I’ll climb up on a tall point wherever I’m at and I’ll have a moment for myself. It’s a quiet reflection of my happiness. Nature has taught me to be happy from within. We all enjoy material things in our own ways, and I do lead a blessed life, but sometimes when it’s just the dirt and me and the animals out there it brings me back to my real self. I have stopped basing my happiness on what other people think of me. I know who I am and what I want to do, and nature has been my constant companion in that journey.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I love social media. I did try to stay away from it at first, but I’ve connected with so many great people through it now. My Facebook fan page is a great way for people to get in touch with me and share their stories. I try to post updates of my adventures as often as possible. My Facebook page is www.facebook.com/juliemcqueen.brotherhood
My Instagram account is full of behind the scenes pictures from my life. A lot of it is hunting or fishing related, but it’s also just a fun place to see what’s going on in my world.
And our production company, Backstage & Backroads Productions has a great website. We film outdoor television, commercials, product reviews, and lifestyle pieces. We’re a full-blown production company with some incredible clients.
Where and when can folks tune in to catch your show?
Brotherhood Outdoors will begin airing again at the beginning of January. We are going into our 7th season, and this one will be the best lineup yet.
We air on the Sportsman Channel 3 days a week. Check their listings for times, or check www.brotherhoodoutdoors.tv
What would you like other hunters and non-hunters to know about you as a hunter/huntress?
I would like for everyone to know that what I do is a lifestyle and an important part of nature and the natural ecosystem. Without hunters we would have obscene numbers of game growing out of control and wasting away to disease and overpopulation. I admire other hunters and conservationists who follow the same path as I do towards a better planet and more stable animal populations. I would also like for everyone to know that I’m not a professional hunter. I make mistakes just like any other hunter. I hold myself to a higher standard because of my public platform, but by no means am I any better or more qualified in the field than anybody else. I love my job, and I intend to keep making a difference in the world of outdoor television.
When youngsters and their parents come up to meet you for a quick photo or autograph, what message do you hope to convey?
I love meeting people and hearing their stories! When young people come talk to us I feel a special bond with them because this is something that we already have in common. They love being outdoors, they love to get up early and see the animals, and I love those things also. I’ve learned a lot from the people we meet when we are on the road, and I hope people know that they inspire me. I learn from them, and I’m excited to shake their hands and know them. Maybe they watch me on television, but their story is just as important as mine. I want to convey a message of friendship and a bond that begins with nature. We are all very much alike when you look at the big picture, and some of my greatest joys come from meeting people who share that bond with us.
Do you feel any need to overcompensate or overachieve in the hunting/shooting industry because you are a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field?
It’s rare for me to compare myself to the men in my industry. When I’m working in the field I am held to the same standards as my male counterparts, and the only time we think of me as a woman is when someone else brings it up. From time to time I’ll get the occasional “you’re a girl!” statements, but overall I think of myself as a hunter, not a female hunter. Overachieving is in my nature, but not because I am a female. I guess I’ve been doing this for long enough, and also working in other male dominated industries through the years, that I just don’t think of it like that. Our industry is filling up with talented females who are just as dedicated to hunting as the guys are, and I love that. Eventually people might stop pointing out the differences between us and just understand that there really isn’t any difference. Except for the cuter camouflage outfits and makeup. That’s about the only difference!
Have you ever experienced any discrimination (or on the flip side, any benefit) because you are a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field?
I’ve never noticed any discrimination because I’m a woman in this industry. But I’ve also never really found the benefit in it, either. I’ve worked hard to establish myself as a serious hunter, but I also run a successful production company for some major clients. Instead of being a pretty girl in camouflage getting attention for the wrong reasons, I’ve educated myself and worked to establish a platform based on conservation, television production, and living a lifestyle that revolves around hunting and fishing. I think that these are the reasons why I’m not discriminated against, but it’s probably also the reason why I haven’t seen the same benefits that some other girls have. I take it a little more seriously than some, and I don’t want to be another pretty face.
Have you been personally been attacked by anti-hunters and how has this influenced you? Where do you believe such hate comes from and why do you think it is aimed at you in particular? What do you feel is the most appropriate response to such personal attacks?
The anti hunters have attacked me. I’ve been harassed, threatened, and bullied by them on social media on a pretty regular basis. It’s been a learning process overall. At first I felt defensive; they were attacking me personally and threatening my family because of my lifestyle.
But then I became protective instead of defensive. I don’t want them talking about my life or my family life like that.
Now I’ve come to understand that they are finding time in their lives to seek me out and harass me because there is something wrong with them. If they were truly happy in their own lives then they wouldn’t feel the need to disrupt mine.
There is a definite pattern with them. Many of them are vegans, and many of them are connected together on their own social media. They get together and decide whom they will target, and then they attack that target at once. They call names, they threaten our lives, and they are relentless.
The other common theme is that they mostly attack women. They also seem to attach women who are at the top of their game at the time and finding success in our industry. Those are the things that get the most attention, so that’s what they want.
My response is to go on with my life and mostly ignore them. Some of them have threatened me with violence, so I’ll take legal action against those. But most of them go away when they are ignored. I have too many positive things going on in my life right now to pay a lot of attention to them, but I don’t want this to become an epidemic where they continue harassing people like they have harassed me.