Jeanne McFall is a 2016 Finalist in the Extreme Huntress Competition. Her first hunts were along side her father at the age of 15 when she had to pack out after a blizzard dropped 4 feet of snow on their camp. Her father transitioned into hunting birds so Jeanne McFall has learned to hunt on her own and had never looked back. She has pursued a wide variety of animals from Moose and Elk to Antelope and deer with her bow and rifle. We were honored to learn a little bit about her passion for living the Hunting Life
On Wildlife Management
I’ve always been a fan of Aldo Leopold, who I think was one of the world’s best conservationists, but also an incredible bowhunter. Not only was he a father of wildlife science and management, he believed hunting brought a person intimate respect and connection to the land. In one of his essays, he wrote “hunting takes rank with agriculture and nature study as one of the three fundamentally valuable human contacts with the soil.” In a biographical article, Robert Hoskins wrote, “Were Leopold alive today, I believe he would not argue with anti-hunters. He would simply say: ‘Who painted the first picture on a bone in the caves of France? A hunter. Who alone in our modern life so thrills to the sight of living beauty that he will endure hunger and thirst and cold to feed his eyes upon it? The hunter’” (2006). I believe hunting is conservation because it provides finances and ultimate respect for proper wildlife management.
On Hunting with Dad
My dad was a deer and bird hunter when I was growing up. My earliest hunting memories go back to when I was five years old. I would love waking up early, marveling at the sunrise on our drives, and walking fields with my dad and my sisters while he worked the dogs and taught us about life. I still remember getting within 10 yards of a porcupine, which I thought was the ultimate experience! Ever since then, I’ve cherished all of my close-up encounters with wildlife and want to share as many as I can with my 5-year old son.
On Mother Nature
I tagged along on my dad’s deer hunts as a kid, but the first hunt that I went on with my own tag in hand was the most memorable. We drove into the mountains. On our way up, the snow was coming down. My dad’s hunting partner and his 14-year old son were also with us and we quickly set up the wall tent as soon as possible. After a day or two of hiking and watching a few deer, we watched as the snow kept accumulating. Soon, our Ford Bronco was more than half way buried in blizzard-like conditions. We sat and played cards for at least a day or two as the blizzard unfurled outside the tent. A couple days later, the skies were blue again, but we were snowed in. After much debate of how to get out (there was talk of using the hood of the truck as a sled), we decided to leave everything other than our guns and hike the eight miles off of Howe Peak to hitchhike on the highway to the nearest town. We never did bring home meat, but being severely challenged by Mother Nature provided me an ultimate respect and humility for the land and the chase, along with the importance of survival skills.
The most important lessons are those taught by Mother Nature. I have ultimate respect and humility for the great outdoors, which helps prepare me mentally and physically before a hunt. The awareness that things can go wrong, weather can turn, and you can be stranded all fuel my respect and passion and preparation for facing the elements. I also have great respect for the animals I chase.
On Social Media
I post photos of my journey on Instagram at HuntLikeAGirl_Idaho. Please follow me! I also have a Facebook page to connect with, but the majority of my photos go to Instagram.
On Being a Woman in the Hunting Industry
I don’t feel the need to “overcompensate” as a woman in a male dominated industry, rather I have definitely been motivated by witnessing the success and exciting stories from the men I work with. When I first learned how to bowhunt, I talked to as many men as I could to learn elk behavior and stalking methods. I hunted largely by myself because I was told by one gentleman that “the only woman allowed in hunting camp are wives or children.” That definitely motivated me to keep trying until I could succeed (and I do have a tendency to be competitive!). But it had nothing to do with overcompensating for gender. I just wanted to have similar encounters and excitement and fill my freezer like the guys were. When someone told me that I shouldn’t go elk hunting by myself, I took that as a challenge. Like most people, I’m not one that likes to be told I can’t do something; instead it motivates me to prove them wrong. In that regard, I don’t think I’m any different than a man trying to be successful at something he puts his mind to and it has nothing to do with overcompensation. I hunt for my soul, the meat, and so that I can share it with my son over the next fifteen years (if I’m lucky and he still wants to go out with mom!).
I hunt for my own soul, for the meat, and so that I can share experiences with my boy. I’m also an environmental engineer dedicated to restoring habitat for our state’s wildlife management and resource agency. Nature and wildlife has been my inspiration since I was a child, which is why I wanted to dedicate my career to the environmental field. Because my father stopped big game hunting when I was in college, I am largely self-taught. However I had great friends along the way and one in particular finally got me on my first elk after being frustrated for four years with no success on my bow. Those close encounters are what got me hooked into archery, though I still love my rifle and shotgun as well. My son and I just bought a little black lab puppy this spring that I’ve been training up so the three of us can get out bird hunting this fall. My boy is my pride and joy and a big reason of what motivates me to be successful so I can get him excited about the outdoors and share the passion. This last winter while skiing, he asked me, “Mom, are you taking me elk hunting?” When I said, “No, we’re just skiing,” he asked how much longer until he gets to go elk hunting. Moments like that are what fuel me.