Rebecca Francis Hunting Life Interview
From the time Rebecca could walk, she grew up looking forward to heading to the mountains with her dad and brothers for hunting season. She faithfully followed them into the mountains every year. Her love for hunting was deeply ingrained in her life. She was fortunate to marry a man who fully supported her desire to hunt. Rebecca and Lee Francis have been married for 19 years. She is a mother to three children, five step-children, their spouses, and eight grandchildren.
Rebecca graduated Magna cum laude from BYU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. She then went on to graduate from Utah College of Dental Hygiene with high honors receiving a second Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene. She and her husband have traveled to several under privileged communities to treat and educate people in need of dental healthcare.
Rebecca is a highly accomplished archer and has conquered some of the most extreme challenges in hunting. Rebecca recently became the second woman ever to take the Full Curl of North American wild sheep with a bow. She has also taken two alaskan brown bears, mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, buffalo, black bear, turkey, hogs, and many african plains game. Rebecca was the 2010 Extreme Huntress winner, TV personality, and outdoor freelance writer. She has been featured in Muley Crazy, Deer & Wildlife Alliance, Mule Deer Foundation, Sportsman for Fish & Wildlife, Women’s Outdoor News, Adventure Woman, Huntonly.com, bowhunting.net and alti2udeoutdoors.com.
Rebecca’s latest endeavors have taken her from hunting to obtaining her guide license in Alaska and Wyoming. She is passionate about introducing and guiding women to achieve success in the hunting world. Rebecca was recently on Driven TV with Pat and Nicole Reeve as she and guide Cole Kramer helped Nicole kill a brown bear with a bow. She is also on Sheep Shape TV guiding Kelsie Burford on a successful archery dall sheep and grizzly bear hunt. Rebecca also guided 2013 Extreme Huntress winner Tad Mecham on an Alaskan brown bear hunt airing on NBC Sports. Rebecca’s greatest achievement is her family and would not be the woman she is today without their unconditional love and support.
What’s one rookie mistake you’ve made hunting?
Don’t change your set up right before you leave for the hunt! Right as I was leaving for an elk hunt, I decided to switch broadheads because I had been having trouble with the blades breaking the week before on a deer hunt. I wanted a stronger broadhead to hunt elk. I was going from a three blade to a two blade. I had shot this two blade before and knew it shot low in comparison to the three blade my bow was currently tuned in for. Rather than taking the time to tune my arrow in with the two blade, I just decided to aim a little higher. I figured I wouldn’t have the opportunity to get a shot anyway. BIG MISTAKE. I got into some elk and spent all day sneaking in alone. The herd bull finally came out at 30 yards. Changing my set up from the three blade that shot perfectly, to the two blade I was unfamiliar with, cost me a huge bull elk. This happened six years ago and I still have nightmares about it.
What’s the hardest lesson you have learned while hunting?
Not doing my homework about an outfitter. We had been saving for quite some time to go on a dangerous game hunt in Zimbabwe. It was our first time to Zimbabwe so we were unfamiliar with how things are done there. If we had just researched it a little, we would have found that this particular outfitter had a very bad reputation to begin with. Because of our negligence, we were placed in a very dangerous situation. This outfitter was not only doing things illegally, but was a very dangerous person. We took a huge financial hit and it took us several years to recover. We will never make that mistake again.
What species would you most like to hunt?
I think if I had to choose only one animal to hunt right now, it would be a big bull elk during the rut with a bow. (To put my nightmares to rest from the big bull that got away on my rookie mistake). Nothing gets my blood pumping more than watching and listening to those big boys screaming at each other. Outside of North America, I would love to hunt ibex and I’ve always had my heart set on a leopard.
Whats one hunting skill that you most want to improve?
Steep angle shooting with my bow. Whether it be a straight downhill or straight uphill shot, gravity has less effect on the arrow than if shooting at ground level. There are rangefinders that compensate for steep angle degrees, but the bottom line is confidence comes with practice and experience. I need to spend more time shooting at very steep angles.
How were you introduced to hunting?
Hunting was just a way of life in my family. I guess I don’t look at it as being “introduced” to hunting because it is just part of who we are. That being said, I was the only female in the family growing up that was passionate about hunting. My dad and brothers always accepted me and it seemed completely normal. I just figured my sisters had other interests because they hardly ever came hunting with us.
What is your favorite archery and arrow set up?
I have two set-ups. One for dangerous game and one for everything else. My favorite is:
- Mathews Z7 Extreme set at 58 lbs.
- Blackgold sight
- Trophy taker drop away rest
- Arrow; 400 grains
- Victory VAP arrow
- Trophy Taker 100 grain shuttle t-lock broadhead
- Goat Tuff Opti-Vanes
But the most important part of this set up is my Equalizer Release. I have a 24 1/2 inch draw length, but because of the equalizer release, I can shoot a 28 inch bow.
What three tried and true tips do you have to offer hunters for Deer Archery Season?
- Glass, glass, glass
- Pattern the deer
- STAY DOWNWIND
In all of the years of hunting what is the most important lesson you have learned from the outdoors?
Be prepared! I cannot tell you how many times we have spent the night on the mountain when we weren’t planning to. Or how many times we have been caught in terrible storms that we weren’t planning on. Mother Nature has her way of teaching very powerful lessons. A couple times of being caught in her fury was enough for me. Some people give me a hard time because my backpack is always a little heavier, but that is because I am always prepared. I always take extra clothes, food, and survival essentials, even if I’m only planning to be out a few hours.
One year we were hunting up near Yellowstone on a late season November elk hunt. We were only planning to ride the horses for a few hours during the day because we had a motel room in Jackson. We did not take a tent or sleeping bags with us on the horses. It snowed all day. In the late afternoon, we were on the way back out to the truck and spotted a huge herd of bull elk. We still had a couple hours to get back to the truck and didn’t want to risk losing the elk through the night. So we stayed. We used all the saddle blankets to lay on and used my little emergency blanket for a cover. We tied each end to some sticks for a makeshift lean-to. We dressed up in all the clothes we had and built a fire. We laid side by side to stay warm. I was fortunate to be the middle person because the outside edge of the other two guys froze to the ground. It continued to snow all night. In the early hours of the morning, I heard something and shot up through the middle of our lean-to and ripped it clean in half as I grabbed for my rifle. A grizzly had come in to camp to check things out. Fortunately he left us alone, but we now had no shelter from the falling snow. When it finally started to get light we were tired and frozen, but ready to go chase elk. Unfortunately, the elk had gone back into Yellowstone during the night so we were out of luck anyway…..and still frozen.
Tell us about your first hunt?
My first hunt was before I could remember, so I will tell you about the first animal I killed. My brothers and dad still laugh at me to this day. All growing up, I could out shoot almost anyone, if we were shooting at a target. But, get me out in the mountains shooting at a deer and I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn! Lol! I had buck fever so bad! I was 21 when I finally shot my first spike buck. The funny thing is, he was only 40 or so yards from me and I missed him four times with my .270. My soon to be husband finally just said, stop! Relax. Get a dead rest. The deer just stood there looking at me like, “go ahead and shoot, you’re not going to hit me anyway”. I took a deep breath, got a dead rest, and my fifth and final shot dropped him. I was so proud! That spike buck was a serious trophy to me. I couldn’t wait to get back to camp and show everyone my HUGE deer! I was more proud of that deer than any of the big four points my brothers brought back to camp. And by the way, it was one of the best tasting deer I have ever had!
What five pieces of gear do you carry with you on every hunt that you could not live without?
Besides my weapon, food, and water;
- Good rain gear and protective wear such as hat and gloves.
- Survival kit with matches, sinew, needle, water purification tablets, emergency blanket, etc…
What is your most memorable hunt?
Every hunt I’ve ever been on carries with it unique and unforgettable memories. But I would have to say the hunt that stands out most in my mind is the my bighorn sheep hunt in Wyoming. The reason this hunt stands out is because of the unorthodox way I got my ram. My husband and I packed in alone and hunted hard for two full weeks during the early archery season. I had my heart set on getting this ram with a bow, but we had already been away from the kids and work for too long. The rifle hunt was opening the next day so we decided to hike back down and get my rifle. On our way back up we sat down for lunch in an open boulder field. We spotted three rams up on the hill watching us. They already had us pegged and I knew there weren’t many options to get to these rams. My husband told me about a video he had seen of a guy that put a white towel on his butt to mimic a sheep, and he snuck right in and got a ram at 30 yards. At this point, I didn’t have anything to lose so I decided to try it. Only, no one carries a white towel in their backpack. So I pulled my pants down and rebuttoned them around my knees. Don’t worry, I had white long johns on. I spent the next hour slowly working toward the sheep. To my surprise, the rams started coming to me. I was able to get to 28 yards and made a successful shot with my bow. I never dreamed that tactic would work, but it did! That was my first archery ram!
What would you like other hunters and non-hunters to know about you as a huntress?
That’s easy. I am a complete sucker for animals. Some people assume that if you hunt, you must hate animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have a huge place in my heart for animals. I’ve had dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, horses, goats, rabbits, and many other animals. I would have a zoo if I could. Every one of my chickens have names. My husband gets so frustrated because he knows if I am acting at all secretive, then I am hiding a stray or wounded animal somewhere in the house. Lol! We regularly have moose and deer hanging out in my yard, and I can just sit and watch them for hours. Yes, I’ve hunted moose and deer. I love moose and deer meat. But just because I hunt them for food, does not mean I don’t honor, appreciate, and love the animal and his/her role on earth.
What conservation organizations do you support with your time and money?
Sportsman for Fish & Wildlife, Full Curl Society, Big Game Forever, Mule Deer Foundation, Wild Sheep Foundation, Ovis Grand Slam, Safari Club International, Pope & Young Club, National Rifle Association
When it comes to hunting gear, how do you feel about gear specifically designed for women (guns, clothing, packs, etc.)?
Growing up, I was forced to wear my brothers hand me down hunting clothes. My mom had to alter all of them to fit. Nothing ever fit quite right. I am so thankful those days are gone. Kirstie Pike of Prois is a God send to women in the hunting world because she has created a clothing line for women that is second to none. Women need high tech, durable, and comfortable hunting clothes every bit as much as men. Hunting companies have come a long way in the past few years toward the evolution of women in hunting. Most companies are now making women specific weapons, clothing, boots, packs, and other gear. It is crucial these changes are finally taking place, because women are the fastest growing demographic in the hunting industry right now.
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?
Yes, I have been a target of anti-hunters for several years now. I receive daily death threats against myself and my family, specifically my children. These threats have only strengthened my resolve to stand up for our rights as hunters. Hunting is a 100% legal activity. It is part of our heritage. One argument made by the anti’s is that in our modern world there is no longer a need to hunt. Quite the contrary. There are many reasons why we need to continue to hunt. It is because of hunting that there is a substantial growth in wildlife populations. It is because of hunting that we are now seeing species such desert bighorn sheep reintroduced to areas where they previously disappeared. It is because of hunting that some small communities depend on for their economic survival. It is because of hunting that many of us can provide our families with all natural, organic, hormone free, and extremely healthy meat. It is because of hunting that many of us still realize there is life outside of cell phones, television, computers, and modern technology. The list goes on and on.
I believe that the anti-hunters specifically attack women because they view women as an easier target. That simply is not true. The most dangerous animal on the planet is the mommy protecting her young. Women have an innate sense to protect. We as women will do whatever it takes to protect our right to hunt. We won’t back down. We are not weak. Anti-hunters say women who hunt are not nurturing and are abusing their children. Again, that simply is not true. Women who hunt are teaching their children to provide for their families, to respect nature, and to give back.
As far as what I feel is the most appropriate response, the most detrimental thing we as hunters can do is to engage in arguing with them. All we can do is educate in a positive and respectful manner. The name calling, death threats, and vile things they say only defines them. And to be honest, their threats actually completely contradict the message they are trying to convey. While I can appreciate their heartfelt beliefs, I cannot understand their unwillingness to hear the countless facts that demonstrate the advantages hunting provides. We need to be kind, gentle, and patient, as we stand strong to educate and protect our rights.