The Wild Sheep Foundation 2013 Red Carpet Party, sponsored by Cabela’s was beyond a doubt the most beautiful and entertaining luncheons that I have ever attended. No detail was overlooked and the entire event was set up as a Royal affair making me feel like a Princess playing her role in a beautiful fairy tale.
Prior to entering, guests were greeted with a look alike celebrity line-up featuring Elvis, Zorro, Greek Warrior, Aladdin, a Nobleman and Charlie Chaplain. Walking through the doors was absolutely breathtaking. While you took in the splendor of the Grand Theater and silent auction you were greeted with a smile with champagne service. All of us took delight in playing “dress up” at the photo booth before moving on to begin staking claim at the many stunning items found on the silent auction tables.
Once seated at our exquisitely decorated table, we were delighted in the “Celebrity Runway” featuring in part the Cabela’s Outfit Her women’s camo series.
First lady Cindy Atcheson addressed the crowd followed by luncheon chairs Kelli Thornton, Pauline Rupp and Miki Jefferson. Shane Clouse’s live performance was brought to a close by handing out beautiful long stem roses to some of the ladies in the crowd.
I was honored to be able to contribute to the event as the featured guest speaker, being able to reach out and help grow a thriving community of dedicated shooters, hunters and conservationists. The luncheon was finalized with an incredible live auction. Participation in events like this, giving back, making a difference and helping to ensure the continuation of the time honored traditions that we hold dear.
My speech for the luncheon~
My love of the outdoors and hunting started when I was a very small child. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I spent a lot of time on the back of my mule (and best buddy), Sam.
As a family, we loved being in the outdoors and we spent nearly every weekend in the wilderness camping, hunting and fishing the high lakes. As early as the age of 5, I would spend the mornings helping my dad catch and tie up our grazing mules.
I remember that I could hardly wait to head back to camp with a proud sense of accomplishment, knowing that my mom was there waiting for me with a full cup of hot chocolate, the delicious aroma of breakfast on the griddle.
Today, I am still a lot like that little 5 year old girl, coming home from a long hard hunt, unloading the mules from the trailer. I still feel that sense of accomplishment and pride, this time knowing that I bring a bounty that is sure to provide hot meals for my family. And just like when I was 5, my mom greets me with open arms and a home cooked meal.
I believe that life’s lessons are best learned in the field with your family and friends by your side, helping you to develop sound personal character and values. The time that I spent in the backcountry as a kid with my family transformed my life and created the entire core of who I am as an individual.
My parents always taught me that there was no such thing as goal or a dream that is too big to make into a reality. Learning the value of setting goals and creating my own success started with small moments in the field: as a kid learning to handle, ride and pack mules, learning to call elk, learning how to strategize in the field, and ultimately gaining the skills to hunt solo on public land.
Experiences in the outdoors when I was making decisions to do the right thing, not the easy thing, helped me develop ethics and realize the value of perseverance through adverse weather conditions and fatigue. I learned to dig deep and most importantly, to find purpose within myself and always keep going.
Hopefully every woman in this room shares memories similar to the ones that I just shared with you, whether it reminds you of your own childhood or from the memories that you are creating today with your own children, grandchildren or a child that you may be mentoring while hunting, outdoors or in camp.
Now is the time for us all to give something back. As hunters, we were the first crusaders for conservation and remain today’s most important leaders in conservation. As women we hold the key to the future of these time honored traditions.
We are in every hunting camp, our love is seen and felt with a cooler stocked with yummy food, a batch of homemade cookies, or a hot cup of cocoa for a child. When you are tired or cold maybe down on your hunting luck having something that was made by someone who loves or cares for you is priceless even if they cannot be with you.
Women are making a difference by helping new hunters understand the critical role that they play in the conservation of wildlife and land stewardship. By taking the time to mentor a child, be that positive role model, voice of encouragement and inspiration, helping to build their confidence and self esteem you are taking the first steps that will create a lifetime of learning for new hunters. Oftentimes, a well placed compliment will reside with a child for their lifetime.
Nothing compares to watching a child catch their first fish, shoot their first bow or simply enjoy stories around a campfire surrounded by family and friends. While I was up elk hunting with my dad a few years back I ran into some friends who knew a little girl by the name of Skylar who had been blessed with drawing a coveted once in a lifetime Oregon California Bighorn Sheep tag. Skylar was only 11 years old when the season began and she had to wait three long agonizing days until her 12th birthday to hunt. Fortunately for me, those few days allowed me the opportunity to get to know Skylar as we were camped across from each other. I was chasing my dream bull elk while she was literally dreaming about getting old enough to begin her hunt.
After getting to know this remarkable young lady, I volunteered to forego my elk hunt with the hopes that Skylar and her family would allow me to accompany her on her first hunt and be a part of this once in a lifetime experience. Skylar’s first hunt was also to be my first sheep hunt.
Together with her father Russ, aunt Whinnie and myself we set out in pursuit of Skylars ram on her 12th birthday. The first day out hunting, Skylar lay prone on the mountain with a 160” ram bedded in her scope for literally hours. Passing on the opportunity at the 80 yard shot, knowing that a larger ram also lay just out of sight. The weather moved in and with it came the fog and the hunting grew tougher.
Skylar was not completely prepared with clothing for the conditions to change in such a rapid manner, so I gladly supplied her with gear so that we could continue our pursuit of her dream ram.
This little girl hunted for three days, daylight to dark in some of the steepest, most rugged mountain in Oregon in adverse weather that would have nearly anyone struggling, all with a bright smile on her face.
On the third day of her hunt, we were finally able to connect on a public land, DIY California bighorn scoring 170”. The great part about this hunt is that I too was then able to phone my dad with the news of our success, give him our location and while we field dressed Sklyars ram, my dad made the journey with our mules to help pack out her trophy.
This hunt united the entire mountain, Skylar with her family, me with my family and what seemed like the entire town all together. When we arrived at the trail head weary, Skylar was greeted as the town hero. Her mission had been accomplished. Her smile was bold and bright.
The entire community had scouted all summer helping to locate the band of rams that she was able to hunt from. The entire community celebrated that day.
I feel blessed to serve as a volunteer and mentor for youth hunters helping to create a thriving, dedicated community of new hunters that are well-equipped with outdoor skills, shooting fundamentals, hunting ethics and conservation principals.
Women making a difference….
Studies are now showing that more than 3 million women are now hunters and more than 5 million women are now enjoying shooting sports. What a great way for us to get outdoors away from the distractions of phones, iPods and television. A time for friends and family to reconnect, share some laughs and love the great outdoors. There are some amazing womens organizations out there such as:
Shoot like a Girl, who are dedicated to growing the number of women who participate in shooting sports.
Becoming an Outdoors Woman which is an educational program offering hands on workshops to women with over 20 classes to choose from.
NRA womens shooting programs that are conducted at the local level in communities around the country.
The Youth Wildlife Conservation Experience which is a three day hands on event, one of which is brought to you in part by the Wild Sheep Foundation right here in Reno NV, introducing youth to shooting sports, fly tying, archery, wildlife management.
Within all of these programs participants find expert guidance and education, ensuring the development of safe habits, gun safety and ethics.
Our mission as women and as hunters is to educate, empower and inspire others, with the goal of giving others the confidence to try out new outdoor activities. To continue this legacy, your commitment and support is needed.
I encourage all of you to contact one of the many volunteers of the Wild Sheep Foundation about how you too can get more involved.
Please enjoy the many amazing items found on today’s live auction keeping in mind that proceeds from the auction may be directed to further youth education and outdoor programs.
Participation in events like this, we are giving back today, making a difference today helping to ensure the continuation of the time honored traditions that we hold dear. Thank you all for being here today, your support is appreciated!