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Getting To Know: Jennifer Taylor

We're so excited for the very first article in our InspHERational Women of the Outdoors Blog Series and if you're reading this, we're so happy you're here!

To kick things off, we caught up with Jennifer Taylor. Jenn is a an avid hunter, hobby angler, wife and soon to be mom. While she has just announced that she is expecting her first baby, Jenn is mom to several animals, including her two cattle dogs, horses, chickens and cows! While life is busy, hunting is a priority as it is not only her passion but a way of providing for her growing family.

How did she get started? We asked her a few questions below! 1. We know that you were brought up taking part in several outdoor activities. But, you weren’t brought up as a huntress. What inspired your passion for hunting?

My parents have always instilled a love of the outdoors in my life growing up, from camping to fishing. Along with that, I have always had a passion for animals. I remember taking a notebook on trips to my cottage and writing down every animal I saw from something as exciting as a deer to as small as a songbird. At this time in my life, I would never have thought once about taking the life of an animal. I brought my love of wildlife with me to university where I studied biology and specifically ecology. The courses I immersed myself in allowed me to gain an understanding of population management. Hunting was one of these management methods. I further involved myself with the trapping industry while working on a coyote-wolf hybridization project using pelts from the Ontario Fur Harvesters Auction. Learning about the hunting and trapping industries pushed me to want to acquire my firearms license.

During this time, my parents moved to an 80 acre property in the Kawartha Lakes area. I began scouting this property and found the deer population to be extremely healthy. This is where my hunting career began. It was more then intimidating being a new hunter with no hands on experience and so many people doubted my ability to actually pull the trigger, even myself sometimes. After a few unsuccessful seasons, I was lucky enough to meet my now husband, who was a turning point in my growth as a hunter. With him by my side I harvested my first buck, and although heartbreaking, it was one of the most empowering moments I have ever experienced.

2. How did you start off? Were there any specific people you found inspire you or motivated you to keep going?

As I mentioned previously, I started out hunting mostly on my own and asked around to friends who hunted for advice. The only other person in my family who hunted was my late grandfather, whom I never got to share my hunting experiences with. I am very lucky to have a supportive family who although are not hunters, are always there to support me and drag out a harvest when an extra hand is needed.

The person who inspires me the most and has kept me motivated to keep hunting is by far my husband. He is truly so passionate about the outdoors and his knowledge has taught me so much. Above all, his respect and spirituality when it comes to harvesting an animal is extremely admirable. He instills an ethical approach to ever harvest and prays before and after ever hunt. I will be forever grateful for all he has allowed me to experience in the woods. 3. You harvested an amazing buck, who you named Bruiser. What did that hunt mean to you?

Bruiser was my second whitetail harvest, however our encounters began in my second or third year of hunting. After he appeared on trail cameras on my parents property, it was clear he was going to be my target buck. A huge bodied nine point with heavy massed antlers and the grey face of a mature whitetail, he was absolutely breathtaking. I was hunting alone when I first was graced with his presence the morning after my grandfather, the only other hunter in my family, had passed away. He walked past my stand and stopped in some thick brush. I had never shot a deer and was extremely concerned with ethical shot placement. After a few moments he was gone, disappearing into the bush. I kicked myself for days, so upset with my buck fever decision to let him walk. That summer, I watched Bruiser on trail cameras grow his antlers from small nubs, through to velvet, to another impressive, heavy set, bone white, nine point rack. I prayed that I would have another chance to see him with my own eyes. One year later, to the exact day that I saw him the previous year, Bruiser charged out of the bush in front of my stand. I was more confident and had one whitetail harvest under my belt. I made a clean, ethical shot and my most treasured buck was on the ground. I called my husband who was in another stand and we celebrated an absolute monster buck together. This deer is one many hunters never get a chance at seeing and I was lucky enough to see him twice and harvest him ethically. I am beyond honoured and thankful for this experience and it is one that has me so proud to be a female hunter. 4. We know that you’ve experienced so many memorable hunts. From a trophy buck, to a turkey hunting engagement. What has been your favourite or most memorable hunting experience?

This is a tough one! I have been so blessed with so many amazing hunts and harvests it is hard to choose one. My top two would have to be "Bruiser" my biggest buck to date, and my husband proposing to me

after a successful turkey hunt. However, every hunt has a memorable experience within it. Each one is so different and so rewarding whether you complete a harvest or not. 5. Did you face any hardships when you first started out that stand out to you now and had you considering quitting? How did you overcome it?

I had many people doubt my ability to pull the trigger on an animal, which had me doubting myself. The constant fear of wounding or not achieving an ethical shot haunted me and still does. These are things that unfortunately will happen to every hunter. I would say the biggest hardships came from wounding a whitetail. One of my first deer hunts, I must have pulled on my shot. After hours and hours of blood trailing and leaving the deer overnight, the blood trail was lost. This is the most sickening feeling a hunter can face. It had me never wanting to hunt again. After many days of kicking myself, my husband drilled into my brain, that it happens and there is only so much you can do when you put yourself in the position to take an animals life. Many people don't talk about this or are embarrassed of it, but it can happen to anyone and it is an unfortunate part of the sport. Practice and successful harvests have instilled confidence in me and the more I pushed myself the more powerful I felt in the woods. I don't doubt myself when I am about to take a shot, I am focused and do the best I can to ensure it is clean and properly placed.

6. What does being a female in the outdoors community mean to you?

Being a female hunter brings me such pride. We are a very small number of women and we all have such special qualities that allow us to excel and enjoy time in the woods. I am so happy that I am able to join a community that supports and instills knowledge in women in the outdoors. It is not an easy sport to get into and the more education and community we have to help those looking to learn and join the sport, the stronger the outdoors community will become. I think having a community like NortHERn would have benefitted me so much when I was starting out. I am excited to see what it can do for so many of those interested in hunting and fishing and the relationships it can build with those already experienced in these areas. 7. What words of encouragement do you have for other females pursuing outdoor passions? For the girls/women just starting out who may be scared to try?

ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS! There is no stupid question! This is such a grueling, technical and difficult passion to pursue. Make sure you are comfortable with your equipment and set yourself up for success. I found reading magazines and watching outdoors shows also helped me learn so much. Everyone will have different ways they do things, but learning them all will allow you to choose the best way that suits you.

If you are nervous, DONT BE! Although it is an extremely intimidating sport, it can be so rewarding even if you aren't successful with catching a fish or harvesting an animal. Just getting outdoors and practicing safety is a huge step. If you can, find a mentor with experience, this will allow you to learn that much quicker! We are all here for you! 8. Congratulations on your pregnancy! We have a large mom following and as you know, are moms ourselves. Do you plan on sharing your lifestyle with your little one? If so, what do you think is the most important lesson that you will teach them?

Thank you! We are very excited to welcome a little one to our outdoors family. We can't wait to share our love of hunting and fishing with our baby. I think it will be such an amazing opportunity to watch them grow up in this wonderful industry and learn the importance of wildlife and what it can do for a family. The most important lesson I would like to teach them is respect for nature and each life within the forest and water. Even though we have the capability to harvest animals for food we must make sure it is done with the utmost respect and gratitude and ensure we leave a population of wildlife for the future to enjoy. You can follow along with Jenn's hunting journey on Instagram

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