Looking back at 2014, it was a strong year for hunters, including one pro hunter in particular, Eva Shockey.
The 26-year-old Vancouver Island, Canada, native has proven that she can not only keep up with the boys; she can blaze her own path in the male-dominated industry. That path includes co-hosting duties on Outdoor Channel’s Jim Shockey's Hunting Adventures alongside renowned big game hunter (and dad) Jim Shockey and securing coveted sponsorship deals with the likes of Under Armour, Mossy Oak, Crosman Airguns and Bowtech Archery.
In May, Shockey became the cover star of Field & Stream’s What’s Next issue – making her the second woman ever to be photographed for the magazine’s cover in its 119-year history. The first was Queen Elizabeth II. That very same month, her professional hockey player boyfriend, Tim Brent, proposed. She said, yes.
Riding a wave of blissful happiness and a sense of accomplishment, Shockey encountered a harsh reality one Saturday in November. Droves of anti-hunters reacted negatively to photos that Eva posted on social media of a 510-pound black bear she killed – the largest she had ever harvested – during a North Carolina hunt she was filming for her Outdoor Channel TV series. One anti went so far as to remark that she should “kill that little worthless dog you have instead.”
Eva’s sharp riposte – “Apparently hunting a bear, eating/donating all of the meat, and putting money towards conservation is a bad thing, but killing my puppy is OK. If this logic isn’t totally insane, I don’t know what is.” – caught the attention of mainstream media. The backlash intensified in the days that followed, but so too did the rallying battle cries from fellow hunters.
1. What’s it like being a hunter in the digital age where both fans and antis can post comments on your social media platforms?
My entire life has been in the digital age, so social media is something I’m used to. Currently, my social media presence has reached an all-time high, so the feedback that I receive from followers – good and bad – is on a much bigger scale. Unfortunately, being a proud hunter is a controversial thing, but I knew what I was getting into from the beginning. My dad warned me that I would be a target for anti-hunters. Regardless, social media is an unbelievably great platform to promote my passion and connect with fans, so I decided early on that I’m willing to deal with the hurtful comments if it means encouraging others in a positive way to join and proudly enjoy hunting.
2. Why do the antis seem to have a louder voice than the conservation hunting community? What do you think we can do to change that?
Hunting has been around since the beginning of time and hunters are predominantly very down-to-earth, respectful people. While I don’t believe that anti-hunters are necessarily ‘bad’ people, I do think that they fear the unknown. They don’t understand the good that hunting does for wildlife conservation, how hunting provides organic wild game for countless families around the world and how hunting is a highly regulated activity. There will always be people who refuse to listen, so the best thing we can do is to rise above the hostility and aggression.
3. While the numbers show that hunting is on the rise among women, why do you think more women don’t hunt? What are the biggest hang-ups or hurdles, and what can we do as an industry to get more females involved?
Women are slowly coming around to the idea that it’s socially acceptable to hunt. For so many years, hunting was seen as male activity, so it’s taking a while for that archaic stereotype to fade. The biggest hurdle for women is just to get out there and start hunting. The best thing we can do is to welcome the new hunters to the community and educate them. The industry is making great strides to encourage women by offering products and gear that are specifically designed for them, which is something that did not exist 10 years ago. I have no doubt women in the outdoors will continue to be more prominent as time goes on.
4. What are the most important life skills you’ve learned from being a hunter?
One of the many skills I’ve learned is patience. I typically run at a million miles an hour, so sitting in a tree stand is something that forces me to slow down and appreciate the moment. Also, mental toughness is something that my dad has passed on to me, though I haven’t mastered it quite like he has. When you’re climbing a mountain, freezing cold and soaking wet; the easiest thing to do is to give up. However, reminding yourself that you’re tough enough to push through is something that I’ve used both during my hunts and in my everyday life.
5. Name 5-10 hunting gear / accessories that you can’t do without.
- My Bowtech Carbon Rose and, when using a gun, I opt for one with “girl” colours so my dad doesn’t try to steal it!
- Primos Trigger Sticks for when I’m hunting with a gun.
- A Leupold Rangefinder, which is a MUST for bow hunting, and Binoculars.
- Heater Body Suit for fall deer hunts to keep me nice and warm.
- Mossy Oak Camouflage, especially the new Treestand camo pattern.
- A satellite phone for when I’m hunting anywhere outside of cell phone range.
- Blister pads and Band-Aids.
- Lots of layers to control my body temperature and comfort level, a warm pair of boots, and a neck scarf for a fun pop of colour.
6. 2014 was a milestone year for you. What are you most excited about for 2015?
2014 was by far the best year of my life – I got engaged, bought a home, was on the cover of Field & Stream, and had my best hunting season yet, which was captured on “Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures” on Outdoor Channel. As for what’s in store for 2015, I’m getting married in June. Hunting-wise, I can’t wait to hunt Black Bears on Northern Vancouver Island in our bear territory. It’s the perfect hunt that combines family time and a beautiful locale.