The Sisterhood of the Outdoors, Inc will make the dreams of another young girl come true this October
Last year, The Sisterhood of the Outdoors (SOTO) and Pass It On- Outdoor Mentors (PIO) paths crossed and the result was the opportunity of a lifetime for 14 year old Ka’nya White and mentor, Brittany Waldman. President and CEO of SOTO, Amy Ray and owner of Crazy Horn Outfitters, Shantane Strohschein heard the mission of PIO and echoed it by inviting both Ka’nya and Brittany out to Wright, WY for their 2nd Annual Youth Antelope Hunt where 4 lucky young ladies would partake in this endeavor together.
Each year, SOTO takes four young ladies on an all expense paid antelope hunt. Their goal is to introduce these girls to western big game hunts. Each of the youths were nominated by their SOTO field staff and will bring a parent or mentor along with them on the hunt.
The Sisterhood of the Outdoors is dedicated to empowering the next generation of lady hunter, and they offer opportunities for women to learn to hunt, fish, and shoot. They call themselves “women with an unbridled passion for the outdoors” and that is exactly what the SOTO group is. SOTO strives everyday to provide support for lady hunters, but they also do their fair share of giving back, especially to our youth population. “We believe we have to give it away to keep it. It’s our passion to create opportunities to mentor others and share our love of the outdoors. We are blessed to be able to pay it forward and create the next generation of lady hunter said” President and CEO of SOTO, Amy Ray
Ka’nya joined the PIO program in August of 2015 where she enrolled in a hunter safety class. Naturally, she passed and was eager to get into the field. Ka’nya attended a shooting clinic that PIO hosted and then later went on her first pheasant hunt in the program where she successfully knocked down her first rooster. The rest was history. “I remember when Ka’nya first picked up the pheasant that she shot… her face was priceless. I could see her process all of the emotion that comes with harvesting any game. She carried that bird around like a baby the rest of the hunt” said mentor and SOTO field staff, Brittany Waldman.
In the days leading up to the Wyoming trip, Ka’nya was able to receive some rifle instruction and practiced shooting at different yardages.”Being hunters ourselves and instructor’s we understand the importance of being able to make good clean shots when taking big game. Antelope especially require the shooters to be able to make a shot at 200 or more yards. We use a training target that is shot from 10 yards, but uses images of deer that get smaller to simulate a deer at 50, 100, 200 and 300 yards. We want to be sure that when the time comes the youth can make a good shot. Ka’nya was able to easily make solid shots at the simulated 200 and 300 yard targets. We were confident that she would be able to take her big game on the hunt.” said Shanon Selstedt. PIO has a wonderful partnership with FTAC Academy, LLC. Owners Greg Rupp and Shannon Selstedt provide their time and talent to the youth in our program. Their support has allowed us to provide hands on gun safety and instruction “FTAC Academy has been working with PIO for many years. We assist with Hunters Education classes and help whenever we can on hunts for the kids in the PIO program. Getting youth in the outdoors to carry on the hunting traditions is very important these days. Through programs like PIO and SOTO we can get kids involved in hunting that may not have that opportunity on their own. We are very happy to be part of these hunts and want to do our best to make sure these youth are successful on their hunts. This is our way of giving back to the community and passing on our passion for hunting to others.” said Selstedt.
While in Wyoming, these young girls had the chance to cultivate a lifelong friendship with one another. They all quickly identified that they were different in many ways, but all had one thing in common that they love and that was hunting. The days that were spent in Wyoming were filled with laughter, concentration, learning opportunities, emotion, and more importantly 4 successful antelope harvests.
Our first day in Wyoming was spent sharing introductions of the mentors, families, and hosts of the trip. We also did some revealing of donated swag by the many generous donors. It was like Christmas morning watching the girls put on matching Weatherby hats and Walkers ear protection. After a gun safety talk, the girls headed out to the range to practice shooting the Weatherby Camilla rifles that they would be shooting on their hunts. This practice was critical to a successful hunt as many of these girls had not shot this caliber of a rifle before. The girls were able to practice and become comfortable with the scope, gun, and recoil on the gun. After an evening of range work, the girls were able to share a meal with one another and listen to a very inspiring speaker, Ashlee Lundvall. Ashlee Lundvall is an inspirational speaker, author, and avid outdoorswoman passionately pursuing an adapted life. After a paralyzing ranching accident when she was just 16 years old, Ashlee learned that tragedy can be an avenue for change and growth. With courage and humor she shared the importance of being brave and resilient with these young girls.
Naturally, to determine who was going to have a chance at the first antelope, the girls drew straws. You could feel the excitement fill the truck once we hit the dirt roads to find our first herd of antelope. It was Ka’nya’s turn when we found a large herd of antelope with a couple of big bucks in it. The herd was in close enough range so we got situated behind some cover. Ka’nya had her gun out on the shooting sticks for what felt like an eternity before she lowered the gun and said that she didn’t have a shot at one of the bucks, and she was right. What an incredible adrenaline rush. Ka’nya got to experience first hand a case of “buck fever”. That wasn't the opportunity for us so relentlessly, we carried on!
Each day we were in the field, one young girls dream came true when they tagged out on their first antelope. Ellie was the first to harvest her pronghorn, then Daphne and Lydia. We were down to our final day in Wyoming to fill Ka’nya’s tag. We woke up bright and early that morning to get some breakfast before we hit the field and Ka’nya looked at me and said “I’m going to get an antelope today” and that is exactly what was in store for us. It wasn’t long before we found a lone pronghorn grazing on a hilly section of public land. Because he was tucked away, our approach had to be stealth like to avoid spooking him. Shantane, Ka’nya and Glenn moved forward while Amy Ray and Brittany impatiently hung back to hear the sound of the Weatherby rifle fire. Step by step Ka’nya tackkfully followed every expectation successfully. Ka’nya got situated on the shooting sticks, sighted in her buck, and then confirming with Shantane that she could take the gun off safety…. BANG! At a distance of about 210 yards, Ka’nya made a clean and precise shot to take down the antelope. Excitement roared through the hills as we called the other girls to meet us with the trucks. Ka’nya, slightly stunned and emotional was so incredibly proud and thankful in that moment.
The group circled around and all of the girls ran to Ka’nya to give her praise and hugs. The shared excitement was contagious and there were very few dry eyes in the group. That Wyoming dust is a dangerous thing! With the help of some wonderful mentors, Ka’nya was able to field dress her harvest and respectfully prepare it for processing. By the end of the night the girls and mentors were exhausted, but had full hearts and memories they would hold onto for a lifetime.
“Ka’nya is an absolute delight to mentor. She is respectful, kind, and taught me so much about myself during the days we spent in Wyoming. I couldn’t think of a more deserving young lady. She was skillful and tactful during every minute of our hunt and that is what made it so successful. It makes my heart swell with pride to be part of her hunting journey.” said Waldman.
The Annual Youth Antelope Hunt was started with the intention to provide a Wyoming big game opportunity to young girls to show them what the sport is all about. Owner of Crazy Horn Outfitters, Shantane Strohschein shared that her favorite part of the Annual Youth Antelope Hunt is “watching the girls bond and create friendships like we all do on our Sisterhood hunts. For kids, it is sometimes hard to do, but at this event they quickly realized they have things in common… their laughter and smiles are what this is all about!”. This hunt would not have been possible without all of the generous sponsors who stepped up to be champions for the event. Strohschein goes more than the extra mile to make this hunt possible for 4 lucky girls. She stated that, “I fundraise and organize because I want each event to be a memorable, once in a lifetime experience for the girls and their families. Without the support of others it would not be possible”
This fall, Outdoor Mentors will send young Savinnah and mentor Brittany to Wyoming to participate in the 3rd Annual Youth Antelope Hunt. Savinnah has a unique connection with PIO . Her step dad, Dana, used to be a “little brother” in the PIO program and happened to be matched with President and CEO, Mike Christensen. It was through that one-on-one mentoring that Dana was provided with hunting and fishing opportunities that he now gives back to others in the program. Savinnah has done some hunting, but has not gone on any big game hunts. “Some of the things I’m looking forward to would be to have fun in a new place, spend some quality time with the other hunters and hopefully get an antelope during the trip!!” said Savinnah.
Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors is a Wichita, Kansas-based national organization dedicated to providing children with mentors who will share with them the experiences of traditional outdoor activities. The heart of the group's mission is to give children opportunities to connect with nature that they more than likely won't have without a mentor showing them the way.
For more information contact Brittany Waldman at 620-682-0617 or firstname.lastname@example.org