Product Review: Accubow

Accubow Product Review

By Rockstarlette Outdoors owner, Joni Marie

 

I have attended the Archery Trade Show for the past 7 years. In a huge sea of new archery/bowhunting specific items; it seems that each year there are one or two new products that really stand out and catch my attention. This year, one of those items was the Accubow. I have owned an archery store for the past 6 years and just recently sold it. One of our best selling items was the Bow Trainer. This item is a long bar with bands attached to it. You can draw various combinations of the bands in order to recreate different draw weights with the goal or training or to increase the amount of weight that you can pull on your bow. These were not only popular for those who wanted to increase their draw weight to meet minimum hunting requirements, but also for those with injuries that were trying to retrain and build back up to their previous draw weights. However, when I saw the Accubow at the trade show – its design and the amount of adjustment and options available on it – blew the Bow Trainer out of the water.

 

 

 

First of all, the Accubow is actually shaped like a bow. It has a grip that feels like your bow grip, a place to add your favorite stabilizer to simulate your own bow’s balance and a string stop – so you can fire the bow if you want to. Second, the “cams” on the Accubow can be dialed up and down to set the amount of weight you want to draw from 10-70# all on one band. The ease of how to do this process is one of the first things that drew me to this product. No complications of trying to draw two or three different bands back at one time. Third, there is a level on the bow and a built in laser sight. This means that not only can you work on the amount of weight that you are drawing back – but you can also work on your stability and accuracy. To be able to pull the bow back to full draw, make sure you are level and then try to hold the laser sight on a target in front of you, steady, takes the type of training that you can get out of this product to the next level! This feature can be used for a variety of training issues; working on back tension, improving consistency and stamina, or even working on issues like target panic. If I still owned my archery store, this would be an excellent product to use in training classes and private archery lessons. And if the first 3 reasons weren’t enough to convince you that you need an Accubow here is the fourth; there is a D loop attachment on the draw band. So you can actually practice drawing this bow back with your release on!

 

I am an avid bowhunter, last year alone I took 11 big game animals with my bow. But I also live in Alaska; so the cold weather, snow and darkness are not always ideal for me to be shooting in my back yard. I love the amount of training that I can do in my own living room with this product. Additionally I have a partially torn rotator cuff. There isn’t a whole lot that they can do for me besides the few times a year that I get injections in my shoulder, until it tears all the way through (ouch!) So to avoid that ever happening and still not giving up my constant bowhunting; I have been working on ways to build my other muscles and train my body to compensate for the tear. This product could not be more perfect for that. I have not picked up my Bow Trainer since I got my Accubow! There are 2 models available in the Accubow. Their regular version and also the Rick Carone Signature Series for $10 more. With every purchase they donate $50 to the Team Carone Foundation, a non profit organization that benefits cancer research, scholarships and gifts/help to others who are battling cancer. These special signature series bows have a purple band, a wrist sling and a limited edition Rick Carone Autographed portrait. If you aren’t familiar with Rick Carone and his battle with cancer, his passion for bowhunting and his incredible and inspiring attitude – you really should look him up. He is someone that really inspires me and so many others with his strength and positive attitude in spite of a very difficult situation.

 

 

Lastly, I am not paid by Accubow. I am not an employee. I am not on their staff. I am an avid bowhunter and thought that this product was something that everyone should know about. It can be used by anyone from a new archer to a seasoned veteran; from youth to adult. You can tell a lot of thought went into the design and that it was made by people who are passionate about archery; and that makes me love it even more. To learn more about the Accubow and order – visit their website at http://www.accubow.com and to learn more about Team Carone Foundation please visit: http://www.teamcaronefoundation.org

 

Thank you to Rockstarlette Outdoors customer Andrea Fumeo for the use of her full draw photo!

Photo at ATA show of Rockstarlette Outdoors Pro Staffer Priss Lynn

Accubow image and Team Carone images courtesy of Accubow

http://www.rockstarletteoutdoors.com

Pushing Limits – Journey with A Spear

Pushing Limits – My journey with A Spear
By Rockstarlette Outdoors Brand Ambassador Angie Kokes

 

 

“Failure is only an option if you quit.” This is something I tell myself often, and especially when I’ve set a goal that to some may seem unattainable…even to myself at times. I’m frequently asked if there is anything I cannot do. First of all, I am no Wonder Woman, or even close to being perfect, I am simply stubborn, and when I put my mind to something I WILL figure out a way to accomplish it. Nineteen years ago, I simply decided one day I wanted to hunt with a bow. I didn’t really know anyone at the time that was a bowhunter, and absolutely knew little to nothing about bows, or hunting with one, but it appealed to me on many levels. I was really getting tired of the rat race of rifle season in Central Nebraska. After I picked up the bow I had a ton of help from many different people for which I am forever grateful. The spear however has been a completely different story. As with the bow, about a year ago I just up and decided I wanted a spear. I enjoy throwing knives, so why not try a spear? My husband, Adam, took it in stridejust like he does everything with me and simply said, “Lord, have mercy!” He then promptly put a homemade spear together, a broom handle with a spear head screwed on the end of it. Now you might ask as I did, “what should I use for a target?” It would be the first of many questions I had about spears, and no one to ask the questions of.  I had a thin section of a cotton wood tree that Iused for throwing knives, so that’s what I used.

 

The next few months I threw that broom-handle spear thousands of times at that piece of cottonwood. Thankfully it came fairly natural for me, and was pretty easy to throw. So the idea of actually hunting with a spear started to creep into my head and consume me until one day I finally blurted it out. I don’t remember Adam’s exact response, but I’m sure it involved laughing.However, he is fully aware after nineteen years of marriage, to know that I wasn’t joking. The very next day he brought the loader tractor into the yard, parked it over the top of a round bale and said, “Get your spear. If you think you’re going to hunt with one, it’s going to have to be in a stand, so I want to see if you can hit something from an elevated position.” He raised me up in the bucket, placed a corn leaf on top of the bale, and then apparently thinking I was going to throw like Wonder Woman, positioned himself at a safe, very long distance from the bale. I threw ten times and connected on all ten throws. He sighed, and noted that I was probably “good” enough to hunt with a spear. Then he walked away mumbling something about crazy. I have no idea what that was about.

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks prior to the loader tractor “practice” I had ordered an actual spear. When I ordered it I asked the salesman several questions to which I really didn’t get any answers. Itwas pretty clear while he was the salesman, he really knew nothing about them. So I researched as much as I could, and ended up ordering a spear I felt would fit me. When it arrived and I lifted it for the first time, I knew had picked the right one. The weight and balance made it feel like an extension of my arm, it felt great in my hand, and threw so beautifully I knew I had developed another strange addiction as Adam calls my many hobbies. I was having some issues throwing it into wood. I followed up my ordering of the spear phone call with an email and not a lot of hope for answers, and didn’t get a response. I followed that with another email begging for information and proclaiming I was not an anti-hunter, but a girl who really needed to have some answers. This time I got a response and the answer I needed. The most important being, do not throw a spear into wood! This explained why my spear was loosening around its wood center.Adam brought a round bale into the yard for me, and I started throwing at that daily. Practicing with a spear can garner lots of attention, even out in the country. I’m fairly certain that over the years our mailman, UPS, and FedEx drivers had probably become used to my many strange hobbies, but I think the spear spooked them a bit. The deliveries have never been faster! Strange looks could not however diminish the fact, my confidence was growing by leaps and bounds, and I knew I was ready to hunt.

 

 

 

 

 

My first hunt I took all three spears. One for practice, and two for hunting. I got in the stand early enough so I could throw a few times. My first throw I almost threw myself out of thetree, and realized instantly I could no longer step and throw. It was just way too much movement, and the stand made noise. And yes, I always wear a safety harness. I knew I wouldn’t hunt that night, but I stayed on the stand anyway to practice standing up and getting the spear ready…major learning curve that put my bow hunting days to shame. I also realized I needed to be practicing from an elevated position instead of on the ground because of the angle of the throw.I spent several days trying to figure out how I could practice from an elevated position when Adam wasn’t home to raise me in the loader. It finally occurred to me we have a barn with a hay loft. I moved a round bale in front of the barn, climbed up into the hay loft and started throwing. Something to note when you’re a girl throwing a spear from a hay loft, you need to beprepared to answer questions from the bewildered silage crew that makes an unexpected stop in your yard. They’ll think you’re crazy!  The loft proved to be great practice. While it’s not terribly fun to go up and down the stairs and retrieve the spear every throw, it was definitely a necessity if I was going to be successful with the hunt. And I at least had a cheering section. The four bottle calves in the pen next to the barn bellow loudly every time the spear smacks the bale and I climb down the stairs. I rewarded them with cake cubes each time I finished practicing…which of course has nothing to do with why they cheer for me. Nothing at all.The next two or three hunts amounted to me psyching myself out. I simply could not make myself throw, and I had plenty of opportunities. Mind games are a terrible thing and I was letting my mind control me. I had a talk with myself and just simply said, you’ve got this Angie.Stop being a sissy and throw the damn spear already.”

The next few hunts didn’t offer a shot. But on the night of the tenth hunt, it happened. This night in particular was very warm, the sun was radiating down, and I could feel the sweat starting to run down my back. An open pasture to my left, and trails mowed strategically along a tree line to my right, where just beyond the river was quietly making beautiful swooshing sounds was about to offer up what I had been waiting for. Three does appeared out of the tree line and began an agonizing slow walk up the trail towards me. I stood, and tried to steady my breathing and pounding heart. Hefting the now comfortable and familiar weight of the spear over my shoulder helped calm me. Everything felt right. With hunter instincts on full alert I watched their every movements, and paid particular attention to their eyes (or so I thought) for seconds that turned into minutes, and into what felt like hours, until my arm ached…and then I threw! The release was exhilarating! The spear hit exactly where I aimed, unfortunately the doe saw it coming and simply stepped to the side of it. When the spear stuck in the ground right behind her shoulder it wobbled back and forth to the extent that it actually slapped her in the side. I missed, but I had cleared the demons telling me I couldn’t hit a deer. I knew this was going to happen now. I came home elated and told Adam it was the most perfect miss I will ever make. I also learned that unlike an arrow flying, a spear didn’t spook the deer. They hung around long enough for me to try and reach my second spear under my feet…another lesson I learned. The second spear has to be somewhere easy to grab, yet out of the way, and unsheathed. Needless to say, I got busted trying to reach it. If I blinked, moved too fast, or breathed too loud,it was enough to blow them…and I had three little white tails flagging in the wind as they scurried away, flipping me the bird. The next evening I was given another opportunity with the exact same scenario, three does. This night however, I not only stuck one spear in the ground, I stuck two in the ground, right where I threw, and right into the space the deer no longer occupied. Learning experience number 10,098. This time I discovered I was proficient enough I could throw one spear, keep the deer around , pick up the second spear and throw again. This may sound easy, but trust me, it’s not.
The most important thing I learned took a little longer for me to realize. Why on earth were they moving when I’m not making any sound while throwing? Ding, ding, ding, it finally hit me. Even though they weren’t looking at me I could see their eyes, and if I can see their eyes, then they can see my movement and subsequently “jump” the spear. The rest of the hunt was spent sitting spearless up a tree while the deer frolicked and played as they came from being bedded down and headed to the fields. Not wanting to get busted again, I was stuck. So I sat in the tree and pouted for the last hour, and read texts from Adam poking fun at my predicament. They went something like, “The great hunter is up a tree without a spear, lol” and “Are they laughing at you?” Or, “Maybe you can get one to toss them back up.”Real funny, honey! He is however fully aware that these little pokes are like gasoline on a fire when I’m on a mission, and I was basically explosive at this point.I was beyond determined, but beginning to doubt that it might happen this year, and I had basically become worthless in the wife department, so it’s a great thing Adam understood my crazy and allowed me the freedom to pursue it.

A couple more hunts resulted in either no deer, or no shot…until it finally happened! I got on stand early and settled in for the wait, but that night there was no wait. Within fifteen minutes I could see a deer coming from the east, out of the corner of my eye. I let it make its way to my stand. Then behind the first came another. I let the first deer cross the fence directly below my stand, and let the other one get behind a tree before I stood up. I readied the spear and shifted my eyes to see the rear deer had thankfully put her head down under a branch. Shifting my gaze back, the lead deer had turned broadside and at the same time turned its head completely away.No eyes! I didn’t think, my heart didn’t pound, I simply reacted by letting the spear fly, and then watched it hit perfectly and I knew immediately it sank in. Penetration had been another weighty concern and it had been laid to rest. As the deer jumped and ran off, I could see that the spear had gone clear through the chest and stuck out on both sides. I watched as it went about forty yards, turned west for another fifteen yards, and then quietly went down. My emotions were rolling, I had speared my first deer!  While I had been calm with no nerves whatsoever prior to throwing, I now started shaking so violently I thought I may bring the tree down. I texted Adam with my news, and then waited until I was sure the deer had passed before crawling out of the tree. I thanked the Lord, and walked to the deer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrance Hole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exit hole

For a moment I thought, wow, I’m a spear hunter! But then I realized no, I am simply a hunter who lives for the challenge of the hunt. I’m not into easy, and the spear has definitely provided me with a challenge. So just as I progressed with bowhunting, the next deer I take with the spear will be a mature buck. I’m not a hunter filling tags, I am a hunter challenging myself to be better every single hunt! Nothing is impossible. You don’t have to be an expert, but you do have to be determined, and willing to put in the time, effort and practice, just as with any form of hunting. And most importantly, learn from your mistakes.

Author Angie Kokes is a Brand Ambassador for Rockstarlette Outdoors

You can use her coupon code kokes10 and get 10% off everything on 

the Rockstarlette website. Click the link below to shop:

http://www.rockstarletteoutdoors.com

Innovations for Bowhunters: The Bow Mitt

By Rockstarlette Outdoors Owner, Joni Marie

Photo from Better The Hunt

Holding onto your bow in cold weather conditions can be frustrating. If its cold enough to need to wear gloves, then the glove changes your grip on the handle of the bow. This means that you need to sight in and practice with the glove on beforehand. The other option is to shoot without a glove on, but this means if you are sitting in a tree stand – you need to keep your “bow hand” in a mitt or pocket to keep your bare hand warm and then pull it out to grab the grip when you are ready to draw. If you are doing spot and stalk then it complicates the situation even more. Even if you have chosen to buy a carbon riser bow (which does not conduct cold) – then your hand is not holding a metal riser but it is still exposed to the elements and gets cold. Now for me, you add in another factor. About a year ago I was diagnosed with a rare auto immune disease. This illness has a variety of symptoms in my body that it affects because it is a “systemic sclerosis”. Besides damaging my lungs, heart and other organs – this illness is wreaking havoc on my ability to maintain my circulation. My hands get cold much, much more rapidly than normal. But not only do they get cold; the circulation to my fingers actually shuts down entirely – leaving my hands pale white, ice cold and quite painful in only a matter of moments of cold exposure. Now if you are thinking that means I should stop hunting in the cold, or maybe stop bowhunting completely then you are on the same page as my doctors – but you don’t know much about me! Im stubborn, Ive been bowhunting for many years, and it is the core of who I am. Its not something that I want to give up – and I don’t believe in letting an illness change who I am and what I love.

 

 

 

 

So when I saw the Bow Mitt from Better the Hunt I got very excited!! This mitt actually fits around the grip/riser of your bow. You put your hand into the mitt, which stays on your bow; but you are actually holding the grip with your bare hand. This means that although your hand is protected and warm, your grip on the riser is not affected as it would be when you have on a glove! Your stabilizer fits through the mitt and screws in normally, and I even put my wrist sling inside of it – just so that everything felt exactly the same as when I normally shoot. The mitt has 200 grams of Thinsulate and fits on any bow. When it is extra cold; there is room inside to fit a hand warmer or two near your fingers for added warmth! Now obviously this is a pretty cool invention for me – but you don’t need to have my illness for it to be good for you too! I think any bowhunter has experienced this issue with cold hands before and I think it is definitely something that could benefit you! The design can be a little bulky if you are small framed; but there is a lanyard around it that you can use to snug it down. It is available in several camo colors as well as black and is made in the USA (which I love!). I had the privilege to meet the owner Randy, at the 2017 Archery Trade Show, and I can tell you that you couldn’t be supporting a nicer man’s business!! These things are important to me; supporting small business America and good people is what its all about! Check out their website at http://www.betterthehunt.com and the photos of how it fits onto a bow and how it can benefit you!!

2017 Archery Trade Show
Photo from Better the Hunt

Innovations for Bowhunters: The Bow Mitt

Open Call for New Staff Applications! Jan 30th – Feb 12th

 

 

Please read all of the information below to find out about this opportunity to join our team!! (Application period CLOSES on Feb 12th)

The Rockstarlette Outdoors Brand has been growing rapidly and we are excited to do an open call for new applications as we add more ladies to our team of avid outdoors women! We have just launched a new line of leggings, and will have 7-10 additional new shirts/tanks/hoodies/hats and totes that will be coming out within the next month. We are looking for Staffers to promote the brand, the shopping website, our group trips and ultimately contribute the the growth of the company overall.

Here is a little more about our company from our website and recent expansion in the words of owner Joni Marie:
“I initially launched the brand as “Rockstarlette Bowhunting” and it rapidly grew beyond just a brand – into an incredible team of women that also believed in my vision! The brand was built on the idea of empowerment, building others up while encouraging and promoting hunting for women. As the business grew I constantly had ladies asking me about expanding the business concept beyond just bowhunting to include women who gun hunt, fish, bowfish, trap, hike, shed hunt, and more! I wanted the brand to be inclusive to as many women as possible who are passionate about the outdoors in all facets. And so the brand recently EXPANDED into Rockstarlette Outdoors!!

Rockstarlette Outdoors is an outdoor lifestyle clothing company. These are clothes that you wear in your everyday life that represent who you are, the things that drive you, inspire you, that make you who you are. The women who feel our brand represents them are strong, independent women. They are tough but feminine, they are fierce but kind. They believe in our motto “Encourage. Inspire. Empower” and they are not afraid to shout out someone else’s accomplishment and to cheer others on. Encouraging others in no way takes away from your own accomplishments. We believe in positivity and kindness! If you were a Rockstarlette Bowhunting brand fan before – never fear!! We will still continue to carry our bowhunting logo clothing! We will just be adding other outdoor pursuits to our line up throughout 2017 and continuing!” – Owner/Founder Joni Marie

About us:
It is very important to us that those who we add to our staff share our passion for promoting ladies involvement in the outdoors. We are all about empowering others, we are not looking for staff that just want to free gear or who are just looking to self promote. We are a tight knit sisterhood environment and we are looking for women who:

  • Believe in the company and stand behind the Rockstarlette Outdoors brand and mission
  • Are passionate about being active in the outdoors
  • Want to help and encourage other women
  • Want to help us grow our logo gear line
  • Will help take the company to the next level

We have 3 levels of Rockstarlette Outdoors staffers: Pro Staff, Field Staff and Brand Ambassadors. However, Pro Staff positions are filled internally only (you must have been a Field Staffer for at least one year with the company and exceed in staff expectations)

What we are currently looking to fill are  4-5 Brand Ambassador Positions and possibly 2 Field Staff Positions. Our application process is outlined below. Applications are reviewed by a panel: the owner (Joni Marie) and the Pro Staff team members. The application period will be open from Jan 30th – Feb 12th. We do an open call each year and last year we got a very high volume of applications so please be patient during our review process; it can take us several weeks to make staff decisions!

Requirements and how to apply:

  1. We are currently looking for driven women (ages 18+) who would be excited to promote Rockstarlette Outdoors in a professional manner both in their local community and Nationwide. We are looking for individuals who believe in our mission as a company, who want to encourage and support other women and who understand the direction that we are moving in as a company. A Staff Member may or may not currently be a hunting/fishing professional; but her love for archery and the outdoors is evident to everyone who knows her.

2.  We are looking for staffers that are savvy at social media. We want our Staff to actively promote the brand and help us grow. Staffers are required to have active pages on both Facebook and Instagram. Your IG profile must be public. Additional social media platforms are a bonus (we are also on Twitter and Pinterest currently).

3. Please email us a letter of interest that MUST include the following:

  • Why you want to represent Rockstarlette Outdoors
  • If you are currently on staff for another company please let us know this information and your role with them. If you currently own your own outdoor related business please also include that information!
  • We want to hear about what got you interested in the outdoors, hunting, fishing etc… what inspires you and what your goals are!
    Include at least 3-4 outdoors related photos of yourself (anything you are passionate about! We want to get to know you! Barrel racing? Clamming? Shed Hunting? Shooting your gun? Ice Fishing? Hunting? Give us a snapshot of what gets you outdoors!!)
  • If you own any Rockstarlette Bowhunting or Rockstarlette Outdoors logo gear – please include a photo of yourself in that gear!! We LOVE to add women who support our company already!! If you send in a photo in our logo gear you will AUTOMATICALLY be moved into the 2nd round of the application process!! This is a huge help due to the very high volume of applications that we get! When we get over 100 applications and are only taking 6-7 positions – this extra bump really means a lot! More than one photo is totally fine if you own multiple items – your passion for the brand matters to us!!
  • Must include your personal Facebook and Instagram account links/info and any other social media accounts you might have. Please accept any friend requests from our owner or pro staff team if sent to you.
  • If you have written any blogs, articles etc.. please provide copies or links to this information. Or if something has been published about you etc… We want to know about your contacts and experience with the hunting and fishing industry. (Don’t worry, Having no experience will not keep you from being considered at all. We are looking for individuals with the same passion that we have and whose outlooks and goals are aligned with ours; not necessarily someone with the most experience. )
  • Have you ever been charged with a hunting or fishing violation? Please explain. Were you convicted?

*Once you have submitted your application, if our owner and Pro Staffers (who will be reviewing all applicants) have any questions for follow up – you may be asked for additional information.

• Applications are due by Feb 12th

Please email your letter with the above requested information, photos and links to:

rockstarlettebowhunting@outlook.com

to be considered for a position. Please have the subject line read: Rockstarlette Outdoors.

Take your time, you have until Feb 12th to submit an application! No applications will be reviewed until the application period is closed!
Please do not post an application directly to our Facebook page or to this blog – all application/letters must be emailed to the address listed above! Applications that are missing the above required information and photos will not be considered.

You are welcome to send Private Messages to our Instagram or Facebook accounts if you have questions but please be patient in delays in responses due to volume of applications submitted!

How does this process work?

Applications are reviewed by a panel which includes Owner Joni Marie and all Pro Staff Level Team Members (Jayme, Kate, Priss and Ashley) This is a group decision because I feel, as the owner, that my team should have a voice in who represents the company. We all reflect on each other by representing the RO name and our staff members take our reputation as a company very seriously. Please be patient after the application period closes – it can take us several weeks to make decisions as a group once the application period is closed!!

What do you get as a Staffer?

  • Staffers will get some Rockstarlette Outdoors clothing items for Free to start you off. (We have 5 new shirts/hoodies and 2 new hats being printed now – as well as all our new leggings that just launched last week etc….) As new items come out, you will occasionally get additional items to help you to promote the brand. Additional items beyond these can be purchased for a discount. On all Free or discounted items, Staffer will be responsible for shipping costs if living outside Alaska. There are also often staff contests where you can win gear, or you can earn additional discounts and gear based upon the # of sales you have on your staff coupon code.
  • Staff have the opportunity to write for our Outdoors Blog. Occasionally these blogs also get published into magazines due to our partnerships with several publications.
  • Staff get first pick to sign up for our group hunts/fishing trips before we open them up to the public. If possible I will negotiate discounts for staff on these events. We generally host several of these opportunities each year and they are SO fun! Check out the Group Hunts section of our website for info and photos from past adventures.
  • We will promote you and your social media accounts through our social media platforms. Occasionally we get offers for discounts for our staffers or free items that we distribute based upon staffers coupon code sales.

In Summary 🙂
We will work hard to promote you and build your reputation as our Staff through Facebook and our IG. We will expect that our Staff will do the same. We can pull your Staff position at any time if we feel that you are not representing the brand in a positive manner. Making social media posts that are inappropriate in any manner is a quick way to get removed from our staff (drug references, bashing on other brands or other hunters)
You are welcome to be a Staff for any other bow brand / equipment company of your choosing outside RO and in fact, we encourage and support this. However, Staffers that pick up positions with logo clothing companies that directly compete with ours will be removed from their positions (this does not include hunting gear clothing lines! These are fine!). If you have questions on the details of this please contact Joni Marie.

Please be sure that you are connected with Rockstarlette Outdoors on all levels and are active on our social media accounts!! Thank you for your interest in being  a staffer for Rockstarlette Outdoors, we are excited to hear from you!!

http://www.rockstarletteoutdoors.com

Group turkey hunt with the Rockstarlette Bowhunting Grrrls!

Courtney and her daughter Camden
Rockstarlette Bowhunting Grrrls Joni and Jayme on an archery bird hunt in Alaska

Brand Expansion Announcement!!

We are so excited to announce our BRAND EXPANSION!! Our brand initially launched as “Rockstarlette Bowhunting” in 2012 and it rapidly grew! It was built on the idea of empowering women, building their confidence up while encouraging them in bowhunting. As the business grew we constantly had women asking about expanding the concept to include ladies who hunt with guns, who fish, bowfish, trap, shed hunt and more! We want the brand to be INCLUSIVE to as many women as possible who are passionate about the outdoors in all facets. And so effective Jan 2, 2017 the brand has EXPANDED into Rockstarlette Outdoors!!
Rockstarlette Outdoors is an outdoor lifestyle clothing company. These are clothes that you wear in your everyday life that represent who you are, the things that drive you, inspire you, that make you proud of who you are. We love to celebrate ladies who love the outdoors! People sometimes ask me what is the “style” of our brand? I say; “Country tomboy with a little bit of Rocker Grrrl” The women who feel our brand represents them are strong, independent women. They are tough but feminine, they are fierce but kind. They believe in our motto “Encourage. Inspire. Empower” and they are not afraid to shout out someone else’s accomplishment and to cheer others on. Encouraging others in no way takes away from your own accomplishments. We believe in positivity and kindness! If you were a Rockstarlette Bowhunting fan before – never fear!! We will still continue to carry our bowhunting logo clothing! We will just be adding other outdoor pursuits to our line up!
There are some exciting new designs coming soon including a whole line of leggings!! We can’t wait for you to see how we are expanding and additionally we will be adding new Staff to our team that represent all the areas that our logo gear will now cover!! More info about the new clothing items and our upcoming open call for new Staff Applications will be posted in late January!!! Stay tuned…..and keep following our Facebook and Instagram pages so you don’t miss our updates!! Shop our clothing line and read more about our team and our vision here: http://www.rockstarletteoutdoors.com

Archery Bear Hunt in Idaho

Article by Rockstarlette Outdoors owner Joni Marie

A shorter version of this article was published in the Fall 2016 issue of Pope and Young Ethics Magazine; this is the full length version of that article.

 

I was born and raised in Alaska, so you might wonder why I would fly to Idaho for archery bear hunting? I have taken several black bears with my bow in Alaska as well as a Pope and Young Brown Bear; but I have always wanted a color phase black bear. Boulder Creek Outfitters in Idaho are known to hunt some areas that are particularly heavy in color phase bears. While no hunt is a guarantee, I wanted to try my odds on getting a cinnamon bear with my bow and so I headed down in April of 2016. I hunted with bait from the ground in BCO’s Joseph camp. Temperatures were unusually cold for that week and additionally it rained all day, every day of the hunt. Bears simply weren’t showing up and after a long week of freezing cold sits on the ground without a blind; I went home empty handed. I decided to come back for the fall and try something totally new; hound hunting. I’ve never hunted big game with dogs before and honestly, I didn’t know quite what to expect. I am always up for a new adventure so I decided to give it a try. This hunt was done out of their Whitebird camp and my friend Priss came along to check off her bucket list of her first black bear with a bow. Priss is also one of the Field Staff for my company Rockstarlette Outdoors.

Day One: We were up at 5AM and had the side by side and trucks looked up with the dogs before sunrise. The dogs go crazy in the mornings as Bud, the camp’s main houndsman, picks his team for the day. The dogs are barking and howling, jumping at their chains, begging to get picked to come along. Being from Alaska, it reminded me of the sled dogs who run the Iditarod and how badly they want to get out to pull the mushers sled. These dogs clearly love to bear hunt. A large wood dog box in the bed of the truck holds the majority of the dogs, but 3-4 get clipped to the top of the box to ride out in the open. This is not randomly selected. Bud puts his best strikers up there. These are the dogs who have the best noses for catching the bears scent and who let out a warning howl that sounds like an alarm going off. 3-4 of BCO Owner Tim Craig’s dogs got loaded into the dog box on the back of the side by side, as well as 1-2 of the best striking dogs on the top of the box as well. It was amazing throughout the week to learn the dogs personalities, their strengths and how those handling them “put them in” based upon this information. It was much like a coach, picking players to get into a game.

From talking to Bud throughout the week I could see the love and respect that he has for his dogs, the pride when everything comes together perfectly and the enormous amount of work he had put into training them. We drove up and down the dirt roads throughout the ridges and canyons hoping for a “strike” of the dogs catching a bears scent. Finally it hit and the dogs went wild. Bud released some dogs, who all have GPS trackers on their collars and they took off running. Priss and I hung on in the back of the side by side on a wild ride as Tim and Matt were in the front, racing to get to a cut off point to put in their dogs to try to “turn” the bear. This involved lots of quick stops and starts, of turning off the engine to hear where the dogs were barking and running below us and then leaping back into the machine and running up or down the canyon to find the perfect spot to put in new “players” to the chase. Tim’s driving is like being on a roller coaster, as he was so excited to try to get the bear, and Priss and I clung to our bows, hung on to the bar and laughed hysterically at the adrenaline packed 4×4 adventure.

As more dogs got released, Matt was also tracking his dogs locations in the chase. Suddenly he realized that the bear had turned and was headed for the forest, a thick treed area at the VERY bottom of a large steep canyon. We raced wildly to get there in time to put in a dog to stop the bear from cresting the ridge and going down the incline. Just as we came up the dirt road we saw the bear pass about 100 yards in front of us on a full speed run with the pack of dogs only a minute or two behind. We lept from the side by side to try to catch the dogs and stop them from going over the top but they were way too into the chase and were splitting and running all around us and over the ridge. We waited 20 minutes or so and could see from both Bud and Matt’s tracking devices that the dogs were all the way in the bottom of the canyon and were staying there. There was a chance that the bear might be “treed” down there; so with no other choice, we strapped on our packs – bows in hand and started to hike down.

This was an incredibly steep slope and it was slow going. Bud was faster than us and he went ahead; leaving Priss, Matt and I picking our way down the canyon. From past experience of bears going down this way, Matt told us it would be a 4 hour hike to get to the bottom. We were doing a lot of side hilling, back and forth because it was too steep to just walk straight down. About 2 hours into it, in the heat, legs aching, I thought of all the folks that say that hound hunting is “easy” or that its “not a challenge”. I can tell you that they are badly mistaken! Additionally, I have a lung disease and a 28% diminished lung capacity. Due to me not taking in as much oxygen, my muscles just don’t recover like they used to and therefore my fatigue sets in more easily. My legs sometimes “go out” on me, I can feel it coming on – but there is nothing I can do to stop it as it occurs. I had warned Priss and Matt that this had happened on a recent goat hunt I was on and that I tumbled down the mountain; so they were aware of that risk. I refuse to let an illness get the better of me, so I continue to hunt hard because that is what I love! The effect of my lungs occurred again on this hunt. Priss turned to look back at me and said that she saw my legs buckling, almost in slow motion. I fell face first down the steep slope still clutching my bow. I was lucky to hit my face and left outstretched hand into a fallen tree down the hill which stopped my tumble from going further down the hill. It was steep enough that my legs ended up over top of my head in the air, with my body basically in a U. Thank god I used to be a gymnast and am flexible! Matt climbed down to pull me out; as I could not get up on my own. The pain and fear always get to you, but more so I get angry at my body for failing when my mind wants to keep on! Nothing was broken and just a few minor cuts (and some good bruises). We rested a bit and I tried to make jokes to ease the tension. At little bit slower; but determined to continue we made it to the bottom of the canyon 2 hours later. My legs had gone out one more time on the way down and I was feeling the pain of the heavy landing on my right side from that fall. Bud was at the bottom in the creek bed and had gathered up most of the dogs; they had lost the bear. I was banged up and Priss also had shaky legs and we wondered if we could keep up with 5 days of this!

They dogs were exhausted after the morning run, plus with the heat of the midday sun, Bud does not run them in the afternoon for fear of heat stroke. Therefore, our afternoons/evenings were spent hillside glassing, still hunting or spot and stalk without the dogs. With sore legs, Priss, Matt and I hiked out to a beautiful ridge overlooking a saddle between two valleys where we sat for the evening. We saw lots of whitetail but no bear that night. However, it was incredibly enjoyable to take in the beauty of Idaho!

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Day 2: We got up at 5 AM and every part of me hurt. I had taken 2 falls and between sore quads and bruises all over, I felt like I was 80 years old! We loaded up the dogs and a set out again. We spent a couple hours in different areas trying to find a scent. Bud took the majority of the dogs and walked down into a heavily treed draw that couldn’t be driven into. Far off in the distance we heard the dogs light up. Its an incredible sound and fills you with excitement! We spent the next hour racing around on Tim’s wild ride (which is a ton of fun), putting dogs in at the tops of ridges to join the hunt to help keep the bear in the area. The dogs did an incredible job and finally all the barks were coming from the same location, the bear was treed!! We followed the barks and raced there. We had to climb up a steep muddy embankment and when we got up to the tree we could see that it was a cinnamon colored bear. Priss and I had agreed that if it was cinnamon it would be my bear. I was to stand on the steep slope of the hill and shoot up. This is not an angle that you can ever practice at home and there were many branches and limbs – it was tough to get an ethical shot. Finally, I moved around enough up and down the hill to find a spot where I could shoot between the branches and I put one straight through his chest and the arrow exited out his back.  He laid down on the thick branch and Matt said, “he’s going to die there and we won’t be able to get him!” All the dogs were around the tree while this was happening barking and howling which makes the situation even more intense.  I raced to climb up the steep embankment to try to cut some of the angle/distance. You could see he was going to die shortly, I had to get him off that branch. I ended up standing on a very narrow 1 ft wide ledge with my left foot, while my right foot was braced back up against the hill. The position was very akward and I shot almost straight up in the air. I made a good shot and he died immediately and tumbled down, striking branches as he fell, hitting the steep slope and rolling down through the thick brush below. The dogs went crazy as if cheering it on. I was shaking! From the adrenaline filled chase, to the climb up the steep slope, to the shooting straight up with very odd footing in the air under pressure – the whole experience was incredibly intense!

He was a beautiful color phase bear and exactly what I had come to Idaho twice for! It was so cool to have my friend Priss there with me for the whole experience! I felt very blessed. Now it was time to get Priss a bear! That night we sat in the brush near a lake that had a lot of bear sign around it; hoping something might come in for Priss but no luck. She was hoping for a jet black bear but certainly would take any mature bear that came in. I went to bed that night reliving the crazy fast pace of the hunt and praying that we could get it done for Priss was well.

Day 3: We ran the dogs again in the morning. The dogs hit on the scent of a bear; but during the chase they spooked up another bear. The dogs split and the two packs barking created confusion and both bears got away. We took a little time out from hunting to pick lots of wild plums  (this is what the bears were snacking on – and so were we!) That night we sat out by the same lake again; but the late evening wind was swirling badly around us and didnt do us any favors – we saw nothing.

 

Day 4: We again ran the dogs in the morning; however again they were not able to tree a bear and Priss started to get worried. We hiked out to a ridge where we could glass for bears and possibly spot and stalk something down in the draw. We did not have any luck. We discussed the fact that only one day was left in the hunt. Bowhunters often go through this. If you have paid for a hunt with an Outfitter, you have taken the vacation time off of work, it is hard to incur those expenses and go home empty handed. There is a temptation to switch over to a gun on the last day – to allow yourself a longer yardage to shoot and increase your chances. But if you identify yourself as a bowhunter, would you really be satisfied with a rifle kill on your bucket list animal? Priss struggled with this but ultimately felt that she would not be happy switching over and stuck to her bow for the final day.

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Day 5: Last day of the hunt; and also my birthday! I prayed hard for a bear for a “birthday bear” for Priss as my birthday present. I deeply wanted her to get something. Just as we rolled out to hunt; with the sun still rising, the dogs struck, hard. It was the freshest hit that we had heard. EVERY dog lit up; those on top of the box as well as those inside. It was truly one of the coolest sounds to hear. Priss and I looked at each other, eyes wide, thinking “this is it!” But Matt was sitting in front of us in the side by side and shook his head. He pulled up beside Bud’s truck who we could also see shaking his head. They told us hat they could not put the dogs in there because it was such a steep drop off and would lead to an all day hike trying to gather up 15 dogs and get them back up the mountain. Bud had had a dog with heat exhaustion the week before and they had to be selective about the steep terrain spots that they chose. I looked over at Priss and she tried to smile but I could see that she was feeling crushed.

We continued to go up and down the canyon roads and after 2 hours of no hits, I was feeling very anxious. I could see the disappointment on her face and I started rethinking maybe I shouldn’t have shot that bear on day 2 – maybe it should have been her. I was kicking myself and worrying when all of a sudden “Lost” one of the dogs on the back of our side by side went into a howl. They called Bud on the radio and he raced to where we were. He put in his best runners and we raced to the top of the canyon to play defense. Hunting with the dogs is all about timing. We got into position on the ridge and we could hear them barking far off down the draw. Our wild ride with Tim had begun, Priss’s spirits were back up and Tim floored it – running to different spots, shutting off for a moment to listen and then racing away again. We put in Lost and another dog and only had one dog left, Bently. Suddenly the dogs started up the canyon and it was clear the bear had turned and was intending on going up and over; down that 4 hours canyon that we had done before! We lept into the side by side and took off on our craziest roller coaster ride yet. Priss and I were laughing so hard at the 4×4 fun that I thought I was going to pee my pants. Matt and Tim were in the front hooting and hollering, we were now off the road; going over logs, clearings, dirt piles and in between trees as Tim raced for the top. We beat the bear and they lept out putting in Bently. He took off like a rocket and we watched on the monitor and listened to the barks as he helped to turn the bear back down the draw. Not too long after; all the barks came from one spot and we realized the bear was treed. We were so excited and raced to the area, hiking up to the tree. Priss was very nervous; getting a bear with her bow was truly her “bucket list hunt” and it was about to happen! Additionally, she wanted a clean kill and did not want the guides to have to follow up with a gun. We had made an agreement that if a bear was to come down the tree wounded; the guides could shoot because it was dangerous for the dogs and all of us at the bottom of the tree. She was tense on her first shot and pulled a bit to the left; spinning the bear. His arms were wrapped around the tree and he started to lose his grip; you could hear his nails sliding down the tree as he slipped. She reloaded quickly and placed a second arrow perfectly into the vitals and the bear tumbled down to the ground. Her complete elation, shaking all over and both our eyes filled with tears was the perfect birthday present for me. It was so amazing to get to share that with her. Additionally it was a jet black bear, just as she had wanted!! What are the odds that I would get my cinnamon and her the black that we both had hoped for? We had an incredible week of hunting, from the steep hikes, to the incredible dogs, to the wild 4×4 rides. Boulder Creek Outfitters really came through for Team Rockstarlette Bowhunting and Priss and I could not be more grateful! We got a freezer full of great bear meat, beautiful bears and hearts full of memories!

 

 

Author Joni Marie is an avid bowhunter, the owner of Rockstarlette Bowhunting and a National Pro Staff for Xpedition Archery, HHA Sports and Prois.

Getting started: From Archer to Bowhunter

(Article by Joni Marie from Summer issue of Pope and Young Ethics Magazine; Copy reposted here)

I often have women tell me that they feel like they are ready to start bowhunting but they don’t know where to begin. They have a bow, they’ve taken some lessons, maybe have shot in an archery league or practiced on their own and consider themselves target archers, and are ready to move forward. This can be a really intimidating step for many women, especially if they don’t have a social circle of other bowhunters around them.

One of my first suggestions would be to look into the Department of Fish and Game’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program in your state. I have been a volunteer instructor for BOW for the past 6 years and cannot say enough about it. The classes they offer, the quality of information that they provide and the skilled instructors that volunteer their time to help others to find their passion in the outdoors is second to none. BOW was started where I live in Alaska in 1995 and has grown rapidly due to a wonderful community response to the great classes they provide. There are BOW programs all over the Lower 48 as well! There are several options for BOW classes: the first is 3 day weekend courses (workshops) which cover a small sample of many subjects. A total of 100+ participants (ages 18+) can sign up for this amazing outdoor inspired weekend and can pick subjects from a variety of 4 hours courses such as archery, bowhunting, moose hunting, field dressing, cold weather camping, outdoor cooking, hunting small game and much more! This is not only the perfect place to start to build up confidence by educating yourself on hunting, but its also a great place to meet other women who are interested in the same things that you are! Classes like the field dressing course are completely hands on. For our Alaska class, they bring in an Elk or Moose etc… from the Wildlife Conservation Center or other donated sources and you actually get hands on experience in field dressing the entire animal with skilled and experienced instructors leading the way. The BOW weekend offers classes in an encouraging and supportive environment to beginners. Classes are presented in a way where the participants do not feel intimidated no matter their skill level or outdoors/hunting knowledge.
In addition to these big weekend workshops; BOW also offers intensive courses on specific subjects called Beyond BOW. I teach beginning archery at the big weekend event and I teach a more advanced bowhunting class in the 1 day intensive courses. There are other intensives on subjects like butchering wild game, big game hunting, field dressing, spin and fly fishing, survival, map and compass and outdoor cooking just to name a few. Beyond BOW events provide the next step in practicing the skills that a participant started to develop at the weekend workshop or they build on knowledge that a woman might already have in order to increase her confidence in using those skills in the field. Beyond BOWs teach more advanced skills, and may be conducted almost entirely in an outdoors setting to help to build that confidence that you will need to go out on your own!


Many states BOW programs also offer some women’s group hunts. This is a wonderful opportunity to get to go out and hunt with other women, led by Fish and Game staff and volunteers. If you don’t have friends to start hunting with, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to set up a hunt with other women who are also beginners in a safe and supportive environment. For more information on how to sign up for BOW classes visit theTurkeyCoverGrrrls Fish and Game website for your state. Another option to get connected is to check with your local archery Pro Shops for women’s organized hunts or there are several businesses like mine, Rockstarlette Bowhunting, that organize women’s group hunts. I have organized quite a few ladies hunts in the past few years and I have to say, there is nothing more rewarding than the bonding and life long friendships built when your hunting with “just the girls!” In 2010 I organized a week long, ladies tree stand black bear archery hunt. I think this is one of the easiest hunts for a beginner to start bowhunting with. A tree stand or bear bait situation makes for fixed yardage that you can range before the animal comes in to prepare, plus you have the safety and security of being above the game you are hunting. The women that came on this black bear hunt were all first time bowhunters and all had great success with their bows. They have become hooked on hunting and have gone on several hunts since! Follow Rockstarlette Bowhunting on Facebook or Instagram to get more information on upcoming women’s organized hunts!

How do you build up the confidence in your shooting skills; to move from shooting at paper targets to live game? At many archery stores, they offer private lessons and can focus the lesson on the skills that you need to develop. So if you are looking to get ready to pass your bowhunter certification class, or are prepping for a specific type of hunt in the field – ask them to structure a private lesson to meet your needs. Many Pro Shops also offer time in the Techno Hunt booth (a virtual hunting booth) so that you can practice shooting at live video scenes of animals in a controlled environment. You use your own bow and arrows, blunt tips that we provide and can choose from over 700 different animal scenarios to practice on. 3D archery tournaments outdoors are also a great place to hone your skills. Going through an unmarked 3D archery course and practicing either using your range finder, or judging yardages can be a great tool for honing your hunting skills and confidence in the field!

Last, but most importantly; find out if you need to get your Bowhunter Certification from your states Department of Fish and Game. Some states require this before you can bowhunt (we do in Alaska!) For us, this is a two part test; a written Bowhunter Education section and a field shooting proficiency portion. These bowhunting classes certify more than 800 Alaskan hunters each year. The certificate is also required in Alaska to put in for archery drawing permits. The Bowhunter Education written test covers many of the same topics as Basic Hunter Education courses but with some specific questions on bowhunting. The written portion can be done online or in a classroom setting; while you must get signed up for a test date with Fish and Game for the shooting portion. The shooting portion of the test requires you to hit the vitals area of several big game targets at distances from 10-30 yards from both a standing and kneeling position. If you are nervous about taking the shooting portion of this test, taking an archery lesson that specifically focuses on the skills needed for the test is a great confidence booster! Contact your local Pro Shop to set something up!

The main thing is to not be afraid to get started and to know that there are lots of great resources out there to help you! I hope to encourage other women to not be intimidated and to take advantage of the resources available to get out and find their passion for the hunt! The motto of my company is “Encourage. Inspire. Empower.” if you have any questions on getting started; please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will help you get started in any way I can! I love to help other women find their passion for bowhunting!

Joni Marie  is a former Archery Pro Shop owner and the Founder of Rockstarlette Bowhunting.  She has harvested a wide variety of big game animals with her bow and is a National Factory Pro Staff for Xpedition Archery and HHA and Field Staff for Prois.

Archery Inspired Wedding

Archery inspired wedding

By Rockstarlette Bowhunting Pro Staffer: Ashley Knussmann

Scott and I were married April 30th, 2016 at Twisted Ranch Weddings in Bertram, Texas. The venue is built like an old western town. There was a jail, a chapel, a reception barn, saloon, a general store, and cabins to get ready in. Worth every penny.  The venue was so beautiful there was not much to do as far as décor goes, but we added decor having to do with what we both love, archery!

As bridesmaid gifts, I gave all my girls a gold arrow bobby pin to wear in their hair the day of the wedding. I, myself, wore one as well.  The cowboy boots I wore with my wedding dress were Kacey Musgrave’s line of Luccheses. My boots were white (of course) and had gold arrows going up the side. Thank you Kacey Musgraves for making a pair of boots perfect for an archery bride!

I had made my isle runners for the ceremony out of old arrows that were not safe to shoot and painted them white. I bought white feathers and dipped them in gold, sparkly paint.

As part of the unity ceremony, we planted a tree. Not only does it represent the strong roots of our marriage, it represented our love for nature.

Our guest book alternative was in a wooden frame. It had a purple doe and buck with leaves coming off his antlers for our guests to sign. Our table also had antlers laid on each side of our K.

My sister in law made our cake topper with our initials and an arrow going through them. She is so talented! Scott loves my mom’s carrot cake so she made the grooms cake. His cake wasn’t inspired by archery, but his favorite type of hunting: Dove hunting. We added a black Jeep to the top to match the much bigger one we own and use for the outdoor adventures we go on!

Scott and I make a great team; both at home and in the outdoors. He is a great step dad, a skilled hunter, and most of all he loves me and Addison unconditionally. Our wedding was everything that I hoped it would be and represented us and all of the things that we love to do together as a family!!

The Making of a Bowhunter (Reposted from Pope & Young Ethic Magazine)

The Making of a Bowhunter
by Joni Marie (Founder of Rockstarlette Bowhunting)

(This article is printed in the current issue of Pope and Young Ethic Magazine; and reposted here)

We all loaded our gear into the bush plane and said our goodbyes the the guides thanking them for the incredible adventure that we had been on for the past week. Joe, the pilot, began taxied along the lake – getting far enough back to have room for take off. Jayme stared out the window, turned away from me, not saying a word. Joe threw the power to it and the plane roared as we took off and soared up above the tree line headed back into civilization. I looked out the window at the incredible Alaskan wilderness below me and tried to spot bears and moose in the open breaks in the forest below. I thought I heard something and turned my head towards Jayme and saw her wiping tears off her face. My heart dropped and I asked her what was wrong. She said, “I’ve just realized that bowhunting feeds my soul! This is the first thing that I have done in such a long time for MYSELF. Im a mom, Im a wife, Im a daughter, I worry about what everyone else wants or needs. I did this trip for me and it felt SO good. I really just don’t want to leave.” Suddenly at that moment, it hit me. My heart swelled a thousand sizes and felt full. I realized that I had done something really great. I had influenced these ladies to go out on their first bow hunt; and effectively changed their lives. I looked back at Nancy and she was smiling and nodding. She knew exactly what Jayme was feeling.

Jayme with her bear

Rewind one year. I was the co-owner of the largest archery store in the State of Alaska, Full Curl Archery. We opened our doors in 2010 and grew rapidly as my husband and I shared our passion for archery and bowhunting with our community. I had become very involved in teaching lessons with a special emphasis on youth and women. Jayme and her friend Nancy came into my archery store looking to take lessons. Both of their husbands were also interested in archery and they thought it would be something fun that they could all do together. I had known Jayme in high school but hadn’t seen her for over 10 years so we were excited to get reacquainted and she had had no idea that I was the owner of the store. The ladies did both group and private archery lessons with me. They both were instantly hooked; loving how shooting a bow made them feel strong and confident. Over the course of the next 7 months they purchased bows, shot in our leagues and continued to do lessons with me to perfect their skill. One night I approached them both and told them that I was going on a black bear hunt in the summer and that I would love for them to come with me on the trip. They looked terrified. They kept asking if I thought they were ready for that? We still had another 3 months to get ready and I assured them that I could have them prepared and confident in their skills by that time. In my opinion, a tree stand black bear hunt is a great starter hunt for a new archer. You are at a fixed distance, you can sit and range the area around where you will be shooting so you know exactly what yardage you will need to shoot. Additionally, you feel safer being elevated over the animal. Jayme told me she trusted my judgement and if I said she could do it; then she would go for it. Nancy was much more nervous. She was not sure that she even wanted to get into hunting, she had taken up archery only to target shoot and was not sure how she would feel about harvesting an animal. Eventually she agreed to go to the camp with us, to go out and sit in the tree stands but said she would only be taking photos. I thought this was a great compromise to get her more comfortable. I arranged for us to go over regularly to a friends house who had a ladder stand set up in his back yard. We could climb up, sit in the stand and practice shooting a 3D bear archery target to get everyone used to what it was going to be like. I am honestly terribly scared of heights – so this was wonderful practice for me to get my nerves in check of being up that high on such a small seat!! I helped the ladies pick out the proper arrows and broadheads for bear hunting and helped them prepare all of their gear. We hunted in Alaska’s Unit 16 near Beluga Lake. This area is not accessible by road, only by bush plane. There is no lodge to stay in, no cell phone reception, no electricity, no running water; I hoped that they would be okay with our remote tent frame set up and being completely cut off from their daily lives.

 

I went over to the camp two days early with my friend Corey and got all set up and began hunting. By the time the ladies arrived; I had already taken a black bear and was on that incredible adrenaline high that you get when you are out in the wilderness, really allowing yourself to detach from the rest of the world and have harvested game with your bow. They were both quite hesitant and intimidated and I could see them wondering what in the world they had gotten into. However by the end of the first day, as we sat by the camp fire, telling stories with the guides, looking out over the beautiful lake at the glacier in the distance – they slowly started to see the real beauty behind getting out on a hunt. It is so much more than just the harvest itself. The connections with friends, with nature and with God are incredible. The simplicity of life, a slower pace, the appreciation of what nature has to offer; I could slowly see these things warming their souls.

Both ladies were incredibly nervous. They each had their own guide and so would be going out to their stands separately. Everyone loaded into little metal skiffs and ran up or down the river to the stand locations and hiked in to their hunting area. Nancy took her bow along but was adamant that she just wanted to watch the bears and hold it in the stand to see what it would be like if she ever wanted to hunt in the future. This particular area is a Predator Control Unit. This means that the bear population in this area has exploded and they have been decimating other animal populations there. Alaska residents can take several black bears in this area to try to help the moose population numbers rebound. On this particular year, the lead guide at our camp said he had seen 21 moose calves that had been born in the area. He believed that there were only 1 or 2 left still alive at that time. Due to the high number of bears in the area; when we all came back to camp that night – everyone had lots of stories of bears that they had seen! Nancy was estatic. She had really enjoyed watching the bear activity and I could start to see a change in her outlook about hunting. She started to ask questions like “now if I do decide to take a bear….” Jayme and I smiled – I knew by the end of the week we were going to have a hunter on our hands. That night we all sat around the camp fire. In June in Alaska, it stays light all night long. This makes it hard to go to bed when you are swapping stories, laughing and having an incredible time with friends. All of a sudden across the lake we heard screaming. It literally sounded like a child screaming in pain. Everyone was dead silent and Dean, the lead guide, looked incredibly sad. He said, “its a baby moose calf. He’s being killed.” There was nothing you could do to block the horrific sound. Although we couldn’t see him, his crys carried loudly across the lake in the still of the night. It seemed like it went on and on. I felt sick at my stomach. When it was over, Dean said, “thats why you guys are hunting here. That is why they are doing Predator Control. There has to be a better balance between the bears here and the moose population.” We all sat in silence for a while. Jayme and Nancy started to talk about how it made them feel, it was a great discussion and really was an eye opener for new hunters to see the importance of hunting for conservation and managing populations. They understood more fully, the role that a hunter plays in that process. These ladies were now 100% ready to hunt.

That night the ladies had a ton of questions for me. They were taking the ethical harvest of these bears seriously and wanted to get a refresher on shot placement at different angles. We went into our tent frame and I had Jayme get down on all fours on the ground. Nancy stood on a chair and acted like she was shooting. I had Jayme turn in all different directions as I showed them different angles that were or were not going to be ethical shots. Just then our friend Corey walked in. Heres Jayme on her hands and knees, me over her “shooting her” and Nancy standing on a chair acting like she’s at full draw. His shocked face was hilarious. He just smiled, shook his head and said, “it sure is different hunting with a bunch of girls! Continue on ladies” and left the tent. We all busted up laughing and I continued the lesson. I honestly think he felt good that everyone was taking it so seriously.

In the following days Jayme, Nancy and I all took black bears. We all went through a range of emotions. I have taken quite a few big game animals with my bow and I can tell you that I honestly feel remorse and sadness every single time. I feel a lot of other emotions too like joy, pride, satisfaction, purpose and many other things. But yes, I do feel sad. I don’t take it lightly that I took a life. This was Jayme and Nancy’s first bowkills and they certainly went through all of those emotions. There was everything from tears to the biggest smiles and joy that you can imagine. I loved being there for them through that process. There is something really special about getting to hunt with your girlfriends. There is a special kind of bond and experience that just doesnt happen anywhere else. As we flew away from camp after that incredible week and Jayme told me that she didnt want to leave; I agreed with her 100%. But I also knew in my heart we would have many more hunting adventures together in the future; because she really GOT it. That week had changed her and she was a bowhunter; once you’ve got that bug – it just never goes away. For me; starting a woman or child into archery, fueling their passion for the sport and then introducing them to the life changing experience of bowhunting….well there just isn’t anything more satisfying than that. My true calling is to encourage, inspire and empower others to bowhunt; and I will continue that passion till the day I die.

Author Joni Marie is the Founder/ Owner of Rockstarlette Bowhunting, a National Factory Pro Staff for Xpedition Archery , HHA Sports, Prois and an avid bowhunter. To learn more about Rockstarlette Bowhunting and her vision click on the “Our Vision” link at the top of this page!

 

Joni Marie & her bear

 

Jayme & her black bear
Nancy and Joni