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Bruce: Five, four, three, two, one. Welcome to another episode of Whitetail Rendezvous. We are privileged to have Cathy Rupard on the show today. She was introduced about 10 years ago to the hunting community by Mr. Stan Fredericks and in my talks with Doug Linebaugh of Trophy Addiction, he said that, “You’ve got to get Cathy on Whitetail Rendezvous podcast and hear her story.” So Cathy, welcome to the show.
Cathy: Thank you Bruce, I’m very excited and privileged to be on your show today. Thank you for this opportunity.
Bruce: You’re welcome. So let’s just jump right into it. I understand you really love to hunt turkeys and have hunted whitetail, but really love to hunt turkeys. So why don’t we just start off with your affection for wild turkeys?
Cathy: I think a lot of it has to do with age more than it does with species, because I love spring hunting. Anything that gets me outside where you can hear whippoorwills first thing in the morning and watch nature come alive from the secrecy of a blind in the middle of the woods is a phenomenal event and I’ve been very blessed in the last few years to not only hunt my native state of Missouri, but to be able to go to Kansas. This year we added Illinois to that journey and hopefully next year we’ll make it to Florida.
Bruce: Are you going for the Turkey Slam?
Cathy: I am, and I forgot, one of my favorite hunts was in California. Sorry.
Bruce: Oh my goodness. Well, let’s talk about, let’s go back 10 years and talk about your introduction to hunting by Stan Fredericks. Share that story with us.
Cathy: Absolutely, it was quite an awakening as I get into my senior years and those AARP card moments. Stan was very, very involved with the outdoors and hunting deer mostly is his passion and so I decided if I was going to keep up with him that I need to learn how to do that. So he was very, very, very patient with me. I didn’t know the difference between a shotgun and a rifle. Calibers still amaze me, but he gave me a little gun and told me to sit in this place and be very quiet and shoot a deer. My first deer was not the trophy animal that most people had looked forward to. It was a small doe and I as my story goes it looked a heck of a lot bigger in that scope. Unfortunately, it was a fawn and not knowing about species and species control and how to grow your herd, I realized I’d made a huge mistake. So the next year we went back again and sure enough my big old buck came out and I was fortunate to take my second deer. The third year I decided it was too cold for me to be outside, so I became the camp cleanup at that point. So I decided I was going to devote my time to spring turkey hunting.
Bruce: So when Stan was helping you get indoctrinated or become a woman in the outdoors, what are some of the lessons that he taught you that you share today?
Cathy: Well, first and foremost safety. It was all about the proper handling of a firearm and how to get in and out of a stand safely. We don’t bowhunt, so it was strictly firearm and I find that that’s probably one of the biggest aspects that not only are important to new hunters irregardless of gender but also to the next generation. Those young people that are coming up that are 8, 9, and 10. Also how to be more selective on shot placements. Distance, how to judge whether the caliber of rifle that I was using was going to be able to go for the distance of the animal that I had in the scope and to make it an experience that was just rewarding for everyone involved.
Bruce: Cathy, we have men listeners, youth listeners, and woman listeners. What are five things that you would share with any woman that’s considering getting to the outdoors and specifically hunting in the outdoors? What would you share with them?
Cathy: Well, just taking from my particular example, age is not a barrier. Physical ability is not a barrier. The lack of knowledge on firearms or bows is not a barrier, because we found that there are people that are willing to teach those aspects irregardless of your ability. Whether you’re a 90-pound five foot woman or a senior citizen like I am who has not made it to the gym in a long time. There are no limitations, only those that an individual sets in their mind.
Bruce: What were a couple of things that drew you to the outdoor experience, and specifically hunting?
Cathy: What I’d like to say it was for food, but since I don’t eat deer that really doesn’t work. I did get a little bit of that trophy addiction. I did want that monster buck hanging on my wall, but it was just that experience of being outdoors and seeing how animals interact with each other and learning about predators and seeing the interaction between mama deers and baby deers and just the rut experience by itself was just a phenomenal event having never experienced that in my life, it was like, “Oh, my goodness.” You only see about these things on TV and to watch it unedited and live was just a remarkable experience.
Bruce: Thank you for sharing that. Let’s talk about you and your passion, just trying to think of the right word, because it’s beyond passion for youth and whatever you want to share of how you really are pouring into the youth of your community?
Cathy: Several years ago, we were fortunate enough to attend Jake’s event that was hosted by the National Wild Turkey Federation in Hermann, Missouri. That event just set me back on my feet. I walked in for the first time and there were 300 children plus adults in this small community of approximately 2,500 coming up all day long, different levels of skill, different levels of involvement, different ages, and being mesmerized by the activities that were being offered by this NWTF chapter.
I was watching little girls that were eight and nine-year-olds, learning how to shoot a 22 rifle and shooting a 22 pistol, and watching teenage girls for the first time that were scared to death of a shotgun kick learning how to shoot clay birds. I was in awe of the way these instructors handled being around all these children. It was just an amazing, amazing connection and I realized after I took my grandson to this event for the first time, he was a city kid and we had given him a BB gun for Christmas. That little BB gun had a scope on it and Logan, my grandson, put the scope up to his eye and he said, “Grandma, which piece of the pizza do I shoot out off?” And I’m sitting there going, “Excuse me.” And this 10-year-old boy had never experienced shooting a firearm, whether it be a BB gun or a rifle with the help of a scope. His parents didn’t hunt, his parents didn’t want to be involved in the outdoors and I thought, “How many more kids are there out there like Logan that aren’t going to have this experience? That aren’t going to learn, whether their outdoor passion is shooting a firearm or shooting a camera and doing wildlife photography, how many kids don’t have that exposure?”
So we decided it was time, we being Stan and myself, decided it was time to put our money where our mouth was. Let’s sponsor some events. Let’s get actively involved in youth and the outdoors, whether it be an organized event, whether it’s through Jake’s or Whitetails Unlimited, which that organization has my heart even though the animal is not my favorite one, but that is just such a great, great organization.
Bruce: So that’s the beginning of the story. What’ve you and Stan done in the community to continue ensuring that the youth of your community get these opportunities and get out to hunt?
Cathy: We actively sponsor and help financially support the local Jake’s Event. Like I said, we’re actively involved with Whitetails Unlimited and that organization has truly embraced using the outdoors. They allow us in their local deer camp, which is similar to a banquet to set up an area that’s dedicated just to kids. And, in the fundraising world, this is monumental. They’re giving up about 10% of their seats to individuals that aren’t going to generate a single dollar for the organization, but they find the value in having that next generation come through the door and be involved. So we’re able to set up an area where the kids can basically have access to a shooting range through a virtual computer setup. We dedicate prizes simply for the kids. We do this at no expense to them, so we like to give away a shotgun and a rifle so that those who want to turkey hunt then they have that opportunity, those that want to deer hunt have that opportunity. We’ve also continued that into our local NRA chapter and, like I said, we do some with NWTF.
Bruce: If you were standing in front of a group of parents, what would you share with them about the importance of their kids being outdoors?
Cathy: Well, I think the electronic environment that even my youngest grandson at two is being exposed to is just kind of wasting mind and body. I hate to see these young people, whether they be involved with television or a video game or a DVD, I just hate to see them not having that exposure to the outdoors. We have kids who they don’t want to hunt, but they love to fish. They don’t want to fish, but they love to camp. Just seeing them embrace what is out there and how they can incorporate that history from what our forefathers have brought into what they can use in a modern day environment and be self-sufficient.
We’ve had power outages and some of these kids have learned to cook over a campfire now. They know what cast-iron cooking is about. If it gets down to it, they know how to shoot a rabbit and have it for dinner. I don’t want to take it back to that survivalist mentality, but there’s so much more to the outdoors than just sitting in the deer stand or sitting in a turkey blind that a lot of young people can be exposed to and for whatever reason, their parents may or may not, embrace firearms, but they’re all about letting their kids learn how to fish out of a boat or do a campfire or set up a tent. So it becomes a family event at that point and not just an individual child.
Bruce: When the parent, say a single mom, comes up to you and says, “Where can I go in the community to let my kids experience the out-of-doors and hunting or fishing?” Where do you direct them?
Cathy: At the present time, we’ve had a little bit of pushback from our community in trying to get some of our larger land owners to give us that availability and to give us that access, so we have turned primarily to the good folks at Trophy Addiction. They have been fortunate enough to have leases and land available that not only allows for hunting for those that are interested, but also for the other activities that the kids are involved in. Doug and Nathan have just been phenomenal. They’ve also helped us facilitate some of our youth hunts that we’ve tried to give away.
Bruce: What does it really take to get a youth outdoors as far as gear? Moms and dads are thinking “Oh, I’ve got to go acquire X, Y, and Z.” What does it really take in your community to get that kid outside and hunting and fishing?
Cathy: Well, we’re a little bit different in that we like embrace the blind and for lack of a better word, the redneck blind, the stand that allows that child the ability to be able to be a little more free and catch up for some of those flaws that we all make, “Oops, we moved. Oops, we’re not as quiet. We’re not as camouflaged as need be.” So in turn, there’s not a whole lot that a child needs. My grandson, he hunts in blue jeans and a camo shirt. So the outlying expense is very, very minimal. We also have a good group of folks who will allow for use of firearms after proper training. So it’s minimal expense. Wal-Mart’s our big discount store here, so a Wal-Mart camo shirt and we’ve got plenty of hats, so for under $20 we can get just about anybody in the woods.
Bruce: And what does a license cost in your area for either hunting? What’s a hunting license cost?
Cathy: For a turkey license it’s $7.00. I’m sorry, it’s under $10 and $7.50 for a youth to go deer hunting and the nice thing about Missouri, and I’m sure other states have that as well, is there’s dedicated seasons just for those kids under 16 to be in the woods. So it gives them that opportunity to be out there without competing with the adults and have that time dedicated to them.
Bruce: Do you have a mentor program for the child or the youth that mom and dad just aren’t going to go out in the outdoors? Do you have mentor program established by Fish and Game in Missouri?
Cathy: Our MDC does do that and highly encourages it in all of their publications. It’s within the first five pages after the rules and regulations of how easy it is to get a first time hunter in the outdoors, whether it be a child or a woman or a late-in-life male hunter as well.
Bruce: And what about the hunter safety course? Does the Fish and Game…go ahead.
Cathy: If I could find any, and I apologize, Bruce. This is something that is one of my craw [SP] in my cradle kind of things. One of the things that really is negligent on our MDC, Missouri Department of Conservation, is most of the classroom has been taken to the online environment, but when they offer their field days, which is necessary to complete the certification and become hunter certified, they’re very limited in having those classes available. And, unfortunately, they only think the only time that kids or adults want to be involved in that is right before deer season or right before turkey season. And, needless to say, with limited access and limited facilities available, those classes fill up as quick as they get posted on the Internet. So the old method where you could almost be sure of finding a hunter safety once month in one of the four quadrants of the state has gone away and that’s, I think, is the one downfall that our Conservation Department has, is not having enough of those field day events available.
Bruce: Cathy, do you have a Board of Commissioners in regards to your Fish and Game Department?
Cathy: Yes, we do.
Bruce: So listeners, if you live in Missouri, it might be well to just go out and Google commissioners, Missouri, and what do you call your governing body? Fish and Game or…?
Cathy: Department of Conservation.
Bruce: Department of Conservation, look up commissioners and then get their names and write them a letter because youth need to be safe. Go ahead, Cathy.
Cathy: Absolutely and again it’s one of my passions like I overuse that word immensely, but if those kids aren’t safe, it doesn’t do anybody any good. And we all know that it’s all about ease and convenience, whether it be for the parents or the children, and if you can’t make it easy and when they want to get it done, fuel that desire, then two weeks down the line it maybe, “We’ve moved on to something else or we’re no longer interested in that.” And now you’ve lost that perspective revenue generator in about 15 years when those of us that are approaching the twilight years are no longer involved in this and are no longer buying the tags or getting them for free because we are that age, then there goes that revenue stream as well.
Bruce: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m looking up the URL for a Missouri fish [inaudible 00:19:46] and Missouri Department of Conservation can be found at mdc.mo.gov and if you put in the search bar, “commissioners,” I’m sure you’re going to find a list of people, but what Cathy is sharing is critical not only for the state of Missouri, but across our nation, because the youth are the future of hunting. And for us that are a little bit older and have some gray hair, at least I do, we’re passionate. Cathy and I are both passionate about making sure that the youth have every opportunity to enjoy something that both Cathy and I enjoy, so please reach out, please get involved with the process. In any state you’re in, if you’re kids are limited to access to hunting safety, then that needs to change because the licenses of tomorrow are going to be bought by the youth of today. Your comments on that, Cathy?
Cathy: I absolutely agree and with a tax driven society, those of us again, that are paying taxes aren’t always going to support increased revenue streams such as a taxation, but licenses we can’t always be assured that our out-of-state non-residents are going to pick up the bulk of that and to keep the department viable, they have to have revenue. It’s how we all survive.
Bruce: What else would you like to share with the listeners? We’ve got a few minutes left and just whatever you want to share about youth, about women, about the out-of-doors, about relationships that you’ve gained. I know you’ve become huge friends with Trophy Addiction, with Doug over there. So take a few minutes and just share the things on your heart.
Cathy: Well, I guess one of the biggest things is people underestimate what their kids may be interested in just because you’re not exposed to it, much like I was, and I didn’t expose my children. That next generation maybe well wanting to have a different lifestyle or have different aspirations than their parents might. True they’re not all going to embrace being in the outdoors. They’re not all going to embrace the hunting lifestyle, but at least give them the opportunity. When you see those events come through, give them a chance to go one time. Like I say, the events we’ve gone to we’ve found that not only is it a child event or youth based event, but now mom’s staying, dad’s staying, and it’s becoming a family event.
And in this day and time where everybody’s schedule is running 100 miles a minute, let’s take a day once a year and just make it a “Let’s get out in the outdoors. Let’s enjoy a day fishing. Let’s enjoy a day rock climbing or trail climbing or just whatever it might be.” You may not be interested in that, maybe you just want learn safety in the outdoors. Let’s do that. What’s an elm tree look like so that we can find morel mushrooms in the spring? There’s all kinds of opportunities and please just because it may not be your passion, don’t detract that from your…or don’t take that onto your kids, your grandkids, your nieces and nephews. Let them experience that at least once.
Bruce: Well, how about a couple of shout-outs to you mentioned Whitetails Unlimited, you mentioned some conservation groups, you mentioned Doug and the crew over there. How do people get in touch with those organizations and how do they get in touch with Trophy Addiction?
Cathy: Trophy Addiction has got a phenomenal social presence both on Facebook and on Twitter. So Doug, Nathan, Randy, all the guys and gals from Trophy Addiction, they will get right back to you if you’re interested in a hunt, if you’re interested in a youth hunt. They are so patient, so patient, they’re such good teachers. They’ve been doing this since their kids were young and they love to see the smile on that kid’s face when they get to do whatever their passion is, whatever their heart’s desire. So they’re Trophy Addiction on Facebook, Doug Linebaugh, L-I-N-E-B-A-U-G-H, and Nathan Smithson, S-M-I-T-H-S-O-N, awesome, awesome folks.
Whitetails Unlimited is a national organization and they’re whitetailsunlimited.com. You’ve got the National Wild Turkey Federation which is nwtf.org and they list all of their local events, whether they be for youth or the Women in the Outdoors program or for their Wheelin Sportsmen so just find an event. If you’ve got a local sporting goods store, 9 times out of 10 they embrace a youth in the outdoors program over the summer, even our small Bass Pro here in Columbia will have fishing days, and learn how to build a campfire, and learn how to cook over a campfire. So it doesn’t have to be an all day event if you don’t have the time, but at least give your young ones the exposure to that opportunity.
Bruce: Cathy, it’s a privilege to have you on the show and to hear you share your passion not only for the out-of-doors and hunting but for the youth of your state and literally, our country.
Bruce: If everybody stood up and said, “Okay, we’re going to make a difference,” and do it, then our hunting tradition will definitely live on. So it’s people like you that make a difference, and I just want to thank you so much for being on Whitetail Rendezvous and sharing your story.
Cathy: Well, thank you for letting me get on track with my turkey passion and I will find another synonym for next time so that we don’t overuse one word over another.
Bruce: It’s fine with me. Thank you again, and I look forward to meeting you down the road.
Cathy: Thanks, Bruce.