it’s time to head out to the West Coast, and actually Northern California. And we’re going to meet with Jen O’Hara, and Jen is the CEO of Girls with Guns Clothing brand. And she’s got a great story. And, guys, you need to listen to her because she’s done something a lot of people haven’t done. She and her best friend Norissa about 10 years ago started Girls with Guns. And, Jen, what’s happened in 10 years?
A lot has happened in 10 years, Bruce. I actually can’t even believe it’s been that long. But, like you said, Norissa, Norissa is my best friend and somewhere along the way I actually ended up marrying her brother, so she’s also now my sister-in-law.
Whoa, wait a minute, that’s another story.
It’s a whole other story.
But, you know, it was not planned. So we basically started along the way. And, you know, just to preface, Norissa would normally be here, we normally do everything together, but she is currently in South Africa hunting with our friend and the marketing for, Clarissa. And we are…usually we kind of complement each other on these, but I’m just going to tell you the whole story in my words.
Well, have at it.
Exclusive Girls with Guns Clothing – Jen O’Hara
Okay, perfect. So basically Norissa and I were doing separate things 10 years ago. I had started my real estate business and it was becoming extremely successful, even in the downturn of the economy. I very much have a business head on my shoulders, Norissa very much has a creative head on her shoulders. She owned an embroidery shop, and she worked at a helicopter company at that time doing their front desk work and dispatch and all those things. So we had two totally separate things going on, but we would always meet together to go boating and wake boarding, snowboarding, hunting, of course, and all of these things in the outdoors, and that was just our friendship.
And Norissa started talking to me about how Brian would bring home T-shirts, her husband is Brian and he’s a big hunter. And he would bring home T-shirts with bucks with flames on them for her and she couldn’t stand it because she’s very fashion-forward. And so she had said, “There’s just something missing for women. What do you think about starting a company together?” And to be honest I’m not a super fashion-forward person. You know, I love my jeans, my cowboy boots, and my T-shirts, and usually a ball cap. So that’s something that’s where we differentiate. But what’s funny is that’s what really brings our brand together, is both of our different styles.
So at the time we started as a T-shirt-only company. We were embroidering in her garage and also hand-pressing all the rhinestones at the time that we put on them. And I found not too long ago old Excel sheets of, you know, us keeping track of our inventory. It really was just kind of a fun thing to do together and we never realized how far it would come and that it would actually become a career. It was late nights and weekends, we gave up a lot of our time. I was really busy with my job, I probably worked 60 hours a week selling real estate. her house at night and her and Brian would have dinner cooked for them. And I was single at the time and we would go straight to her office or the garage and we would continue working on the business.
And I was really into sales at the time, and so I started trying to sell the brand. Our first stop was a trade show in Reno, Nevada. My brother lived over there and he was helping us at the trade show. And him and Norissa had gone to grab us lunch and we sat down…I sat down in my 10-by-10 booth and some guy comes up and he says, “We need this product in Scheels.” And I looked at him and I said, “What’s a Scheels?” I didn’t know because I lived in California, we don’t have Scheels.
So we continued to talk and he told me a little bit about what their store was. And when my brother and Norissa came back, my brother was freaking out and he’s like, “There’s a huge Ferris wheel in the middle of the store and it’s like a Disneyland for hunters.” So Norissa and I picked some of the items, we put them in a camo plastic bag with a handwritten note, and we drove to Scheels to drop it off to the buyer. Unfortunately the buyer was out, it was Sunday evening and he had gone home for the day. So we left it with my brother and on Monday morning he drove back and dropped it off. And I plagued out that buyer’s life for the next four months with phone calls, “How are you doing?” He ended up placing a PO, Norissa and I did not know how to even fill our first PO. It took us three weeks to order everything, get it in, and late nights and weekends just hand-pressing and getting it done.
So we went forward and the first weekend they sold 17 pieces and reordered and it was literally within the next six months that every single Scheels wanted us and we Sportsman’s Warehouse. It was kind of a full-on panic. I remember we delivered our first spring line, spring is due in February, we delivered it in June and they still sold out of everything, that’s how popular the brand was.
So we just kind of… Yeah. So we just kind of continued to do what we did. We were really backwards at first, we had no clue what we were doing, but we started picking out, you know, stitch types and red colors and what kind of black you want. And that wasn’t really my wheelhouse, but Norissa really loved all of that. We started working with a designer locally, and she’s the one who actually had flipped [Inaudible 00:06:22] when her and Norissa were sitting together [Inaudible 00:06:26] talking about how do we make this unique, how do we make this different.
So, you know, it’s just kind of been a culmination. We had a friend who took us to Asia and we went over there and, like I said, we just continued to work with factories and we negotiated our own terms. We did not have a clue what we were doing, but we just kept doing it. And I think that was the most important part, was just to go forward. My dad has always been a very hard worker, you know, a lot of drive was what kind of powered Norissa and I, you know, just from our past and growing up.
Let’s see, what’s next?
Because you just said a whole heck of a lot.
That was a lot.
You know, you really did. You know, and so let’s just recap for the listeners. Because there’s people out there right now saying, “I want to be in the outdoor industry.” I can’t tell you how many phone calls or e-mails I get and say, “Bruce, how do I get into this industry? You seem to know blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And, you know, folks, if you did nothing but take the first 10 minutes of the show and said, “Okay, what did they do?” One, they had a friendship, they had a relationship. They were willing to work after hours. They had some sort of skill sets, because Norissa was already, you know, doing some of it. And then they said, “Okay, where’s this thing going to go? Let’s just see.”
And so there was no grandiose, you know, “We’re going to go to Africa and, you know, spend a gazillion dollars and shoot, you know, game off the sale of T-shirts or hats or whatever.” Or it was just, “Hey, let’s just see where this goes.” And so many times I think people say, “Well, I need this and I need that and I need all the ducks to get lined up before they start.” And that isn’t the case. And over and over again, if you read enough white papers on businesses or whatever, you’ll see that they said, “Okay, this is where we’re going.” Where they’re going to end up you have no idea. You know, absolutely no idea. But you were willing to work a full day, go over to Norissa’s garage and crank it out, and then you had the wherewithal to stick with Scheels, and then you got launched. But it didn’t happen overnight.
I mean, and that’s the other thing, you got to be patient. One, you have to have a product that sells. I mean, because nobody is going to buy a product no matter how much they like you unless your product sells. I mean, you know, at the end of the day it has to sell. All the rest are just details. And if you can’t figure them out, somebody else will help you figure them out.
How is that for a recap?
Norissa and I both rely heavily on our faith as well
stuff that hasn’t sold. That’s a great recap. But, you know, we’ve had stuff along the way that hasn’t sold. We’ve had our fair share of figuring out that, you know, the fashion world wasn’t our world, that the sporting goods stores love T-shirts. And, you know, different things along the way, what worked for us, what didn’t, sizing issue. I mean if there’s been a problem, I think that it’s actually been in our orbit. And, you know, being best friends, and Norissa and I both rely heavily on our faith as well, I think those are two of the things that have gotten us through, as well as the support of our husbands and family.
Well, and that works. Very simply, what you just said. You got family, you got faith, and you have belief in each other, and that works. And you just don’t quit. And so, you know, let’s take a little break and talk about taking those same things and switching over to hunting. You’ve got, you know, some nice critters up on the wall, but when we hunt it’s the same thing. Because you prepare for your hunt and you get your tag, and then you go hunting, but you have no idea what’s going to happen, unless you’re on a private ranch or something, and then the odds are, you know, a lot swayed. But on DIY hunting…
A little bit, yeah.
Yeah. It’s still hunting. Unless you’re high-fence hunting, then that’s a different game. And, but when you go to, like, South Africa, people think, well, you just go to South Africa and go inside these farms. And so talk a little about South Africa, because a lot of people have some misconceptions, I think, what the type of hunt is. And in South Africa there are a lot of farms, there’s no question about it.
But they’re not the same as you would think a farm in the States would be.
Well, and just to preface, you know, I hunt and I believe in all types of hunting as long as it’s fair chase. So I draw a tag about every four years in California. Unfortunately that’s how long it takes here. I go out and hunt whitetail in Kansas with one of my girlfriends at Wicked Outfitters. I hunt in Argentina, I’ve hunted free range there as well as high fence. I’ve hunted free range and high fence in South Africa, although free range is very limited. So I also moose in Canada, I mean I could go on and name several different things that I’ve done.
So I do all types of hunting, fair chase is what matters to me. And if an animal is standing around and they’re your pets, I’m not going to hunt them. And I know that some people have a misconception of that’s how it is, I’ve never been to a property that’s like that. I’m actually getting ready to go on my 11th trip to South Africa in two weeks and I’m taking eight kids there for their first opportunity.
I’m taking eight kids there for their first opportunity.
Oh my goodness. Props to you. I could give you a big hug and a big kiss, that’s amazing. Wow, high five.
Hey, tell us about the outfitter, where you’re going, and what’s on the bucket list. Is it plains game?
It’s plains game. So I didn’t want to hunt any dangerous game while we were over there with the kids, most of them are new. I sit on the board of directors for an organization called Kids Outdoor Sports Camp http://www.mykosc.org/and it’s a volunteer gig, I’ve been doing it for eight years. We raise $150,000 to $200,000 a year here locally in our small town of 13,000 people and that money goes to help sponsor kids to go to camp to get their hunter safety, learn firearm safety, and the fundamentals of the beginning stages of hunting as well as archery and fishing. And I basically have sat with this organization and helped them throughout the last eight years. And really in the last two years it’s become more and more of my passion as I’ve gotten away from other boards that I sat on in California.
So California is under attack big time, I’m kind of taking this a little different direction. But the biggest thing is investing in our youth so that we have hunting left here in California. This opportunity came up and I was in…at Rhinoland Safaris last August with a couple girlfriends that we took over who wanted to go to South Africa. And I was trying to finish my spiral horn slam and we really enjoyed focusing on the girls. They had never been…they didn’t have as much opportunity to hunt as Norissa and I have had, it was awesome. And so I decided to do that for youth.
And Rhinoland Safaris is owned by Marius and Heleen Kotze and they are really good friends of ours. Their whole family, we keep in touch year round. They were the very first place that Norissa and I visited in South Africa five years ago when we started the TV show, it was 2013 in August. And our producer Kathy took us over there. I had always wanted to go to Africa and I absolutely fell in love. And what I love about South Africa is the property that we hunt on, their concession is about 40,000 acres. Most public land areas are that big. You know what I mean? Like you’ll go out to an area, you’re not hunting more than that much property in any given day. So it’s very much fair chase.
The fences, they aren’t there to keep the animals in, they’re there to keep the poachers out. Poaching is a huge, huge problem over there. They just lost a black rhino mama. And the baby, actually I’m going to be able to take the kids to see little Mickey. I’ve been following Mickey on Instagram and Facebook, and we’re going to take the kids over to see Mickey. They rescued the little rhino and there was another male that was actually shot with a .22.
And so there are certain reasons behind the way that they hunt in South Africa. And other areas that I’ve been to, the plains game and animals were almost extinct because the farmers back in the day would kill off all the wild game to make room for the animals that they were farming, so sheep, goats, cattle. And a lot of what I’ve heard from these gentlemen, these outfitters, is that the only reason that now they have these animals is because they have value, people come and hunt them. And one place in particular in the Eastern Cape they have…they had gone down to three different species were left over, and now they have over 30 species because they started a hunting concession. But they still farm, as well.
it’s just a completely different feel over there that a lot of people don’t understand unless you’ve gone.
So it’s just a completely different feel over there that a lot of people don’t understand unless you’ve gone. Luckily I’ve been blessed by these outfitters who have sponsored Norissa and I to go over and hunt with them. And, you know, we do a trade with them with the show and booking and all the different things that we offer for them.
Some, folks, I’m thinking of private ranches. Now, yes, there are some 100,000-acre private ranches in Colorado where I live, and Montana and Wyoming, there’s even some larger. But there’s also a lot of ranches that are 30,000, 40,000, 200,000. And to hunt elk in there, you’d never know there’s any sort of fence. But there is fence because they run cattle and other things like that. It’s a low fence, it’s not a high fence. But you think about that and you go into these areas and you really never see a fence. I mean, and so the misconception of farming sometimes gets mixed up.
Now the one thing that I don’t know, and please correct me, they do a lot of…especially for archery hunters, they do a lot of waterhole hunting. And so you get up into a box or a hide. And then, so, you’re in a hide and the animals are coming to you. But is that any different than sitting over a waterhole for elk or deer or anything in the States, it isn’t?
Yeah, and even putting down corn in some of the areas, which we can’t do in California. But I’ve hunted whitetail over, you know, corn piles. So it’s really the same concept, I think what misconception people have is when they get mixed up what is exotic game and endangered. Or that’s a lot of the things that I hear, or they think it’s easy. It’s really not, it’s just more opportunity. There’s a lot more animals per square mile than there would be in the United States, and that’s what I see. I’ll tell you what, with the best of them I loved my number one moose…my number one hunt was my moose hunt where I spent before I even saw an animal . And but yet there’s a completely different feel and there’s more opportunity. But they’re equally amazing, they’re just different.
And that’s what I think is so important, and one of the things that’s really important for hunters to do is really just, you know, stick together with things like that, as long as somebody is being respectful of the animal and fair chase. I think there can be all kinds of kinds, just like Miranda Lambert said.
Well, and the other thing is the journey of hunting, and people sometimes don’t equate that. I’ve been blessed to be some places as far away in North America as you can get and sharing campfires and…you know, and reaching common ground with Inuit elders and just listening to their stories, which are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. And you get the same thing when you travel to South Africa or Australia or New Zealand, which a lot of our listeners do, and you meet different cultures, you eat different foods, and you get to see the sunrise and the sunset and, you know, the Southern Cross and all these different things that you never would. And that’s a part of hunting that has the adventure part of it. Because we all love to hunt, we all love to put, you know, heads on the wall and eat the meat. Or in the Africa’s, you know, if you take down a, you know, 1,000-pound kudu, every single piece of that meat is used and shared, if not in camp, but with all the trackers and all their family because it’s protein and it’s huge.
So, you know, I just wanted to add that, that it’s the journey that you take back home, and also the friendships you have with that family that you continue to go back to their farm. I mean what a wonderful thing.
Yeah, absolutely. And Rhinoland Safaris, https://www.rhinoland.co.za/wpnew/ is where I’m visiting. And anyone, if they ever have questions about South Africa, and really what it brings. And one of the most important parts for us, if we’re going to fight back against the anti-hunters is for us to stick together. Whether someone shoots archery or a rifle or whatever is next, a trapper or a fisherman, we’re all outdoorsmen and women and sticking together is going to be the biggest challenge because so many people sometimes don’t remember that, they don’t remember that this is what we’re here for, we’re here for the journey. There has been many hunts that I have gone on and not brought something home. And is it disappointing? Absolutely. But getting there and the journey is what it’s all about. And it’s been the same way for Norissa and I with Girls with Guns Clothing.
And that’s part of why I’ve gotten into youth mentoring and taking these kids to Africa, is I started taking young girls who didn’t have the opportunity to hunt about four years ago on turkey hunts every year. And I got more excited than they did, I think, because I knew what was coming. And, you know, we would hunt together from start from the process of how to properly use a shotgun to patterning in, you know, with their turkey load to shooting clays to outfitting them from head to toe and drawing their face paint on that morning as we’re getting up at 3:00 in the morning to go and shoot turkeys. And it’s the most exciting thing to see their excitement. Because I’ve killed a lot of turkeys, I’ve hunted a lot of animals, I’ve been everywhere, this is just a whole different thing that I really enjoy.
And so when you get there and you actually get out there, you’re just really spending you time with your youth. In particular, I have one little girl that we shot last year, I called in a three-bearded tom. I’ve never even shot a three-bearded tom, it was her very first turkey and that’s what she shot. And it was the most exciting, crazy, fun hunt. And at the end of it her whole family came over and I cooked them my famous wild turkey enchiladas.
I wish I was there, that sounds great. Say, at this time of the show let’s just take a little break. And I think I asked you that, but if I didn’t, you know, what’s the one thing you wish you knew 5 years ago or 10 years ago about hunting that you now know? So what’s your one big thing that if you knew sooner would have changed the way you’ve hunted today?
You know, I’m kind of a perfectionist and I’m really hard on myself. And I think that there has been times where maybe no one else would know it, but I’ve ruined the tail end of my hunt because I’m human, I’ve missed a shot or just done something that I didn’t think was up to par. I think just enjoying the journey as you go and not focusing so much on what’s at the end of it, but really what’s in between.
Because hunting is about getting outdoors, it’s about, you know, finding our place, whether it’s with our best friend or I love hunting with my dad and my husband. I don’t have as much opportunity hunting with them, but really just taking the time and enjoying hunting for what it’s really about, just being in the outdoors. I do that now so much more than I did five years ago. I had a bucket list and I was just hunting and, you know, I’m also…I love to cook wild game. I wish they let us bring over the wild game from South Africa, but they don’t. And that’s our government, that’s not, you know, their fault. But it’s just something about, you know, just the whole entire part of the hunt, that’s what I love about it and I hope that other people find that, too, and that respect for the animals, as well.
Thank you for that. So you mentioned something about anti-hunters and I kind of let it slide by a little bit. But especially for women, I’ve had some conversations with ladies at ATA or Safari Club, https://www.safariclub.org/ or different shows where I’m aghast at how other women are attacked. And I’ve put my wolf photos out and I’ve put my, you know, grips and grins and nobody has said much of anything. And I had…I think I’ve had one person and I just blocked them and unfriended them or whatever and that was the end of it, but it seems in your realm with women that it’s brutal. Why is that?
You know, I hate to put stereotypes, but I do think that a lot of different men and women outside of our industry really they may feel like a woman has her place and it’s not with a gun or it’s not hunting or it’s not… I feel like a lot of us women who are hunters in the outdoor industry and hunters just on a day-to-day, we’re fiercely independent, we’re strong, and we know how to handle ourselves with a firearm, and those are things that maybe some people feel threatened by. I’m not really sure, but I do know that those people are filled with hate and I don’t even waste my time on them. I have had people tell me they want to hang my head on a wall I don’t have children, so I haven’t had anyone attack my children. But just, “I hope you fall down and shoot yourself,” I mean just the stupidest things.
I mean just the stupidest things.
And one of the most important things to me is what you just said, I block them, I delete their comments, and I don’t feed into that. Because I think a lot of people really try to argue. Well, you can’t argue with stupid, and they just have the stupidest comments. I know that’s horrible to say, but it is the truth. And they don’t want to understand, they don’t want to understand who we are, they have no desire to. So to even try to [ If I have someone who comes on my page and maybe makes a slight snide comment but asks a question, I will answer their question. As long as there’s not name-calling or brutality or anything like that, not threats. Because those people are the ones that we want to reach, those are the ones that are in the middle that are actually willing to listen to what we have to say. But the other people, they’re gone out of my life, I just don’t have time for that.
I love what I do so much and I used to let it upset me. And I would just get so mad and just enraged and I would be a keyboard warrior, write back. And I remember my husband looking at me and just saying, “You’re better than that, you don’t feed into them, you don’t need them.” And I decided at that moment that I was just going to stop. And I don’t know if you can see my lion back here, he’s right here.
I shot a lion and when the Cecil debacle was going on we were supposed to be airing on the Sportsman Channel with my lion episode. I had spent years researching and I knew I wanted to hunt a lion and I knew why. And no one could take that away from me. We did a really great episode on conservation and why I chose…and there was a lot of me talking about why I chose to hunt a lion. And they wouldn’t play it, they would not let us go forward with that episode, it was in season two. So we had to postpone it and put it out in season three.
“Hey, blood is part of the process.”
And there’s one picture that you will see, and I did an article for a magazine talking about all the conservation. But I didn’t let anything get out there and made sure that it was really respectful. I also make sure, you know, when we do photos there’s not blood or… And I know that’s hard for a lot of us who are hunters, we’re like, And sometimes I do the first kill, you know, and put a little blood on my face or the kid’s face. But sometimes some of those I have to be cautious with because…especially with the lion, I did not do that. And you just have to be careful because people don’t understand it.
So I tried to educate instead and it worked. I only got a few death threats and I did get asked to do an interview with CNN Headline News and I went ahead and turned it down for the sake of our clothing line. And I really just think they could have torn me to shreds. You know, I’m not somebody who’s in the media and I’m not trained for that. And I passed them over to Sportsmen’s Alliance, and Sportsmen’s Alliance is a huge supporter of Norissa and I and what we do and we are a huge supporter of them. And the president at the time, Nick, he took that interview. And I didn’t have to get on and talk about things that they could have maybe tried to trap me or make our company look bad.
So I’m just really cautious about it. I just don’t think…it’s not a fight that’s worth fighting because they’re not going to listen. So I spend my time with our youth and the women who want to learn, educating them properly, because those people are who are going to make a difference as hunters.
So, ladies, that probably can’t be said any better, of how to handle those situations. Because sometimes we like to be keyboard warriors, and that’s bad on us as far as I’m concerned. I had to learn that lesson the hard way, but I learned it. And it doesn’t serve any purpose because you’re getting sucked into a battle that you never can win and it will just make you more furious, if you want to use that word, or frustrated, or pick an adjective.
So, one, if they ask a question, just say, “I don’t understand why you think killing a lion is a cool thing to do or a fun thing to do or should even be done,” but they ask a question, then you can go back and, you know, answer that question. But if they just are flaming you, just delete it, just put it away and say, “You know, there’s too many other wonderful people out there, beautiful people, that I know I respect. Not only in my industry, but my customers. And I’m going to make sure they understand what the leader of Girls with Guns stands for, and I do stand for ethical hunting, fair chase hunting, that’s what I stand for. And I’m going to hunt and here’s why.” And that helps empower other people, in my point of view.
I really feel like educating people, especially about international hunting
Absolutely. And I really feel like educating people, especially about international hunting because it has such a stigma for only being a wealthy man’s sport. I’m taking eight kids over, each of these kids with their flights included spent $5,000 or less on this trip and are hunting three animals. And, you know, there is opportunity, there is opportunity. And, I mean, people spend that to go out moose hunting. And more than that, actually. And so there’s things, and on the way I’m going to educate the kids by taking them to schools and we’re going to be donating our meat to those schools, they’re going to be seeing how other kids live.
And so it’s really important to just understand that it’s not…we’re not the ones who don’t want to bring the meat back or we’re not the ones… We don’t waste any game in Africa, I can tell you that. So, and Africa is near and dear to my heart, but I’ll tell you what. I’m a North American hunter, I live in Northern California So, and I do a lot of hunting back home, too. Just happens to be that
Now when you go to South Africa, or Africa, do you take bags with you? Because I know when I was active with Safari Club when the guys would go over they would fill up duffel bags, you know, with books and tennis shoes and soccer balls and Crayons and stuff like that. Do you guys do that when you travel?
Norissa and I have done all kinds of things. We got a deal from Old Navy where we got the shoe size for this school for every single kid, there was 100 kids in the school. And, I mean, they had dirt floors And we brought one box and hats, and then we brought over their dollar flip-flops that let us have a great deal on them. And then when we got over there,
So we’ve done that almost every single time that we’ve gone over. Namibia, Zimbabwe. And in Namibia we actually did a retirement home, as well, where we took a gemsbok and food. And, you know, those are the things, wild game is really common over there for people to eat, but they just don’t have the means to go out and get it. But we’ve always done…last time we did supplies, such as, like, toothbrush, toothpaste, little backpacks. So all of us try and donate and give a piece just to make, you know, their place a little bit better. And Norissa is actually currently in the Free State, and as soon as she’s done there she’s going to do a mission trip in Johannesburg. So, with the schools there. And then I’ll be joining over just to do the hunt, but we’ll go visit schools.
And so we both have our different passions and things that we’re doing with the hunting and just taking it to a different level.
let’s chitchat a little bit about when you go whitetail hunting in Kansas
So let’s get back to you mentioned you go to Kansas, and let’s chitchat a little bit about when you go whitetail hunting in Kansas. How does that work and is that as an archery hunt, a muzzleloader hunt?
I wish I was an archery girl, I’m not. My husband, we have an 18-target archery course on our property and he’s built it. He is awesome, I am not. I’m okay, you know, I enjoy shooting, but it’s not something I feel like… You know, just like with my firearms, I’m an NRA pistol, shotgun, and rifle instructor. I take time every week to go out and shoot and to keep my skills sharpened, and I don’t take that time with archery.
So, but one of my really close girlfriends lives in Kansas, her name is Whitney Fouts, and she is big-time archery. They own a place called Wicked Outfitters http://www.wickedoutfitters.com/and I’ve been there the last three years and I’m taking my husband there this fall with his business partner and they will be archery hunting, I’m usually in December for a rifle hunt. But I think we’re going to go turkey hunting, Whitney and I. It is…it’s awesome. It was the first place that it was…that I ever hunted whitetail and it was a couple years ago. And I remember I had a TV show, I’d been to Africa several times, New Zealand, Argentina, and I had never shot a whitetail, which was just weird to some people. But here we shoot black-tail and mule deer and that’s what we hunt, and I just never had an opportunity to travel across the U.S. to do that.
Jumped on an airplane, went over. Whitney and I had become really good friends. And it was a completely different way of hunting. And it was me and the cameraman. And I didn’t have a guide in with me, so I was judging whitetail, which I had never hunted before. It was really, really interesting. It took me a little bit of time to kind of figure everything out, but that’s part of what I enjoy. You know, whitetail, they have bigger bodies than a black-tail, and so their horns might look smaller but they’re actually an older, more mature buck.
So it was just something where I had to start learning about that. And Whitney helped me a lot. And I harvested my first whitetail over there, and then I went to Quest Haven Lodge in Pennsylvania, and then I came back to Wicked last year. And Whitney actually sat with me because at this point, you know, we had been friends for about five years and now we’re really good friends, she’s part of our pro staff, she wears our gear. And we were…I actually turned down ] three times, that was about the size of my first whitetail, waiting for the big boy to come and he didn’t come.
But I’ll tell you what, it was one of my favorite hunts. Because she hunted with me and we just got to watch deer, we were out checking trail cams and dropping corn, and I got to experience the whole thing, and that’s what I love about hunting. She took me on her day-to-day and what she does and, you know, going through all the SD cards. And, I mean, she…I call her the “Deer Goddess” and she just knows it all, she is awesome.
Bruce: Well, get her on my show.
Jen: I know, I know, she needs to be.
Bruce: She needs to be on my show, for sure.
Jen: I will definitely hook you up, Bruce.
Bruce: Oh, yeah, because that’s…you know, the “Deer Goddess,” I haven’t had a title named that, so that would be good.
the “Deer Goddess,”
Yeah, she is. She is well-known and amazing. I actually met her at the World Turkey Hunting Championship five years ago. They hosted it at Wicked and they still do every year. And Norissa and I went out and, man, what a blast. And just some of the top names in the industry out there hunting and we really enjoyed it and we hit it off. We’re both tomboys who love to hunt and, you know, we just really became very good friends.
So one of the cool parts about this was when you hunt in different terrains, whether it be from South Africa to Canada to North America, or even heading back into Kansas, completely different hunting styles. And over here on the West Coast we’re really that’s what we’ve always built for gear. So I sat in the blind this December and I froze my butt off. And I…this is how we learn. So I’m not just somebody just designing something because I think it needs to be designed, I’ve lived it. And Whitney sat in that blind with me and we wrote down all of our notes and ideas and essentially started designing a…in our heads, an insulated lineup for Girls with Guns.
And so that line is and I’m really excited about it. Norissa is working with our design team right now on it and we have our new camo pattern that’s coming out this fall that we’ll use for it. And we just…how cool is it to be able to sit there with one of your closest girlfriends who knows that industry? And any time we have any changes or CADs or anything, I just send them to her, “Hey, what do you think?” She lives it.
So when we’re designing gear, we aren’t just designing gear because we think it looks cute or size it down from men’s gear, we’re designing because we’ve gone out and hunted it and realized that there was something missing. There are some companies that have that insulated gear, but I…you know, obviously I think we can do it better and we’re just going to continue to try.
And that’s innovation. That’s all it is. Because, you know, you figure out what didn’t work, it’s lessons learned. And, you know, lessons learned for hunting, lessons learned for your gear. You got Vortex Optics, http://vortexoptics.com/ they learned a lot of lessons from other manufacturers. And I love Vortex, they’re out of Madison, Wisconsin and great people. You know, and I have a lot of their gear and it works. And for the right conditions I’ll put them against any glass made, and that’s Swarovski and Leica and Zeiss and all that. And I proved that to myself on a recent sheep hunt. But needless to say, you have to innovate.
And let’s take the…our discussion here. You just hit upon a good thing, that hunters, when something isn’t working, figure it out, what isn’t working, and then make it better and change and adapt. And that’s what Jen has been talking about. It’s the adaptation of different ecology places, environmental places. Everything changes. In hunting, if you’re fortunate as Jen has to hunt at a lot of places, I’ve hunted from, you know, East to West all over North America, and every time you go you have to think a little bit differently because it isn’t like the back 40 or the 120 or the… I forget. I can’t remember, it’s like volcanic in California, there’s like volcanic rocks or something. You know, it’s really open country. And I went to Tolay Lake once and hunted and we traveled through a lot of that country and it’s different.
And so if you’re after black-tails, where they live and how they live is different than your neighborhood whitetail. So you got to innovate.
When I killed my first black-tail, it was 105 degrees, over here. Yeah. And it was my first experience with really being out all day and learning about…I learned about conservation right off the bat because my brother-in-law, Norissa’s husband, is really big into letting the deer grow up and shooting a mature animal.
And so he taught me when I…you know, we turned down… And it was a private piece of land he took me out on. But it’s…I mean it was probably about 10,000 acres. Low fence, obviously, because we’re in California. And, you know, we went out there where his family had their cattle and we were hunting and we must have seen 10 bucks that day. And he kept saying, “Nope, nope, nope.” And I didn’t understand why, I’m like, “This is my first hunt for big game, I just really want to shoot it.” I mean we’re talking this is like 10, 11 years ago and I just wanted…I didn’t understand it, I just wanted to hunt and shoot. And I had been doing a lot of Upland hunting and turkey at that point and just hadn’t had an opportunity.
And at the end of that day he saw two mature bucks and bedded down and it was hot out. And I remember crawling up and I remember he was shaking as much as I was and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to fire. And, you know, it was only…we got up on a ridge and they were bedded down, but we had snuck all the way around a couple miles because he had spotted them so far.
So that day I learned about having good optics, learning how to glass, looking where you can find the animals, he taught me a lot about that, conservation and learning to for a more mature animal. And I just think all those things combined are things that, you know, 10 years ago if you’d had told me that I know as much as I do now, I wouldn’t have believed you. But I still feel like I only know a fraction of what’s out there, there’s so much. I mean I’d love to know more about duck hunting, I’d love to be able to…I’m horrible, horrible with my turkey, with my mouth call. I’m still trying to conquer that because I don’t spend enough time. I’ll do my slate call and box call all day long. But there’s always something else to better yourself with hunting and I think that’s what’s fun about it, because there’s so many different animals and species and love learning about them and teaching other people about them, as well.
Well said. And one thing, have you ever considered shooting a crossbow?
have you ever considered shooting a crossbow?
I don’t know if we can in California.
In Kansas though, I’m thinking of Kansas.
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I would. I definitely would, I’m not opposed to trying anything. I know that when I go out there this fall it’s…you know, my husband, he’s going to be in a tree stand and with a bow and I just haven’t, like I said, I haven’t taken the time to learn. But that’s definitely not a bad idea.
No, and I’m just going to give a shout-out. I shoot Excalibur’s, I have ever since my shoulder went and I couldn’t shoot my compound anymore. And I shoot Excaliburs because Excaliburs… There’s a lot of great crossbows out there, great crossbow manufacturers. But an Excalibur is the simplest because all it is is a recurve bow on a rail, that’s all it is.
Really? I’ll check that out.
Yeah. No wheels, no pulleys, no anything. And, you know, mine shoots 380 feet per second, so…you know, and it shoots a bolt. But it’s, you know, last year, I was just reading something from Deer & Deer Hunting, crossbow hunters matched, in the deer hunting for archery, matched the take, or the kill, for traditional horizontal bows. So you got horizontals this way and verticals this way, so vertical bows, and horizontals are the crossbows. But, you know, for people that have situations, you know, with their body, with their health, youth, it’s a great way because it’s a lot easier for them to shoot a crossbow, it’s a lot like a rifle, and they do have…I can shoot mine at 80 yards. I don’t, but…because most of my whitetail shots are 20 or 30 yards, I mean that’s what they are. So it doesn’t matter. You know, even with a rifle they’re that close.
But saying that, you know, I wanted to give a shout-out for Excalibur Crossbows, http://www.excaliburcrossbow.com/ because they’re owned by Bowtech and they’re a Canadian-made company, but they’re very simple. And, you know, it’s as simple as you can get with a crossbow. So think about that.
Okay, I will. I’m always open and, you know, into new areas of hunting because it changes. You know, when I started messing around with my bow, you know, it was because I wanted to hunt in a different way and try something different. But I just haven’t had the time to really take. And I know a crossbow doesn’t take as much time to dial in. Is that correct?
Bruce: Right. And you already know your trigger squeeze, you already know how to breathe, you’re, you know, an NRA instructor, you know, where you’re squeezing a trigger on something. And so the crossbow is very similar, very similar.
And you set it up with sticks, hunting sticks, shooting sticks, and you have a stable rest. And so, you know, it’s an easy way because to become proficient like your husband, he’s got a course set up and, you know, he shoots a lot of arrows. One, because he likes it, it’s enjoyable, but it’s also perfect practice, you know.
he was out there for an hour last night
Oh, yeah, he was out there for an hour last night. So, you know, and it’s roughly like 100 degrees here in Red Bluff on a daily basis. So, but he, as soon as the evening comes around, you know, that’s…and that’s what he enjoys. And that’s why I picked up a bow, was because I love being outdoors. And, you know, when I hunt, obviously I’m outside when I’m training, when I’m practicing with my guns, but I didn’t have something that he really enjoyed that we enjoyed together. So I picked up a bow and I just shoot for fun. And, you know, I really enjoy it and it’s just something else that’s different. But I’ll tell you what, there is a lot to know. I feel like my brain might explode if I had to learn one more thing right now.
Well, you know, one of my goals is to shoot a kudu with my crossbow in South Africa. So, you know…
When you’re ready to go, I’ve got a lot of cool places.
Well, I’m sure you do, and that is…you know, that’s going to happen because… Anyway. How do people reach out to you? Let’s let the listeners know how to reach out to you. We’ve got about 10 more minutes on the show, so how do people, you know, get a hold of you or Norissa?
Let’s let the listeners know how to reach out to you
So Norissa and I both have our personal pages, which is gwgen, and then gwg_nur. So we also have Girls with Guns Clothing has a Facebook page, we’re nearing half a million followers now. But there is a girl in the next office over from me that answers every single one of those [ requests, and they will forward them to Norissa or I if you reach out there. We also have Instagram, Girls with Guns Clothing. You can find us on Pinterest. We have our website, gwgclothing.com. All of those e-mails will filter through my staff, they can come to Norissa or I.
Honestly we answer everything that comes through. It’s…we’re not…I mean I still help out different women and kids in the industry, people who contact us. You know, we want people to reach out to us, we want to be a platform for women to feel comfortable to ask questions. And obviously it’s not our primary focus, we are a clothing company and gear, but it is something that we’re passionate about. So we encourage them to reach out and any questions they have and we’ll do our best to send them in the And thanks for that. Wrapping up, where do you see the future of hunting?
I’m a little bit scared for hunting in California
Oh, wow. I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit scared for hunting in California. And I’m scared that if people don’t get on board to help California, that it’s going to carry over into other states. I feel like we’re blessed to have the President that we do that supports outdoorsmen and women and the NRA, but I think that’s where a lot of my passion comes with our youth. And I kind of have talked about it a lot because I am really passionate about it. We need to carry on our hunting heritage, we need to stay true to who we are, we need to work hard and work together to be one.
And these anti-hunting people and their anti-hunting propaganda, you know, they’re coming at us as hunting, but we also have the anti-gun people. And, you know, those people are going to continue to come at us, so I really feel like we need to unite and stick together and that’s the only way. I mean that’s the way that we got the President elected, so we just have to continue to do that because I feel like those same people, we have a lot of the same values and beliefs, and that we really have to stick together to fight for our hunting rights, or they’re going to be taken away one right at a time.
Right now I currently cannot buy ammo over the counter, I have to get it through an FFL dealer, I have a 10-day waiting period for my firearm. I’m okay with that, I believe in background checks because of the fact that that’s the only way we can keep them out of some people’s hands. So that doesn’t bother me. But they are taking away…we can’t use hounds with bear hunting. They are slowly but surely taking away all these little laws, and now they’re going after our guns.
And so I just really think that that’s just a focus for each and every one of us, is not so much to focus on ourselves, but to focus on the other people out there and educating them and helping them to understand what we all love. Because I love hunting, it is a part of who I am. And I grew up with a dad and a brother and I was the girl that tagged along. But girls didn’t hunt back then really, I mean that was almost 30 years ago. And so, you know, as I’ve gone through, you know, when I was 10, 11 years old, my brother was hunting with my dad and I would just cruise along with him. And my brother has always said to me, “Hey, I’ll trade you for what you get to do now.” Because, you know, he didn’t have the opportunity that I had as an adult.
So I just really think that it’s important for us to just really build up those people, the women, the men even, even though I know a lot of men will go out on their own, and the children, and just help them to understand what we love about our hunting heritage.
Jen O’Hara, CEO of Girls with Guns Clothing brand.
And, folks, that’s going to be a wrap with Jen O’Hara, CEO of Girls with Guns Clothing brand. And, Jen, it’s just been a pleasure, I’m smiling because it’s so much fun what I do. People say, “How do you do that?” And it’s so much fun because you get to just sit and chat, and it’s like I’m sitting, you know, right in your room there and we’re just talking about hunting and the things that are important to us. Everybody might not agree with us, we acknowledge that, but at least meet us halfway. You know, let’s have a discussion. Because some of my best hunts, as you said, I never killed anything. And yet I came home with memories that, you know, I’ll have until the day I die, and then, you know, there’s the thereafter, the everlasting life, which is another conversation in its entirety.
But with that being said, you’ve just been a joy to have as a guest and I look forward to having Norissa on, I’d love to have that.
Have the opportunity to talk to her. And then when we get off here I’ll get the information on your friend in Kansas.
So with that, on behalf of hundreds of thousands of listeners across North America… And we are worldwide, there’s a lot of military people that listen to the show. So thank you so much for being just a wonderful, gracious guest on Whitetail Rendezvous.
Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.
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