Wildlife Women Rock with Melissa Blair

WTR 571 | Wildlife Women

 

There’s a stigma that women are supposed to stay home barefoot and pregnant. On the contrary, women are the fastest growing segment in the outdoor industry right now. Melissa Blair, Vice President of Wildlife Women, shares how they started from a Facebook post from their president, Bridgette Holbrook, where people got connected and engaged. Wildlife Women is an outdoor group created to educate, encourage, and inspire women in various aspects of the outdoors regardless of their experience level or passions. Melissa shares how the organization got started as well as the events that they are hosting throughout the year.

Listen to the podcast here:

Wildlife Women Rock with Melissa Blair

I’m in Kentucky and I’m with Melissa Blair. Melissa is the Vice President of Wildlife Women. How are you?

I’m good. How are you, Bruce?

I’m fabulous. We had a great warm up to the show. I’m excited to get into it. Let’s talk about what’s so special about Wildlife Women.

It has a very special place in my heart. The lady who found it and is president of Wildlife Women is one of my best friends. She started this because of her daughter being allergic to meat. They found out that her daughter could eat wild game and it was fine. She wasn’t allergic to it. Once she found herself as a single mom, she knew that she was going to have to take on hunting to provide for her daughter. She had a few years where she had friends and relatives that would help her to go out and hunt. She decided one year, “I know what I’m doing. I’m going to go out and hunt on my own now, get the food for my daughter, so we can provide for her and she can have the stuff to eat.” She took that whole year and she didn’t get anything. It was very heartbreaking to her. She had a meltdown and it started with posting on Facebook saying, “I’ve had a bad year hunting. I’d like to know who else would like to learn how to hunt.” Within a couple of hours, she had 50 responses. She realized she needed to do something about it and this is how Wildlife Women came about. What we do is we set up seminars and we try to educate, inspire and encourage women to get into the outdoors.

It’s not just hunting. If you’re a lady, a single mom or somebody that wants to get into the outdoors, it could be a hike, a canoe trip, catching crappies, it could be learning how to skin a squirrel that would be hunting. Some people say, “Wildlife Rendezvous is a hunting show,” which it is, but we talk about being outdoors because women are the fastest growing segment in the outdoor industry. In the outdoor industry, not just the hunting segment, they’re having a big impact. Why do you think many women are getting into the outdoors?

When my mother even was brought up or even when I was even younger, it was a stigma on women that we were supposed to stay home barefoot and be pregnant, it’s a good way of putting it. I don’t mean that in a bad way and I hope nobody takes it in a bad way. I shouldn’t have worded it that way, but that’s the way it was. The world is different than what it used to be. There are a lot more single mothers. There are a lot more women that are more independent. We want to be able to do things on our own. We realized that we can. We realized that there’s a way to do things on our own. We also want to be able to enjoy the outdoors and what there is to offer for us. It’s a big thing for a woman to be able to provide for her family, not only her husband, her friend or whoever she has.

It’s something that we enjoy doing and we want to be able to do. We want to be more independent. We want to look at being able to pass that along to our kids that you don’t have to stay at home. You can get out in the world, enjoy it and do things on your own. It’s a dying tradition. It’s more of a social media world and the kids are more in front of a TV playing video games. It’s lifted up more to the mothers, us women, to be able to get our kids more into the outdoors, get them away from the TVs, the video games and all that. We can be able to make sure that our tradition of how we were brought up, how our parents or grandparents were brought up is passed on and that it doesn’t die out.

Your friend, the president of Wildlife Women, her daughter had an allergy to meat. The pure organic meat that’s been there since time began has a big impact. I know a word that is used, adult-onset hunters are looking for meat that they know where it came from. I have one good friend, Stephanie Vu, an attorney out here in Colorado and she was a vegan. She knew that it wasn’t good for her. She needed red meat because she’s a biathlete. She got into biathlon, which you shoot and ski. She realized that she needed more protein in her body than she was getting. She started eating meat. She hunts to get her own meat. There are so many people that are realizing that they want to know where their meat is coming from.

Everybody is looking to be healthier too. There are a lot of diseases and things going on that comes out of being something processed or sitting somewhere in a grocery store. People are realizing that if they go out and get their own meat, their own veggies, whatever they grow or go out and hunt, then they’re living a healthier life. They’re feeling better about themselves.

Let’s talk about Wildlife Women. You’ve mentioned seminars and you invite people. If somebody wants to raise their hand and say, “Melissa, I’m one of those women. I want to get involved,” how do they do that?

WTR 571 | Wildlife WomenThey can get on our website. We have www.Wildlife-Women.com and they can get on there. There’s a place that they can Contact Us. It sends an email, they can also look on there, and there’s an email address if they want to directly just go on the email. Anybody is free to contact me. I’m always passing out business cards with my phone number on it. If I don’t answer, it’s because I may be doing my real paying job. They can always leave me a message, and I can get back with them or even text me. My phone number is (606) 634-1911. They can get ahold of me. You can get on the website and look around there. We are in five states. If somebody is in a state that we’re not in, if you want to consider being a part of Wildlife Women and maybe doing what we do in their state, then we have a chapter leader application that we can email right into, and they can fill out. We can do our little bit of background check. Our board members will go through and see if we can get one out in that state or get them if they want to do it.

What’s your email address for Wildlife Women?

It’s WildlifeWomenKY1@Gmail.com.

If you’re interested, ladies, instead of calling or whatever, you should email. It will be easier. Thanks for that because more than ever, the women need a place that is safe and they feel like they don’t have anything to prove or have competition. Safe is the best way that I can say so you can get around other women that will welcome you. Sometimes even in social media, it isn’t a nice place, especially for women that hunt.

We have women that come to our seminars that know nothing that might not even own a gun or a bow, whatever we’re doing. We have women that are very knowledgeable in it. I’m not saying I’m very knowledgeable. Every time I go to something, I’m learning something new. 70% of our seminars are women. We may have some seminars that we do, family seminars or family events. We come up with catchy names with our events. It was in West Virginia. Our chapter leader out there, she’s doing float events, where everybody came in. It was like a Mardi Gras float thing. They had these big floats that they had decorated. There were people in costumes with tutus. They were in cakes. It was like a big Mardi Gras parade on the river. You have to see it. It was a family event. Some of our events are for families, some maybe even women and children. For some, we’ll have men and women. We’re getting ready to have a Tanning Class here in Southeast Kentucky on how to tan hides for men and women. We do put all of our events up on the website. If there’s an event that you want to go to, whether you’re out of state, in state or close to it, come on. Come to it. We’d be happy to have you.

There’s a stigma on women that we’re supposed to stay home barefoot and pregnant. Click To Tweet

We talked about your bucket list and something is going to happen that’s on your bucket list. Let’s talk about that.

We have a chapter leader down in Alabama. I’m a Kentucky girl. We’ve got elk here in Southeast Kentucky and we’ve got deer in this and that, but we don’t have hogs, wild boars. Ms. Kristin Carlisle, our chapter leader down in Alabama has set us up on a hog hunt. We’re going down to her neck of the woods, do us a big hog hunt, and I’m so excited. We ladies up here in Kentucky has been wanting to do this for a while. We get to go down in Alabama and hopefully get us pork to bring home.

It’s interesting how you’re hunting. Tell us the rest of the story.

From what I can understand, this is how she hunts. This is how they hunt them down there, how she does in her area. They have dogs. They turn dogs loose, find hog, have a catch dog and keep it at bay until we can get to them. We’re going to be using knives, hold the hog down and take it. It’s going to be very interesting. It’s going to be some good footage too.

WTR 571 | Wildlife WomenWith the handheld, Instagram, Facebook Live and all that, it should be fun. Since I never hunted hogs, I wouldn’t know what to expect.

I don’t either. Our chapter leader, Kristin Carlisle, has told us, “Get ready because it’s going to be something you’ve never experienced before.”

I can’t wait to see some things on social media that will reflect the fun that you’ve all had on your upcoming hog hunt. Let’s talk about your memories of hunting. You’ve been hunting for a while. Let’s talk about some of your stories that you’d like to share with the show and what hunting is.

I love to turkey hunt. I love deer hunting, but I do love my turkey hunting. If I were to choose, I’d choose turkey hunting a little bit more over deer. I don’t know why I would say that but I enjoy it. To me, I feel that turkey hunting is a challenge and I guess that’s why I enjoy it more. It’s all a challenge. I’m not saying it’s not. It’s that I’m fascinated. The first time I took a turkey, I couldn’t get over how beautiful they are. The feathers, the colors, it’s something that you don’t see unless you’re close up to them. To watch them come in and stretched around the way they do, fanning their big feathers out. The first time I killed a turkey, he didn’t put his feathers out. He came and was peeking around. He’s been my biggest. He was 23 pounds, had a 10.5 inches beard and 1.25 inches fur. He was a good size turkey. I have estimated him somewhere around four years old.

This is a funny story. This is one of my most memorable. I went turkey hunting with our president, Bridgette Holbrook. We went to a friend’s farm, and he told us that he’s going to hunt out of his hoochie shack. He called it a hoochie shack. We get in this little shack with a dirt floor and it’s got windows in it. It’s a one-way window. Here we are in this hoochie shack and he said, “Girls, we’ve got a decoy out there. The decoy’s name is Big Sexy.” We had the decoy sit out there that we call Big Sexy. We use the calls a few times and finally, we had a big gobbler to come in. I told her she was going to be the first to take one. I was going to let her take the first turkey because she was leaving on a plane the next day to Hawaii. I said, “This is your last chance to get a turkey. I’ll still be here and have little time.”

This big turkey comes and he sees Big Sexy, the decoy. He was strutting around. Chills went up to my spine. We recorded it and I was saying, “It’s a big turkey.” I’m whispering the whole time. “It’s a big turkey. He’s big.” I kept saying it. He put those big tail feathers out, was strutting around there and put his wings down in the ground like how they drum. It was amazing. It’s one experience that I will never forget seeing that first turkey like that do that. It’s embedded in my brain. It’s on our show so people get to watch that.

It's a big thing for a woman to be able to provide for her family. Click To Tweet

Did she get the turkey?

She got the turkey. The guy that we went with, he’s a retired fish and wildlife guy here in Kentucky. He was in there with us. When we were doing a high-five, being really quiet and all of a sudden, her turkey started rolling down a hill. Being the big guy he is, he ran over the top of me to get out of the hoochie shack because her turkey was going away and he was going to try and go get it. He plowed out over me, got outside and then it stopped. We saw another turkey coming in and I grabbed Bridgette’s shotgun because I left my shotgun in the hoochie shack. Here I was getting her shotgun because I thought, “I’m going to get a chance to get me a turkey.” We were celebrating and making too much noise that he backed off and went the other way. It was the best. We went down there and got her big turkey. Me and her both took a selfie with that turkey. She got a nice turkey too. It was about 22 or 23 pounds. He had a 9.5 inches beard and a little over an inch fur, I can’t remember. Maybe 1.25 inches, but it was a nice turkey she got.

What about your kids? You have three children. Do they hunt?

I have three kids. They all hunt. I’m proud of all my kids. My oldest is 24. She’s an RN and works in a UK Hospital in Cardiovascular ICU. She deer hunts. She’s been turkey hunting a couple of times but never got a turkey. She has beaten mama with the deer. She’s a great deer hunter. She is more of a fisherman than a deer hunter because she went to Morehead State University here in Kentucky. She was on the collegiate bass fishing team there. She follows KVD. For people who don’t know who that is, that’s Kevin VanDam. She follows that whole bass circuit. She goes to these bass classics and watches the way he weighs in and talks with all these guys.

WTR 571 | Wildlife WomenHow come she’s not on the circuit?

Real life, she’s trying to make money. It’s hard to be that way. She’s marrying. She does have a fiancé, and she says that she has a truck and he has the boat. She’s got the truck to pull his boat.

That sounds a good partnership.

I’m proud of both of them. They’re great kids. I could call them kids because she’s mine. I have a son who’s nineteen. He’s in his sophomore year at the University of Louisville. He’s going into music education. He is so talented in the music department. He loves to shoot guns more than he does hunt. He has done some squirrel hunting or something here and there but not a lot. He likes to fish too. I have a son, Adam, who is eleven. He likes to go with mama a lot. We do a lot of hunting. He’s trying to figure it all out. He likes to move a whole lot. It’s hard for him to set still, but he’s learning. He’s getting used to it. He’s a great little archer. He loves to shoot bows and I’m so tickled about that because I wasn’t brought up into archery. I was brought up into guns. In the past few years, I’ve just been doing archery. He’s on his archery team in school and he loves it.

You’ve got everybody heading in the right direction. It sounds like you’re doing a great job. Does your husband hunt or fish?

Yes, he does. He doesn’t have a whole lot of time to do either. He does do it when he has some time. He’s always been busy working and trying to provide for the family. My side of the family is more of a fishing family. We were on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky during the summer more than we were in the woods. We were always out on the lake doing something.

Step outside of your comfort zone. Do something that deep down gives you a little bit more independence. Click To Tweet

Let’s talk about challenging women to get out of their comfort zone. If you’re doing a seminar in front of a group of ladies that never hunted, fished or spent in the outdoors, what are you going to try to tell them?

I’m going to tell them what I’ve had other ladies tell me through these seminars. Coming to a seminar or getting out with another group of ladies to learn how to do something in the outdoors is something that makes my heart smile. These ladies, they enjoy it. It gives them some girl time. It gives them time to be away from their children for a little bit. As a mama, you need that time to yourself, you need that time with other ladies. You need that time to be able to step outside your comfort zone. That’s like me with hog hunting. I’ve always wanted to do it, but it’s something that I’ve never done. It’s going to be something out of my comfort zone. It’s something that deep down gives you a little bit more independence, and it makes you feel so much better about yourself.

You have to enjoy time with other ladies or enjoy time in the outdoors to make yourself happy so that you can live a better life. If you stay in the house all the time or not being able to get out and enjoy that great outdoors, it can make you a bad person. You don’t enjoy yourself. You don’t enjoy your family. I’ve been there. You’re busy running the daily routine, being in the house or in this and that. You become a mean person in your household and nobody likes to be around you. By stepping outside of the house, being able to do something outside your comfort zone, being with other ladies and learning something in the outdoors, it does make you a happier person.

Thanks for that. Ladies, take it to heart. Guys, if you’ve got a wife that has never joined you in the outdoors, get ahold of Melissa at Wildlife Women and have a chit chat. Get her on social media and expand it because we don’t do enough to support the women around us. I have grandkids. In the summer, I’m going to get my granddaughter up in the mountains 12,000 feet where there are bears, lions, elk, and foxes. We have a camp we called the Fox Camp. When we set up, the fox knows people. If he’s alive, he’s around. My takeaway from chatting with Melissa is to experience the outdoors. If it’s going on a hike, you need some boots and you need a water bottle. If it’s warm, then take a little day pack. That’s about all you need. Go with somebody else. Learn and find mentors and people like Wildlife Women. It is groups like that that are getting women into the outdoors, challenging them and giving them skills so you can face the challenges of the day. I know how hard it is. Wonderful ladies on my show had been single moms so it’s not easy but through hunting, all of a sudden, their abilities to meet these challenges become greater. What are your thoughts on that, Melissa?

WTR 571 | Wildlife WomenA lot of times I know, even when my children were younger, it was hard to get into the outdoors. That’s when you take your children into the outdoors with you. You also may have the ability to find somebody to maybe watch your children for a little bit, let you go out and enjoy it yourself. It’s challenging and it’s better to enjoy your life than later because believe me, maybe later, it might be too late for you when you realize it. You have all this time and all these chances to take advantage of it so do it.

It’s been such a pleasure to visit with you.

Thank you. I enjoyed it.

Melissa also blogs for Humble Bow Hunters, so check out Humble Bow Hunters. How do they do that?

They can go online, www.HumbleBowHunter.com and I’ve got some blogs on there. I blog on Wildlife Women also. It’s a great organization. I’ve only been bow hunting for about three years. It’s great to be able to experience and talk to people that enjoy bowhunting and enjoy the outdoors also.

Thank you so much, Melissa.

Thank you.

Important Links:

About Mellisa Blair

WTR 571 | Wildlife WomenI’m a mother of three wonderful kids who are my life. I’m a coffee lover and a momma to two German Shepherds. I grew up as a Fire Chiefs/preachers daughter who spent most of my time on a lake fishing with dad or the whole family.

Worked in the Sheriff’s Department right out of high school while attending a community college and found my love for shooting guns. I later grew a love for hunting which was easy, because I already had a love for the outdoors while growing up in it. Even though I haven’t taken a lot of big game, I still enjoy the peacefulness that comes while being in the woods and hearing and watching the world come alive.

I love getting in a gym or doing home workouts so I can stay healthy and be fit to be able to pursue the outdoors more every day. I’m passionate about being Vice President of Wildlife Women because I’m able to share my love for the outdoors and open up more opportunities to the ladies to be more involved in the outdoors and pass the tradition on to our future generation. I take care of Wildlife.

Women’s social media and website while blog writing for them and Humble Bow Hunter. Humble Bow Hunter is a community of friends who share a positive message and promote archery and bowhunting, which is something I became introduced to through Wildlife Women and now passionate about.

Hunting teaches your patience, discipline, ethics, sustainability, appreciation, confidence, perseverance, and hard work.