Circa 1997. The year I found out what waterfowl hunting was. That's me. A buck toothed tom boy swimming in my dad's oversized hunting clothes. Who knew such a little weasel would turn into a lover of animals, hunting, and the outdoors. This day might have been the day that changed my life forever or maybe it was in my blood all along. All I know is that I have my dad and grandpa to thank for my extreme love for the outdoors. Without them, who knows where I would be in life.
Whenever I tell people my life story it shocks them. The story itself doesn't shock them, but who I am now shocks them. I am not supposed to be this person. Let's go back. I was born in Washington State. I remember being 2 years old and my dad practicing his bow in the backyard, but that's the only thing I remember. My childhood was messy. I have sort of blocked a lot of my memories out. According to a therapist, it's a defense mechanism to protects me from the past. I can tell you what I do know or remember though. My mom left my dad when I was little. I was around 2 or 3 years old. She flew me from Washington to Indiana while my dad was at work. Indiana is where I spent most of my life. She wasn't the best mom. She loved me, but she also loved alcohol and she was addicted to drugs. Not weed, but hard drugs- the party pack, she tried them all. We lived most of my childhood in apartments, paycheck to paycheck, with my younger brother. My mom had burned most of her bridges so we didn't have much help from the family. Most of them I still don't communicate with to this day. My mom had hurt them so bad that they always thought I was going to turn out just like her. I don't blame them for thinking this. The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree right? Luckily for me my apple wasn't near my moms tree, but no one knew that at the time. My mom despised hunting and guns. I'm guessing after my dad she just got really bitter towards it. I wasn't even allowed to have a squirt gun in the house unless it was shaped like a dolphin or a whale. True story. I would fly to Washington and see my dad, but not often. My mom didn't want us having a relationship. My mom and I fought a lot. The cops were always at our house. This was my normal. Let's fast forward through the messy parts and go straight to the moments where everything changed. September 2006- my maternal grandma died of lung cancer. My mom went off her rocker. October 2006- my mom left me and my 11 year old brother to take care of ourselves. I haven't seen her or spoke to her since. This is the best thing that ever happened to me. I've never been more thankful for something in my life. Her leaving me allowed me become who I was meant to be in life.
The first animal I ever shot was a crow when I was 9 years old. The second was a rabbit. The third was a goose, and I could go on and on. When you tell someone that hunting saved your life they don't quite understand what you mean. They don't understand how that first, second, or third animal harvest started to change your direction in life. I hated my life at home so I started partying when I was 14. I no longer wanted to go out on the weekends, I wanted to go to bed early and wake up at 5am to go hunting. My money wasn't spent buying alcohol or drugs, it was saved for broadheads and shotgun shells. I started to change. I couldn't change the beginning, but I could change the rest of my life. Most people think you will end up just like the person who hurt you the most, but what people don't realize is that you spend your whole life making sure that doesn't happen. I didn't talk to my dad much at this time but hunting started to re-enter my life when I was living alone in Indiana. I fished my whole life and in high school my friends hunted so I started to call my dad and asked more and more questions. It was my way of making sure I didn't turn into my mom, so I took it and ran. It was already deep in my blood. My dad is a big hunter, and his dad before him. It was only natural that I hunted. Maybe that had a lot to do with my growing passion. It was already a part of who I was. Maybe it's the reason I work so hard for this life I live. Nothing is given to you in life, just like nothing is ever given to you in hunting. You have to work for it, and then when you have it, you have to work to keep it. One of my favorite quotes is, "Success is never owned, its rented, and rent is due everyday."
College in 2 states, countless jobs, and a lot of moves I still made time for the outdoors. My last move was to Nebraska where I took a taxidermy class and picked up a camera all within the same year. I also got engaged and I ended the engagement. During those early 20's you don't really know who you are or who you should be with. I just knew who I was with wasn't who I was meant to be with. After that huge life change I was able to really step back and pursue my dreams of traveling and hunting through photography. I worked hard during countless and sleepless nights. Editing, taking photos, studying photography, studying business, taking classes, making portfolios, selling prints, editing some more, practicing taxidermy, and all while running a bar in Omaha, Nebraska. I dug deep pursuing something I loved. I have always been artistic. I absolutely love to paint and draw. It was no surprise that photography became such a huge passion of mine. I love being able to relive a hunt. Whether that is through taxidermy or photography. I love capturing the moment and freezing it in time. I landed some amazing opportunities in the last 3 years and my favorite thing is getting a text from someone telling me they absolutely love their photos, taxidermy, or their metal print. I love helping my clients relive a hunt. Being in the outdoors and telling a story through photography is a passion I just can't explain to people... I would rather show them.
Currently I have a lot of hunts for photography assignments schedule so I am not able to take any birds at this time. My plan is to open my books back up in Jan. 2020.
I just designed a 2020 Delta Waterfowl Calendar and secured all the photography for it from various waterfowl photographers. I was tired of seeing calendars with birds in flight and wanted to create something real and raw that everyone could relate to. This is ready to purchase now at the link in my bio or on the Delta Waterfowl page. 100% of the proceeds go to protecting waterfowl and their habitats.
I have a photo article in the works for Wildfowl Magazine about hunting dogs across North America. This article allowed me to travel the country and take photos of hunting dogs. If you know me you know that I am a crazy dog lady so this is the perfect assignment for me.
My father and I are bringing back a short waterfowl film series called, The Wild. This will be 10-15 minute films featured on Carbon TV to promote our company, GunDog Outdoors. GunDog Outdoors focuses on the safety of your hunting buddy. For these films we will be hunting Oklahoma, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Kansas, and more.
If you have any questions regarding taxidermy or photography please reach out! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org I love would to help or set up a time to talk.