The Ultimate Predator

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The solitude of profound silence is lost in the moment that the sun breaks over the Earth. Life suddenly fills the woods, awakening your primal senses and igniting the innate desire to harvest the most natural form of nourishment. This is survival of the fittest and you are the ultimate predator.

Our very existence requires the ability to evolve, adapt and overcome adversity. Hunting and gathering could easily be considered humanity’s most successful adaptation. Ingrained in every single human being is the ability to conquer defeat. The human mind has become so advanced, that hunting has come down to a science. If you want to be a better hunter, you go out and buy the most innovative technology that money can buy. Respectively, technology cannot replace the instinctual nature of the physical and mental components controlling the hunt.

The next step in optimal performance for the modern hunter lies in the advancement of one’s own physical fitness. You know that because you can feel it in the aching of your bones when you wake up in the morning and drag yourself to the breakfast table. You can feel it in your muscle fibers when you draw back your bow for that difficult shot at that buck you’ve been waiting for all season. You can feel it in the tightness of your chest, as the sweat drips from every pore; Every muscle burns as you drag that trophy buck home. You don’t want to be the guy driving his quad through the field in the middle of the rut, because you’re afraid that you won’t be able to make it home to your family if you have to put in the physical effort that it takes to drag home that 175 pound buck.

From the time you wake up in the morning to the moment you hit the pillow at night, if you’re going to hunt that day, you better earn it; Because it’s a privilege. You earn the solitude in the morning, the adrenaline of the shot, the excitement of the kill, and you earn that long drag home. Jim Rohn once said, “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”

Too many American hunters let their health spiral out of control and it reflects in the restrictiveness of their hunt. By simply cleaning up your diet and incorporating a regular exercise routine, you can prevent serious health issues such as heart disease and diabetes stemming from obesity. Endurance and strength will take a hunter’s effectiveness and performance in the field to the next level  allowing you not only to improve the quality of your hunt, but the quality of life: Because for those of us who are passionate hunters know that this isn’t just hunting – It’s a way of life.

This is survival of the fittest and you are the ultimate predator. Stop wishing you were younger; There’s wisdom in your years and wisdom is earned. Stop wishing you were stronger; Strength is also earned. Your greatest dreams are only wishes unless you put them into action – go out and take them. Greatness comes with great sacrifice and no one gets there by throwing pennies into a fountain – unless that fountain is filled with the sweat from your brow. The predator in you was born to be strong and resilient, but not without sacrifice. This isn’t just hunting and you’re not just a hunter – you’re an athlete.


Christi Stone
Adirondack Bow Hunters Pro-Staff
Adirondack Bow Hunters – Healthy Hunters Leader
Health/Fitness Professional

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The Beginning of Something Great – My Hunting Story

I’m currently a 27 year old female living in upstate New York.  I’d like to once again declare that I live in upstate New York – the city is about 4 hours South of my area.  I am surrounded by views of scenic mountains, rolling hills and colorful trees so picturesque that the sight would rob your lungs of air and heart of a beat.  Too many people, including my younger self, believe New York to be swallowed by the city – not understanding the true beauty the state really has to offer.  Now, if the politics were as pure, I’d certainly live in a paradise.  But, it’s my home now, and you have to take the bad with the good.

Delaware is my first home, and also the “first state” (for those of you who thought you knew what Delaware was but wasn’t sure).  Don’t feel bad – you’re not the only ones – we Delawareans get that a lot.  The running joke seems to be, “Dela-Where?”  Thank you, Wayne’s World.

I have two amazingly intelligent and delightful young children, one boy and one girl – Perfect!  And now the oven is turned off indefinitely.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around having more than two children – but parents have done it!   I don’t know how they have the time, but they make it work.  I bow to you.

Basically, I’m outgoing but reserved, I reside in my own head a great deal but I’m painfully observant, I tend to be open-minded in just about all scenarios, even to a fault (it’s almost impossible to have a solid opinion about anything when you can accept both sides of a story), and I have an infatuation with trying new things.

It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend, Adam Valastro, in the year 2011, that I was first indirectly introduced to the world of hunting.  Before him, hunting was something I saw people do as I switched channels on my television, or a sport I associated with anyone who wore camo.  I was completely oblivious to what hunting stood for.

Adam is a thoroughly devoted hunter.  As a matter of fact, for us to engage in dating, one out of the very few conditions he had was that I fully accept his hunting and absence during the seasons.  All I knew was that venison was a much healthier alternative to beef and I was all for storing copious amounts of meat in my freezer.  Done deal!

I was never forced to enter this world.  Quite frankly, I never cared for it.  I was a writer since a child – heavy into creative thinking and had more of an artistic way about me than an athletic one.  I didn’t grow up around mountains, forests, or fishing lakes and spent most of my time with a pen, paper and Walkman.  Hunting was his “thing” and at the time, music and artistry was mine.  We were free to be our own individuals, yet still enjoy each other’s time together.

One day I accompanied him and our good friend, Dave Howard, to a local archery shop where I fully intended to be somewhat of a cameraman during their archery practice.  As I followed the two around the building with our little video camera, I was stopped by the owner and asked if I had ever used a compound bow before.  Taken back, but curiously thrilled by his inquisition, I responded that I hadn’t.  The owner slipped away into the shadows as I’d imagine a ghost would.  A few minutes later he returned with what he called a “nice beginner’s bow” and next thing I knew I was shooting at targets along with everyone else.  He taught me correct form, did some tuning, and soon I was placing my arrows in tight groups at 20 yards.

At the time, I didn’t realize that archery was the beginning of a life chapter for me.  But, falling in love quickly with this little bow, I ended up spending most of my free time flinging arrows and practicing my form.  It had soon become the only sport I had ever tried up until this point that I thoroughly enjoyed – I was good.  Archery built a sort of confidence within me that I had only ever experienced previously with writing.

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It wasn’t until my girl friend approached me about joining her to take a hunter’s safety course that I ever considered using my skills to harvest an animal.  Much like the nature of my free-spirited being, I accepted her invitation.  Soon, we were both enthralled with learning about safety harnesses, conservation and kill shots.  When the course was complete and we were both certified hunters, we extended our knowledge base with attending a bow hunting course.  My once archery-only equipment was now going to be utilized to take the life of an animal.  I was intimidated but oddly excited.  I acquired my license and I was an official New York state hunter.

In the Fall of the 2014 opening weekend of archery whitetail season, Adam and I set out on my first journey as a new hunter.  This beautifully crisp afternoon was spent practicing our shots, interviewing the camera and fixing the camouflage of our previously set-up ground-blind.  We were ready, at least in the physical sense.  Mentally, I didn’t know what to expect.  Only about 45 minutes into our hunt, we were caught off guard.  A small, yearling doe was curiously making her way through our food plot – scoping out our location.  We had enough time to fix only one camera on the deer, and my adrenaline and uncontrollable breathing made the string feel almost impossible to pull back.  After the third try with my trusty little bow, I finally had her in position and the kill shot within my sight.  I released.  It didn’t feel right.  The arrow, seemingly headed for her lungs, instead flew smack dab between her brisket and shoulder blade completely severing her spine, puncturing a lung and she collapsed.  It was so sudden and the shot wasn’t at all what I had anticipated – mixed emotions coursed through my head as I watched her limp on the ground twitching as if having a fit of epilepsy.  All I could think was, Did I injure her?  Was it a quick death?  When I finally approached her, a feeling rose through me like I had never felt before, and continued in my memory long after.  The feeling I had sensed wasn’t of remorse, or sadness.  It was respect.  I had instantly developed an appreciation for this deer more than any animal I had ever encountered.  That’s when I knew I was a hunter.

I’m unsure if anyone has ever experienced a delay similar to mine with their first harvest, but it wasn’t until the next day that I felt the undeniable urge to be sitting in that ground blind – the torturous temptation to call off my work duties to go prepare for a last-minute hunt.  I wanted so bad to have that same day repeated again.  I was beyond question, irrevocably absorbed with the idea of constantly being in the woods.  My passion for hunting has grown heavy ever since.

Even as only an amateur, I have since retained precious memories, and have lived unforgettable moments sitting in the outdoors.  I have acquired ever-growing, life-long skills, felt excitement and longing as of a child, and I have reached deep inside of myself during my time spent with nature. The epiphany one develops that instantly creates a passion for this sport is one you cannot overlook – there exists a moment in your life, specifically while you are hunting, when you suddenly realize that this sport is not simply just a way of life – it is who you are.  Hunting is now who I am.

Heather Ballek
Adirondack Bow Hunters
Staff Writer
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Guest Blogger Julie McQueen – When Hunters Attack Hunters

We are honored to announce that our Adirondack Bowhunters blog will be hosting a very special guest this week – the beautiful and talented Julie McQueen.  Julie is the co-host of “Brotherhood Outdoors” on the Sportsman Channel (airing now on Sundays) along with her husband, Daniel Lee Martin. Her entry is a second take on the “The Fake Female Hunter VS The Real Female Hunter” blog post. While we both respect each other’s opinion, we would love this opportunity to see how YOU feel about the topic.

Follow our blog and “like” our Facebook page to follow us as we approach all things outdoors in the great Adirondacks!

Heather Ballek
Adirondack Bowhunters Staff-Writer

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Julie McQueen found her way into the hunting industry as a pro staffer back before any other girl had even tried. Even before that she made a name for herself in the fashion industry by working in Los Angeles, New York, and all over Europe. She just might be the only woman to fly from a photo shoot in France, land in the U.S., and climb directly into a tree stand. Her trophy collection speaks for itself, but she isn’t doing this to prove a point or to try to compete with the boys. She hunts simply because she loves it. She’s the co-host of “Brotherhood Outdoors” with her husband Daniel Lee Martin, which airs on Sportsman Channel Sundays at 11 a.m. ET. Julie and Daniel Lee motivate and inspire each other to work towards a common goal with their production company, Backstage & Backroads. Both are into maintaining a fit lifestyle to keep up with the high demand of their jobs, which involves lugging cameras over mountains to film that perfect shot. Learn more about America’s outdoor couple at Backstage & Backroads.
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WHEN HUNTERS ATTACK HUNTERS
By: Julie McQueen

Until recently I’ve only been defending myself against anti-hunters and people who don’t appreciate our hunting culture. I’ve been bullied and threatened, and they stop at nothing to bring negative energy into my world. The antis have even threatened to kill my dogs. I can defend myself against people who don’t agree with my lifestyle, and I even understand their point of view most of the time. It still stings a little when I read some of the things they say, but that’s a part of my world now.

The moments that hurt the most is when a hunter, conservationist, or pro-hunting personality does the same thing that anti-hunters are doing to us. It’s an inside job. It’s sad. And it happens more than what you might expect.

Recently a very popular outdoor television show host wrote a blog post that has gained some momentum. This person specifically mentions “sex-pot huntresses” and how they aren’t doing enough to be a positive role model for future generations. They are worried that these attractive women in the hunting industry might be focusing too much on their looks instead of being outdoorsy and well educated in the world of hunting and providing food for their families.

Typically, I wouldn’t take direct offense to a blog that someone posted if it didn’t include my name or my photo (which this one does not). We are all entitled to have our opinions. This person is directly insulting the female hunters who focus on their physical appearance. They specifically mention fake tans, counterfeit breasts, and changing hairstyles. I have all of those things, and I don’t feel good about being judged for it by somebody who should be on the same team as me. Why does their opinion matter when it comes to my physical appearance or how much time I devote to it? This person is influential to some of the same fan base that looks up to me. When they say these things about women in the outdoors, they are directly shaming those of us who enjoy taking care of our bodies, spray tan and all. That is the reason why this blog stood out to me. Public shaming.

I responded to this blog. I took my time and wrote a letter to the poster about how their words made me feel.  I’m still looking over it and making sure that this is a battle that I’m willing to fight. So far I have not made my response public, and I’m not sure yet that I ever will.

Keep in mind that if this person was an anti-hunter, or if they simply didn’t understand our culture, then I would let it pass by like water under the bridge. But this person is respected in our industry, which makes the words used sting even more.

The lessons to learn here are that we all live in glass houses. What we say might hurt someone who hasn’t done anything wrong. And don’t send an email or post something to the public until you’re positive that you won’t want to eat those words later.

The Real Female Hunter VS The Fake Female Hunter

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You see it all the time – photos of half-dressed women posing with a fully drawn compound bow, rifle or shotgun on any given social media platform. Sometimes the season is fitting, but other times there is snow on the ground and all you can think is – How are you not freezing?! They are normally the ones who have 5 separate accounts because all of their friend limits are capped.  Now, this could easily go in the direction of bashing these sort of women, but I’m going to give this article a twist. I am not a hateful person, nor do I intend to sound like one. After all, don’t the half-dressed already get enough attention? Lets support the real meat takers of the hunting world.

First and foremost, a real female hunter hunts. They look forward to the hunting seasons, they plan their days accordingly and they actually go out to their hunting spot and hunt. It is really as simple as that. As hunters, we participate in this sport for our own reasons. Some people strictly do it for the meat, others hunt just to get out of the house and experience nature. A little stress relief goes a long way in this world and being in the outdoors is a necessity for some to remain in touch with their sanity. Hunting is a part of us all, it was at the beginning and it is now. A real female hunter looks past all the social pressure of how a woman “should” be like, and does what her heart (and brain) tells her to do – hunt.

Real female hunters don’t look for attention of the wrong kind – they just want respect. A private message that starts off with something like “hello sexy girl” is a major turn-off. Yes, I did just type that verbatim from a message I received within the past two minutes. Also, you can’t forget the persistent guy who after the first attempt of “hello” doesn’t work, continues with “hi”. And when “hi” doesn’t get a response, the onslaught of messages emerge, “how are you” “hello?” “what color panties do you wear?” “hello?” “hey”.  A real female hunter wants a conversation that revolves more around a shared passion of hunting rather than a mindless conversation about herself and the color of her undergarments.  She wants to hear that the last kill she harvested was a stunning beast of a trophy!  She wants to share recipes and swap stories.  She does not want to get in bed with you.

A real female hunter hunts because they want to, not because everyone else likes it. This hunter looks forward to the season all-year round, excited like a child when Christmas finally shows. She’s got her backpack filled with everything she needs, she’s prepared to conquer her first kill of the season and she can’t wait to reconnect with the world in a way she wishes she could spend every moment of her life doing. She may be a bit downhearted when she is insulted for participating in a sport that she loves, but she is not turned away from it. It is a passion that can not easily be broken with the insults of ignorant spectators. A real female hunter looks forward to the hunt, not the attention a hunt can bring.

There are vast differences between the fake and the real female hunter, but please don’t get me wrong; Hunters are hunters – female, male, and of every sort of ethnicity. There are already enough misunderstandings in the world concerning our sport that there should never be any hate within it.  However, I think most of us can agree that the real female hunter deserves a spotlight in a male-dominated industry where she is otherwise hidden.

Heather Ballek
Adirondack Bow Hunters Staff Writer/Pro-Staff
ADKbowhunters@yahoo.com
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The “The Real Female Hunter VS The Fake Female Hunter” article was initially featured at http://www.adirondackbowhunters.blog.com/, but due to technical difficulties, the ADKBH blog has switched domains.