We all have our own story about how we got into the outdoors. For some of us, it’s been a lifelong passion. For others, it was discovered later in life. The UGA has seen a growing number of newcomers to our organization; new to dog training, new to upland bird hunting and certainly new to hunt tests or upland field trials. One demographic that has grown rapidly in our venue is the number of women dog handlers and trainers! We wanted to get the perspective of other women in the outdoor industry about how to get more newcomers into all outdoor sports (specifically, but not limited to women), so we caught up with Jessica Amos of Winterhawk Outfitters. Jessica is an avid hunter and guide with a lifelong list of experiences to provide valuable insight on how to grow all of our outdoor sports.
Name: Jessica Amos
Outdoor Affiliations: I am a guide and packer at Winterhawk Outfitters, and also a member of Team Girls With Guns!
Favorite Outdoor Activities: Shoot that’s a tough one! Well my all time favorite outdoor activity is riding horses (of course taking the occasional fishing break along the trail) with my family in the Flat Tops Wilderness in Colorado! Of course hunting is a very close 2nd!
Q1: At what age did your love for the outdoors begin? What specific activity drew your interest and created this passion for you? For us in the UGA, most of us started training dogs before we ever picked up a shotgun. Did you have a similar experience?
Answer: Oh gosh well I was introduced to hunting camp at 2 weeks. I spent every year there for all of my childhood! I guess being exposed to all of the hunters in camp and making the lasting friendships with people is what created this passion for me! Yes I did have a similar experience, before I was allowed to hunt because of age restrictions I would go out with the packers to pick up clients bulls they killed. I was so jealous they got to hunt and I couldn’t! This was one way I was able to be out there as close to hunting as possible!
Q2: We know that you hunt; we know you are darn good at it! Do you do any bird hunting at all? Do you have a sporting dog (even just as a pet)? We do happen to know that our dogs can shed hunt, too. Is that something you’d enjoy?
Answer: I’ve done some bird hunting mostly quail and dove down in Az when my kids are in school. I do own a dog her name is Sassy. She is a red tick hound dog who was from a litter of pups from our hound dogs we used to use for lion hunting. She doesn’t hunt anything but my kids now during hide and seek games! I would love to have a dog that can shed hunt, it’s something I’ve always wanted.
Q3: The UGA has been very fortunate in that the number of women participants increases each year. The fact that we focus solely on upland bird hunting (the most popular form of bird hunting) and have realistic expectations for the dog and handler teams makes our venue comfortable and enjoyable. In your opinion; what needs to be done so that more organizations like us (or other outdoor organizations) can grow the participation of not only women but newcomers in general?
Answer: Just getting out there and known to the public is huge! Showing people how much fun it can be is huge! I think the exposure of more women hunters and even kids is a huge way to get people to understand it’s a great hobby or lifestyle in my case!
Q4: What are some of the biggest obstacles to growing any of the outdoor sports in your opinion?
Answer: In my opinion it’s getting people to try things! A lot of newcomers are very nervous to try something new so I think if you’re able to reach out to people in a fun way you can get anyone to try something once. I think a huge thing that helps growth is interaction. I’ve experienced lots of businesses that wouldn’t give you the time of day if you asked. I don’t care if they have the best product out there I’ll never go back. You have to make people feel important and appreciated or you will never keep their interest.
Q5: Personally, how active are you in trying to get more people into hunting of any kind? What kinds of things do you participate in, donate to, etc?
Answer: I do as much as I can from taking my kids friends out to coworkers or anyone who asks! I have never turned someone down who is truly interested in hunting and I never will! I get lots of messages thru Facebook and Instagram and if they ask me anything about hunting whether it’s asking advice or just wanting to swap hunting stories I’ll respond as quickly as I can. I do my best to never leave a message unanswered! My family believes strongly in introducing children to the outdoors and hunting! We offer a deal where kids hunt free at Winterhawk Outfitters so people that may not be able to afford a hunt for their child has the opportunity to get them in the woods! I am also a member of Team Girls With Guns and I love it! I do a lot of promoting of my personal hunting trips as well as others to women, children and any men that follow us! I see a lot of women get interested in hunting and guns because of the clothes we wear. I’ve had lots of women say they’ve never hunted but they’d sure like to because our clothes and camo are so cute. You know ladies clothes are the way to our heart! The last few years I donated my rifle deer tags in AZ to children with terminal illnesses who lifelong dream is to hunt but were never able to because of their illnesses! I’ve been able to hunt my whole life so if by me sitting out a hunt gives a child the opportunity to do something that is a dream of theirs bet your ass I’ll do it!
Q6: Now that you’ve been exposed to the UGA and what we do, what are the chances you put the bow down and shoot some quail or pheasants over a good dog? How can we become more appealing to other hunting markets? We added a shed dog test to appeal to the deer hunting community, are we on the right track?
Answer: Well I can honestly say I’ve always wanted to expand my hunting and get into quail and pheasant hunting! So I can say I would be totally game to setting the bow aside to get some bird hunting in! I for sure think you’re on the right track with the shed dogs. I was never exposed to bird hunting as a kid because we were always too busy with the business elk, deer and lion hunting! So exposing people like me to shed dogs is a way you can get people used to the dogs and interested in the bird world!