Thank you for joining us to talk about the sporting world and life in general. We have a lot we want to cover, but to kick off the discussion, we’re really curious about your involvement in the Orvis 50/50 On The Water Initiative. Could you please share a little about how that came to pass?
Well, I was fortunate enough to meet the editor in chief of Dunn magazine, Jen Ripple, at my local fly shop and she asked if I would join her on a photoshoot for Orvis. Being so green at the time I was eager to participate in all things fishing. After attending the Guide Rendezvous I continued to learn more about the campaign and was able to participate in a cross country road trip that fostered more women on the water. I am not a pro or ambassador but certainly join in any chance I can to encourage women to play. We seem to have forgotten we need that.
I really have enjoyed getting to know so many people within the Orvis company. There is a beautiful team at work truly making it their mission to make the outdoors inclusive to everyone. Being a woman from the south, Orvis’ support of women on the water and in the field was monumental. After seeing that it wasn’t just a campaign slogan and that the people working there supported their wives and included them on trips gave me the assurance I needed to continue my passion.
We heard a summer job on a dude ranch in Wyoming was a big experience for you at an early age. Can you tell us a little bit how that shaped your outlook on life?
Ha! The HF Bar Ranch in Saddlestring, Wyoming… I honestly think that was one of the most life changing experiences for me ever. It was also my first time away from home for any extended period. The exposure to so many different types of people was a major eye opener, even more significant than my first college experiences, and I’ve maintained a number of very close friendships from that time. Living on a 5,000 acre ranch made it possible for me to enjoy the outdoors every day. It was also the first time I tried fly fishing. You know, being a city girl from the South, I’ve always liked the outdoors, plus the social scene felt basically like summer camp for adults. It was a really good picture of what my life could be like as I got older, it was simple, and it was fun like I’ve never had before or since. It was also hard work and it taught me some great life lessons at an important age. It was at that point I realized how much I wanted to the western lifestyle to be a part of my life.
Now I take my kids to the ranch and we’ve been going for the past eight summers. It has absolutely helped plant the seeds in them for what I love about the American West and the way of life it offers. I always tell them I hope they continue to love it because when I’m old and gray they are going to have to go out there to find me!
Tell us more about your passion for fly fishing and what it means in your life?
The beginning was in my early 20’s, but soon after I turned my focus on raising my kids, and I really didn’t have much time for it until I picked my rod back up five years ago. Immediately I thought, why did I wait so long! It was exactly what I needed at that time in my life and it put me back in the outdoor places I love the most. I’m also competitive, and I wanted to build my skills, so I started to travel to fish new water and catch new species. Fly fishing definitely has brought nothing but good things to my life, and I just feel like everybody that I’ve met in the angling industry is awesome. For me, catching the fish is a bonus… I love the whole adventure of just getting there and everything that happens on a trip from start to finish. I’m always ready for my next angling adventure.
We noticed on Instagram that you recently had the pleasure of visiting Flying B Ranch, when did you start with wingshooting?
So wingshooting is relatively new for me, but the passion is just as strong. I first got a shotgun several years ago for a dove hunt with my sons at our hunting camp in Mississippi. I wanted us to have another activity, like fly fishing, we could do as a family and enjoy together throughout the years. Soon after, some relatives invited me for a little bit of duck hunting, and I just fell for it head over heels. I did my first pheasant hunt two years ago in Bighorn, Wyoming, and wrote a feature for Covey Rise magazine. I hope to be able to return and do that again many times over.
Wingshooting at the Flying B was really exciting because I hunted with 2020 and 2019 Orvis Guides of the Year. There was a fantastic lady guide (and mother of four), that worked as an attorney by day and lead bird hunts on the weekends. She was a truly authentic character and left a big impression on me. She really took me under her wing you might say… 😉
But seriously, it was truly refreshing to hunt with another woman, and since she was from my mother’s generation it helped me see what the future might hold for me as I hope to bird hunt late in my life. The other thing I want to say is that I love everything about the Flying B team, they do an incredible job with every aspect of hospitality and really know how to show people a great time.
From a client perspective, what qualities in a guide appeal to you most?
It’s the guides that are focused on the fun aspects of a trip that are the best in my opinion. After all, fun is what it is all supposed to be about, so that’s #1 for me. Of course, I want to learn as much as I can as well, so throughout the day I appreciate guides who find opportunities to teach when the moment is right and I can really learn something. I’m a big fan of the social aspect, and I like a guide who enjoys storytelling and lively conversation. Almost every guide I’ve met is a character in one sense or another, and I always look forward to getting to know them as a person.
One last thing before we go, do you have a favorite breed of gun dog?
I can’t say I have a favorite breed, because I really love them all, but what I have found is that I am attracted to the personality of the dog. I especially love how the bird dogs put their personalities on display when they are on the hunt. I remember this German shorthair named Red, and he was totally on his own program, downright crazy and fearless, and I loved that he just was so fired up all the time. But I think my favorite dog I’ve hunted with recently was this little English cocker named Rosie. When I saw her I thought, what is this little dog going to do? She was the tiniest one in the pack and outworked all the other dogs. She flushed 90% of the birds and did with it all heart. I mean, she never stopped! I also enjoy watching the guide with their dog – the bond between the dog and the handler is so special, and when that relationship is on point you know it will be a memorable day.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us and we wish you and yours all the best over the holidays! Tight lines and happy hunting in 2021!