After launching Rocky Mountain Sportswomen in January, I am overwhelmed with the positive support and feedback I’ve received for starting it all. With three successful events under our belt, and a continuous growth in partnerships and our social media following, I am so excited to see where the rest of the year will take us. Since starting, I have been asked “why” numerous times. So here is my why and a brief background of how I got here. It all started with my love of the outdoors as a child.
Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina, playing in the woods with my friends, or with my German Shepherd, Ordis, was my favorite thing to do. Hunting was never really a part of my family culture, however they are well-rounded, and very avid travelers, teachers, scientists, and artists. So, an adventurous spirit is natural in my genes. I ended up attending Brevard College in Brevard, North Carolina for their Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education Program. My dad also happened to be the Geology professor there as well. My college experience was unlike any other, and if I could go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Being located in magical Pisgah National Forest, this is where my true love for the outdoors really flourished, and made me who I am today. I learned all about backpacking, backcountry living, obtained my Wilderness First Responder certification, learned to rock climb, and white water kayak, and so much more. All of this while creating an incredible family of friends and mentors who will always have a place in my heart. I could ramble on and on about some amazing experiences and stories, but I’ll save those for future blog posts.
After graduating and having worked as a zipline guide for two summers with many of my college friends, I decided to pack up and head to Colorado to live with my sister for the winter, which turned into the summer, and into an extra year. Within that time I was living the ski bum life in Vail and fell in love with Missouri country boy turned Colorado mountain man. He is my sole reason for getting into hunting in the first place. He taught me the love of the wilderness that I had never known. After eating many wild game meals from his kills, I became more and more convinced that I could maybe get into hunting. You can read a little bit more about my first hunting experiences in my blog My First Successful Hunt.
Jesse and I have settled into the Yampa Valley in Routt County, Colorado these last couple of years with our adorable daughter and pup. Since being here, we have established some good friends in our neighborhood and in the Steamboat Springs community. With Jesse being an obsessive elk hunter and guide, I have taken on the obsession as well. As I have gotten to know some amazing women here in Routt County who are also getting started in the hunting world, I continuously thought about how amazing it would be if there was a women’s hunting and fishing club of some sort that I could join to learn from and with other women. After months of thinking about it, and all the different possibilities of what the organization could contain, I started doing lots of research and chatting with friends and acquaintances about the idea. I found that there wasn’t already something like this in our area, and with lots of positive feedback from friends and family, I decided to take on the role of starting it myself.
With hunting being such a male-dominant activity, it can be pretty intimidating for a woman to start up if they don’t already have a direct influence in their lives, like I do with Jesse. It seems that the women who do hunt pretty adamantly either grew up doing it with their family, or have a significant other that helped them start off. My intentions with Rocky Mountain Sportswomen are to create a community of inspired women and a comfortable environment for women who want to take on hunting or fishing, or just simply want to find other women to head out into the field with. This organization will provide an easier approach to these lifestyles while developing strong friendships and a sisterhood. My vision is to create a movement of women in the outdoors, not just through hunting and fishing, but also taking on the role of being conservation advocates. Hunting, for many years, has had a negative reaction with a lot of people. Yet, those people just don’t understand the impact and the importance of hunting and fishing for conservation funding, wildlife management, and the protection of our public lands. I want our Rocky Mountain Sportswomen to be role models in the hunting and fishing industry by spreading awareness and educate through our events, fundraising, and philanthropic outreach.
With women in fishing on the rise, hunting overall is becoming less and less popular, which can be detrimental to the American tradition, wildlife populations, and conservation of our public lands. Rocky Mountain Sportswomen is a small solution in recruiting more women hunters, which in the long run, will encourage more youth and beginners to be active in the outdoors as well.
Throughout my journey so far, I have been so fortunate to meet some amazing women along the way. One of those women, Jaime, has taken on a huge role in helping me launch this organization. As I began to piece things together, Jaime reached out to me wanting to be more involved, which is exactly what I was looking for as I began to grow our Routt County Facebook Group. With her involvement, motivation, and passion I am really looking forward to continuing our partnership, and making a difference within our own community, and hopefully, throughout the U.S.
I hope you join us on our journey to inspire and to continuously build our community. I have learned so much in these last few months, and never knew that this would be my dream “job.” If you want to become a part of the movement, reach out! We are always open to new ideas, partnerships, and donations. Thank you for your support and following along.
Elena Reynolds, Founder