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Idaho Photography 2018- A Connection with Nature

Earlier this fall, I found myself soaking up the change in seasons over a lovely dinner with friends I hadn’t seen in quite a while. When “catch-up” conversation turned in my direction, I was elated to share that I’d soon be returning to Idaho. I eagerly recounted my last year’s adventures and explained my goals of photographically capturing upland hunters. One of my friends confusingly furrowed his brow, contorted his mouth, and simply responded…. “What”? 

I get it.  At a quick glance, it may be hard to see how capturing upland hunting in Idaho might fit within my wheelhouse. To be honest, amongst a group of hunters, I AM the odd woman out. I don’t consider myself a game hunter. After all, I don’t know if I have it in my heart to pull the trigger with a beating heart in my crosshairs. Although between family and friends, I’ve tagged along on enough hunts to share in the pride and gratitude found in providing sustenance through the bounty of a hunt.

I’ve come to learn that a hunt adds up to much more than how many times you pull the trigger.

And during year two of Idaho upland hunting, I found common ground with my gun wielding friends through our mutual love and respect for nature’s vast offerings.

The health benefits associated with the human connection to nature span both physical and mental grounds. Regardless, as generations have evolved, Americans have become far less connected to nature. Busy schedules, fear of unfamiliar environments, and a preference for electronic entertainment are just a few examples of the barriers that have come between our relationship with nature. Dang it, hard as I try, I’m a guilty American. Yes, I do my best to connect with nature at every opportunity. Here’s the thing, my best can’t hold a candle to the group of hunters I recently joined in Idaho. Connecting to nature through hunting is not a pastime for this crew, it’s a lifestyle.

Hunting is described as an age-old activity that combines physical with nutrition. Might I say, Danielle Prewett, founder of Wild+ Whole and MeatEater Wild Foods Cooking Contributor, is the epitome of this interpretation. While eating farm to table is making an undeniable comeback, Daniel is taking this nostalgic trend leaps and bounds past running to the local farmers market.  As Danielle’s perspective of the meat industry began to expand, she turned away from purchasing factory farmed meat and has set her sights towards harvesting and preparing her own food. ( Source: Wild+Whole).

Daniel graciously shared her passion for hunting, cooking with wild game, and foraging nature’s edible treats at base camp. No joke- we ate like royalty. 

In being a respectful hunter, Danielle creatively seeks out ways to incorporate as much of the animal as possible within her cooking. Hearts, for instance, a delicacy Danielle has recently been experimenting with.  Yes, I consumed my first heart on this trip, and it was surprisingly delicious.

And I dare you to try and keep up with this little firecracker-her physical capabilities are boundless. Until you can catch Danielle, jump on over to her website. You might just find yourself preparing something Wild + Whole to share with friends and family over the holiday season.

Alongside American’s disconnect to nature, overall numbers of participating hunters in the United States has witnessed a rather sharp decline. Female hunters are a key ingredient in turning this downturn back around. The number of female hunters is on the rise.

Admittedly, a big reason I agreed to join in my first upland adventure was upon hearing a female hunter was joining. And thus my friendship with Kali Parmley commenced. This gorgeous huntress is a force to be reckoned with.

 

Her passion for hunting goes far beyond a kill. As Managing Editor of Petersen’s Hunting Magazine, Kali has turned her passions for hunting into a career. A career that offers a platform to reverse the negative perceptions of hunting, to spread the message of conservation, and to further attract women who might be skeptical to join a male-dominated sport. Kali’s insight, patience, and support while venturing well outside my comfort zones into the world of upland hunting is exemplary for hunting recruitment. Like many outdoor activities, friendships are forged through blood, sweat, and tears.  Without a doubt, hunting is no exception. I may not be running out to purchase my first shotgun and bird dog tomorrow, although my life is surely fuller through having spent time with Kali.

Goodness, I’ve known Brian, Ultimate Upland founder, before his days of cutting bait. From creative agency to the outdoor industry, Brian is wildly chasing his upland bird hunting passions one sponsor at a time. Along with his two active bird dogs, you can find Brian somewhere high on a mountain, scouring the grassy plains, or on the open road in search of the next opportunity for his crew to flush upland birds.

No matter where I choose to stand within nature’s arms, I’m continually humbled at how small I am in comparison to nature’s greatness. I literally become the proverbial “needle in a haystack” when immersed in nature. I’ve found my connection with nature offers me a greater ability to more easily combat stress, anger, and anxiety. I’ve found sharing my connection to nature with others sparks lifetime friendships, as well as thrusting already close relationships to new heights.

I challenge you to get outside, immerse yourself in nature. Better yet, grab someone and invite them to enjoy nature with you. One never knows- that someone who is seemingly not outdoors-y may just be waiting for an invitation. And truth be told, nature can use all the love it can get.

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