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Woman At Arms

I found my gun. Or, rather, it found me.

Longtime readers might recall back in February, when I mentioned my interest in learning to hunt with a group of similarly-minded ladies. I’ve been caught up in all sorts of other things in the ensuing months, writing, gardening, chasing after a rapid-fire baby (toddler!), and generally living life. Hunting, and marksmanship, and gun knowledge have been kind of sidelined while I make my way through these busy days.

And then, out of nowhere, my gun walked into my life. A dear friend of Hubs’ came to visit us last week. He brought with him the gun you see pictured above. Never before fired, this gun, a Browning A-Bolt Stainless Steel 7MM Remington Magnum with Leupold scope, came with him, and was graciously, generously, incredibly thoughtful gifted to me. It’s an exquisitely crafted machine, and I feel a river of gratitude for such a gift.

I haven’t fired it yet (although I did try out a shotgun our friend also brought with him). I’m still just sort of in awe of it. Every time I hold it, I keep thinking “I’m holding a lethal weapon, I’m holding a lethal weapon.” I hope I never stop thinking that way. I hope I never loose the profound recognition that guns are deadly, and that they’re also very meaningful tools.

This journey is just beginning. I’ll keep you posted as it unfolds.

*I wanted to take a minute to address concerns that have arisen given the timeliness of this post and the recent shooting rampage, and subsequent loss of precious lives, in Colorado. That was a senseless tragedy. Personally, however, I see no connection between my interest in learning to hunt for my own food, with a weapon I highly respect and intend to use conscientiously, and what happened out there.

I understand that the image of a gun can illicit strong reactions. That said, this is an interest I intend to pursue, and gun imagery may appear here periodically. If the sight of someone holding a weapon, with the intention of providing food for their family, offends you, then small measure might not be the best blog for you.

I understand that this is a controversial issue that invites passionate sentiment, but this post, and my feelings surrounding the choice to hunt for my own food, aren’t a solicitation for fiery comments. This is a personal blog, chronicling my and my families experiences in homesteading. For a spirited debate on the issue of guns and gun ownership, there are numerous sites better suited to the topic.

28 Responses to Woman At Arms

  • Betty says:

    She’s a beaut! Now you can literally bring home the bacon er’ venison ;) Happy hunting.

  • Diana says:

    Wish I could find enough “like minded” woman near me to hunt.. That think it’s gross that I want to learn how to slaughter a chicken to eat. I would love to bring home venison, however there would never be a chance for me to learn or hunt with my 2 munchkins at home. Good Luck!

  • Michelle says:

    You are amazing! Love the “Hunter” boots!

  • jen says:

    How terrific! When you start the hunting “training” again – let me know. I’d love to start learning that stuff!

  • Aimee says:

    Good for you! I was the suburban kid who got a .22 for her 13th birthday – we only did target practice out in the country, but I’m glad I got to learn to shoot. You go grrl!!

  • Kira says:

    Your’re a badass! Luv it..

  • Ellen says:

    Have to admit to my shock of seeing this post and the Sara Palin – like pose so soon after Aurora CO shooting. I’m not against hunting, but found this jarring

    • Ellen-I’m sorry if you found the image jarring. That certainly wasn’t my intention. I expected some people might have a strong reaction to this post. Hunting, and weapons in general, evoke strong emotions in people. That said, I don’t feel any shame surrounding this interest.This is simply a personal chronicle of a desire to learn to ethically and sustainably hunt with a group of my close female friends.

      The weapon I was just generously gifted with couldn’t ever inflict the sort of harm done by the shooter in Aurora, who used an assault weapon. As for the “Sara Palin-like pose,” I’ve been told before that I bear a resemblance to her, given my long brown hair and glasses. That’s where the similarities between she and I end, though.

      • Roisin says:

        Just wanted to say that I don’t think there’s anyone you have less in common with than Sarah Palin. And with that out of the way, great post!

  • Cary says:

    I have to agree with Kira!!! I see another book joining the Homemade Living series very soon…….

  • Kristina says:

    I agree, she is a beaut! And our rifles are “cousins!” I am so glad that your rifle found its way to you. I have full faith that you’ll continue to show it respect and use it wisely.

  • Rachel says:

    I love this! I too, have taken an interest in hunting and guns recently (much to my guy’s delight), and was given a 12 gauge shotgun for my birthday. Good luck – I’ll be checking in for updates :)

  • We would like to hunt more of our food as well.

  • Tracey says:

    What a beautiful gun, it is exactly the kind my husband shoots. It’s nice to see more women getting into hunting. All of my family hunts , processes and then enjoys the meals from what is provided on our land. Now if I could just grow coffee here I might never step into a market again. :)

  • Ellen says:

    Ashley thank you for giving your balanced opinion on gun use and gun ownership. The right to keep and bear arms is so fundamental to our liberty both as individuals, communities and a nation. Safe, responsible gun ownership and use is a survival skill whether you are hunting for food, defending your flock from a predator or safeguarding your family. There are criminals and evil people among us. An armed and skilled citizenry can help our stretched law enforcement keep our communities safe. I wonder how many lives could have been saved if many members of that theater audience in Aurora Colorado had trained in the safe and responsible use of firearms, had practiced until they were a good marksman and then carried their legal weapon properly licensed and concealed into the movie with them? Just a moderately adept marksman could have disabled the shooter. Now imagine if every individual inclined to commit a crime knew he or she might potentially face their death at the hands of an armed and skilled citizenry.

    • kaktusfink says:

      I’m honestly shocked by this comment. Maybe it’s me being European where it’s not legal to carry guns, except for registered hunters, but I’m convinced that “normal” people should under no circumstances be allowed to keep guns, let alone defend themselves. “There are criminals and evil people among us. An armed and skilled citizenry can help our stretched law enforcement keep our communities safe” is a very dangerous statement. Who defines a criminal, and who defines who may be shot because of being “evil”? The US have a much higher number of people shot dead than any other country, so the concept of selfdefending citizenry should really be doubted. (I adore woman hunters, though and I think hunt is a great possibility for being self sufficient, so no offence taken, Ashley!)

  • Maggie says:

    I grew up with venison (though we still just call it deer meat) on my plate a few times each week for supper. Now my growing family is fortunate to eat it a few times a month with a sense of self-reliance and gratefulness. My Grandfather has hunt big game for at least 70 years and my father 40, myself 12 years. I have been fortunate enough to spend many many days in the woods with my family, learning about nature, family, life and death. Regardless of the number of years hunting there is still a very humbling feeling (amongst many others) that comes over my grandfather, father and myself each time an animal’s life is taken, I have witnessed and experienced it. You’re views/intentions on hunting seem very thoughtful & sound. Perhaps you are the start of a new tradition in your family. I wish you many years of safe, prosperous time in the woods.

  • Katie says:

    If I lived closer, I’d love to hunt with the ladies.

  • Jessica says:

    I’m a long time lurker here (from Alberta, Canada). Just wanted to comment to say I do not find these pictures disburbing at all! If anything, I find them empowering :) I really don’t think you can compare having a gun for hunting animals with mass murder. My hubby hunts and we eat a lot of venison. Love it! I am going to start grouse hunting this fall with a good girl friend. Can’t wait!

  • sierra says:

    yeah, gee, i can totally see the similarities between this confident woman in a hot dress in the woods wearing muck boots and the crazy guy with red hair in a city shooting up a theater in full out tactical gear, and i am *so* offended.

    seriously, people, get off it. it was a tragedy, and it’s over, and this chick learning to be self-reliant is *probably* not going to turn into her being a mass murderer (probably).

    i think it’s awesome that you want to hunt, and fyi–i just applied for a foid card. i’mma be getting my hunt on soon too. :) i have a certified instructor teaching me to shoot, and then taking me into the field with him–and i can’t WAIT. like you, i am terrified of the gun. terrified. when i found an old rifle tucked away into the farmhouse we moved into, i almost crapped my pants. i literally held it at arms’ length when my husband handed it back to me after checking to see if it was loaded. “are you SURE there are no bullets left?!” i have a lot to learn.

    kudos to you, ma’am!

  • Kelly says:

    Totally in your corner when it comes to learning to hunt & taking the responsible step towards supplying your family with locally harvested wild game, as a hunting woman myself. It is a huge responsibilty to hunt ethically. You said that you have not shot this gun yet, I have to ask, have you shot any guns before? You may want to start out with a .22, or .17 to get the feel for it, and then work up to maybe a shotgun, before you give that beaut a pull. Small steps to success & confidence! Cuz, Darlin’, if you hold it as posed & pull the trigger as your first gunshot, you are not gonna want to have anything to do with guns ever again. I just had to tell you. It looks great, it will take down any game you take the proper aim on, but it’ll also knock your socks off. Speaking from experience as I was handed a 30-06 and told to “aim at the target” with no prior gun experience…it made me jumpy with the trigger, not a good thing. Look into a recoil pad, and wear a sweater. Watch it when you are peering down that scope too, don’t get “scoped”! Also ear protection. I’m sure you have someone there to teach you gun safety and whatnot, but I just had to speak up. I wouldn’t want to see a huntress-in-training be turned away from the fine tradition of hunting by a bad first experience. Absolute best wishes on your shooting and looking forward to hearing how future hunts go!!!

  • Jeannie says:

    Really people, get a grip. There is day and night difference between providing food for your family, and what that moron in Colorado did to those people. He would have done something crazy, whether it was a bomb, or anything else he could get his hands on.
    If my Dad had not hunted for our food when I was growing up, I would have been very hungry! I grew up in the mountains of NC, and those people will defend home, family, and their beliefs at all costs. We need more people like that in our society, instead of people that go around blind to how “society” really is.
    Go to the streets of Chicago, Detroit, or Compton with no way to defend yourself-see how you feel after that!

  • Spencer says:

    I hear ya! Nice looking rifle. Grab some camo and lets hit the woods! Great venison recipes are in the future!

  • Fran says:

    Oh boy! I was loving your work until the gun stuff came up. Being a teacher in an urban setting where so many of my students’ lives are wrecked by gun violence, I’m just too sensitive… I appreciate the points you raise, but you are right: Going forward, your blog and books won’t be for me.

  • Jeff Wilson says:

    Totally nice gun. I just have an old 30 30, but it’ll do the job. I guess some city folks just don’t get it. We have cougars, bears and coyotes in our back yard. Sometimes they become overly troublesome, killing our animals, wrecking fruit trees, bee hives, etc. That’s when it’s a really good time to eat em. Free Range organic good stuff.

  • Melissa says:

    Wow! You are brave. Not for learning to hunt. But for blogging about it. Good for you.

  • Valerie says:

    gosh what world do we live in … when people nowadays feel they have to write edits or justify or etc… their photos, writings, decisions on their blogs in case some people would be offended. i’ve seen this happening more and more since i’ve started reading blogs say like 7 or 8 years ago. no one will ever agree anyway, that’s how we, humans, are & it’s a shame because as a response to this more and more bloggers (especially those with a large audience) tend to format their space to be politically correct and this takes the best part of it all : sincerity, authenticity, character…
    i like this quote “the more one loves their decisions, the less they need others to love them”
    so, lady, go hunt in the wood & feed your family this is your life !
    fyi : i don’t hunt, i barely eat meat. but i always try to be … intelligent ;)

  • Kristi says:

    I grew up in the north of Canada where hunting is a normal, every-day activity – no problem with that.

    However, guns are strictly regulated in Canada, and we have nowhere near the carnage that you take for granted in the United States.

    May I suggest that perhaps along with learning to shoot and hunt, you (and your American readers) also begin to use social media to take action for strong regulation of the gun industry – just ridiculous that a country as educated and sophisticated as yours accepts and even encourages the gun-culture that kills so many of your fellow Americans.

    Hunt by all means – but do everything in your power to stop the gun-crazy carnage in your country – it really is up to all of you to stop it now.