Women Go Hunting: From Tagging Along to Stalking the Black Death

Growing up I would tag along with my dad when he went hunting. I loved spending time outdoors, seeing wildlife, and spending time with family. I was a good spotter when I would go, but never actually hunted. 

Seven years ago, I met my husband. Again, I tagged along on his hunts until he asked if I wanted to hunt. I’d never asked before…I wasn’t sure how good I’d be. I was nervous and didn’t have much experience. My husband was a wonderful teacher and extremely patient with me when I would get flustered with myself. I became more confident as time went on and I gained more experience. 

Fast forward to today, I’ve been on many hunts in North America, Canada, twice to South Africa, and once to Tanzania. I’ve harvested a total of 41 animals in my seven years of hunting. This year I got two of the African Big Five, a Cape Buffalo and a lion. 

My Cape buffalo hunt was intense and thrilling. It’s hard to put into words my emotions with this animal. We stalked two different herds of buffalo in the 10 days we were in Limpopo, South Africa. At one point we were only 20 to 25 yards from a huge herd. They spotted us and nothing could stand in their way as they blazed through trees and brush. It was like witnessing a wrecking ball taking down a building. The ground shook. The herd stamping through the trees and the brush was so loud it was deafening. I was paralyzed. 

After we gathered ourselves, we put another stalk on the herd, this time with success. Our guide spotted three mature bulls together at the back of the herd. I got set up and waited to take my shot at the one my guide indicated. As the two other bulls moved away, I shot. It was a solid hit, but he didn’t go down. The two other bulls along with mine didn’t move. I took a second shot, and the bull was down! I was shaking from the flowing adrenaline. I did it!! 

Now it was time to recover the Cape buffalo; only problem was the other two bulls didn’t leave with the herd and were standing guard over the downed bull. After about an hour they finally left, and I got to experience the animal they call the Black Death up close. I couldn’t believe how beautiful, massive, and powerful he was. 

I had amazing support on this hunt, my husband being my biggest fan. I’ve learned so much by becoming a hunter, conservation being the biggest lesson. I became a member of SCI five years ago. I’m proud to be a lifetime member now, and I’m proud of everything SCI stands for.  – Bonnie Justice

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