Women Go Hunting Spotlight, Susan Hayes

I came to the hunting world later in life than most.  Fifteen years ago (or so) my husband Bill was interested in getting back into the hunting world.  I came from a family with a long line of fishermen/women, and basically if you didn’t enjoy fishing you got kicked to the curb as most all of our family vacations and outings were in the mountains or on the ocean hiking, fishing, boating and being in nature.  As such, I was naturally interested in the outdoors, so when Bill asked me if I was interested in hunting with him I made him a deal….I will hunt with you if you will fish with me.  Well, we have made time for fishing in most of our remote locations around the world, but honestly, I think he got the better end of the deal as I have taken to hunting unlike anything else in my life.  It is truly in my blood.

My involvements with Safari Club International have brought me close to and into the rarified air of the greatest hunters in the world.  I have learned from them and have tried to emulate their ethics and attain their standards.  Within these ranks are the Diana’s who have been a guiding force for me in hunting and also in the world of advocacy for hunter’s rights and gun rights.  It is our job as women to encourage other women—especially younger women to become involved in the hunting and shooting sports.  I say it all the time… “If you get the Mom’s, you get the kids and you therefore get the next generation of Second Amendment and Hunting Rights advocates”.  We must all stand together to ensure these rights (not privileges) are preserved.

Being a resident of California since birth, I have seen the erosion of respect for hunters and gun owners in my state (former state as of 2022).  I feel it is my duty to take on the responsibility of teaching and encouraging women in California and elsewhere to understand the freedoms we have and how we must strive to protect them.  I therefore work to introduce women to hunting and shooting whenever an opportunity presents itself.  It has become a wonderful way to work with women who otherwise would not be exposed to our world.  As a result, I have made so many new friends and have felt the reward of seeing women truly become excited about the ideals we hold so dear.

Many people have asked me ‘why do you hunt?’.  There are so many reasons.  Firstly, it gives me the opportunity to spend more time with my husband, family and friends.  As Big Game hunters we are often in the field alone or maybe with a guide and tracker, but it is the time when you return to camp and sit around the fire to share stories of the day or other adventures in hunting which I really enjoy.  Secondly, hunting has taken us to places in the world for which there is no “tour” to take.  Meeting people in their indigenous environments, hearing their stories from a perspective not heard at home and observing their way of life has taught me more about the world than any prepackaged trip, book or class could ever teach.  Thirdly, I hunt because I feel closest to nature and  most challenged by her than in any other activity.  I have learned to be strong despite my fears, to focus and concentrate on important tasks and mostly, have reinforced in myself a strength which I can have at any time, any age, any place.  It has been a life force, changing me and directing me as to how I will live through the rest of my days.