I’m Jess Kinamon and a young female hunter here in Montana. I live to hunt the Rocky Mountain Front. I’ve always been my dad’s hunting buddy, so I started before I could even walk. We moved to Conrad Montana when I was 7 years old. That’s when both my dad and I were introduced to the rugged country we call home. One moment you’re chasing whitetails through river bottom country, the next you’re up in the steepest terrain with the bighorn sheep and big mule deer. I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of things that many people may never get to see in their lifetime. In my free time and as a part-time job, I enjoy painting a lot of my favorite moments outdoors.
This female hunter feature is for Jess Kinamon. Here we go!
Why do you hunt and fish?
Hunting and fishing have never been a question for my family and me. If we wanted to eat any meat that year then we hunted and fished for it and provided it for ourselves. I am on my own now and I make the decision to hunt and fish. My boyfriend and I both prefer wild game so we both continue for our freezer fare. However, there’s so much more to hunting than the freezer. When I’m out in the backcountry there’s a deep connection to nature that a person develops, and it simply cannot be explained. The people I get to hunt with also play a huge role in who I am and why I will always continue to hunt.
When was your first hunting trip? How old were you?
My dad has always been an avid outdoorsman so when he started having kids he was super excited to have some hunting buddies. After I was born it didn’t take him long to get me out. I was about 10 months old when I accompanied my dad on my first hunt. Ever since then I’ve been on every trip I could physically go on. Fishing and everything else outdoors came just as naturally.
What do you like most about hunting and fishing?
I could go on and on and on about the things I love about hunting, fishing, and just being in the outdoors. There are so many benefits to the outdoors in general. For me, it’s a huge stress relief, sometimes a bit of fresh mountain air cures absolutely everything. I enjoy hunting so much because I get to see my meat all the way from field to table and the entire process in between. There’s nothing like sitting down for dinner and reminiscing about the hunt that took place to put that food in your belly. There’s also an incredible connection that takes place between you and the animal along with the ground you hunt and enjoy. Hunting and fishing can also grow amazing friendships between you and other outdoorsmen.
What’s your most memorable hunting experience?
Every season my dad and I, and now my boyfriend too, put ourselves through a lot, physically and mentally. A couple of years ago we had no idea what we had done to ourselves till it was already done. We feed a family of 6 every year and eat nothing but wild game, and that particular year we were extremely pressed for meat, we needed to harvest an elk.
We hunted extremely hard for the whole season and started to get desperate. We decided we would go to an area that had been produced for us a couple of years before but was extremely difficult to navigate and hunt. Before we got into elk country we had to travel about 6 miles in and cross two very steep canyon-like gullies. We decided we would do it in a desperate push for meat, because beggars couldn’t be choosers. We hunted for a few days, had killed two mule deer bucks, and had packed them both out making for long days and heavy packs.
But we still needed an elk, so we continued to push through the soreness and exhaustion. We got in early one morning and started walking, and kept walking. We decided to branch off the trail and go up. We met a fellow, local hunter coming down. We chatted with him for a little while and kept on our trek up. About 10 minutes later we got to the top, and there were fresh elk tracks over the top of our fellow locals’ tracks. The elk had been there just a few minutes prior, so we continued with caution.
We saw the flashing through the trees; they were bulls. We got up to where they started to cross and took a shot. We were not sure if one was hit but the shot felt good. My dad looked for blood, and I hustled right behind the elk knowing where they went into the trees. I saw a bull standing broadside on the timberline; he looked sick. I raised my rifle and took a shot and he was down.
Now the work began, and there was a storm rolling in. It was a blizzard while we broke it down. We loaded our packs and headed out. We decided to come back the next day and get it all with the sled since it had just snowed, that way we only had to do it once. We knew it would be tough but it beat going back and forth. We showed up the next morning and pulled the sled in, but we didn’t consider the wind blowing all the snow off. The sled was loaded down with about 250 pounds of meat. We both pulled as hard as we could, moving about 5 inches at a time. It was miserable, going through the canyon-like gullies was horrible, but it made one hell of a memory. It was easily the most miserable and most memorable hunt we did.
Do you have a favorite wild game recipe?
I love to experiment with wild game meat and have made some tasty meals. However, just a pan-seared backstrap is my hands-down favorite meal when it comes to venison.
Do you have a “dream” hunt or fishing excursion?
It’s so difficult to pick just one dream hunt. It’s somewhere between Alaskan mountain caribou/Sitka blacktail, New Zealand tahr/stag, and African Kudu/Cape buffalo. My dream fishing excursion is between deep sea tuna that I can eat raw right on the boat, and salmon/deep sea fishing in Alaska.
What would you say to other women who haven’t tried hunting or fishing yet?
Find somebody to take you if you want to do it. If you enjoy it after that then just go for it! It’s hard to know where to start. But, the hunting and fishing community is extremely friendly to people who want to give it a try. If you’re reading this and you’ve never been before but want to go, shoot me a message on Instagram, and I would be happy to help you out!
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