This Female Hunter Feature is for Sue Tidwell. Here we go!
Hello! I’m Sue Tidwell, the author of “Cries of the Savanna.” Although I am a non-hunter, I grew up in rural Pennsylvania where hunting was almost a religion. Wild game made up a huge part of my family’s diet so I understood hunting for meat and population control. Yet, when it came to hunting the exotic species of Africa, I strongly questioned its merits. After experiencing a Tanzanian hunting safari and the harsh realities of life in rural Africa, all my doubts vanished. Not only do I support sustainable conservation and understand the critical role hunting plays in it, I am on a mission to help others understand as well. My website, suetidwell.com, offers more information about the book, as well as its first chapter.
Why do you spend time outdoors?
The open-air speaks to my soul. In the early years, you could find me climbing trees and romping through the woods behind our house. Later, I became obsessed with Pennsylvania river life and any activity that encompassed it. When moving to Alaska, I fell in love with hiking — and ultimately my husband Rick. Upon moving to his hometown, I was introduced to Idaho ranch life, rugged canyons, and mountainous wonder. When I began going with him on hunts, it allowed me to experience nature in a whole new way – more like I was a part of it, rather than a spectator. While I still have no desire to pull the trigger, piggybacking on my husband’s hunts allows me to engage in new adventures and challenges while experiencing camaraderie, wildlife viewing, and spectacular wilderness areas – all of which speak to my heart.
When was your first hunting memory, and how old were you?
In awe and torment, I watched as a struggling caribou worked its way up the mountainside along with the rest of the herd. To end its suffering, Rick took the injured bull. Even knowing its suffering had been ended, I bawled like a baby. I was in my 30’s but, until then, I had only seen harvested animals as slabs of meat hanging in the garage. As traumatic as that first hunt was – for both of us — it was also wondrous. Battling the whirling winds of a high alpine meadow in the spectacular mountain peaks of the Kenai Peninsula, I’d been blessed with watching caribou in their natural environment meandering their way up the valley, a sight I’d been far less likely to witness on a fair-weather afternoon hike. While I did not like the actual kill, I found myself reveling in the overall wilderness experience.
What do you love most about hunting OR fishing OR spending time outdoors?
Being in the outdoors fills me with peace, enabling me to step away from the craziness of life and its responsibilities. I also love the adventure part of it: never knowing what is at the end of the trail, what is around the next bend, or what experience might materialize.
What’s your most memorable outdoors’ experience?
Hands down, my most memorable outdoor experience was our Tanzanian hunting safari. It was far more than an adventure in a wild foreign land, it opened my mind in ways that I never imagined – literally changing my life.
Do you have a favorite wild game recipe?
Cooking is NOT my thing! But, when push comes to shove, I can whip up some pretty mean spaghetti sauce made with ground deer meat or fry backstrap in oodles of butter. I blame my dislike of the kitchen on my childhood; I had to help Mom with meals while my brothers remained outside playing. As you can see, I’m still not over it. Thankfully, my husband’s love of cooking ensures that I am well fed.
Do you have a dream outdoors’ excursion?
Africa. Africa. Africa. While I love almost any outdoor activity, especially if they are wilderness or water related, my dreams always take me back to Africa. The magical, unforgiving, complex continent has a way of seeping into the blood, capturing the soul, and stealing the heart of anyone who steps on its soil. I am no different.
What would you say to other women who haven’t tried spending time outdoors yet?
To borrow a quote from Scott Stillman, “There is magic just outside your comfort zone.” There are hundreds of outdoor activities. Seek out experienced people and experiment with different pursuits – even if they scare you — until you find the ones that speak to you. Some of the most memorable and life-changing experiences come from those we fear the most.
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