SILT - Jackie Gross won't be going to Zimbabwe for an all-expense paid hunting trip this year.
In early January, Gross found out she officially came in second in a national hunting competition called the "Extreme Huntress Competition" run by Tahoe Films.
Gross wrote an essay describing what makes her the most extreme huntress in North America and was selected as a finalist in the annual competition, decided solely by public voting.
However, she landed in second place on New Year's Eve, when the on-line public voting closed.
Only 289 votes separated Gross from the first-place finisher. Gross ended up with 2,619 votes while Tiffany Brewer of Texas took first place with 2,908 votes.
Sue Bookhout, Melus Outdoors media spokesperson said the huntress contest gained more popularity this year.
"We started using social media this year, so the popularity of the contest on a national level really took off," she said. "Hits to our website really increased, so I think that helped the amount of votes as well."
This was the third year of the annual contest.
Gross, who grew up hunting with her father and brothers, said winning the competition would have been a big accomplishment as a woman hunter in a field traditionally dominated by men.
"Even though I placed second, it's okay because I know that all of the contestants are original in their own way. Each of us are unique, making us all extreme. It makes me more happy to know there are women who are enjoying the outdoors and sharing their passion for hunting. To me, we are all winners," Gross said.
Votes in support of Gross poured in from Colorado and her home state of Louisiana, according to Gross. She even did a little self-marketing on road trip down South for the holidays.
"Before driving to Louisiana from Colorado we were looking at all avenues to try to get a vote or two during the 1,300 mile stretch, so we shoe polished my pickup for people to vote on Tahoe Films," she said.
Winning first place would have meant an all-expense expedition to the Omay Concession in Zimbabwe, Africa to hunt cape buffalo with Martin Pieters Safaris. The hunt would have been filmed for an episode of "Eye of the Hunter," that will air this summer on NBC Sports.
Although Gross didn't land first place this year, she may try again next year.
"I want everyone to know that it meant a lot for our communities to come together and try to help someone's dream come true and I'm grateful for that." Gross said.
The contest is run annually by Tahoe Films, a company that films reality television shows in the traditions of the American sportsman - hunting, fishing and various survival shows. Contestants were asked to write a 500-word essay detailing why they think they are the most "extreme huntress." The essays were read by the public, who decided the final winner by voting for their favorite entry.