Hunting her way to the top |

Hunting her way to the top

Jenny Lavey
Rifle Citizen Telegram
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Photo courtesy of Jackie Gross

Jacquelyn Gross may be the walking definition of an extreme huntress.

On a recent hunting expedition, Gross hiked the backcountry for three weeks hunting for deer. She lost nine pounds.

It wasn’t until the end of her trip that she came face to face with her target.

Naturally camouflaged and hiding in bushes, the buck deer didn’t see Gross – only another pair of eyes in the early morning fog.

“It was like I was in the deer’s world,” Gross said. “That moment was incredible, to stare another species straight in the eyes is something you don’t forget.”

There are people who hunt for food, fun, sport or even for trophies, but Gross isn’t your average hunter. She’s a pint-sized Southern girl who migrated to the Colorado Rockies for one reason and one reason only – bigger game to hunt.

She grew up sitting in duck blinds and picking up the spent shotgun shells of her brothers in the Louisiana wetlands, and had an early introduction into the patience and skill hunting demands. Spending as much time outside as she was allowed, Gross quickly learned that girls could be just as good of a shot as the boys.

For Gross, hunting is about much more than trophies, it’s a lifestyle.

“Growing up, we lived in the country,” Gross said. “So my mom cooked everything we hunted because it was food on the table for us. So for me, hunting is about providing for your family.”

And she’s hunted ever since.

Many years and hunting trips later, Gross is being recognized for her passion for being a woman hunter. Gross wrote an essay describing what makes her the most extreme huntress in North America to a panel of judges and is now a finalist in the 2012 Extreme Huntress competition.

The contest is run by Tahoe Films, a film company who 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.”

Essays are read by the public who also decide the final winner by voting for their favorite essay. The winner will be named as the “Extreme Huntress” for 2012, along with being sent on an all-expenses paid hunting trip to Africa.

If she wins, Gross will embark on an expedition to the Omay Concession in Zimbabwe to hunt Cape buffalo with Martin Pieters Safaris. The hunt will be filmed for an episode of “Eye of the Hunter” that will air this summer on NBC Sports.

Her answer detailing the quiet of the wilderness, the wind in the trees and the special relationship between a hunter and animal wowed the judges.

For Gross, the competition is less about the glitz, glamour and money of the televised hunting industry and is more about a lifestyle she loves.

Winning is completely dependent on public votes through Tahoe Film’s website and Gross is reaching out to family, friends and coworkers, encouraging them to vote for her.

While Gross’s fellow Huntress finalists may be well versed in the commercialized celebrity hunting world, Gross does things on her own.

“Hunting, of course, is extremely expensive,” Gross said. “I guess I’m kind of a do-it-yourself hunter. I buy all of the equipment myself and I pay my own way for everything, the outfits, the weapons, this way, I think it helps me really appreciate everything.”

As for being a woman in the male dominated big-game hunting field, Gross says she hopes she’s at least proving that women are just as good of hunters as men.

“For men, I think size matters,” she said. “Women are a bit more patient and enjoy the experience more, when a lot of men are just after the biggest animal they can find.”

Enjoying the experience is a central aspect in Gross’s hunting philosophy and it’s a philosophy she hopes carries her to first place – and eventually to Zimbabwe.

Although most would jump at the opportunity for an all-expenses paid trip to Africa, for Gross, she’s more interested in the chance to see a different species.

“Winning this competition would mean the world to me,” Gross said. “It would provide an opportunity that I would never otherwise have, a chance to see a new species and completely different part of the world.”

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