By Rebecca Drew
THIS NURSE receives thousands of death threats online and has even had sickos threaten to RAPE AND MURDER her baby daughter but continues to defy the trolls to show that hunting isn’t just for men by sharing her kills with her 27K Instagram followers.
Registered nurse, Kate Small (29) from Boise, Idaho, USA, was introduced to hunting by her stepdad 10 years ago and instantly fell in love with it.
Kate loves everything about hunting, from the adventure and strategic planning leading up to the kill which tests her strength and endurance and gives her unforgettable memories, to gutting, preserving and butchering the animal afterwards.
Knowing where her food has come from is an important thing for Kate and she makes sure that she salvages as much of the animal that she can, using the meat, with the exception of wolf meat because it isn’t fit for human consumption, to fill her freezer for her family to live off and uses the hide and head for mounting.
Kate never kills an animal just for the fun of hunting, only killing them for conservation or food purposes. Despite this, and hunting in a completely legal and ethical way, she receives thousands of disgusting death threats from people who have threatened to rape and murder her one-year-old daughter, murder her dogs and Kate herself, which she tries her best to laugh off.
As a backcountry hunter, Kate can spend days or weeks out in the field to hunt an animal and she’s acquired 27K followers on her Instagram, @kate_small_outdoors. She hopes to be able to encourage other women to the sport and prove that it’s not just a man’s game.
The largest animal Kate has ever hunted was a black bear which was over 6ft long and weighed more than 350lb but the most difficult animal to hunt is the wolf due to its heightened senses, speed and distance they can travel in a day.
“I like being able to know exactly where my food came from and not only that but working extremely hard to get it. I like being able to provide organic, nutritious meals for my family. This lifestyle also lets me create everlasting memories with my friends and family,” she said.
“Even if I am unable to harvest an animal, memories made on a mountain, battling the elements and being pushed to your limit are invaluable. It’s a true test of your inner strength and character.
“Being able to connect with Mother Nature, watching and learning the habits of God’s creatures deep in the backcountry, the views as the sun rises and hits a mountain peak, it’s just unexplainable.
“I salvage as much of the animal as I possibly can. I always keep the head and hide for mounting. The meat is what we live off of, we butcher it ourselves and then we will eat it the rest of the year.
“Aside from wolves, as they carry parasites that are dangerous to eat and the meat is bad, I don’t hunt anything I won’t eat. I never take an animal for fun, it’s for food or for conservation.
“I am a backcountry hunter, so I backpack in with my camp, food and supplies in my pack and stay out in remote areas for days to weeks at a time. I usually spot and stalk with a rifle but I just got a bow so I plan on doing a lot more archery hunting this year.
“By sharing my hunts on social media, I hope to show women that hunting isn’t just a man’s sport. That women too can possess the knowledge and endurance it takes to get out there and fend for themselves while still maintaining their femininity.
“I have been fortunate enough to have received a lot of support from the hunting community. I receive nothing but love and positivity from those who understand hunting and what it means for conservation. For those who don’t quite understand it, I either get questions of curiosity, people wanting to find out more about what I do and why, or I get plain old-fashioned hate.
“I have actually received thousands of death threats. People saying things I’d never wish on my worst enemy. I’ve had hundreds of people also threaten to rape and murder my one-year old daughter. I recall one person saying, ‘I’m going to put your baby in a blender and listen to her scream.’
“I’ve also had people say they are going to murder my dogs, which just doesn’t make any sense to me, you’re mad that I killed an animal, so you’re going to kill an animal.
“For the most part I try to use education and explain why I do what I do but I must admit sometimes my sarcasm gets the better of me and I respond with humour. I usually laugh the death threats off, if you are threatening someone who hunts apex predators for a living, you mustn’t be very bright.”
Kate mainly hunts with her fiancé, Justin, and one day hopes to be able to introduce her daughter, Finley, to it too.
Hunting takes a lot of planning and is dependent on the season, Kate spoke about how she prepares for a hunt and how she deals with the unpredictable nature of it.
“We have certain seasons on what you can hunt, each state is different. I will hunt mule deer for one month in October, during which time if I am lucky enough to find one, I will harvest just one mule deer,” she said.
“My elk season will be about one month as well, again, I will just take one if I can find one. More often than not hunters are unsuccessful. My spring bear season goes for two to three months.
“Due to our heavy population of wolves, wolf season is open in my unit for seven months out of the year. I am able to take up to five during that season. In truth, I will be lucky if I get even one. Most people will hunt all of their lives for wolves and due to their stealth and intelligence will never be able to harvest one. In my off season you can usually find me fishing.
“I think the hardest thing about hunting is nothing ever goes as planned. You never get a perfect shot, you rarely get perfect weather, sometimes you forget things to pack in or your equipment breaks but that’s the beauty of it too, being able to take on and overcome challenges. Hunting is a complete mind game and tests not only your physical endurance but mental toughness every step of the way.
“It takes months of effort and strategizing. Finding the right areas, setting up trail cameras, tracking the animal’s habits and preparing for days to weeks in the backcountry. It also depends on the animal you are hunting, but a typical day of hunting for me entails getting up before the sunrise and making it to a good area to glass from for first light.
“Once an animal is spotted, I will stalk in on it. While doing this you have to factor in the wind and thermals so the animal doesn’t catch your scent. You could end up hiking over ten miles in one day getting to and tracking an animal.
“If you are lucky enough to harvest an animal, then the real work begins. Gutting the animal, preserving the meat and packing out the meat and hide on your back. It’s trying work yet very rewarding.”
Kate hopes that she can educate critics who look down on her lifestyle.
“First, I would like to say if you have questions at all please contact me on my Instagram page, I am more than happy to answer questions and educate those who don’t understand hunting,” she said.
“Next, I would like to point out that all of the hunting I do is one-hundred per cent legal. I would like people to know that hunters raise more money for conservation (from licensing fees, tags and taxes) than any other group combined.
“Those that I know who hunt, including myself, have an immense respect for animals and care deeply about them, that’s another reason why we do what we do. Every year fish and game comes out with new quotas specifying what and how many of each species in each particular area can and should be hunted. These quotas are based off of scientific research to help keep the populations at their healthiest.
“Hunting helps these animals combat spread of disease and competition for food. I know people think hunting is cruel, but it isn’t, you know what’s cruel? Mother Nature. Have you ever seen an elk get half eaten by wolves and suffer for hours while it slowly and painfully dies? Have you ever seen a mule deer gradually waste away and eventually die of starvation?
“I don’t know about you, but to me a single shot to the vitals sounds like a much better way to go.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/kate_small_outdoors