By Amy Walters
MEET THE woman who started having CONTRACTIONS whilst she was out HUNTING and now takes her MONTH OLD baby shooting – even though trolls accuse her of raising a MURDERER.
Physical therapist assistant, Gabrielle Shaker (27) from Pennsylvania, USA, has always had a love for the outdoors.
After doing athletics at high school, Gabrielle wanted to find another sport that would get her outdoors more and couldn’t find one that fitted the bill – until she went out hunting one day with her husband, Cody, in December 2010.
She watched her husband and loved how long they were outdoors for and even had the opportunity to shoot her first shot at a pheasant – she was hooked.
Since her hunting hobby started, Gabrielle has hunted squirrels, bears, deers, turkeys and pheasants and has since hunted a 150-pound whitetail deer.
However, all of this changed in February 2019, when Gabrielle and Cody chose to go through IVF in order to start a family, as they had been unsuccessful for three years – but after one round, they found out she was pregnant and they were over the moon.
Gabrielle didn’t want to let her pregnancy stop her from doing what she loved and began prepping for archery season in her first trimester, going on to prep for rifle season just a few days before her due date.
Despite everyone telling her that she shouldn’t be hunting, especially so far along in her pregnancy, she didn’t listen and they travelled to the woods to start their hunt.
Gabrielle realised that this season would be a lot more challenging than the rest, but didn’t think it would be as taxing as it was – however, Gabrielle had prepared for this moment by hiking two to six miles every night.
On the day of her first hunting shoot whilst pregnant, she began having contractions and although she was nervous about going at first, due to the fear that she may go into labour any second, her intuition was telling her it was a false alarm. Gabrielle went on to shoot turkeys that day regardless.
Her intuition was right, as her baby boy, Rhett Lee, didn’t arrive until two weeks later, when Gabrielle was induced on December 3, 2020.
After six weeks of taking in motherhood, Gabrielle didn’t want to let the remaining days of the season go to waste, so decided to take her bundle of joy with her to hunt squirrels.
Rhett was geared up with earmuffs and a padded coat and was strapped around Gabrielle, as they began walking throughout the woods.
Although Gabrielle feels sad whenever she hunts, she makes sure to respect the animals, by using them to provide meat for her family. She’s mostly received support for her hunting pictures online and she doesn’t let the few negative comments bother her.
People have accused her of making her son a murderer, but she shrugs this off because other people don’t understand hunting like she does.
“I was only fifteen years old when I met my now husband, Cody and although he used to go out hunting, I was more interested in athletics – until I realised I wanted to do a sport that got me outdoors more,” said Gabrielle.
“I had never considered hunting, until December 2010 when Cody asked me to accompany him on one of his hunts – which I was apprehensive about, but thought it could be fun.
“As we walked through the woods, I couldn’t believe how peaceful it was, but then, the hunting started.
“I heard the rifle and saw a deer topple to the ground, which didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, so I decided to have a go to see what it was all about.
“As I held the shotgun, I aimed it at a pheasant and took my shot – it was liberating and right in that moment, I knew I was hooked.
“We began going out together and prepping for every season and have since hunted deer, turkey, bear, pheasant and squirrel.
“Although hunting gave me something to do, I desperately wanted to start a family and knew that I couldn’t keep distracting myself from the fact that something was wrong, as it just wasn’t happening for us.”
Gabrielle and Cody decided to try IVF, as their doctors had recommended it and after the first try, they found themselves pregnant.
“I couldn’t believe that the IVF took so quickly, but we were overwhelmed with excitement and couldn’t wait to start the next chapter of our lives together,” said Gabrielle.
“However, although I was excited, I knew this meant that I had to give up hunting during the next season, which was something that I wasn’t prepared to do, so decided to go ahead and start prepping, whilst taking extra precaution.
“Although all of our friends and family didn’t think it would be a good idea, I didn’t want to miss out and went out hunting just before my due date.
“As I was having contractions on and off throughout the whole day, I was apprehensive about going – but it was my first day going on a hunting shoot whilst pregnant and I didn’t want to miss out on the season whilst I could still hunt.
“My intuition kept telling me that I would be fine, so I listened and decided to hike up the side of a mountain, where I came face to face with a turkey – I aimed up my shotgun and pressed the trigger.
“I was so happy, as I had hunted my first ever solo turkey – and whilst having contractions – I was so proud of myself.
“Although I was excited, I knew I had to go home, just in case I went into labour – but this didn’t happen until two weeks later when I was induced.
“I’m glad I listened to my gut feeling and got to hunt before welcoming my baby boy, Rhett Lee, into the world on December 3rd 2020.
“I couldn’t believe that I was a mother and wanted to spend every minute of the day with him – but after six weeks, I started to miss hunting and decided to take him along with us.
“As I strapped him around me and placed his little earmuffs to protect his ears, I felt a new sense of safety and couldn’t wait to get out into the woods.
“After a few hours in the woods, we decided to head home and as it was such a success, we started prepping for next season in May 2021 right away.
“I know hunting isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love getting to watch the sunrise and provide fresh meat for my family, as well as taking on the challenge that hunting brings.
“I hope that by taking Rhett out at such a young age, will help him to develop a love for the outdoors, as well as hunting and that he follows in our footsteps when he’s older.
“Despite getting a lot of support from my family and friends, there have been a few negative comments from others who have seen my photos online, such as ‘why do you want your son to be a murderer?’ – but I don’t care what they have to say, as they don’t know hunting like I do and it’s my life, not theirs.
“I do feel sad whenever I hunt, but I respect the animal and the life it’s lived and that’s the attitude of a true outdoorsman.
“I wish people would understand that they don’t need to agree with my lifestyle, and just because they don’t like it, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop anytime soon.
“Hunting is a passion of mine now and there’s no better feeling than being out in the woods with the ones you love, getting free-range meat that you can enjoy for months to come – it’s fantastic.”