"The Sisterhood" The Nomadic Hunting Babes Ride Again

The NHB’s were fierce in 2003. Many critters were harvested at the hunts, including the first Pope and Young Buck taken by a woman, Brenda Reynolds, at Heartland Outfitters located in the "Golden Triangle" of Illinois. Lisa Price scored the "cardiac hill" doe at Heartland as well. Her deer ran down into a ravine and required three people to drag it back up and out. Charter NHB member Tes Jolly scored a beautiful buck in Alabama at the Master Rack Lodge. I was privileged to hunt with the NHB’s in Illinois, Alabama and Mississippi in 2003. This Sisterhood of lady hunters consisted of both the experienced core group, and a number of new hunters as well. It is a joy share ‘share the faith’ with hunting, and to pass it on to new members of the group.

*** Rating for outfitters on a scale 1-10 ***

Heartland Outfitters

Located near Springfield Illinois, Heartland has a beautiful lakeside lodge and world class trophy deer hunting on over 10,000 QDM acres in the heart of Illinois’s famous "Golden Triangle". Owned and operated by Dr. Robert and Ann Russell, Heartland meets every expectation of the most demanding hunter. Hundreds of stands are scouted daily and experienced guides assist hunters with all aspects of the hunt. Phone: 217-787-0050.

Rating: Lodge 10
Sleeping Rooms 9
Guides 8
Food 10
Hunting Stands 9
Deer Seen 8
Business 9
Cell reception fair, and internet available Extras 10
Massages were offered, and local road were excellent for Those of us who were joggers or walkers

Oh my. There’s nothing quite as fine as going to full draw and staying there just long enough that every muscle in your upper body goes into a full blown protest. Your bow holding arm begins to ache, your draw arm begins to shake. Back muscles go from feeling fine at full flex, to screaming for mercy. Your eye focus through the peep site begins to dissolve as your non-dominant eye gets distracted by the rest of the picture. It is sublime. Put that moment twenty feet up a tree in full camo with unaware deer beneath you and you’ve got perfection. Two spike bucks and two does were just coming out from being blocked by a tree that hid my going to full draw a moment before. Earlier in this hunt several days before, I had held out for booker bucks. But now I was on a harvest mission. In mere seconds, the vitals of one of those does would be twenty yards from my anxious arrow. I especially like standing shots and mentally commanded my now wobbly self to suck it up and hold still. Perfectly still. The moment of truth was at hand.

My draw caved a tad, and I pushed my left elbow back to the wall once again, heart pounding. Pounding over a doe? Hey, my heart pounded over the raccoons, porcupine and ground hog I arrowed earlier this season at my hunting shack. I am a cheap thrill hunter and proud of it. I could feel that heat blush on my face now, and felt a sweat droplet trickled down the small of my back. Only a Yankee in Mississippi would be sweating at fifty degrees. This most mind etching moment was suddenly fractured by an eruption of roly-poly gray critters that literally burst out of the woods in the distance. My predator climax was shattered as the deer startled, went on red alert and leaped away in all directions faster than I could be disappointed. Those mysterious gray critters, like marbles with legs, scattered over the green field beneath me as I let down my draw and stopped myself from thinking an expletive. Fascination overcame me however as I watched this armadillo army scatter over the foot plot, skittering in every direction while squirrels barked and birds flushed hither and thither. We don’t have armadillos in Minnesota. In fact, we even say the word differently "uppa-da-nort". A while ago the turkeys in the woods had been alarm putting and squirrels chattered in protest. I figured there to be a bobcat or other predator about. Instead there were these whirling dervish ‘dillos. They left as soon as they arrived, save two who entertained me with a mating ritual under my tree. I felt like a voyeur. Who’da thunk armadillos were in rut. I sat down and watched the sun set on the amorous armored duo. I was still coming down from my sustained adrenalin high, something that should be illegal if anyone knew how sweet it was or how long effects last afterwards. God forbid I should ever have to drive right after a kill shot. I can barely walk.

Master Rack Lodge

Located near Montgomery Alabama, Master Rack Lodge offers a beautiful lakeside campus, great food and experienced guides. The main lodge burned down in spring 2004 but will be rebuilt for fall 2004 hunting. Phone:

Rating: Lodge 7
Sleeping Rooms 6
Guides 9
Food 9
Hunting Stands 10
Deer Seen 7
Business 6
No cell reception & no internet available

"I got to my tree stand, settled in and had closed my eyes for a little nap because I was sooooo tired" she said with her soft embracing southern drawl. "I just wanted to sleeeeeep. But then… I heard --- noises" said Joella Bates, slowly opening her blue eyes to a squint, stealthily roving them back and forth as she re-enacted the moment. We all leaned forward at the lodge dinner table. The experienced hunters at the table grinned and knew exactly what she meant. The new lady hunters in the group were intrigued and curious, wanting to know more. "What noises… tell us about the noises!". Whether too tired, too hot, too cold or too anything, most of us understood about that predator within us that comes to life when we hear those "noises in the woods". For the new hunters, this predator was just coming to life and it was exciting to watch! Some women might be fearful of strange noises, some even afraid of the dark. But not this bunch. Darkness means advantage and fear is for fools. Most women would never be out there in the first place. But this was the Sisterhood of dedicated lady hunters, The Nomadic Hunting Babes, who get together one or more times a year in various parts of the country to share a particular call of the wild: the hunting addiction. There were many familiar faces in our hunting camps, and new ones too. We are young and old, novice hunters and professional hunters, married and single and everything in between. 

My close encounter with armadillos was at Master Rack in Alabama where the weather was very warm for November. We were all waiting for the promised cold front because the heat and a full moon had made the whitetails mostly nocturnal. Three weeks before, several of this same group had met at Heartland Outfitters in the golden triangle area of Illinois for the archery whitetail hunt. Tara Wildlife in Mississippi was the final hunt of the season, and was timed during the second rut so we saw lots of action.

Tara Wildlife

Located one hour west of Jackson, Mississippi, Tara consists of Tara main and Tara Halpino, with over 20,000 acres of well managed lakes and forests. Tara offers archery deer hunts, sporting clays and skeet ranges, quail, waterfowl and turkey hunting, canoeing, bird watching or fishing. With its award winning wildlife management, more than 200 Pope and Young bucks have been taken from Tara. Tara is available for hunts, as well as corporate retreats, conservation workshops and summer youth camps, year ‘round. Phone: 601-279-4261.

Rating: Lodge 9
Sleeping Rooms 9
Guides 9
Food 7
Hunting Stands 9
Deer Seen 9
Business 7
Limited cell reception, but internet/phone is available

One of the most enjoyable aspects of these hunts, besides being with other experienced and dedicated lady hunters, is the opportunity to mentor and share our passion with new or inexperienced hunters. One of our key mentor/teachers at these hunts is the queen of armadillo hunting, and irrefutably one of the best female shooters in the universe, the "The Killa fer Rilla", the one and only, Joella Bates. At Tara Wildlife Halpino in Mississippi, she skewered an armadillo right between the eyes and was given that name by her awestruck young guide. This group of wild hunting women fascinates me. I cannot think of any other venue that would bring such a diversity of women together… all ages, walks of life and levels of experience were represented. What we have in common is that we are all independent diehard huntresses, different but equal - the next generation of Dianas, the present day Queens of the Forest, and all are the First Ladies of Hunting in their own right, especially bowhunting. There is a thread of sometimes irreverent humor in this group that I find irresistible as well. We are serious about our hunting, but not so much so that we can’t have a good time. We are as confident in face camo paint as we are in Chanel. We have our alpha girls – the experienced professionals who have that coveted natural predator instinct and some of whom work full time in the hunting industry. We all help each other and mentor each other. We know when to hunt hard and we know how to have fun. That’s not to say we aren’t serious about our sport. When it’s time to hunt or the deer are moving, we are there and all day if need be.

At the Tara hunt in January 2004, we were surprised by the appearance of hunting personality, Michael Waddell with his cameraman filming for his "Road Trips" outdoor show. Now I must confess, I don’t watch much TV so Mr. Waddell was new to me and I didn’t know what to expect. What I did find out is that he, like the rest of our gang, was down to earth and ready to have some old fashioned fun at the expense of his dignity. He hunted hard for the entire time he was at Tara and got a lot of video of both his and us ladies hunting. The NHB’s are serious hunters, but we are serious fun lovers too. We set up and filmed a mock arrest of Michael supposedly poaching a booker "Possu-lope", and even had the local game warden in on the deal.

Slang We Don’t Have In Minnesota

I always enjoy my education to terms unique to Southern US culture.

My baptism to Southern colloquialisms was an Oklahoma deer hunt with my friend Mark Banta three years ago, where I picked up such terms as "full as a tick", "dim road" and "laying cable". My southern lady hunter friends taught me the following new hunting terms in 2003:

"Hook Daddy" – A large racked buck that hooks its antlers when making a rub

"Sad Daddy" – A buck with a rack so large, its head droops so he looks sad

"Whoop Sanged" – made a good kill shot, as in "she whoop sanged that deer".

"Black Cat Syndrome" - Unfounded or superstitious fear in the woods

"Can Drive" – a deer drive where cans full of pebbles or rocks are rattled to push deer around

"Turned Inside Out" – what a deer looks like when it jumps the string



 October © 2004