When I participated in my first deer hunt in Missouri in 1971, there was one female hunter in camp. That was another first for me. She was the wife of one of the other hunters in the group and she fit right in. It was a curiosity to me to watch her as a hunter, and she knew her stuff. She took one of the first bucks on the hunt, and she was on the lead end when it came to dragging it out of a deep ravine gully. That was cool.
Since adding another 30 plus years of deer hunting to my life ledger sheet, I have rarely run into many women in hunting camps that were actually hunting. I guess maybe I have just not been in the right hunting camps, because nationally, the fastest growing demographic among hunters are women and young girls. To that I say, “Come on down.” We need ya.
Angelia Rustin of Laurel, Mississippi is one of those special people you meet maybe a couple times in your life. I first met her at one of the Wildlife Federation’s Extravaganzas several years ago. She was and is trying to break into the hunting industry as a pro team member for a manufacturer or hunting product and was asking for contacts and any help that I might have. Since then, we have talked many times and I have come to appreciate her as a hunter and as one who gives of herself for the cause of hunting.
Angelia’s business card states, “I promote accessible hunting and fishing opportunities for ladies and the disabled.” She has worked for several years to organize, facilitate, and execute hunts in the Jones County area for the “Wounded Warrior” project. That program puts together hunts for disabled vets, and it has been a big success all across the country. They have done several deer and turkey hunts in the Laurel area. Angelia has been a big part of those events.
I asked Angelia recently how she got started in hunting. “I started out squirrel hunting at the age of 9 or 10. I wasn’t allowed to hunt with the guys and mom would not let me carry a gun while I played in the woods everyday. I started hunting snakes with a stick. My first deer hunt came when I was 26 and I killed my first doe. Been hooked ever since,” Rustin said.
So maybe it is no big surprise that somebody figured out the effort Angelia was contributing to help bring women to the sport of hunting and working with the vets to share a hunt with them.
She was contacted by Tina and David Peavey of the Camo Life television show and invited on a Texas mule deer hunt. The hunt was filmed for use on a future episode of the show. She and Tina were on their first mule deer hunt so that made it even more of a special event.
The hunt was conducted in the Davis Mountains region of Texas, which is in the southwest part of the state between El Paso to the west and Odessa to the east. The exact area is between Alpine, Texas and Fort Davis. Mountain elevations around there can easily go over 8,000 feet. It is a great mule deer habitat.
Angelia was using her trusty .257 Weatherby rifle. Amazingly she was able to stalk up to with 30 yards of the mule deer buck she harvested on the hunt. She called the deer a “cull” because of its age, which they estimated at 7 years old. “The old buck’s teeth were nearly completely worn down,” Angelia reported.
It is nice to hear about stories where good works are rewarded. So, thanks to Tina and David Peavey for recognizing that a hunter like Angelia Rustin gives back to others. I am sure every time Angelia looks up at that mule deer buck mount, she knows a special pride at her accomplishments. All I can say as a fellow hunter is, “You go girl.”