Katie Wroten: Making of a Huntress
Bob McNally 11.10.15
In 1995 when Katie Wroten moved with her family from Virginia to Florida she was just a youngster who never gave a thought about hunting.
Today, she and her husband Hunter are dedicated outdoors folks who spend so much time pursuing deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, hogs, and other game that they have not bought commercially-produced beef from a grocery store in over three years.
“Deer hunting really saves us money considering the price of beef today,” she says. “We pretty much eat nothing but wild game we shoot, and wild fish we catch. Almost all of our red meat is venison–wild, free-ranging deer that we hunt, field dress, butcher, process, and cook ourselves. It’s lean, healthy, flavorful red meat, and our one-year old daughter Taylor thrives on it, too.
“Venison has none of the questionable health issues that some domestic meats have. Deer meat has no pesticides or chemical additives. It’s free-ranging, wild, and absolutely delicious when made into steaks, chops, burgers, spaghetti, tacos, stews, and whatever else that can be made with beef.”
Katie married Hunter six years ago and marked the beginning of Katie’s process to becoming a dedicated huntress.
Not long after marriage, Katie accompanied Hunter often into the woods targeting game like squirrels, which she says was a great training ground for learning to blend in with nature, being quiet in the woods, and practicing shooting well.
But she never pursued deer seriously until Hunter joined a hunting club three years ago. With that, the couple began more frequent woods trips, placing trail cameras to record and learn about game, then tree stands for hunting deer.
At first Katie simply accompanied Hunter during deer hunts, watching game, and being part of successful hunts with her husband.
Her first gun deer hunting season was 2012, using a .270 rifle of Hunter’s. She hunted all that fall and finally took a large doe on the last day of the season. The shot was perfect, the deer dead before it hit the ground.
Katie and Hunter dressed the deer, butchered it, and processed the meat into meal-size portions.
“I labeled all those venison packages ‘Katie’s doe,’ which was really fun when we made a meal out of that meat,” she says. “It’s something to be proud of–knowing that you hunted an animal and made a clean shot, cleaned and processed the meat, and used it to feed your family.
“This is sustainable, self-reliant living in the real world, not some hokey made-for-TV reality show.”
That following spring, in 2013, she and Hunter pursued wild turkeys with another husband-and-wife hunting couple. They hunted birds over three hours one morning, with the friends calling and working turkeys. Finally, a good tom with a 9.5-inch beard worked within shotgun range of Katie and she collected the bird with a new 20-gauge shotgun she’d gotten for her birthday.
Katie’s next and current hunting step is taking a deer with a bow and arrow, which she has become passionate about.
“Bowhunting is such a challenge,” she says. “Everything is so close because of the nature of archery. It’s difficult hunting, but that’s the great part of it. It’s the most fun hunting I’ve done so far, and I just love it.”
While Katie has not yet taken a deer with her pink-colored accent Diamond compound bow, she has had lots of opportunities to collect does within her comfortable archery-shooting range of 20 yards.
“But I really want a nice buck with my bow, and there are some good ones we’ve recorded on our trail cameras near the stands I’m hunting now,” she says. “We know there are several 8-point and 10-point bucks on our deer club, plus one huge, old buck that’s 13 or 14-points with a giant body. Taking that deer would be the ultimate accomplishment for me now.”
Katie’s compound is set at 46-pounds of draw weight, plenty heavy for whitetails, and the expandable broadhead-tipped carbon arrows she’s comfortable shooting out to a self-imposed limit of 20-yards.
“My bow isn’t as difficult to draw, anchor, and hold to shoot as I thought it would be,” she says. “But it took some dedicated practice with it to feel confident in collecting a deer cleanly, swiftly, and humanely out to 20 yards. But I’ll get a buck, it’s just a matter of time before everything comes together just right and I make the shot.”
Katie encounters plenty of wildlife while hunting, like coyotes high-pitched yodeling at dawn, plus sighting raccoons, opossums, armadillos, and other animals. She’s not seen a black bear while on stand, though some are in her deer hunting region.
She has crossed paths with poisonous snakes, especially cottonmouth and water moccasins, which is why she totes a .380 Ruger pistol when bowhunting.
“I’m a full-time mom, so it’s tough getting away to hunt whenever I want to or when weather conditions are perfect for deer,” she says. “But as my daughter Taylor gets older it will be easier to find time to get in a tree stand.
“We can’t wait until Taylor is old enough to hunt, too, and we can show her all the joys the outdoors offers so close to home.”