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Eva Shockey “Takes Aim”
September 12, 2017

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Eva Shockey wanted to be a dancer. She ended up a hunter. Now she's promoting the outdoor way of life in her new book released this month, Taking Aim: Daring to be Different, Happier, and Healthier in the Great Outdoors.

The book is geared toward one of the fastest growing demographics in the hunting industry, female hunters, but the message is for everybody. If you're not happy with your life, change it. If there's something you've always dreamed of doing, pursue it. And don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.

We all know Eva Shockey as Jim Shockey's daughter and co-host of the popular hunting show, Jim Shockey's Hunting Adventures, on the Outdoor Channel. Having grown up watching her father make a living in the outdoor industry, Shockey came to the sport a little differently than most of us not just as a hobby, but as a career choice. Once she realized how much she loved to hunt, she completely immersed herself in it, and soon found herself in the limelight, which made her both a celebrity among outdoorsmen and an easy target for anti-hunters.

In November 2014, Shockey killed a 510-pound black bear in North Carolina and later posted photos of the hunt on social media. Anti-hunters rushed to condemn her, of course, one even remarking that she should "kill that little worthless dog you have instead."

Shockey's response? "Apparently hunting a bear, eating/donating all of the meat, and putting money towards conservation is a bad thing, but killing my puppy is OK," she wrote. "If this logic isn't totally insane, I don't know what is."

Mainstream media caught wind and hyped the story, and intense backlash followed. But so did something else the rallying cries of fellow hunters, and once again, Shockey had the perfect response, to create special T-shirts that stated: "I'll never apologize for being a hunter."

As Shockey says in Taking Aim, "When the destructive verbal storm erupted, I was faced with a decision. I could have shut down my Facebook page. I could have retreated. I could have kept silent. Instead, I made the choice to take a stand."

In today's politically correct society, hunters often find themselves on the outside looking in. We needlessly apologize for enjoying what we do, pointing instead to the value of hunting as a management tool. Yes, we have science on our side, and nothing is more effective than hunting at controlling wildlife populations, not to mention that we also give back tens of millions of dollars every year toward conservation but we shouldn't feel ashamed for having fun in the process.

Unfortunately, mainstream media is trying to make hunting just that, a source of guilt. And you know what? They're winning. If they weren't, we wouldn't be facing potential bans every year at the ballot box. We wouldn't be worried about keeping our rights to hunt, fish, and trap, and it wouldn't be so crucial to join organizations that help us fight to keep those rights.

We need an ambassador for our sport. We need someone to lead by example and inspire more women, girls, men, and boys to look toward the outdoors as a source of adventure and fuel for the soul. We need more people like Eva Shockey who will stand firm against our critics.

The biggest threat to hunters today is the wealth of misinformation floating around out there. Taking Aim puts the facts on the table in laymen's terms. Anyone unfamiliar with hunting could read this book and immediately gain a better appreciation and understanding of the importance of hunting, and also what it means to be a successful hunter.

"Contrary to what I thought at first," she writes, "hunting isn't easy." Every excursion presents its own challenges and obstacles that must be overcome.

On another level, Taking Aim is a series of heart-pounding adventures, several of which could have easily claimed Shockey's life, interspersed with those quiet, reflective moments in the wilderness. Only when you are alone in the wilds, with no distractions, can you look into your own heart and discover your own personal truths.

Perhaps the most poignant passage can be found in the introduction where she writes, "Anything worth doing in life will come with resistance. You may hunt. You may not. But if you've worked hard to achieve a goal or a dream or are right now in the midst of fighting for or striving for something you believe in, you can relate to the challenges I've faced. You know what it's like to go up against the status quo. You know the discipline required, the struggle that follows. You know the detours. You know the critics who tell you to quit or that you'll never make it. You know the self-doubt that creeps in. And one day you'll know what it feels like when you wake up and realize that you've created your own life, your own future, and left your own mark in this world."

Now more than ever, it's important to get young people interested in the sport if we expect our outdoors heritage to continue for future generations to enjoy. It's equally imperative to educate as many non-hunters as possible so that we have enough voter clout on issues that concern wildlife management. Shockey's celebrity status gives her access to huge audiences, both within the hunting industry and in the general, non-hunting public, and in Taking Aim she's using that status in positive ways that help secure our future.

Taking Aim emphasizes the joy of hunting. If nothing else, maybe this book will show people that the outdoors is fun. It's the perfect venue for creating memories with family and friends, the meat is organic and healthy, and best of all, the byproduct of a life spent doing what you love is happiness.

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