Category Archives: Survival and Guide Training

Campfire Chat with Alaska Chick, Girls in the Wilderness

Hello! And welcome back to my fire! Tonight we are going to talk about what it is like, being a woman not only in what is still a largely male-dominated field, but what it is like to be a female guide in a place like Chisana surrounded for the most part by boys and men.

Let’s chat!

Girls in the Wilderness

The oldest “boy’s club” in the history of man kind… Hunting. What is it like being a female in such a male dominated industry such as Big Game Guiding?

It is wonderful! I am blessed to not only share my love for the grand and wondrous wilderness we live in with others but I do on horseback and for a living!

We have shared some of our insights into women hunting and the opinions of the social and very connected world that the Internet has brought us to as well as what women face choosing to become Professional Guides in this world in posts over the last few years. You can read them here:

Being The Girl Guide In The Alaska Outfitter Club
Dangers and Worries For Women Outdoors
A Female Guide in Backcountry Alaska
Alaska Guide, Big Game Hunter and a …Female
Alaska Guide Trainee Makinzi Rutledge
How Being Armed and Smart Kept Me from Becoming a Victim

Girls in the Wilderness

Tonight we were chatting about a few other points that pertain to being a woman in a predominately male industry supporting a clientele that is still today predominately male.

Confidence and a sense of humor will make life a whole lot easier for a girl set on becoming part of the Big Game Guiding industry.

Being the center of attention for no other reason than the oddity of being a female guide, it requires a good dose of confidence and patience in and with both yourself and the guys staring at you to not only become a respected Professional Guide, but to become all that you are capable of being.

Girls in the Wilderness

A sense of humor will also make everyone’s life a whole bunch easier and I only know that because of my own experiences and a decided lack of that particular characteristic.

Being able to laugh at both yourself and the sublimely stupid statements you are bound to hear, will help being able to learn everything you want to know (and yes, that means making mistakes too) as well as prove that nothing, including those random and irrelevant comments, will keep you from your dream.

With a history of serving in the US Navy and the experiences gained in that alone and those in support of Desert Storm I learned a lot about keeping the focus on the job, not my own gender.

A realistic outlook helps going in, as well. I feel incredibly blessed in my own position with Pioneer Outfitters because I had had the opportunities to listen to, get to know, ask questions and learn from many of Alaska’s great old-timers and Master Guides.

These guys don’t just remember when, they are still living it. It is a man’s world.

Many people have asked me about how long it took to prove myself, being a woman. I don’t believe it took me any longer to prove myself as a Professional Guide than any guy, it just happens more often.

All freshly licensed Professional Guides have to prove themselves, both to their teams (the other more experienced guides you will be working with) as well as the clients that get wind of your newness. Being a woman, it happens almost every time we head into the wilderness. How you deal with that is a lot about how you handle both yourself and the chit-chat and getting-to-know-each-other part of the ride to camp.

Girls in the Wilderness

It helps to remember that it isn’t a joke and it’s not a slam, it (the Big Game Guiding profession) really is a man’s world. It is incredibly hard physical work and it requires a certain degree of intimacy being in the field with men, mostly strangers and your own safety always comes first.

Respect is a two-way path and it has to be walked by both to have a successful Adventure. Men are by nature very competitive and successful and life long big game hunters are more in tune with their competitive natures than those who do not hunt.

Whether it is in play or work, many men have issues being shown-up by other men; that is simply a fact of nature. Being shown up by a woman can be a very real issue to a lot of those men. Being very good at what we do, almost never requires bruising egos and in doing so, possibly bruising the memories of this Adventure that we are sharing.

As the years pass, the past becomes clearer in many ways. When you have an open mind and are hungry to learn all you can, nothing really is so hard that it can’t be endured. All the difficulties, even the inevitable full-blown mini dramas can (and should) be learned from; this becomes easier as time passes as well.

Any Alaska Guide Trainee that has suffered (because they will never see just how right I was until much later) through one of my lectures knows that I feel very strongly about really knowing oneself, being honest about it and dealing with it.

We all make mistakes, all of us and for all of our lives we will make mistakes. Deal with it. Learn from it. Correct it. Never make that same mistake again. Share it with someone else; pass it on as a lesson.

Remember who you are, why you are here (there, where ever), what your goal is and that one day, either today or next week or three years or ten years from now, you will look back and learn again something different from whatever difficulties or trials or even disasters (because sometimes it certainly feels that way). It is all part of the adventure called life.

The final point I would like to make is that although it is hard sitting in front of the camera and to speak of myself and my own experiences, I look at my own little girl and our Alaska Guide Trainee Makinzi Rutledge and know that if I would suffer any drama or difficulty to ensure that either young lady could follow her heart throughout their own lives.

We certainly hope you enjoyed our chat about Girls in the Wilderness! A very special thank you to Master Guide Terry Overly for sitting with us and answering a few questions too.

Keep in mind, that if you have any questions or suggestions for a Campfire Chat topic we are very happy to receive them! All of our Campfire Chat videos can be found under the Blog tab at the top of the page too, if you would like to see them all or any that you might have missed.


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