The Bass Pro: Trait Crist

The Bass Pro: Trait Crist Crist is the only woman fishing all three divisions of the 2016 Bassmaster Open tournaments to qualify for the 2017 Elite Series. If she makes it, she will be the first woman angler to do so. • Four years ago I was working in finance and fishing with my dad every weekend. He signed me up for my first competition: the 2011 Texas State Bass Tournament. I came in fourth and began to think, I can do this. I turned pro in 2013. • As women, we need to step up our skills and technique. I understand why some people don’t respect us, which is not to say they shouldn’t. But when we put ourselves out there in bikinis, posing with a fish for a picture on social media, without knowing anything about fishing, it doesn’t send the best message. • I’ve come a long way on the tour, and I think it’s because I put all the focus on ability. I don’t play the woman card. I want to open up doors for other women, but I want to do it through respect. I want to earn it on the water, right next to the guys.—As told to Hilary Ribons
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The Future: Morgan and Mason Baseley In 2012, at age 10, these twins started 2girls hunting, a Facebook page to encourage more girls to hit the field. • Mason: Our most popular post was about the big 4×3 blacktail Morgan got last fall—probably the biggest taken from the C Zone in northern California that season. But it’s important to us to make sure people know hunting isn’t just about killing, so we post a lot about conservation and Second Amendment rights, too. -People are stoked to see two twin girls promoting these things. • Morgan: We’re only 15, but we’ve learned that younger girls look up to us. So we’re hoping a new generation will see our respect and love for the outdoors, and that preserving it takes dedication.—As told to Holly Heyser Traci Baseley
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The Deadeye: Il Ling New Former captain of the Yale University Skeet & Trap team, New is a serious hunter and a firearms instructor at Gunsite Academy. • At Yale, I met students who went to boarding school in Switzerland and who owned Mercedes. I didn’t even have a car. But when we were shooting as a team, all of the differences—rich, not rich, men, women—melted away and we were all the same. I loved that. I became the first female captain of the Skeet & Trap team in my junior year. • My dad, who ran an outfitting service and taught me to hunt and shoot, was a huge Jeff Cooper fan. Somehow, he got me into Gunsite in 1981. Twenty years later, I was Col. Cooper’s apprentice during the last handgun class he taught there. I was just in awe. • At first people are surprised to see me walk into a classroom as an instructor, but they quickly remember that Gunsite is very selective about its instructors. • When people point out that a woman is a shooter or hunter, I think, Well, gee, what’s the big deal? On the other hand, I see that it’s a growing trend, which is fantastic. I wish it had happened sooner. • I’ve always been proud of the fact that I started teaching men first, and that when I teach women, they get the same instruction. I’m not against women-only classes, but women should know they can be as good as or better than the guys on the range or at hunting, any day.—As told to Barbara Baird Richard Mann

The Fishing Phenom: Ashley Rae

The Fishing Phenom: Ashley Rae Freelance writer and fishing nut, Rae also runs, a popular blog -diary of her angling adventures. • In 2009 I entered an online dream fishing vacation contest from the World Fishing Network, which has 24/7 fishing shows. We posted stories, photos, and videos of our catches, and people from around the world voted for the winner. And amazingly, I won. I realized that people cared about my passion for fishing, so I started • I bought a boat and named her Ruby. When I take my dad or boyfriend fishing in it, other men look at them and say, “Nice boat.” The guys point at me and say, “It’s hers!” Once, while I was launching Ruby with a girlfriend, a guy asked, “Is that your daddy’s boat?” It happens. There aren’t a lot of women out launching boats by themselves—but there’s no reason there shouldn’t be. • Fishing is my life; it’s everything to me. It’s my work and my play. • I love to fish new locations, but I don’t focus on destinations. I think fish species first, location second. I think tarpon, then Costa Rica. Peacock bass, then Brazil. Greenback walleye, and Manitoba. • I don’t remember the first time I went fishing, but certain things—like the sound of water sloshing on the side of an aluminum boat, or a tiller motor, or the smell of it—bring me back to those first times. Those same little feelings, of wonder and excitement, are still with me on the water.—B.B.
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The Diva: Judy Rhodes Interior designer, globe-trotting outdoorswoman, philanthropist, and Texan, Rhodes is the founder of Diva WOW, an organization in which women teach one another hunting, fishing, and shooting skills. • I guess I’ve always been a mentor. I started shooting a Red Ryder BB gun when I was 4, and I taught my little brothers to shoot. I taught my mom to shoot when she was 88. • On Friday nights in high school, after the pizza parlor in Greenville, Texas, closed at 10 p.m., I held organized dump shoots, where the boys and I shot rats. No girls wanted to go. • I organized the first ladies luncheon for the Dallas Safari Club 30 years ago because there were no activities for women. Now the event sells out at least six weeks in advance. • I’ve been on 23 safaris. Back when I started, most women were observers, not hunters. I decided we needed to be more than that. I organized an all-women’s safari in 1994. The PHs were in shock. • When I started Diva WOW in 1999 we had no manual, and only three women showed up at the first clinic. Last year, our Oklahoma City clinic saw more than 650 women, and now we have manuals on everything from flyfishing to self-defense. • I’m every man’s dream: I hunt and fish 250 days a year, all over the world.—B.B. TJ Simms

The Convert: Lecretia Free

The Convert: Lecretia Free Free is the publisher of The Vail Voice news-paper in southeast Arizona, and the founder and publisher of The American Woman Shooter magazine. • I’m embarrassed to say this, but I used to think gun people were crazy. When a friend invited me to go to the range several years ago, I refused. He said, “Come on, you’ll have a good time.” I’m so glad I did. • At the range I saw couples and families having a good time. It was a life lesson. As a publisher, I think it’s important to gather information and get facts, and I realized that I hadn’t had the facts about what it means to be a shooter and a gun owner. I think a lot of people don’t. • When I talked to some of the women there, I was fascinated by their stories. I thought, I want to tell the stories of these women: the American woman shooter. • My ex-husband passed away of a heart attack in 2010, and I was suddenly raising my three children by myself. By learning to shoot, I eventually realized that I could fully protect myself and my family. That was incredibly empowering. • I’m a vegetarian, but I am very interested in learning to hunt, because my children are not all vegetarians. It’s on my to-do list for 2016. I need to get out there and find out about it.—B.B.
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The Outfitter: Kirstie Pike A hardcore big-game hunter, Pike is the founder of Prois performance apparel for women. • In 2007, my husband, Steve, and I drove four hours from our home in Gunnison, Colo., to Denver to buy camo clothing I’d need for an upcoming bowhunt. But the only women’s camo I could find was the cotton, sexed-up, lifestyle crap that no one can actually wear for hunting. I left empty-handed. • On the ride home our wheels started spinning faster than the car’s with this crazy idea: Women had performance clothing for biking, running, hiking, backpacking, and climbing. Why not for hunting? • We were clueless about the apparel industry. Steve was a contractor and I was a nurse. But we decided to go for it. We made some contacts, doors opened, and we launched Prois in 2008. By accident, we timed it just right. • Prois is Gaelic for “pride” or “prowess.” • My favorite part about running Prois is the community of outdoorswomen we call “The Posse.” I didn’t form this group. We came together naturally through a common passion for the outdoors, a need for good apparel, and a search for community. I think this sets Prois apart. Sure, guys want good hunting clothes, but I’m not aware of a men’s camo company with a true community following like ours.—As told to Stephanie Mallory Kirstie Pike

These seven women are inspiring other females to take to the outdoors in record numbers. __Be sure to read “The New Game Changers” for more on outdoorswomen who are making waves in hunting and fishing.