WYOMING WOMEN’S ANTELOPE HUNT
Caitlin Youngquist: 2015 First Time Hunter
Caitlin Youngquist believes in service, and using her knowledge to help others. As the current chair of the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt, she helps women from across the country learn hunting skills and experience meaningful mentorship. Her talent for teaching and passion for education is borne out every day in her role as an Extension Educator for the University of Wyoming.
Caitlin talked to us about her experience at the Hunt and what it meant to her.
How did you get interested in hunting?
“I have always been interested in hunting, but I can’t really explain why. I was also rather scared of guns, which told me that I should learn more about them and how to use them safely. My boy cousins and uncles and grandfathers all hunted, but I did not live near them and was never invited. So, I was always interested but the door was not open.”
Caitlin’s spirit of curiosity is incredible; in every aspect of her life, she is eager to “answer the questions of what is possible in Wyoming.”
What drew you to the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt?
As a scholarship recipient in her first year, Caitlin showed her determination to learn something new.
“I don’t remember how I first learned about the hunt – I must have seen an ad or a newsletter or something. But I instantly knew I needed to do this. I think I sent in my scholarship application that very day! I was not going to miss out. I also really appreciated (and still do) the work that the WYWF does, and I wanted to be a part of that. I work in a male dominated field (agriculture). I also work as a firefighter. I was also drawn to the idea of an all-women’s event.”
What was your first impression, arriving at Ucross for your first Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt?
“I was overcome! I had no idea what I was getting into, and was not expecting the level of accommodation. In all my excitement preparing for the hunt, I had somehow missed that it was a fundraiser, and that only a few people had received scholarships. As a result I felt like I walked into some kind of unexpected luxury hunting camp! The care and attention that went into every detail, the gracious and welcoming staff, the generosity of the guides, it was all amazing. Every detail of pairing up hunters and roommates was well thought out.”
What was your experience with mentoring like?
“I had the honor of hunting with Jennie Gordon and Kellen Little. It was just the pair I needed! I had this idea that hunting was complicated and ‘a really big deal.’ Jennie’s kids had gone to school with Kellen, and they were neighbors, so it was just another day in the neighborhood! Kellen also reminded me a lot of my little brother, which put me at ease. We drove around, looked at some wild ibex, learned a bit about the ranch, then eventually got my antelope. Then we stopped by to meet his mom, and show off my harvest. That was it…no big deal! But lots of fun. Jennie and I are still friends and now work together on both ranch projects and the Wyoming Hunger Initiative. I have also worked with Kellen on some ranch projects through my capacity as a University of Wyoming Extension Educator.”
Caitlin also continues to mentor new hunters – in fact, she recently mentored WYWF staff member Alex Shannon on her own first hunt!
What will you remember most from the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt?
“My first big game harvest was of course momentous. It was a very good shot and I remember the flood of emotion and gratitude. I will also always remember sharing that harvest with my husband and parents, and their pride in me. I won a small rifle in one of the raffles at the banquet. I traded that gun for a hunting rifle I used successfully for many years. Just last year I upgraded to a new rifle that I picked out especially for me. I felt like such a grown up!”
What’s changed since you got home?
“Everything! I am now looking at my 7th hunting season following that fateful year. I am now an avid hunter and mentor. I have made some incredible friends and am so grateful for the opportunities I have had. I have the honor of participating in some very good programs hosted by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming First Hunt Foundation as both a hunter and a mentor. I have mentored some youth, but my absolute favorite is other adult women. I also found a great mentor who has taught me so much about high country elk hunting, and what it means to earn the title of ‘hunting buddy.’ The lessons I have learned with him have really set me up for many successful hunts. I never miss the opportunity to talk about my experience as a first generation hunter, and what it has meant to me. I want everyone to have the opportunity!”
Caitlin reflects on how teaching skills that might seem daunting is a special passion for her, whether it’s hunting or chainsaw skills or research-informed agriculture practice. She feels it is important to gather hunt alumnae, Sisters of the Sage, together, and has helped coordinate a Sisters of the Sage whitetail deer hunt for the last several years.
The Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt is grateful for all of Caitlin’s extraordinary service!
Hosted by the Wyoming Women’s Foundation