We welcome Callie Wolverton, business operations manager at Girls with Guns Clothing, as a columnist for GWG Life. Callie will alternate months in 2017 with the popular Morgan and Mason Baseley, of 2Girls Hunting, and bring us in-depth and behind-the-scenes looks at what it’s like to an outdoors-oriented woman. ~BB
The past year, 2016, was an eventful year for the nation. We lost 140 law enforcement officers in the line of duty, 18 United States military servicemen and women and countless celebrities. We witnessed a historic election, with the nomination of the first female presidential candidate by a major party and the surprising victory of Donald Trump. We encountered hate and divisiveness but also experienced incredible acts of human kindness. Many feel as though they lost something this last year, but no one can argue that in 2016, we, as a nation, found our voice.
Giving a voice to our great nation is easier now than in 1776, but no less passionate. Thanks to worldwide access to social media, people from around the globe took to Facebook and Twitter to express their feelings, share a special moment or shed light on causes dear to their hearts. The mainstream media took advantage of the “instant access” trend, livestreaming breaking news and releasing updates, many times even before the dust had settled — which left their viewers wondering if they truly knew the whole story.
While most of us used social media as it was intended — a platform to stay in touch with loved ones and the world around us — many users, particularly in the anti-hunting and anti-gun communities, chose to act as unofficial keyboard warriors for their causes.
Following 2016’s trend of threatening and bashing those who hold opposite viewpoints, the antis viciously attacked hunters and gun owners, and none were attacked so vehemently as the women who chose to protect themselves and put food on the table.
Cries of generational heritage, statistics on crime and conservation dollars, and support of the organic and locavore movements fell on deaf ears. Nothing could appease the attackers, short of laying down our guns and taking up the vegetarian lifestyle. No one was immune to it, as Eva Shockey learned when anti-hunters took to Facebook and Instagram to attack her unborn child.
Aryanna Gourdin, a 12-year-old pro staffer for Girls with Guns Clothing’s TeamGWG, was bombarded with death threats and harassed with vile, disgusting comments due to her culling safaris in Africa. The fact that she, a young girl, was capable of harvesting a giraffe and other exotic species, shook the anti-hunting community to its core. So much so that the hate spread to her father, Eli, and to other members of her family. Even those who dared to stand in solidarity with Aryanna were subjected to vicious verbal attacks and threats to their businesses, as Jen O’Hara and Norissa Harman, the co-founders of Girls with Guns Clothing, quickly found out.
A woman didn’t even have to be behind the trigger in 2016 to incur the wrath of the antis. Sarah Bowmar, whose husband, Josh, legally harvested a Canadian black bear with a spear, lost her sponsorship with Under Armour after more than 4,350 signatures were collected asking UA to terminate their contract with the Bowmars. Given Under Armour’s foundation as a performance sportswear company and the ensuing pressure from their social media followers to drop the Bowmars, Under Armour released a statement saying, “Under Armour is ending its relationship with Sarah Bowmar, the wife of Josh Bowmar. The method used to harvest this animal was reckless and we do not condone it.” The anti-hunting community gleefully celebrated their small “victory,” but they had no way of knowing that the tide would soon turn against them.
In years past, outdoorswomen who were the target of anti-hunting abuse were told to lay low, to ignore the comments for fear of repercussions to their businesses and their livelihoods. 2016 was different. The anti-hunting community had no idea that the years of abuse would have the opposite effect on the outdoor industry.
Instead of fear, their attacks inspired even more pride, and instead of shunning the spotlight, the women in our industry decided to take a stand.
Eva Shockey chose to quote the great Winston Churchill, saying, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” She ended her post with a cheeky dig at the antis using the hashtag #IHaveHaters (and the pretty girl hand-raise emoji) and reminding her fellow huntresses to #NeverApologizeForBeingAHunter, a nod to her “Never Apologize” gear.
Aryanna Gourdin took to live TV with her father Eli to defend their hunting heritage and show the world the true meaning of conservation. Knowing that fashion can make a bold statement, they chose to wear “Stand Up to Anti-Hunter Bullying” shirts from Joni Marie’s Rockstarlette Bowhunting.
Sarah Bowmar is getting the last laugh after being dropped by Under Armour. The hunting industry called for a community-wide boycott of UA and inspired other hunting apparel companies to come out and vocalize their support for all hunters, regardless of their method of take. The petition for Under Armour to reinstate Sarah has grown to almost 10,000 signatures, more than 2+ times the amount of the original petition. Not only has Sarah increased her social media following, thanks to the support of her fellow huntresses, but she’s now sponsored by Nomad and Girls with Guns, companies that proudly backs her passion for hunting and the outdoors.
In the end, it’s not what happened to you but how you deal with it that makes history, and 2016 was one for the books.
Callie Wolverton is the PR and Corporate Partnerships Director for Girls with Guns® Clothing. She also is a freelance writer with articles appearing in AmmoLand, Outdoor Wire and other outdoor publications. Born and raised in Northern California, she enjoys reading, hunting, and adventuring with her dog, Bandit. View all posts by Callie Wolverton