A Wyoming native, pronghorn junkie and avid bowhunter, Shantane Strohschein shares her story of her first season as a licensed antelope guide.
I’ve lived my whole life in Wyoming.
I graduated from high school in the same town that I currently live in. Wyoming is such a special place. If you’ve never been here, you might not understand! I started hunting later in life. My dad was a hunter so I was around it. My mom hunted a little bit, but we as kids never really got into it much. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I really started hunting. It just grew from there!
She Guides is sponsored by Remington Outdoor Company
I started right off with big game hunting.
Deer hunting, elk hunting, I wanted to do it all. I was drawn to archery. I started out with a crossbow, but it was very difficult for me to pack it through the woods. I felt like I was missing out on a lot of the big parts of the hunt because I couldn’t get everywhere and more importantly, I couldn’t get ready quick enough with it. So, I got a compound bow, which then led me to not being as successful at hunting deer and elk has I had been rifle hunting! My first harvest with my compound was a pronghorn and I was hooked. But, it wasn’t easy! I asked a lot of questions and I pretty much just taught myself. I set up a blind and sat for 16 hours a day trying to figure out what the heck to do and how to do it. I hunted by myself for 5 or 6 years and then got all my other friends involved.
I kind of forced a lady friend of mine to go with me because I thought it was amazing.
She thought I was crazy! She thought I was out of my mind. She said, “I don’t see what’s fun about sitting in a blind when it’s 100 degrees in there!” Finally, when I got her in there and she saw things differently, she thought it was really cool. She was successful in her hunt. I would say that most of the hunters I have taken out both as friends and as clients have been women and young girls. It’s just something I have a strong feeling to share, an experience I think every woman should have.
Teaching other women to hunt quickly became a driving force for me.
I met Crissy Springer, who was the founder of the women’s outdoor adventure company Babes Bullets and Broadheads, over 10 years ago. We were friends on social media for many years and then she asked me to be her Wyoming field staffer. It was 6 years before she finally came out on a hunt and we met face-to-face and I took her on an antelope hunt! When Amy Ray bought the company and rebranded it as the Sisterhood of the Outdoors, I knew she going to do amazing things with it. I was so excited to continue our relationship and it has been so much fun having her and the girls out every year. The Sisterhood is near and dear to my heart and I’ve made lifelong friends on the hunts.
Guiding seemed like a natural fit.
In Wyoming, the first step is you must have a licensed outfitter hire you. That was the hardest part. I tried for about 4 years to get hired. I would just call different outfitters, people I knew and, I would just cold call people. I told them I didn’t need to be paid, I just wanted the experience. But, no one hired me. A lot of friends asked me if I thought it was because I was a woman, I don’t think so. I think it was more about the competition, that they knew I might take business from them down the road. Once I found someone to hire me, the rest of the application process was just submitting the paperwork to the state of Wyoming and passing the test.
I’ve never really had a bad day of guiding.
Maybe I should knock on wood! I’ve definitely had days that I felt defeated as a guide, because I want everything to be perfect. The good days, the best hunts, are the youth hunts. They have truly been beyond my expectations of what I thought guiding can be. Their families came with us, it was a huge entourage, it was hilarious and fun! The girls were so grateful and the parents were all so proud. The girls keep in touch with me on Facebook and tell me they miss me and Wyoming. It makes me think to myself, ‘Gosh I want to do youth hunts every day!’
Expectations really set the tone for the entire hunt.
Every hunt is different. Every hunter is different. I try to teach clients to come in with the expectation that we will give you a spectacular adventure. We can’t guarantee you a harvest. I can promise it will be a great hunt, and it will be exactly how you want your hunt to be. If you come in with that attitude, you’re going to have a great time. If you’re only hunting to “get something,” then I think you need to check your intentions as a hunter.
Sizing pronghorns in the field can be deceiving.
I teach clients to look for where their ears and their prong or cutter line up. If the top of their ear is in line with the prong, and then you can double that distance to the tip of the horn, it’s a pretty decent buck at 12 or 13 inches. That’s how I learned to judge size in the field and I think it’s the quickest way. We harvested a few very large bucks this year. One client took a buck at 84.5 inches with a bow this year, that was the largest.
The most important thing to me is passing down the hunting tradition to my daughter, Samantha.
She has the appreciation of what hunting really is. It’s about the conservation, who you’re with and harvesting your own food. She knows that the story that is bigger than filling a tag. Now I can really see her starting to be self-sufficient as a hunter and starting to talk to other people about hunting and being a good ambassador. I’ve seen her have to deal with anti-hunters on social media, and she’s done so with such grace. That’s not something I had to deal with when I was her age, everyone hunted.
I shoot a .270 short mag. I use it for everything, and I’m comfortable with that gun. I think a .243 is also a perfect caliber for antelope hunting. It’s great for anyone, including kids.
(2018 hunt dates to be released soon)
Courtney Nicolson is an outdoor writer, hunter, and angler based in Denver, Colo. She is an active member of numerous conservation groups and is passionate about empowering women in the outdoors. Courtney is the senior producer/editor for Outdoor Sportsman Group Networks. View all posts by Courtney Nicolson