A huntress has revealed how she takes her nine month old daughter on hunts, and even dresses her in a ‘hunting outfit’ for the expeditions.
Stay-at-home mother, Rebekah Stephens, 30, from Ohio, was just seven-years-old when she accompanied her dad on his hunt and fell in love with the traditional past-time.
Now Rebekah, who hunts with a bow and arrow, has told how she takes her daughter along with her during the expeditions, and has even bought her a ‘cute’ outfit to wear on the trips.
She said: ‘I hope that she loves to hunt and fish as I do; she already adores the outdoors.’
Rebekah grew up feeding on the spoils of the animals her dad would hunt, and she had her first hunt in 1999 when she was 10 years old.
Over the years, she has hunted deer, turkeys, rabbits and her largest kill has been a whitetail deer which weighed over 14st 4Ib, and she hunts with a bow and arrow.
Her kills are used to eat or to be made into something like home décor or clothing, as Rebekah tries to use as much of the animals as possible after her hunts.
But her passion for hunting hasn’t diminished, even when she became a mother to her nine-month-old baby, Isabella, in August 2018, whom she has taken out on hunts with her since she was born.
Some people have wished her ill health due to her hobby, but she has learned to ignore the comments.
Rebekah said: ‘I was brought up in a small town in New Jersey and my father taught me how to hunt and fish at an early age.’
She explained she felt grateful to her father for encouraging her to get outdoors, saying: ‘Even at a young age I was obsessed with the outdoors and took to it even more than my brothers. I’m extremely thankful to have a dad who thought girls could hunt too.
‘As a little kid, I knew it simply as a way of putting food on the table; we didn’t buy beef, we always had deer meat. As I got older, I saw it as a way to escape the outside world and relax.’
She went on: ‘I love everything about hunting, but I’ve always loved being outdoors. It’s peaceful and I see so many things in the woods that others never get to see.
‘I’m also providing food for myself and family. Lastly, money from my hunting license goes towards funding conservation.’
The mother of one, who has killed animals including deer and rabbits, says she most recently killed turkey.
She explained:’You can only hunt when it’s daylight, but I get up extremely early so I’m there before daylight and the turkeys don’t see me walking into the woods.’
‘I will try to locate turkeys by listening for gobbles, and then call them in with a turkey call. You can only hunt male turkey, so the calls imitate females as spring is breeding season.’
Rebekah has been keen to involve her young daughter in the hobby, and began taking her out hunting at a young age.
She said: ‘Although I’m not sure it’s a hunt I did shoot a few rabbits in the backyard and took my daughter with me. Her first official hunt was youth turkey season, when I took my friend and her daughter turkey hunting.
‘We had to be there before daylight, so I got my daughter up early, fed her and drove to the spot we were hunting.
She went on: ‘We had a ground blind (tent) set up to sit in and wait. She did extremely well for an eight-months old baby and was very quiet the whole time, for five hours.’
But Rebekah sees the controversial hobby as a lifestyle choice, and says that everything she kills is eaten or made into something.
She explained:’ Furs, antlers, feathers, skulls – I try to use as much as possible and I think that’s important.
‘As far as what I use the animal parts for; I make them into home décor, clothing, wall mounts, blankets, anything useful that I can think of.’
‘It is hard sometimes to have patience to wait for animals; you don’t always see something to shoot, and can go weeks without shooting something.’
She said: ‘I use a bow and arrow for everything I hunt; the biggest hunt was a whitetail deer; I think my biggest buck was over fourteen-stone four pounds,’ she said.’
But while Rebekah says that she has received some negative comments from strangers, she tries not to let it bother her.
‘Some people love it, yet others think it is too extreme and dangerous. Some have even wished ill on my life for taking my daughter hunting.
‘I get quite a few anti-hunters saying things like, “how would you like it if someone hunted you and your baby” and other things along the lines of, “how can you teach an innocent baby such horrible things like hunting?”.
‘I try not to let it bother me; it can be tough at times, but strangers online don’t know me, so really cannot judge me.
‘Hands down the best comment was from someone who lets me hunt in their property.
‘He said that he thought it was great that I was getting my daughter involved in the outdoors at such a young age, and that it was great that I hadn’t stopped doing what I was passionate about just because I had a child.’
And Rebekah admitted she has high hopes for her daughter Isabella, who already loves the outdoors and is well behaved on hunts.
She said: ‘I hope that she loves to hunt and fish as I do; she already adores the outdoors. However, if she chooses not to hunt and fish, I will respect her decision.
‘There is always much respect in taking a life. If you haven’t been in my shoes and lived this lifestyle, you really can’t judge what is best.’