Cindi Wulff talks about hunting as a tradition and her motivation behind entering the competition
By Sarah Pridgeon
For Cindi Wulff, hunting is about more than the thrill; it’s a lifestyle that guides her attitudes on everything from how a good life should be lived to conservation and ethical food. This spring, she will compete to win the title of Extreme Huntress in an international contest to find the woman who best embodies the traditions and heritage of the serious outdoorswoman.
“When I learned of the competition many years ago, a lot of the women who were already involved in it were people I really respected in the hunting industry – women who were out there, supporting other women, proven hunters and dedicated to conversation. When I saw these women were doing it, I was thinking: I’m doing that and I want to be the Extreme Huntress,” Wulff smiles.
“I am really dedicated to helping other women and helping kids get involved in hunting. It’s not just about sport – there’s so much more that goes into it, in addition to the conservation.”
On the strength of her essay, Wulff was chosen to be one of 20 finalists from a multitude of entries from around the world. At present, she is asking for the support of her community in the form of votes.
The online vote represents 30 percent of the decision with the remainder up to the judges. Six will be chosen to hunt and take part in a skills contest at a Texas ranch this October, in a televised search for the most competent huntress.
If she proceeds to this stage, Wulff will be tested for her fitness, hunting prowess and ability to use the appropriate equipment.
A recent passion
For Crook County’s finalist, hunting has not been a lifelong endeavor. Even so, she says, her passion for the lifestyle runs as deep as it comes.
“Most of the other competitors started when they were very young. They were brought out into a hunting stand when they were just a wee child, not even old enough to hunt,” she says.
“I grew up on a large dairy farm, I was around that but I was never approached or invited along on a hunt – it just wasn’t something that my family did.”
All that changed, she says, when she met her fiancé six years ago. Brandon is an avid hunter of everything from big game to waterfowl and Wulff began to accompany him on his adventures.
“It was interesting to me, but I still never really thought I’d be a hunter. We moved to Wyoming almost five years ago and, at that point, because there were so many guns in the home and he was always out hunting and I was with him, I thought I would take my hunter safety course,” she recalls.
When she received her certification, Brandon asked if she would like to try out hunting for herself.
“I started out with waterfowl and absolutely loved it. Then I had an opportunity to go on my very first big game hunt, an antelope hunt, and I was hooked,” she grins.
With her fiancé by her side, taking the perfect, ethical shot was a meaningful moment for Wulff. Over the last five years, hunting has become her passion and, she says, her reason for life.
“It really has encompassed everything that I think about and do, it’s 365 days a year with training, running, climbing mountains to get in shape, practicing with our rifles and bows,” she nods.
“It’s all year round and it’s a way of life. Hunters sometimes get labeled a trophy hunter because they’re looking for the biggest set of horns, the biggest set of antlers, but every animal I harvest is a trophy to me, whether it’s a doe animal or a huge, old elk.”
Last year, Wulff had the chance to go on her first solo hunt – another special moment, she says.
“There’s so much to know: whether you’re on public land, where you need to be, and then to recognize the animal, know how far away you are from it, get yourself ready and make that shot. And then field dressing all by yourself,” she says.
Hunting has given Wulff a self-confidence she never thought she would find, she says, and that’s something she would love to share with other women and new hunters. The contest’s main goal is to help pass the tradition of hunting to the next generation and celebrate women’s role in that effort.
Extreme Huntress aims to do this by promoting positive role models for other women who may be new to hunting, shooting and outdoor sports. If mom goes hunting and takes her children, she helps in the preservation of that heritage.
“It will make what I stand for with hunting and conservation matter and allow me to be a voice for those who are maybe not strong enough to handle the anti-hunters,” she nods.
“It will allow me to be a voice for new people who want to hunt but aren’t sure how to go about it. I am really looking forward to, if I win, what it will open up for me.”
For Wulff, hunting is not about trophies or number of hunts; it’s about passion and fortitude as well as commitment and responsibility. It’s a lifestyle all of its own, she says.
“If I have to provide for my family, I can do that, and that’s very special to me,” Wulff nods.
“It’s almost a spiritual thing. I get very emotional when I harvest an animal; you took an animal’s life and that’s hard. But to be able to provide that hormone-free, antibiotic-free, organic meat for your family and friends gives me a lot of pride.”
With her nuptials drawing closer, Wulff has also opted to serve bison meat from her recent hunt at the wedding breakfast.
“Once in a great while we’ll purchase beef, but everything in our freezer is wild game. It’s kind of nice not to have to go to the store and you know exactly where your meat is coming from,” she says.
To vote for Wolff as this year’s Extreme Huntress, visit www.extremehuntress.com. The winner of the Extreme Huntress Competition for 2017 will be announced in January.
“If I can get on to the six, I will make Wyoming proud – and Sundance proud, for sure,” she smiles.