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Women hunters, not just gatherers
Shirley Says
shirley hiers
These ladies are at home in the great outdoors. Shown are (front, left to right) JoAnn Bickley, Michaela Galbreath, Nina Horne, Joyce Hamsher, Winnie Hunt; behind them are Billie Murray, Nicole Carnes and Margaret Henderson. - photo by Photo by Richard Bates
Since the days of Annie Oakley, rifles and boots have intrigued young girls. In Richmond Hill, there are women who refuse to hang up their hunting boots and lay down their guns. They’ve never accepted the old-fashioned idea men hunt and women gather. The art of tracking, stalking and ‘bringing home the bacon’ is not lost on these ladies. They will tell you the lure of the hunt and the thrill of the kill are not adrenaline rushes known only to men.
Girls have whimsically been said to be made of “sugar and spice and everything nice.” These ladies are all that and more! They realize hunting is no longer about male bonding. It’s about how to hunt for food, outwit the prey and take only what they can eat. Traditionally, women have prepared the food, why shouldn’t they be hunters, as well?
I want to introduce you to a few of these ‘sharpshooters’, who have an unquenchable thirst for adventure. They are known as early-risers. Frigid morning temperatures are an invitation to pull on thermal underwear, woolen hats, camos and hunting boots. After several cups of steaming coffee, they shoulder their gear, snap on an orange vest and head for the deep woods. Once seated high in a tree, they’ll wait…and wait. Patience and vigilance are known traits of the huntress.
Jo Ann Bickley has been hunting wild game for as long as she can remember; an appetite fueled by her father since early childhood. She has killed an elk in Colorado, a black bear in Maine, wild boars in Georgia and Kentucky, turkeys, white tail and mule deer in Georgia…all with a bow! (Not prone to bragging, she matter-of-factly tells of single-handedly packing the elk out of the mountains in Colorado!)
Billie Murray, no novice when it comes to hunting, has hunted wild animals from the swamps of South Georgia to the grasslands of South Africa! She has accompanied her husband, Lloyd, to Africa three times on big game hunts. Once their daughter Savannah went with them and bagged a large Impala. The remarkably tender meat was given to grateful natives. Lloyd taught Billie everything he knows about hunting, including, “If you shoot it, you gotta eat it!” She learned well, saying, “I’ve eaten everything from buffalo tongue to warthog stew because a true southern lady always eats what she hunts!”
When talking with Nicole Carnes, an avid deer hunter, you can almost see dark eyes squinting, her jaw set and a 12-gauge shotgun resting in her lap as she waits in her deer stand. Hunting comes naturally to her, “Hunting has always been a family thing. My grandparents Nina and Larry Horne loved to hunt and fish. My great-grandmother, Mary Proman, has always fished…She’s definitely a firecracker!” Her cousin, Michaela Galbreath, killed an 11-point trophy buck this past season, which scored 148 points by the Boone & Crockett System.  
My cousins, Joyce Hamsher, Winnie Hunt and Margaret Henderson, are relentless in their pursuit of big bucks or trophy-sized fish. These sisters are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to excelling with shotguns or rods and reels. I have known them to be alone in thick woods and bring down an 80 pound wild hog. Undaunted by size, they wrestled it onto their 4-wheeler, hauled it home, strung up and butchered it – alone! After being roasted whole, the glistening golden hog was served on a bed of fresh cabbage leaves highlighted with daffodils and camellias! I’m glad I was invited to the feast!
These rifle toting, hog hauling deer slayers don’t come with ‘Warning’ labels. They are the same ladies that can slither into a black dress, clasp on a strand of pearls and step into the night. One of these spirited women could have been your dance partner the night before!
Don’t let their beauty and femininity fool you…Underneath their sweet southern exterior lays a layer of true grit!

Hiers was born and raised in Richmond Hill. You can reach her at    

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