This is a wonderful story about some of our local women who are helping save our beloved sport of hunting. They are Wildlife Women Inc.
The first friend of mine to bring them to my attention was Donna Mason, who lives at Bill Moore Branch and spent one whole season chasing a monster buck (my memory can’t recall if she scored or not). Next was Chrystal Boggs of Millstone.
The young lady who really started this non-profit is Bridgette Griffith Holbrook from Hemphill. Her father was taken away from her at a very early age in the Scotia mine explosion in 1976. I have known this family for many years, and eaten many meals with her grandmother and Charles Anderson, her grandfather. He retired from ARH after 40 some years of service.
Bridgette grew up fishing with Charles, and that was about the only outdoor activity she did. Then she became interested in horseback riding, hiking, and camping. She was never exposed to guns, and actually had a fear of them. As the years passed, she married and soon had a baby girl, who was found to be sick with food allergies. They tried everything, and soon learned the baby could eat wild game without causing her to get sick.
As the years went by, Bridgette found herself a single parent. At this point she determined she had to provide for her daughter, which meant a better job, providing a home, and learning to kill their food. Because of her fear of guns, she started out as a bow hunter. She harvested deer, wild boar, and a cow elk. (One of the best feelings is to sit at the dinner table and enjoy the meal you harvested from your hunting trip. All of us hunters know that feeling.)
Years later, Bridgette met many friends in this journey we call life who encouraged her to hunt. But when she started going completely alone, she learned she wasn’t as good as she thought. Thinking she had failed and starting to give up, she went to her favorite spot on Pine Mountain and thought this thing through. She knew she needed to punt and start the game over. She needed to lose her fear of guns; she needed to put other friends around her who had more knowledge than her. Then the idea came to her — educate, inspire, and encourage women to get into the outdoors and live the real wildlife.
That was and is the beginning of Wildlife Women. Thank you Bridgette and all the other women who are helping to save our sport and put meat on our tables. Because of people like Melissa Blair, Donna Mason, Chrystal Boggs, and of course, Bridgette Holbrook, the organization has grown from 50 to more than 600 in a very short time.