Angie Haas started hunting with her father when she was still in diapers. Years later, her future husband proposed to her while the couple tracked a herd of elk across a steep mountain range. Now 32, the petite Montana native who lives outside Kalispell is competing with nine other women to become the nation's second ever "Extreme Huntress."
"I'm as diehard as any woman out there," she says. "And I'm willing to bet on it."
That was her thought months ago when she contacted the cable television sports program "Primal Adventures," which is conducting the competition, to make her pitch about why she deserves the title and all that comes with it, including a New Zealand hunting trip that will be filmed by Primal Adventures and aired in a future episode.
Prizes are great, Haas says. But being anointed an Extreme Huntress would be vindication for a woman who all too often encounters raised eyebrows from male gun-toters.
"When people hear, 'Oh, you hunt,' the next thing out of their mouth is usually, 'So, does your dad take you?' Or, 'Does your husband?'" she says. "It's always been a real fight of mine to prove that, 'No, I hunt. And I hunt independently.'
"Just this last weekend," she continues, "I got my bull elk. My sister and I were hunting together. And we ran across two guys on a ridge top that we were hiking down. And they kind of look at you like, 'Who else is with you? You can't be alone. You're just two girls.' And so when I saw the Extreme Huntress, I thought, this is good, because the way they're trying to portray this is that women can be extreme."
Haas' husband vouches for that. The two grew up together and have, since they were teenagers, competed to nab the biggest buck.
"She tries to claim that she's the best whitetail hunter, elk hunter and blah, blah, blah," says her husband Travis Tennison, who has been left home caring for the couple's two young children this fall while his wife heads to the woods. In addition to bringing home her elk, she also felled a bear this season.
"I haven't gotten anything," Tennison says.