MANITOWANING—Just Hunt producer and host Amanda Lynn Mayhew was shooting a segment of her popular outdoor lifestyle program on a property in Manitowaning recently. Ms. Hunt discovered Manitoulin Island while appearing at the Assiginack Deer Show last year.
“When I came for the deer festival last year, I just fell right in love with Manitoulin Island,” she said. “I love it here. I met Dave and Theresa McDowell there and they asked if I wanted to take on hunting here for deer.” A serendipitous hole opened up in her filming schedule between an elk hunt and a moose hunt and she decided to take advantage of the opportunity.
Ms. Mayhew grew up “hunting and fishing in Manitouwadge,” so she has had plenty of experience in Northern Ontario, but most of the women she brought with her had more limited experience.
First time hunter Pamela Stewart of Cambridge has lived her life in the city. “I don’t have family who hunt, I don’t have friends who hunt,” she admitted. “I didn’t know what to expect.” Her experience hunting on Manitoulin has been exhilarating and exceeded her wildest expectations.
Julie Roy of Smooth Rock Falls is no stranger to hunting, spending many seasons stalking game in the bush with her husband. Two years ago she bagged her first moose, an experience she chalked up with a chuckle to “total BS luck.” That luck appeared in more ways than one, since not only did she get a freezer full of meat but won a “sweet automatic 308” in the deal.
Rae Urwin of Burlington has been grouse hunting before in Sturgeon Falls and participated in the spring turkey hunt, but said that she still has “lots of learning” to do when it comes to the hunt.
Victoria Montgomery of Whitby has been hunting for “a couple of years” after being introduced to the sport by her husband. Since then they have often been hunting as a couple, but as a woman she said that it is often hard to find a hunting party to join. “It tends to be patriarchal club,” she laughed. “Then an aboriginal guy I met in Oshawa suggested I should look up this girl Amanda Lynn Mayhew and her Just Hunt program. I Googled her…”
“You Googled me!” interjects Ms. Mayhew.
“You know you have made it when people Google you,” rejoins Ms. Urwin.
There is no mistaking the bonding that has taken place amongst this group of camo-clad women over the preceding couple of days—they display a camaraderie that would be familiar to anyone who has ever taken part in a hunting party.
After finding her online, Ms. Montgomery contacted Ms. Mayhew and soon found herself invited to take part in the Manitoulin hunt. “It was a safe place for a new hunter to go,” said Ms. Stewart. “A very safe place,” interjects one of the other women.
Ms. Roy, on the other hand, has known Ms. Mayhew since Grade 9 when they went to school together in Iroquois Falls.
Ms. Mayhew is an accomplished fitness instructor with six years of public speaking under her belt and she is the longtime official spokesperson for the Toronto Sportsman Show. But Ms. Mayhew fell into the television host gig as somewhat of an accident, being first recruited by WildTV. “They said that they had been watching me for years,” recalled Ms. Mayhew of the initial approach by the network. Her reaction? “I said no,” she laughed.
A great deal of cajoling ensued until finally Ms. Mayhew relented. “The first two seasons were pretty easy,” she said. Since then she has not looked back.
Mr. McDowell said that he and his wife were very taken by the straight shooting and plain talking style of Ms. Mayhew and decided to invite her to come to their Manitowaning property for the Island deer hunt. Mr. McDowell himself has been hunting for 50 years and said that he thinks women taking up the sport in greater numbers generally is great.
While women hunters are somewhat more common on the Island, it is generally still very much a man’s world, and that is an image that Ms. Mayhew is set on changing—and judging by results, she is being quite successful.
That is reflected in the sponsorships Ms. Mayhew and Just Hunt are attracting. Jeremy Weicker of Fatal Attractions Outdoors joined the Just Hunt team at the McDowell property for part of the hunt and Ms. Mayhew had high praise for local business Island Gun and Pawn. “They’ve been great,” she said.
When it comes to women and hunting, Ms. Mayhew has a simple, but effective, philosophy. “Just do it,” she exclaims. “Be real, be strong and be you.”
Seasons one and two of Just Hunt are now airing on WildTV five times a week and over the next several weeks there will be new episodes airing. Ms. Mayhew is now producing for the Sportsman channel, so great things are on the trail ahead.