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"Women Hunting Alaska"

A Book by Christine Cunningham

Christine Cunningham was born in Sitka, Alaska in 1978. Although she spent much of her life wandering the woods alone, hunting did not come to her until later in life. Unlike many women hunters, she didn't have early role models who hunted. However, her early experiences of the outdoors gave her nature as a source for truth. No matter how much time she spent in the field as an "outsider," it wasn't until she began hunting small game that the beauty and realities of the outdoors really came to life for her.

Christine wrote about her first experience duck hunting for Alaska Magazine in 2008 and shot her first 25 straight at trap in 2012. As she became more involved in the hunting and shooting community, she also became active in many wildlife conservation and preservation organizations. She volunteers her time as a Hunter Safety Instructor for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game's Hunter Education Program and participates as an instructor for women and youth shooting events. As she developed her skills, she realized she needed a hunting dog and has since expanded her hunting family to include six sporting dogs (three chocolate labs, two English setters, and an Irish setter), who live for the mountains, woods, and tidal flats.

As Christine began to connect with other women who were living a similar life, she was captivated their many stories and recollections. In 2012, she embarked on a book project that would share the stories of 17 women hunters. Women Hunting Alaska is her attempt to bring the reader into the world of the woman hunter in Alaska--the high risk and visually spectacular world of the last frontier through the eyes of hunting's largest growing segment. The stories are those of real women hunters who live within and utilize the wild lands of Alaska. Their stories, although remarkably different, are a still vital remnant of the frontier lifestyle where women are extremely self reliant, independent and thoughtful. They are also full of adventure, compassion, and life itself.

The selection of the women featured happened by chance, and there are still many other women with similar stories and a far greater wealth of these exist than could possibly be included in one volume. The stories were not predetermined, and it was important to Christine that the stories reflected each woman's style of hunting rather than her own. She discovered that for each of them, the meaning of a hunt was developed over time and was, like her own experience, a confluence of how each were raised, how they had lived and grown, and the place they finally found themselves.

Christine believes that women are the future of hunting. They have the privilege of defining a new tradition in the field, and she is eager to see what women will become to each other at a point in time when a new definition of what it means to be a hunter emerges.

Christine Cunningham


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