It’s never too late to learn new skills
Like many, Amanda Heatwole keeps busy with work and home life. She is accomplished in her career as Yuma Test Center’s Business Operations Division Chief and is a wife and mother of three kids.
Throughout the years there was one skill she wanted to learn but put it off for decades– hunting.
“I grew up in rural southern Indiana, I lived on a farm and my dad hunted everything. It was a way of life for many people in the area, but not typically for girls,” explained Heatwole.
Even so, she never took advantage of the opportunity to learn.
“I was interested but I didn’t get invited to go often because I talked too much and couldn’t sit still for very long,” jokes Heatwole.
She and her husband hunted together on several occasions but since she hadn’t honed her skill, she was not successful.
“I had cow elk tags several times and always came home empty handed and frustrated.”
Soon after, Heatwole saw a social media post from one of her friends who completed the Yuma Desert Doves program which is a fivepart educational series of courses and events designed exclusively for women that culminated with a mentored dove hunt.
“My friend is in her 60’s and she was out there learning new skills
and having so much fun with other likeminded ladies, and I was inspired by that. I reached out to her, and she put me in touch with the program coordinator who works for Arizona Game and Fish.”
Heatwole joined the program the following year and noticed other members had a similar story to hers.
“A lot of women joined because they had partners they wanted to go and enjoy these activities with, but they felt intimidated or didn’t know where to start. Some participants had never even handled a firearm, so it was rewarding to watch beginners become inspired to pursue shooting sports and other outdoor activities.”
Being surrounded with her new classmates with the same goals, she learned in a non-intimidating
atmosphere from others who were eager to share their knowledge with the group.
“We learned about shotgun basics, firearm safety, species identification, ethical hunting and conservation principles, trap and skeet shooting, participated in a mentored dove hunt and above all, we had a lot of fun along the way!”
After completing the series, Heatwole was looking for ways to stay involved, so she joined the local Women on the Wing chapter of Pheasants Forever. Many of the activities hosted by this group support the R3 (Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation) effort to get more people involved in hunting related and shooting activities.
Since joining the club, she has participated in a mentored javelina hunt south of Tucson which required her to learn how to use the muzzleloader. She kept going from there. She participated in a mentored quail hunt and a mentored pheasant hunt. This past fall, she was the recipient of a tag to hunt mule deer on the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona and harvested a mule deer buck – her first big game success!
Heatwole is proud of what she’s learned and realized that learning doesn’t have to stop and hopes to encourage others. “It’s a personal challenge for me. I compete against myself and try to get better and learn more from each experience. I grow at my own pace and I can see the results of the hard work I put into learning.”
She adds, “Being a busy mom, wife, and working fulltime, it’s not always easy to fit in doing things for myself but I think it’s important to have a healthy balance. I like the opportunity to show my daughter that I can set goals and achieve them and stay committed to learning and making self-improvements. I also like to help others learn and it’s rewarding for me to share what I have learned along the way.”
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