Highlighting Inspiring Women: She lives for the hunt

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Hunter Ellie Kinley

Throughout March, which is Women’s History Month, the North Iowa Times will again publish a series of articles highlighting local women. Whether it’s through their careers, hobbies, volunteer efforts or unique personalities, these women have become an inspiration to others.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

When asked where her love of hunting comes from, the answer is an easy one for Ellie Kinley.

“It’s all my dad,” she responded, smiling.

The youngest of three daughters, Ellie always felt it was a natural fit to join her father, Jeff, and learn about the outdoor tradition his grandfather had passed down to him.

As a girl, “I would always go coyote hunting with him and follow in his footsteps,” Ellie recalled. “They had a strong connection, and I wanted to keep up with it too.”

Ellie gained experience squirrel hunting. Then, by age 8, she had her first deer.

“Ever since, I’ve never missed a deer season,” she noted. It helps that she’s tried to arrange her school and work schedules around that coveted time.

Now 18, Ellie’s accomplishments include killing five high-scoring bucks with a gun. Her mounts are proudly displayed at the family’s home in McGregor. 

The rest of the year, she stays busy squirrel, coon and turkey hunting. She’s dabbled in trapping and also turtle hooks with her grandpa. In the fall, she’s gone antelope and mule deer hunting with her dad.

“Pretty much all year round, there’s something to do,” she said.

Bow hunting is Ellie’s biggest love, though.

“You have to put in more work,” she explained. “And you have to pay attention more. It happens so fast; you have to be ready.”

Ellie has several adventures on her bucket list, including duck and goose hunting.

“I think a mountain lion would be cool,” she added.

She’d also love to bow hunt for elk and moose in Colorado, and recently put in for points to bear hunt in northern Wisconsin. The greatest wish, however, isn’t for herself.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska and have my dad shoot a moose,” she shared. “That’s his number-one thing.”

Through hunting, Ellie said she’s learned valuable life skills. It’s a hobby both men and women can enjoy—as long as you’re not afraid to bide your time.

“If you like the outdoors, anybody can be a hunter,” she said. “But you have to have patience. If not, you’re going to be a terrible hunter.”

Hunting is also an emotional experience. Ellie admits she cries every time she shoots an animal. But she’s happy too.

“I used to feel bad,” she said, “but it’s part of life.”

She doesn’t find the experience gross—an interesting concept considering thinking about or viewing the human anatomy is one of her worst fears.

“But gutting deer doesn’t bother me,” Ellie confided. “Sometimes, my dad and I even argue over who’s going to do it.”

Most importantly, though, for Ellie, hunting isn’t about the number of animals she’s harvested or the size of a deer’s rack. She just wants to experience new things, especially with her mentor.

It’s waking up early, even on the mornings she’s not sure she wants to go. It’s the adrenaline pumping through her as she sets the sight on an elusive buck. It’s her dad’s voice in her ear, saying, “Let ‘em have ‘er.”

“My favorite thing is going with my dad,” she said. “I could care less about getting an animal. It’s the time we spend together.”

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