When I first started putting this project together, the first person I decided I wanted to speak to was Mia Anstine. I’ve been following her on social media for about a year (ever since I read about her in Field & Stream) and she never ceases to amaze me with her passion and positivity. She has a passion not only for wildlife, hunting and conservation, but a passion for life in general. In a world of social media hate and negativity, her posts are positive and filled with love. I couldn’t have been more excited or honored when she agreed to take time out of her very busy schedule (you’ll see all she does below) and answer ten very lengthy questions from yours truly. Without inspiration from Mia, Steven Rinella, Randy Newberg and others, I would not be doing this. Eternal thanks to Mia for getting in on the ground floor here at Mountain Climer!
- Let’s start with the basics. Will you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, how you got involved in the outdoors, your favorite activities, etc.
I am a mentor. I’m a certified firearms and archery instructor as well as hunter education instructor. I strive to preserve our constitutional rights with a focus on freedom of religion and the right to bear arms. I work to continue traditions passed down from generations before with an emphasis on conservation.
I’m a freelance writer, podcast host, and guest at a variety of shows and publications, plus I’m a hunting guide.
I grew up in a small town in Colorado where my great-grandfather used to visit for annual hunting trips. My family moved there when I was a toddler. My father hunted to put food on the table and my mom grew a garden and taught me how to fish. I’ve pursued wild animals around the world and guide hunts in southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico for elk, mule deer, black bear, and Merriam’s turkey.
I am the first American woman, and of Latin descent, featured on the cover of Field & Stream magazine. Alongside 10 other women featured, we are “boots-on-the-ground” everyday women representatives of the many women who are making a difference in the outdoor and hunting industry.
I’m currently serving my second term on the Colorado Sportsman’s Roundtable committee. I’m a board member of my local SCI chapter. I’m a board member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association. I’m a lifetime NRA member, and a member of and support many conservation organizations.
I am a member of Safari Club International and the secretary for my local SCI chapter.
I am currently serving my second term on Colorado’s Sportsman’s Roundtable committee.
I am a board member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association.
I’m a lifetime National Rifle Association member.
I’m a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
I’m a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
I’m a member of Ducks Unlimited.
I’m a member of the Pope & Young Club.
I’m a member of the Colorado Bowhunter’s Association.
I’m a member of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
2. What challenges, if any, did you face when you first started to hunt? What are some of the challenges you face today? What do you do to overcome those challenges?
It’s always a challenge to get up close and personal with a wild animal. Over the years I’ve learned techniques and tactics that help to get closer to free-ranging animals for a clear, ethical shot. Today the challenge has evolved a bit as the woods have become filled with more hunters and the animals have adapted to the hunting pressure. I’ve been working on my adaptation techniques. Time in the field allows a hunter to learn how to overcome the challenges and have a successful hunt.
3. What was it that inspired you to start a website and create YouTube videos?
I used to write about my days guiding hunters and email them to my grandpa. When some of the hunters noticed I would type away every evening they wanted to know what I was doing. I told them and they wanted me to send the stories too. After some time I decided it would be more simple to put my writing on my website for them. This grew to what I do today.
4. If you could describe it, what is it about being outdoors that really drives you? Beyond culture, tradition, hunting for meat, etc., from a spiritual or emotional perspective, what does time in the wilderness bring to your life?
Getting outdoors is good for your health. Doctors are even prescribing outdoor time to their patients. The majority of the population lists getting rid of that spare tire as their top New Year’s resolution goal. The connection that we gain while we pursue wildlife is priceless and cannot be replicated by watching TV or movies. I love to explore, discover, and see what’s on the other side of the mountain. I’m fascinated by bear piles, elk musk, rubs, scraps, mushrooms, aspens, and everything I come across in the outdoors.
5. As you know, hunting numbers are going down at a good pace and the media and college campuses are growing increasingly hostile to hunting, fishing, etc. What do you wish more people knew about the outdoors and the outdoor lifestyle? As a follow up to that, how can we get more girls involved in hunting and fishing? Women are the largest growing segment for hunting but we’re working off of a really small base.
I wish more people knew that the news doesn’t report about the outdoor programs that we’re putting into colleges. There are hunter ed classes. There are wildlife 101 classes. We are finding ways to connect to the young adults and let them know it’s okay that they grew up hunting, or that we’re here to help them if they never had the opportunity.
I wish people knew how that they are connected to the outdoors and that even though they’ve never gotten to plug in, the connection is there. When they finally get out to hike, fish, kayak, mountain bike, or hunt a primal instinct to their connecting with mother nature will be awakened.
People can get more people, including girls, involved in hunting by following what I and others are already doing. They can step up and teach hunter education. They can offer mentored hunts. They can volunteer for conservation organizations. The sky’s the limit when it comes to taking action and getting people, including girls, into hunting.
Women and men can look to hunting guides, mentors, and conservation officers for help with their start in hunting. Ask questions, book hunts, go with a mentor.
6. What are some things that we as hunters can do to shine a positive light on what we do? What are some things we should think twice about doing? Or perhaps a better way to say it, is what does a good hunting ambassador look like?
Let your light shine and always recognize that YOU are a mentor. Someone is watching. Someone is learning from your actions. When it comes to hunting we have to always consider who is watching what we do. Whether it’s in the field, in town, at the sporting goods store, or on social media, people are watching.
Always consider the non-hunter in what you are doing. Non-hunters are the largest segment of our population. They are the ones who pass votes. They are the ones you need to win over. You may think that everyone likes the pictures of your dead animals. Do they? A good hunting ambassador will consider their audience before posting on social media.
Many non-hunters don’t have a problem with hunters pursuing animals for food but they don’t want to see it. They don’t want to see the blood and especially not the guts. A good hunting ambassador will clean the blood off their truck and their clothing before they go to town. A good hunting ambassador will have an immediate answer to the question “Why do you hunt.” The answer will encourage a non-hunter to vote in favor of maintaining hunting traditions.
7. Is there an experience you could tell us about where you talked with a person who had never been exposed to hunting, perhaps they grew up in an urban area, and you were able to open their minds about it? Not saying they had to go out and buy a rifle and a bunch of camo, but where you were able to educate them and explain things in a way they’d never heard before? Conversely, has there ever been a time when an anti-hunter made you either change your mind or re-think an opinion?
I’ve had numerous conversations with people who don’t hunt and those who don’t understand hunting. I always work to inspire them. I don’t necessarily tell them the “need” to hunt. I always encourage them to ask me future questions. I always give them my contact information so they can get in touch.
I’ve met people who say they’ve followed my writing for years and one or two used to oppose hunting. Other than that, I don’t have much interaction with anti-hunters. If I receive a death threat on social media I document the incident and report the profile to the authorities. I don’t attempt to engage in irrational debates. Violence is never an answer.
8. What do you think are the biggest issues or threats facing wildlife and hunting today?
There are numerous issues facing wildlife today. Get out and go to your sportsman’s roundtable meetings. Attend the public meetings offered by your Department of Natural Resources. Get involved with conservation organizations. I don’t mean become a member. I mean get involved. You’ll learn about all the work that is done and needs to be done. You’ll also see where the money goes. So many hunters complain about license fees. You need to become engaged to see where that money goes. Maintaining habitat, wildlife, hunting access, waterways, and more takes a lot of funding.
9. If someone was interested in learning about hunting, shooting, archery etc. but didn’t have anyone in their life to teach them, what would you suggest to them?
You can always follow my website, YouTube, and social media outlets. If you don’t see answers to your questions, message me and ask. I’ll be happy to help. After that, look for mentors in your area. You can find these at Hunter Education class. You can find them via conservation officers. You can join shooting clubs. You can partake in group hunting events. You can hire a hunting guide. In all of these scenarios, ask them to teach you.
10. Lastly, a favorite book and your favorite adult beverage?
My favorite book is the Bible. It’s the first thing I read every day. Adult beverage? I rarely drink beverages with alcohol so I’d have to list the one cup of coffee, which I sip as I read in the morning, as my adult beverage.
Find Mia online at https://miaanstine.com and all the usual social media platforms.