Editor’s note: This exclusive OutdoorHub interview is one of a many focusing on the amazing females who are driving positive changes in the outdoors. Kristy Titus is one of three diehard hunters featured in CarbonTV’s “Women Who Hunt” online special (video below). This original “Women Who“ series shares the stories of women who have the outdoors in their blood. Whether it’s hunting, fishing, shooting, or farming, these women make no apology for who they are and aim to inspire the same passion in others. Be sure to check in often to CarbonTV.com for more “Women Who” originals.
OHUB: Kristy, according to your website, you were “raised leading a pack string of mules into the backcountry of Oregon.” Tell us more about these trips. Is your dad the person most responsible for introducing you to hunting and the outdoors?
Kristy: I grew up in a small Oregon logging community; my mom, a waitress, and my dad, a millwright in our local sawmill. Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of financial means – we never went to Disneyland for our family vacations, instead, we spent nearly every weekend camping packed into the backcountry riding our mules, fishing the high lakes, and enjoying a warm campfire, hot cup of cocoa, s’mores and family togetherness. We hunted for meat because we needed it for our family to afford quality meals. I grew up rich with the outdoors in my blood. My mother was always supportive of that, but my dad is the person that lit the fire within me.
My dad taught me from a very young age the value of setting goals and creating my own success, which started with small moments afield. As a 2 year old, I didn’t want left to be behind at Grandma and Grandpas. Too tiny to ride alone, I used to fall asleep on the front of my dad’s saddle; by the time I was 5, I insisted on haltering and leading my mule Bullet to graze and water.
Under watchful eye, my dad gave me the freedom to try and figure out how to correctly cinch my saddle secure it to my mule’s back. When I would grow frustrated, he was there to guide me, but never take over and do it for me. After all, I wanted to learn, I wanted to be independent, and I wanted to be self-sufficient. This required a commitment of time and patience from my father because it would have been much faster for him to do it for me – but what would I have learned? I would take off across the meadows jumping creeks in delight of the freedom felt atop my mule Bullet. A feeling of accomplishment and confidence. There are so many kids these days with low self-esteem and lack of confidence that would benefit from a moment like this one. A feeling of freedom and accomplishment like this.
Those moments created the core of who I am today. What my family had then and still have today is a love for wild places and wildlife.
OHUB: You’re probably cooked elk backstraps on an open fire, as well as other big game around the world. In your opinion, what is the best-tasting wild game?
Kristy: Everything tastes better on the mountain – I love elk meat, Stone’s sheep meat is very delicious and tender, and mountain goat has great flavor but it is just really difficult to chew. I believe that in order to truly appreciate the culture of hunting and the people within hunting camps, one must sample the palate of flavors behind that culture – of course, by eating food. Hunting camps are fabulous for uniting people of many cultures to share in the hunt and the bounty of the harvest all prepared in unique ways that celebrate the harvest.
OHUB: Fitness and nutrition are tremendously important to you. How much time do you train per day, per week?
Kristy: Fitness is essential for my mind, body and soul – that combined with consuming a diet of whole natural un-processed foods is the key to my overall well-being. I make my own dried fruit, nut butters, my family cans fish, and I make my own jerky. I really try not to consume anything that comes out of a box or bag. Goals for me consist of someday having an expansive garden and chickens. For the time being, I have a small fruit tree garden consisting of Meyer Lemon, Key Lime and Kaffir Lime trees to supplement my cooking.
There is nothing that replicates the freedom felt atop a mountain, so after a long day sitting at my desk I love to trail run with my dog, Kruger. Unfortunately, I do not work out as much as I would like – I prefer working out 3 hours a day. It is a struggle for me with my travel schedule. Heck, I think it is something that most of America struggles with. When I am home, I work out every day for no less than 90 minutes and up to 3 hours. When I am on the road between hunts, I HAVE to run Kruger. Together, we have experienced some very beautiful places that many people drive by never stopping. If I fly, I am sure to hit the hotel gym for no less than 75 minutes of cardio.
OHUB: What is your involvement with the Adventures Enabled Program of Wounded Warrior Outdoors?
Kristy: Over the past 4 years, I have been blessed with personally witnessing miracles on the mountain with participants in the Wounded Warrior Outdoors (WWO), Adventures Enabled Program. As a 501-C3, WWO puts 95 cents of every dollar donated toward the therapeutic benefit of currently wounded, in-hospital treatment servicemen and women. Some injuries are evident and some are invisible.
On the mountain, there is something magical that happens when you are there. As outdoorsmen, we can all attest to the spiritual and emotional restoration that comes from being in wild places and the brotherhood-like bond that is forged amongst friends and family in the field.
Participants are given an opportunity to get away from the sounds, smells and sterile hospital environment, from the repetition of therapy, to a life that is vastly different. Over 75 percent of the participants in the WWO program have never hunted or had the opportunity to experience the mountains.
The time spent on the mountain, pressing oneself to go beyond what was once thought possible, breaking any preconceived physical or mental limitations, doing things that one may have never before dreamed of doing. At the end of the adventure there is the triumph that one has risen to the challenge and owned the mountain. As hunters, we can all relate to this triumph and the confidence that is actualized in that life-changing moment. In these times, the brotherhood bond that warriors experience in service is replicated within the fellowship of the hunt.
It is an honor to support some of America’s best and brightest patriots, our service men and women, participants of the WWO program, helping to provide them with therapeutic outdoor adventures and an opportunity to venture into wild country.
OHUB: Conservation and wildlife management are keys to ensuring hunting’s future. What can we hunters do to better communicate these messages to the non-hunting public?
Kristy: Hunting is still relevant in today’s society and culture. Now, more than in any other time in history, there needs to be an understanding by everyone of the importance of conservation and our hunting heritage. This is not just for the provision of meat for the table, but how hunters are working hard to improve, conserve, enhance and fund more land projects that are directly benefitting wildlife and wild places than any other group or organization in the world.
There is a big disconnect in our culture from the land and the wildlife that calls it home. We see the dissolution of the family unit – urban city kids that have never seen the stars in the sky let alone know the feeling of waking up at 4 a.m. for a hunt. This reconnection to the land is the key to ensure the future of our time-honored traditions, and the relevancy of hunting in today’s ever-changing world.
Going to the grocery store to purchase meat is not the only way to provide for a family; the value and lessons that come from the hunt are priceless.
Inspire, educate and mentor – we must reach the non-hunters of the world and educate them on the value of hunting, for the entire family, for the economic benefit to our nation, and how hunters are truly the first crusaders in conservation. The growing involvement in women and youth is the key to the success of our future.
OHUB: Gear question – binoculars are critically important when hunting big game, especially in the West. What is your go-to brand, model and size bino when pursuing elk in the mountains?
Kristy: Being able to locate animals in rough terrain or adverse conditions is the starting point to every successful hunt. During low-light conditions there is a lot of detail that the human eye simply cannot detect, and that’s is why I make the investment in quality – Swarovski Optik SWAROVISION offers edge-to-edge clarity for you to see perfect images. They are the ultimate in performance. For me, I pack along the EL Range 10X42.
OHUB: This November, Americans will choose their next president. How big of a factor in your voting decision is a candidate’s faithfulness to the U.S. Constitution, and specifically the Second Amendment?
Kristy: When politicians, and elites whom themselves are all protected by guns, want to disarm the law-abiding citizen, we should be very afraid. The Second Amendment is on the ballot this year. We are at a critical turning point where the law-abiding citizen must defend our right to keep and bear arms with our vote. The President of the United States should ensure that the Constitution is upheld keeping America a free nation. I will not vote for a candidate that threatens the dissolution of my God-given right of self-defense, and constitutionally granted Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. If our Second Amendment goes away, so does hunting and conservation as we know it.
OHUB: You’re a certified pistol instructor for the NRA. What is your carry handgun (brand and caliber) of choice?
Kristy: The pistol that I carry varies depending on what I am doing. When I hunt, I carry a single-stack Khar .45 for extra knockdown on dangerous game animals. I love my single-stack Glock 43 in 9mm. When I jog, I carry a pocket-size North American Arms .22 Magnum. Other times I may carry a Glock .380 in my boot. You just never know where I will have a gun stashed on my body or how many. [Ha ha ha.]
OHUB: We know you love to hunt. What are some of your other hobbies?
Kristy: I am a self-proclaimed student of the gun. I love to shoot, and I love training with firearms even more. My summers are spent going to various firearms instructional courses, including long-range precision rifle courses, dynamic carbine courses and pistol courses. There isn’t much that is more fun for me than shooting guns. I love it.
Beyond that, obviously, working out and gardening. I still have a horse and mule that I ride and pack into the backcountry with. My family is where I spend almost all of my down time. I enjoy a private secluded life. I am not into going to events with large crowds of people, or big events unless I have to. For me, the simpler, the quieter, the better. Heck, I don’t even watch TV or movies; instead I am busy doing things outdoors.
OHUB: You were recently featured in CarbonTV’s “Women Who Hunt” series (see video above) along with your friends Julie McQueen and Jana Waller. Do you see yourself as a role model for other females who are interested in the outdoors? And what was it like working with Julie and Jana?
Kristy: I believe that everyone in life has a God-given purpose, and I feel that the Lord has given me the purpose of helping empower women and kids alike to pursue their dreams and passions. I do my best to live a life that honors our Heavenly Father, and I hope that the life I live can somehow and in some way positively impact the world.
When it comes directly to hunting, women oftentimes feel a bit intimidated to ask the questions that will help them become more independent, confident hunters, which is why I love giving seminars. Having that one-on-one opportunity to connect with other women and even girls, sharing my experiences and lessons learned in the field, watching the ladies that attend my seminars become more excited about hunting and the outdoors, while learning some new skills that give them the confidence to get out in the field, has been incredible for me. Watching that fire get lit in women and kids is exactly why I became an NRA Pistol, Refuse To Be A Victim and Range Safety Officer – I want to help empower them. If I can do it, they can do it!
Jana and Julie are two women that I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for. We share mutual passions and goals that alone has forged our strong friendships. They are incredible women accomplishing incredible things. Watching their individual journey inspires me every day!
OHUB: Final question: If you could take part in only one more outdoor adventure, where would you go, what would you do, and who would join you?
Kristy: My last adventure – I would choose to hunt elk with my dad, just like we have always done. Together.