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. Jana Waller is one of three diehard hunters featured in CarbonTV’s “Women Who Hunt” online special (below). This original “Women Who“ series shares the stories of women who have the outdoors in their blood. Whether it’s hunting, shooting, or farming, these women make no apology for who they are and aim to inspire the same passion in others.
OHUB: Jana, you grew up in Wisconsin and began hunting with your dad. Which species did you pursue? And how old were you when you tagged your first whitetail?
Jana: I started shadowing my dad in the duck blinds and pheasant fields of Wisconsin when I was around 6 or 7. I got my hunter’s safety card when I was 12 and started bird hunting shortly after. It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college that I started whitetail hunting, and that year I shot my first whitetail with a bow. That was a whopping 25 years ago!
OHUB: We can only assume you’re a Green Bay Packers fan and love cheese curds. Two related questions: favorite Packer of all time, and favorite wild game dinner?
Jana: I am a Packers fan, no doubt, but I’m hunting all fall so don’t get to catch many games. One of my favorite players was Donald Driver because of his attitude and huge smile both on and off the field. He is a great role model, not only because of his stats, but more impressively his generous nature in giving back to his fans and to charities.
My favorite wild game dinner has to be Maryland sika venison. It doesn’t matter how it’s prepared, it is simply the sweetest venison I’ve ever had. I was lucky enough to arrow a beautiful stag this past fall and was heartbroken when we recently used up the last package of meat.
OHUB: Montana is a great place for hunters to visit, but you’ve made it your home. Describe three great things about living in Big Sky Country.
Jana: The three best reasons for living in Montana are the breathtaking scenery, the hunting opportunities for multiple species, and the fantastic people. Hunting and fishing is a way of life for many of us living in Montana. It’s a lifestyle, not a hobby, and I love to be surrounded with like-minded people who love our 2A rights, our wildlife, and our beautiful surroundings.
OHUB: Tells us about the veteran-related organizations that you support.
Jana: I do a lot of work with Wishes For Warriors (WFW), an organization that gets combat veterans back into the woods or on the water. Mother Nature is very healing, and WFW understands the importance of connecting veterans to the great outdoors and to each other. The bonds that are formed through their hunting or fishing adventures are continued on after the trip, and that brotherhood is critical for many veterans. I also strongly support Warriors Heart, which is a non-profit rehabilitation facility for veterans and first responders who need help with PTSD and addiction. It’s the first facility of its kind and is literally saving the lives of our country’s heroes.
OHUB: Hunting’s future depends on proper conservation and wildlife management. What can we hunters do to better communicate these messages to the non-hunting public?
Jana: I think it’s important to all hunters to help educate the public on the connection between hunting and conservation. Whether it’s through social media or one-on-one conservations, we hunters need to teach others that we are the true stewards of the land and that our dollars are preserving, protecting and managing our country’s wildlife and habitat. Through the purchase of hunting equipment (see Pittman Robertson Act), licenses, tags and conservation groups’ funding, we are the source of wildlife management in this country. We also need to remember this: With every comment we type and every field photo we post on social media, we have a responsibility to be ethical, respectful and appreciative in conveying our passion of the hunt.
OHUB: You love bowhunting and shoot a Mathews. Which model is your favorite? What is your draw length, and how many pounds do you pull?
Jana: I’ve been shooting Mathews bows for years now and pull 50 pounds. My draw length is 26 inches, and if I had to name my favorite model it would be the Monster Chill SDX. There is also a lot of buzz about their new bow being released later this year specifically engineered for the ladies! I cannot wait to get it in my hands!
OHUB: What is your conceal carry gun of choice? (model and caliber)
Jana: I just purchased a Smith & Wesson Shield ported 9mm. It’s the perfect size and weight, and for me it’s the perfect cc piece.
OHUB: In addition to appearing on several outdoor programs, you’re a freelance writer, too. Which is the greater challenge: talking in front of the camera, or writing about your adventures?
Jana: For me, writing is more of a challenge because it can be difficult to convey the exact emotions and details from the hunt. I want the reader to smell the wallow, feel the cold air, and hear the bugle as if they’re on the hunt, and sometimes it can be challenging to find the perfect way to tell the story. I still have four hunts from last season that I need to get on paper, but I’ve already talked about them on camera for the episodes, which was the easy part. It is definitely an art form in combining the right words and phrases to submerge your reader into the adventure.
OHUB: When you’re not in the field hunting, you enjoy art. But for you, the two passions are intertwined. Explain your unique form of art.
Jana: I have been painting and beading skulls for over a decade. Whether hunters send me their skulls to be “beautified” or I’m creating a unique piece of art for someone’s wall or fireplace, I love being able to combine my love of art with the hunt. I’ve done all types of skulls, from antelope to zebra.
OHUB: You were recently featured in CarbonTV’s “Women Who Hunt” series (see video above) along with your friends Julie McQueen and Kristy Titus. Do you see yourself as a role model for other females who are interested in the outdoors?
Jana: I am blessed to have a platform that can inspire other women, but I don’t necessarily look at myself as a role model. I think ALL girls or women who post pictures and stories on social media are role models in many ways. We grab inspiration from each other, and being a TV show host doesn’t make me any different. I am simply a woman who lives for hunting and fishing, who is blessed to be able to reach a lot of others through TV, print and online media. I would be living my life exactly the same whether a camera was by my side or not. I’m not any more talented or special than any other woman whose passion lies in the great outdoors. I think it’s important that we all share our passion for the hunt in the most respectful and classy way, and to remember that others are watching.
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?
Jana: To me, every adventure has its own level of spontaneity and excitement, so it’s so hard to choose just one. WHO I am with is just as important as WHAT I’m after, and it’s crucial to have positive, encouraging people by your campfire. Julie, Kristy and I have never had a chance to all go hunting together, so that would be high up there on my list. And I think the three of us on an Alaska brown bear hunt would be EPIC!