I recently had the privilege of sharing time in the field with dog trainer and pheasant hunting guide Deb Anderson during a writer’s hunt at Scatter Gun Lodge near Pierre, South Dakota. In this interview, you’ll learn how Deb got involved in the outdoors, and what it’s like to be the first female guide at Scatter Gun.
DM: It was a thrill hunting with you and your Labs Jerzee (7) and Justice (4) in SoDak. Have you always loved Labs?
Deb: Yes, I’ve always loved the Labrador retriever. They are so intelligent, trainable, loving, outgoing and even-tempered dogs.
Justice is the fifth Labrador that I’ve owned. My Abby (yellow) lived to be 13, Jesse (black) lived to be 14, and her daughter Tera (yellow) also lived to be 14. I’ve been blessed to have them live long, healthy lives. I have always referred to them as “my girls” because they are like kids to me, and I hope that I will see them again at the Rainbow Bridge.
DM: You obviously enjoy hunting and watching your dogs work. Did you grow up hunting?
Deb: My truly amazing father introduced me to the great outdoors. I believe that there is nothing stronger than a father/daughter bond, especially when so much of our time together and memories are from our time spent hunting, fishing, camping and sports. I was like the little boy my dad never had because Mom and Dad had four girls!
My other sisters were never interested in the outdoors or sports, which was okay with me; that just meant more quality time for me with Dad. He was there when I shot my first pheasant, first goose, first whitetail deer, and first antelope. When I mentioned that he is amazing, he truly is; he just beat cancer for the sixth time! He’s my hero.
DM: Guiding and hunting isn’t your career though, correct? What pays for the dog food, vet bills and hunting trips?
Deb: My real job is an IT Technical Support Manager and Administrator of our HEAT Service Management application. I have an amazing team of Technical Support Specialists in Sioux Falls, SD; Des Moines, IA; Chicago, IL; and Fargo, ND; that support 2,200 customers. They keep their workstations, laptops, printers and mobile devices up and running.
DM: Enough about work, let’s get back to your Labs: In addition to hunting with your dogs, you also train them for competition, correct?
Deb: Yes, I run Hunting Retriever Club (HRC) Hunt Tests; “Conceived by Hunters, for Hunters” with Jerzee and Justice. I have also participated in AKC Hunt Tests and APLA Pointing Lab tests.
When I got Jerzee, I was introduced to the local Dakota Hunting Retriever Club and started training with the Club. I had always enjoyed hunting, but the season is only a few months long, and training for HRC Hunt Tests is something the “girls” and I can do year-round.
Jerzee has her Hunting Retriever Champion title (HRCH); title name: HRCH Jerzee’s Hunt’n 4 Feathers. She’s a true delight to hunt behind in the field.
Justice has her Hunting Retriever Champion title (HRCH), Upland Hunter Title (UH), Certified Pointing Retriever Title (CPR), and is also an Honor Roll member with HRC as a 500 Point Club dog. Justice’s title name is HRCH UH CPR SDK’s Courtesy of the Red/White/Blue, she was born on 9/11/12. For Justice to achieve 500 points at the age of 3 was quite an accomplishment for us as a team. I’m so proud of her consistent performance at tests, and she is so much fun to hunt behind in the field.
DM: You must have some good memories of previous canine companions?
Deb: Jesse and Tera (mom and daughter) we also an amazing pheasant hunting duo. They would compete in Pheasant Hunting Tournaments and did very well. Jesse and Tera also won the South Dakota Outdoors photo contest with the pheasants on an old manure spreader picture.
DM: OK, back to Scatter Gun Lodge: How did you end up working as a guide for them? Are you enjoying it?
Deb: A friend of mine is a guide at Scatter Gun Lodge, and they were in need of another guide, so I was asked to join their team. It was a truly amazing experience at a beautiful facility with spectacular pheasant hunting. I guess I was the first-ever woman guide at the lodge, so no pressure there! I was confident that Jerzee and Justice would perform well, and they did. We received numerous compliments and made new friendships.
I’m looking forward to another opportunity to guide for them and to make the customer experience a great one so they will want to return again and again.
DM: Do you have other hobbies besides Labs and hunting? Do you like to fish?
Deb: Yes, I love to fish. When I was a young girl, my folks had a place on Big Stone Lake on the border of Minnesota and South Dakota, so dad got me hooked on walleye fishing. It’s funny how things make a full circle – I just bought a home on Big Stone last year, so the memories continue.
I love to shoot photography, mostly outdoor shots. A previous hobby of mine was archery hunting, which I did for years, but I kind of gave that up when I started training my dogs for hunting and hunt tests. I was also quite a sports person and played softball, volleyball and basketball.
DM: 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?
Deb: This question gets me a little choked up. As I mentioned earlier, my dad has survived six different types of cancer, one of which he was given 3 months to live 22 years ago. My dad has always wanted to see the girls (Jerzee and Justice) work in field and has never had that chance. I would love to take my dad on a really nice pheasant hunt to some place like Scatter Gun Lodge where he could have a great hunt and watch the girls do their thing.
Editor’s note: Check out the original “Women Who“ series on CarbonTV that explores a woman’s take on typically male-dominated pursuits. Whether it’s shooting, hunting or farming, these women make no apology for who they are and aim to inspire the same passion in others.