Public Lands Have Made Me an Avid Sportswoman
Kait West lives with her husband and children in Utah and serves as an Artemis ambassador. Artemis in an initiative of the National Wildlife Federation to engage women hunters and anglers in conservation advocacy.
For as long as I can remember, the outdoors have been an important part of my life, shaping who I am today. It is where I have grown confidence in myself, not only in outdoor skills but also in my everyday life. I have had my greatest physical challenges and also fought my biggest internal battles on public lands. I’ve created lifelong relationships in ways spending time with another human on a mountain only can.
I am an avid user of public lands and enjoy a broad range of activities including, backcountry skiing, rock climbing and hunting. I have also spent my fair share of time on the water as well. In adulthood, hunting has opened my eyes to public lands issues and turned me into a smarter, and savvier outdoorswoman. My greatest joy in spending time outside is sharing my passions with others, especially the next generation of sportswomen. I especially love teaching young girls outdoor skills, beginning with my own daughter and two step daughters.
Some of my favorite times on public lands were spent with my husband. I have learned so many valuable skills in hunting, backcountry skiing, and climbing with him as my mentor. I fell in love with western landscapes and him at the same time. We got married in Yellowstone and honeymooned backpacking in the Tetons and climbing in City of Rocks, Idaho. Public lands have always been an important part of our relationship and how we continue to live and raise our family. Our dates often take the form of an evening hunt or moonlit ski.
Maybe my favorite outdoor adventure with Jason was eight years ago when he took his first archery bull elk a few weeks into my very first hunting season. I will never forget the chorus of elk bugles. I never got an elk close enough to take a shot, but I was hooked. It was the first time that I felt totally connected to such wild places and wildlife, in a way I had never felt with other outdoor pursuits. I gained so much respect for these animals that we love to pursue. We packed that elk out in several trips into the early morning. We learned how to butcher the meat and do a European mount. The meat provided us many delicious meals that we shared with our friends and family and the mount was gifted to my grandfather.
While the meat is long gone and the mount is at my Grandpa’s cabin, the memories remain. We learned a lot on that hunt and that experience has helped shape the hunting partnership we enjoy today.
Spending time on public lands not only provides me with adventure, it provides a space for me to find healing and a break from the hectic pace of my life. Like many people, I have struggled with anxiety for much of my adult life. As a busy working mom, I have recognized the importance of spending time outside — for both my physical and mental health. Even if it means strapping on the kid pack and taking my daughter with me, after some time spent on the mountain, I feel like I can take on any of the challenges life throws at me. Consistent time outside has transformed me from a worrier to a conqueror. It turns out that spending time outdoors is a great way to cure the grumpies in kids too!
America’s public lands are the envy of the rest of the world. It’s important for all of us to do our part to advocate for their protection so that our children and grandchildren will be able to pursue the same activities and passions that we have enjoyed on those lands.
So many of our country’s parks and public lands written about in these love notes would not exist but for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Congress is poised to permanently fund it as part of the Great American Outdoors Act. Follow the movement along at #FundLWCF. Learn more here. Better yet, take action here.
Would you like to write about public lands that you cherish? Please email Mary Jo Brooks at email@example.com for guidelines.