Proving it’s never too late to find something you love to do, Marian Phillips, a 71-year-old hunter in Mississippi, took up hunting 25 years ago and has never looked back. Once her second husband introduced her to the sport, Phillips quickly traded needlepoint for bagging buck. Now, the avid deer hunter blogs about her experiences and that of other women on her blog Mariandeer: Stories and pictures of my hunting experiences with my husband, family and friends! Read all about this bold outdoorswoman’s adventures in the woods, the items she never leaves home without and why she thinks we need more women out in the woods.
Name: Marian Love Phillips
What do you do, Marian? At present, I am a caregiver at 71 for my husband, Bob, who is 70 years old with serious health issues. He takes up a lot of my time caring for him since he cannot drive. This has slowed him down a lot through the years but has not stopped us from getting into the woods when we can.
Did you always like to hunt? Well, I never was exposed to hunting until I met Bob, my second husband, who taught me how to hunt in my mid-forties. While I was raising my four daughters for approximately 12 years, I dated men that hunted, but he was the only one that took the time to take me hunting.
What was your first hunting experience like? While we were dating, I would go and sit with him on a ridge and take my needlepoint with me and watch him hunt. One day, I told him that I could do this and that was the beginning of my hunting experiences at the age of 45. I had never picked up a gun or even shot one until I met him. To get me ready for hunting, he would take me target practicing and I was soon on my way to becoming a hunter.
My first deer was a 6 pt. buck while on the stand for only five minutes. It was opening day and it had been storming pretty badly and we stayed in his suburban until the rain let up. In the meantime the other hunters decided to leave camp and go back home. We went in on his three-wheeler and Bob took me to my stand and then he walked down from me and had just sat down up against a tree near a creek bed and lit a cigarette when BOOM! Was that her? He waited with anticipation trying to figure out should he go and see what had happen, maybe I accidentally shot the gun off, or maybe I hurt myself? He could not stand it anymore so he decided to come and check on me.
When he found me I was tracking my deer and had blood all over my face. I told him that everyone had left the camp and I just went ahead initiated my own self… he said, it looked like it had shot me! We found my deer a few feet away and I was on my way to becoming a deer huntress, which opened up a whole new world for me. I had used my step-son-to-be .243 for the harvest at Jasper Bottom Hunting Club in Claiborne County, MS. This soon became my camp for the next 25 years.
Talk about girl power! Your blog puts a number of male hunters to shame. What would you say is the biggest misconception about women hunters? That hunting is a man’s sport only but I have seen it changed drastically since I started hunting 27 years ago. I only knew three ladies that hunted and they were related to the camp president (his family: wife and two daughters) but I jumped right in with the rest of them and it gave me so much confidence when I did harvest a deer. I’m so happy to see that more women have taken up the sport of hunting. One of my four daughters is a hunter now and we have had some great hunting experiences/memories together.
What’s the most important lesson you’re learned from spending years out in the field? Of course, don’t forget your bullets or your rifle but most of all a camera. I have taken pictures of deer, deer suckling, a bobcat and turkeys. The woods are full of surprises and adventures and have found that blogging is a great way to document all your hunts.
Best piece of advice you’d impart on hunter or huntress starting out? Take a Hunter’s Education Course. I did. Also, go to a gun range and practice your shooting skills. Always take someone with you to hunt because anything can happen and always wait for all the hunters to come out of the woods before you leave camp.
Describe your perfect day outdoors. Being in the woods before daylight and hear the awakening of the forest, seeing deer, hog, turkeys or listening to the owls in the evening and watching the sun go down.
What’s the strangest thing to ever happen to you out in nature? A tree fell in the woods and I ducked while on my stand. I had to laugh at myself after it had happened.
Got any tips for a budding outdoor blogger? Do blog about all your hunting experiences every time you go to the woods because each hunt is different and full of adventure. Blogging was not thought of when I first started hunting but did keep a written journal for a while but gave it up, which I regret now. When I go to the woods now I take my camera and can’t wait to get home and share my hunting story with my blogging friends with pictures of my hunt and hopefully a deer that I harvested.
What’s the largest animal you’re ever bagged? 190 lbs. 8 pt. buck
“I rather be hunting then…” doing my housework!
Best hunting memory in 2012. I have only been hunting one day so far this season and saw three nice does. I was hunting in a one-man stand and they came out in a clearing to my right. I knew I was in trouble when I saw the second doe stomp her foot and another doe was coming up behind her. The first one was the closest to me but I believe they all knew something was up by then.
I put the closest one in my sites and on fire but only had the back half of her body…so that was not going to make a good shot and was hoping she would move out away from the tree but one of them blew and they all took off. It was around 8:45 in the morning and my daughter was hunting with me but she did not see anything.
What’s next for you in 2013? I will be trying to get a wild hog and a deer or two. It’s unfortunate that I had to get out of my deer camp after 25 years but the camp dues increased, and with my husband being sick and a fixed income, it has limited us hunting.
We do have friends in the MS Delta where they own 2,500 acres of land with a 40 acre lake. We love going there to hunt and hogs are running everywhere and that is where I hope to get my hog and a deer. Bob has gotten a hog there and now I need to get me one!
Outdoor snacks: Apples, mixed nuts and gum
Memorable place you’ve visited: London, England
Gear: My .270 rifle, hunting bag with my binoculars, camera, flashlights, water and of course my pee bottle.
Keepsake or memento you picked up along your travels that you treasure most: A 10 pound note from England with signed signatures, of the ones who made the trip with me, on the note while in-flight coming back home. Also, I picked up a rock as I was running towards Buckingham’s Palace to see the changing of the guards.
Outdoor soundtrack: Country and classical music
Outdoor companion: My husband, daughters, grandsons or my blogging mentor, Rex Howell, who owns a camp in the MS Delta with his family called, Christmas Place Plantation and Hunting Club.