I have always believed that if one sows good seeds, they shall reap bountiful harvests. The good Lord has blessed me with the wisdom to avoid spoiled seeds and the desire to seek fertile soil. ~Nancy Jo

Looking back on my year in review, I am grateful for so many blessings. I was truly privileged this year in meeting wonderful new friends and partaking in some great hunts and attending some good trade shows. I was fortunate enough to achieve personal goals; yet humbled by the experience. God’s opportunities often come by disguise; even a gain is often derived by failure but always an epiphany of success.

What more could a hunter ask for: the most amazing hunt, the perfect trophy game animal, an ethical fatal shot...Life is Good!

Since I started this journey, I have been fortunate enough to encounter new experiences with each season. I hunted duck with a group of women in Arkansas and harvested my first duck with Mark Passmore of Buster Duck Outfitter. I was able to share the excitement as other women harvested their first ducks, as well.

First Duck hunt January 2010 with Buster Duck Outfitter, Arkansas

My first big game harvest of the year remains dear to me; being able to share it with a great group of women, building new lifetime friendships and making memories that will long be remembered. With Richard in the stand with me, I was fortunate in sharing my first wild hog harvest with him at Bubba’s Deer Camp in Liberty, Mississippi. Mentors like Ken “Bubba” Ledbetter who gives, without reservation, of all their wisdom and resources are encouraging and have been a vital part of my success in this journey; for these incredible mentors I am grateful.

Annual Hog Hunt at Bubba's Deer Camp, Liberty, Mississippi in March 2010 (Ken "Bubba" Ledbetter in the photo)

My turkey season started off with a goal to achieve my Turkey Grand Slam…a quest that I started last season but lacked a Merriam’s harvest in reaching that goal. I set out with determination and met some obstacles in Montana. My perseverance reigned in achieving my Turkey Grand Slam. On that trip, I was humbled by the graciousness of meeting some of the most genuine souls; lifetime friends resulted from this experience.

Merriam Turkey Harvest April 2010, Roy, Montana. This bird completed my Grand Slam.

Richard and I were fortunate in the opportunity to get an Eastern turkey harvest on film making the last-minute decision to lease some turkey land in our home state worth the investment. This was Richard’s first successful filmed harvest and it helped in kindling a desire to be behind the camera.

Eastern Turkey Harvest, April 2010, Southeast Alabama

A last-minute decision and an open weekend found us in Florida hunting Osceola turkeys with Billy Henderson of Deep South Outfitter. Luck is when perseverance meets opportunity—both of which united perfectly, tossing luck my way in harvesting a bird I coined “Old Rattle Box” from my previous season; the vendetta was laid to rest.

Osceola Turkey, April 2010 with Deep South Outfitter, Homosassa Springs, Florida

My personal hunt of a lifetime is something that still brings tears of joy to my eyes to tell the story–my archery black bear hunt with Gary Tank of Big Paws Outfitter in Orr, Minnesota. A bow hunt that I determined myself to do when the thought crossed my mind at a 3-D archery competition my third month of shooting a bow.

My bear hunt played out like a fairy tale from a storybook; the lodge, the scenery, the weather, the outfitter, the group of women that I shared the hunt with, and most important–the harvest. I was so fortunate on my second day of hunting to have a nice healthy bear walk in, turn, and pause at the precise moment that I came to full draw and released a perfect shot. Definitely an intense and emotional few moments as I stood on the platform of my stand, shaking and crying emotionally as I had the privilege of hearing the much-anticipated death moans of that magnificent creature. The memory of that afternoon in the stand will always bring me chills and a certain level of contentment clean to the core of my being.

Black bear bow harvest September 2010 with Big Paws Outfitter, Orr, Minnesota

From nearly the border of Canada to the middle of Florida within a week put me on Lake Hancock in the pitch black of night, spotlighting alligator with Chuck Echenique of Rebel Yelp Outfitters. A different style of hunting than I have ever done; nearly 9 hours of floating the black waters spotlighting for a decent size gator for 15 minutes of excitement. What a rush those 15 minutes were in landing my first alligator.

Alligator harvest in September 2010 with Rebel Yelp Outfitter, Lake Hancock, Florida

Our annual Kansas hunting trip has always been special for Richard and I and this year was no different. The weather was much milder and the deer sightings were less than the previous years. Ironically, I harvested my second Pope and Young buck from the same stand that I harvested my first P&Y the previous season. A bittersweet hunt that definitely helped me grow as a bowhunter. An added bonus of this year’s hunt was that Richard not only had the opportunity of being in the same stand, he captured the entire hunt on film.

Whitetail Buck bow harvest in November 2010 in Northwest Kansas

I took the opportunity of attending some great trade shows, meeting some wonderful people and making some awesome connections. I have had the privilege of being a part of Women’s Outdoor News and I am thankful for not only the encouragement, but also for the trust expressed and shown to me by the publisher, Barbara Baird. I am grateful for the surprising number of faithful followers to my personal blog, Shenanigans From the Field.

I have shared camp with several really special women hunters, traveled with some awesome ladies, shared stands and blinds with Richard and/or others, spent time behind the camera with new friends, engaged in many hunting stories, laughed until my sides hurt and even cried at times. I was graced with meeting some outstanding outfitters like Richard Sprayberry of Mountain View Plantation and Bubba & Wiley Dees of Wiley’s Outdoor Adventures who shared their time and resources with me. For these things I am truly grateful and honored.

Yes, 2010 has been a grand and prosperous year for me in so many ways. After countless days away from home, many nights in hotels, lodges or camp houses, numerous hours on planes, 50,000 plus miles put on Clyde (my Dodge Truck), and several hundred hours on the hunt–I am not only grateful for the opportunities, the blessings, the financial means, the health and the trust I have gained and/or received from others, I am humbled by the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.

Although Richard and I have given up many things for the time and finances to pursue this journey, we are content and overwhelmed by the joy we receive from it. Richard is a vital part of my success and the shared joy of the journey. From his unselfishness of laying down his weapons and picking up the video camera, being my work horse to putting up with my hardheadedness or just being there in the stand behind the camera with me to share in the hunt–for this I am indebted and to him, truly thankful. I am truly grateful to those that have made this journey a special one and would like to extend my heartfelt thank you to each and every one who has touched my life in one way or another.

Next week it starts over, Richard and I will start logging miles and hours toward a new year with a late season muzzleloader hunt in Iowa with Lynn Buswell of Jagermister Outfitters. I look forward to a new year of new adventures, meeting and hunting with new friends, hunting with my old friends, new business acquaintances and to the launch of several new projects. The good Lord willing and with a little luck, many opportunities and a lot of perseverance–I hope that 2011 will be just as grand and prosperous as our 2010.

Always focus on the journey, not the destination. The JOURNEY is the REWARD.