Hunting, fishing, and adventuring outdoors is for everyone, no matter your gender, age, or background. It's great to be able to share the stories of this diverse community, and help amplify the voices that, in the past, may not been heard quite so easily. For this latest Q&A, we caught up with hunter, angler, founder of the online group Women's Outdoor Collective, and all around outdoorswoman Alex Gentry. She answered some questions about herself and her time spent outdoors, and is deserving of attention for the positive ways she's sharing her passions with others.
Wide Open Spaces: What is your background?
Alex Gentry: I grew up in Colorado and played competitive soccer and basketball. I went on to play college soccer at Utah State University and that is where I met my husband. I tore my ACL in pre-season in the fall of my sophomore year, so since I wasn't traveling with my team I asked my physical therapist if I could go "hiking." I was two months post-op and I knew if I asked if I could go hunting they would tell me no. So I left out all details of my "hiking" plans. That was the first time I went hunting in Southern Utah with my husband (boyfriend at the time) and his family.
My husband and I then moved to Oregon in 2009 and both graduated a few years later. My degree is from Portland State University in Business Management and Leadership. My husband graduated from University of Western States with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree. We weren't planning to stay in Oregon after school, but we both really enjoyed being here and the outdoor adventures that are so close to us. We now have two boys, ages six and three.
WOS: What do you love about the outdoors?
AG: I love the outdoors because when you are hiking, fishing, or hunting, you are tuned into everything around you. A lot of the day-to-day noise doesn't cross your mind and I'm able to be very present in the moment. Sometimes taking the kids adds more time and effort, and being outdoors isn't easy. But as the boys get older and the more we get out there the easier it becomes to have that quality time together as a family.
WOS: What are your favorite outdoor hobbies?
AG: Living in Oregon, there are so many outdoor activities to do here. I love to fish and crab on the coast. I fly fish throughout the spring and summer. Within the last few years I've been able to put more time into scouting and hunting for black bear, elk, deer, and turkey. I recently started mushroom hunting with the kids and tying flies, that helps when it's too rainy outside during the winter.
WOS: What is Women's Outdoor Collective, and why did you start it?
AG: Women's Outdoor Collective is a space for me and others to share all the outdoor adventures we have been on, including hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing, and really anything outside. I really want to create a community and space where women can support and relate to each other in the outdoors. All of the hunts or fishing trips I have been on are DIY with the help of YouTube and some learning from my husband. He has shown me a lot of what I know and supports me and all the adventurous ideas I have, including starting Women's Outdoor Collective.
I decided to start Women's Outdoor Collective about a year ago because I wanted to create a network with other women who enjoy the outdoors. I know I'm not the only one that has been hunting for almost 15 years but also want to learn new things. I think what's hard or intimidating is being relatively new to a state and trying to learn new areas to hunt and fish. On top of that, having young kids makes things harder, and you can't always take them on every adventure. My husband and I have been taking turns doing solo trips. While it's fun and a confidence boost to do solo trips, having another friend to go with would be amazing! So my bigger goal with Women's Outdoor Collective is to create events and adventures women can join me and others on hunting, fishing, and hiking trips. Hopefully this will help others make connections with like-minded women and grow our community of women in the outdoors.
WOS: What else would you like people to know?
AG: I think it's important to know you don't have to have the best gear or know the most to get outside and give the activity a try. You'll learn more and more each time you go out there. Whether it's hunting or fishing, use what you have, ask questions, watch YouTube videos, and find used or discounted gear. A lot of people have preferences on gear they use and might talk down about different brands, but it doesn't matter. Having multiple interests can be expensive, so finding things within your budget is totally okay.