Eva Shockey answers our questions about hunting, heritage, and more.
If you were asked who the most well-known, positive role model is in the hunting world today, who would you say?
When it comes down to it, a select few may come to mind, but the woman who best carries that accolade is undoubtedly Eva Shockey.
These days the annual SHOT Show outdoor industry extravaganza (occurring in Las Vegas this week) is virtually incomplete without an appearance by Shockey who, along with her dad Jim, joined her Outdoor Channel compatriots at the 16th Outdoor Sportsman Awards.
Ever since her co-starring role in "Jim Shockey's Hunting Adventures" put her into the limelight, she's risen to become one of the most followed hunting celebrities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
We caught up with Eva shortly before taking off for Las Vegas for SHOT Show 2016, and her answers to our questions came before we got a chance to ask them. Hopefully, those who read what she has to say about hunting, traditions, wild game, and females in the sport will come away inspired and motivated to become a better outdoorsman. Or in Eva's case, outdoorswoman.
"I've been to SHOT Show for so many years, way more years of my life than not going to SHOT Show!" Eva said in anticipation of the show. "I don't know exactly what year it was, but I remember my brother and I were on the front of the SHOT Show pamphlet, the schedule. I think I must have been four or five maybe. I don't think there used to be an age limit, or whether my dad snuck us in, but I remember playing with all the giveaways and stuff like that, we'd be playing with them like they were toys!"
Since she's a longtime veteran of the show, she had a unique perspective on the changes SHOT has seen since she first started attending.
"The most obvious change that I've seen, obvious and also really exciting, is the fact that the number of women that are there has increased exponentially," she said. "When I was younger, my mom and I would be two of the few women in the whole building. I'd always feel out of place, like we didn't really belong there. And now you go to SHOT Show, and every year the amount of women is increasing."
In fact, women have become so important to the hunting industry that Eva sat on a special panel at the Under Armour booth during SHOT Show 2016, where she and other females addressed topics that matter to sportswomen.
She was excited that attendees will be able to "ask us about how we got involved in hunting, women in the outdoors, products we like and gear we like, that kind of thing. It's really cool that Under Armour is highlighting women so strongly. Their clothing line has obviously increased, and it's amazing the amount of items they have available now... It really shows how far the demographic is going if they put that much effort into promoting us, and showing that women in the hunting industry is a positive thing."
That positivity is partly due to the fact that she's cemented her place as one of the main role models for the modern huntress. In a way, it's placed an important obligation on her shoulders, which she doesn't take lightly.
"I think it's a huge responsibility," said Eva. "The stereotypical hunter that people think of is, you know, a middle-aged, Redneck man, just the stereotypical idea that people have seen hunters as for years and years. I don't necessarily think that's always been the case, but that's just what people thought. Now, women are coming into the space, and people are realizing that women are totally just as good at hunting, or capable of hunting, as any other person is, whether it's a man, woman, or child."
Of course she has some help, most notably from Outdoor Channel, as well as the brands and companies that made the shift and started fully recognizing women in the industry.
"Outdoor Channel was the first one to kind of get on board and have women hosting shows," continued Eva. "They showed that it doesn't really matter what you look like, which is my biggest thing. It doesn't matter if you're girly, or you're a tomboy, or you wear makeup, or you wear nail polish, or any of those things. The fact that you love the outdoors and you love hunting doesn't have to change because of what you look like."
She credits Tiffany Lakosky as the originator, and a huge inspiration for her, especially when it comes to seeing females in an influential hunting role. She also values the lessons her dad and mom taught her, whether they're hunting- or life-related, and believe they are largely responsible for the woman she's become.
Her personality, charisma, and positive vibe has made her perfect for events like the Outdoor Sportsman Awards, where she says presenting doesn't necessarily make her nervous, but she's thankful she's not covering the event as a host from the red carpet like she has in years past. Admittedly, it added a little bit more stress to her SHOT Show week.
"This year I get to sit back and relax," she mentioned, "because I don't have to do that! I really enjoyed it, but I found when I wasn't doing it, there's a lot less stress on my plate! But, the actual presentation of the award, I'm excited about that because it's a little bit different. It is actually more challenging than I ever thought, because I do things from the hip. Our TV show is definitely from the hip! And being up on stage and reading a teleprompter is a lot more official than that."
Shockey brings up two main things when she talks about the values and importance of hunting: spending time with family and loved ones, and getting to enjoy a wildly-harvested meal thanks to her success in the field. Those, she says, are what draw people to hunting from the get go, and are what she holds as the main objectives behind doing what she does.
"I've always loved the fact that I can go hunting with my dad, and shut everything off, and go out there and spent some quality time with him," she said. "And then, every day I live this, but what you're hunting is what you're eating. You're providing this free-range, organic, pesticide-free meat to yourself and to your family and friends. And so every day in the kitchen, I love to cook, and when I'm home I'll thaw out elk, or deer, or moose, or whatever I have. I'll cook it, and I'll think about the fact that I went out and I hunted that elk, I worked hard for that elk, and I paid money to conservation through the tags and licenses for that elk, and that all comes around. Yeah, I'm a hunter, but I'm also a wife, and hopefully someday I'll be a mother, and all those things will incorporate into providing my family with this meat. And you really can't get anything more healthy than that."
Ironically, an experimental dish of elk meat was stewing in Eva's slow cooker as she spoke ("pulled pork, but with elk," she said), which led to another question about wild game.
"My favorite dish of wild game... I would say is probably moose burgers," she said. "I grew up with a lot of moose meat, because I lived in British Columbia, Canada, and we hunted a lot in the Yukon. We had a lot of moose in our freezer! My mom would make the most amazing moose burgers."
Those trips to the Yukon are counted as some of the favorites of Eva's hunting life thus far, and she described the "pure" hunting area her and her family have access to. Caribou and moose were the typical quarry, and the fact that they lived in one of the most beautiful locations in the world never escaped Shockey.
"Basically, you can get on a float plane on one edge of the territory, fly for two hours, and still be in the territory," she said, with a sense of true respect in her voice. "As you can imagine, there's no roads, there's no cars, there's no anything at all. It's above and beyond anything I've ever experienced."
After reflecting on some of the things that have made her who she is and brought her to this point, Eva pointed out some "really exciting things" she's doing with Cabela's, which she couldn't officially disclose, but is worth keeping an eye on. She'll continue to be featured on Outdoor Channel with her father on "Jim Shockey's Hunting Adventures," and hopes to fit in some hunts with her husband this year as well.
"I can say that 2016 is going to be a very exciting year," she said. "For me personally, but more importantly in the world of hunting. I think some cool things are going to be coming out, with me combined with them."
She can count on plenty of folks eagerly waiting to see just what those cool things are.