Blaze orange and camouflage transform young woman


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Drizzt
February 24, 2003, 08:22 PM
Blaze orange and camouflage transform young woman


Fifteen-year-old Sarah Mitchell forgoes more traditional feminine pastimes in favor of her most adored hobby--hunting.

SARAH MITCHELL swings her legs from the tailgate of her father's Ford pickup truck. It's a black December morning, and her breath forms tiny frozen puffs in front of her face.

It's Christmas vacation for this high-school freshman, and her classmates are warm in their beds, dreaming of shopping trips, shiny gifts and steaming mugs of chocolate.

Not Sarah. Not this morning.

She's all blaze orange and camouflage--ready to tackle the frigid temperatures, muddy puddles and all the ornery briars the woods around her Caroline County home can throw her way.

Don't let the golden hair, crystal blue eyes and porcelain complexion fool you. "Sarah's very much a woman," said her father, Scott Mitchell. "But when she puts on her camouflage and orange, she goes through a transformation."

At 15, Sarah has become a die-hard hunter, killing her first deer last season.

Virginia is home to 380,000 licensed hunters, according to regional game warden Joe Dedrick. Fifteen percent are under age 18. As few as 5 percent are female.

But what Sarah lacks in testosterone, she more than makes up for in tenacity.

She rose before the sun nearly every morning of her two-week Christmas vacation to take to the frozen woods. She doesn't flinch at the gory gutting and skinning that comes in the wake of a kill. And she handles with grace the scoffs of sentimental schoolmates who say that hunters are heartless.

At one with the woods
One brown boot plops in a puddle. The tiny splash is the biggest noise so far in Sarah's trek through the leaf-lined woods.

She knows how to climb over fallen logs, bend under briars and skim past the limbs that arch along her path, all without a sound.

Aside from her fiery baseball cap, she is camouflage from head to toe--at one with the woods.

She scopes out a spot near a sliver of a stream and rakes away the leaves with her boot. She leans against the tree's trunk and sinks to sit at its base.

She waits.

Her ears are peeled, soaking in the familiar sounds of nature. A tree creaks in the distance. Geese honk overhead. Leaves crackle when a biting wind tosses them in the air.

And thenthe shrill bark of the hunting dogs in the distance.

Sarah's heart races.

The high-pitched sound might signify that the dogs have found a herd of deer and are driving them toward her hiding place. A clear shot could mean her second kill of the season--of her life.

She stands up, presses an eye to the sight of her 20-gauge shotgun and steadies her aim.

She waits.

The dogs run by, several yards in front of Sarah's tree-trunk post. Soon, the white tips of their tails are all that show through the branches and leaves.

There is no sign of deer.

Sarah lowers her gun and reaches for her handheld radio. "Robin Hood, you got a copy?" she calls to her father. "The dogs just ran by me. It looks like the deer ran out before we got here."

She hunkers back down at the base of her tree to wait.

But Sarah laces her blond ponytail through her blaze orange cap and braves the isolation, just the same. On hunting days, she fans out in the woods with a handful of the 18 male members of the Silver Bullet Hunt Club.

A 2-year-old pointer-beagle mix named Spunky often is her only female companion. "Me and her, we kind of stick together. We take care of each other," Sarah said. "I love her to death."

That deep affection for animals meant working up the nerve to take her first deer. She waited for a crystal-clear shot, knowing she'd never be able to live with herself if the animal suffered.

Even Sarah's room is a study in contradictions. A Confederate flag blanket drapes her double bed. A Rusty Wallace racing poster covers one wall.

And while few dresses hang in its cluttered closet, the room is filled with femininity.

The sweet smell of vanilla-scented incense soaks the air. A delicate collection of paper umbrellas hangs above a window. And a dolled-up Sarah flashes a glossy smile from a glamour shot photo she took with best friend, Tiffany Kelly.

Sarah did well in a beauty contest her parents pushed her to compete in two years ago. She sailed through the evening gown and swimsuit segments. And when her interview question cited gun control, Sarah shot back with support for the Second Amendment.

She'll start tryouts for Caroline High School's softball team this week. She'd vie for a spot on the football team, too, but her mother won't let her.

Delia Mitchell is wary of the way male players would react to her daughter as a teammate. "They'd either try to hurt her or go out with her," she said.

A family that hunts together
Sarah got her first taste of camouflage as an infant when her parents dressed her in a green-and-brown-splotched sleeper and tied pink bows in her hair.

By the time she was in kindergarten, she begged to go hunting with her father. "I've always been interested in it," she said, "ever since I could walk."

Scott Mitchell started bringing his older daughter into the woods, to instill respect for nature, when she was 4.

Sarah's grandfather, Clate Phipps, didn't think much of girls in the woods when he was bringing up his own three daughters. Women were supposed to cook the meals, not carry the guns.

"Now that his granddaughter does it, he thinks it's neat," Delia Mitchell said of her dad. He and Sarah go hunting together these days.

"I just didn't think it was right. I thought it was a man thing, and now I don't," Phipps said. "Women have come a long way."

Sarah's sister Katie, 13, is into fishing, not hunting. Little brother Jacob is just 11/2.

But Sarah has always been daddy's girl. She still listens to the same music her father turned her on to--the Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd. He's teaching her to play guitar.

And of course, they share a passion for the woods.

That's a good thing, said game warden Joe Dedrick. "The sport of hunting is like any other--the younger you start, the more quickly you learn."

Besides, Dedrick said, deer hunting is necessary for population control, and it's a way of breaking away from today's high-tech world to spend quality time outdoors.

Those who are against responsible hunting don't understand the way nature works, Dedrick said. Since man has killed off many of the deer's natural predators such as bears and wolves, "We have to become that limiting factor ourselves," he said. "It's not a role we can really avoid."

It's a role Sarah Mitchell has no plans to escape. She'll trade in her guest status for full-fledged membership in the Silver Bullet Hunt Club as soon as she turns 16.

She won't care, she said, if she's the only girl in the group. "I'm comfortable in camouflage."

http://www.freelancestar.com/News/FLS/2003/022003/02232003/888181

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Frohickey
February 24, 2003, 09:39 PM
Sarah did well in a beauty contest her parents pushed her to compete in two years ago. She sailed through the evening gown and swimsuit segments. And when her interview question cited gun control, Sarah shot back with support for the Second Amendment.

Sounds like Mount Holyoke Gun club material to me...

Did a search on Mount Holyoke gun club, and this is what the Brady bunch (http://www.jointogether.org/gv/news/summaries/reader/0,2061,553186,00.html) have to say ...
Gun-rights activists have set up gun clubs in such bastions of East Coast liberalism as Harvard University and Mount Holyoke College, the Boston Globe reported Aug. 4.

The Second Amendment Sisters, the gun lobby's answer to the Million Mom March, opened its first college chapter at Massachusetts' Mount Holyoke College last year. The 50-member group sponsors trips to shooting ranges and meetings on gun safety.

...



Brady bunch are the gun-control lobbyists, and the gun-control activists... the gun-rights folks are normal citizens! :fire:

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