(MI) NUN with a GUN


December 27, 2002, 08:24 PM
NUN with a GUN

Sunday, December 22, 2002

By Tom Rademacher
The Grand Rapids Press

Want to take on Judith Kirt in a big buck hunting contest?

Some of us wouldn't have a prayer.

Judith Kirt is better known as Sister Judith Kirt. And when the regular firearm deer hunting season concluded last month, she had not one, but two whitetails to brag about.

Affectionately known as "The nun with a gun," Sister Kirt has been hunting deer since she was a teen, and this year, she downed an 8-point buck and a doe on separate days.

Not bad for a 64-year-old Dominican from St. Michael's Catholic Church near Fremont who stands barely 5 feet 4 and weighs 115 pounds.

Her weapon of choice? A .35-caliber Marlin rifle, one of four guns she owns. "I've still got one in the trunk of the car," she says. "I suppose I should take it out but, you know, squirrel hunting's still on."

Sister Kirt -- "It rhymes with 'dirt,' " she volunteers -- understands she's different from most nuns. But she points out that she's just doing what comes naturally, after being raised on hunting and fishing in Lake Leelanau, in Michigan's little finger region.

Her parents were outdoorsy, as were a grandmother and grandfather, and she shrugs that she's merely following in their tracks. Harvesting and consuming wild game is as natural to her as growing vegetables.

"We were born and raised with it," Sister Kirt says of herself and her three siblings. "It's what we knew. If we had meat, it was deer, pheasant, rabbit."

In fact, while serving as a principal during a stint on Beaver Island, Sister Kirt says it wasn't unusual for her to do a little ker-plinking even as she plied the back roads after school and on weekends.

"You'd go for a drive. See some partridge on the road. Get out. Shoot it. Eat it."

She chuckles to remember. "Oh, it was nice."

Of course, women of the cloth have responsibilities. For Sister Kirt, that meant a career as teacher and administrator, which she began shortly after taking her vows in 1956. She retired last year from education, but remains busy with work at the Dominican Aquinata Infirmary on Lakeside Drive SE in Grand Rapids.

Every week, she commutes there from the convent she shares with one other Dominican in the quiet burg of Brunswick to provide foot care for ailing sisters -- trimming toenails and otherwise attending to their needs.

"I enjoy it because it's helping people who can't help themselves," says Sister Kirt. "When your feet hurt, you hurt all over."

Sister Kirt is no stranger to discomfort. She has suffered mouth cancer, though "I've never drank, smoke, chewed or cussed," she says. She has undergone surgery and therapy for it and isn't prone to predicting the future.

"You live until you die," she says quietly.

For now, that means living large. She's also a woodworker. She has made a dining room table for the convent and, in her bedroom, an 8-point rack hangs from an armoire she built.

She also holds a certificate in locksmithing, earned through a mail-order course. And she's no slouch at photography, gardening and making minor repairs at the convent in everything from plumbing to electric -- again, a product of that self-sufficient upbringing.

But each autumn, her passions turn to deer hunting and you will find her sitting all day in a cozy little blind on property owned by parishioner Carl Nielsen, 10 miles from the convent.

Her needs aren't great; she slips into her hideaway with a bag lunch, a rosary and a Louis L'Amour novel.

"Sometimes," she says, "you don't see a thing. And you get quite a few rosaries in."

Amen to that.

Tom Rademacher's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. A version also airs during the morning and evening newscasts each Sunday on WOOD TV-8. E-mail him at trademacher@grpress.com


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December 27, 2002, 08:37 PM
Now that's MY kinda nun!!! :D

December 27, 2002, 10:24 PM
Ah HA G-d uses(thru hisNuns) a .35 Rem, I thought so!:D

4v50 Gary
December 28, 2002, 12:16 AM
We need to get this lady more publicity. The shooting community is wider than the media would have us believe. We are neither evil nor depraved nor kooks. However, the leftist of the media would mislead folks to believe otherwise.

Calamity Jane
December 28, 2002, 12:29 AM
Tee hee! What a neat story! She sounds like my kind of gal. :)

December 28, 2002, 12:40 AM
Oleg needs to gain permisson from her to do a poster.
Wouldn't that drive the blissninnies nuts.;)

December 28, 2002, 12:47 AM
Excellent article! We need more press like this. Just everyday people handling guns in a responsible manner. It sends the message that you don't have to be a fringe element of society to enjoy gun sports.

December 28, 2002, 12:50 AM
Let's see now... I know a bunch of ministers (Catholic and Protestant) that hunt, as do their wives (the Protestants, I hasten to add! :D ). If we can line up a couple of nuns as well, I think we could get Oleg to make a poster guaranteed to cause simultaneous heart attacks at the Catholic Bishops Conference, all seven Lutheran Synods, and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland!!! :D :D :D

December 28, 2002, 10:21 AM
... and the World Council of Churches!
(Please don't leave them out if you're gonna give cardiac arrhythmias!)

December 28, 2002, 12:13 PM
Gun-n-Nun! Now that's what we need more of.;)

s&w 24
December 28, 2002, 01:49 PM
A close friend of the family thats a Nun (my little brothers godmother) was told by her supevisor in alaska that she was not allowed to go into a bear infested area untill she could consistently strike a paper plate at 75yds with an '06 using 220 gr pills and she did it !

December 28, 2002, 02:11 PM
We had Dominican nuns for my grades 1-8 and I found them to be the most ferocious of the Orders.
I remember one occasion where in a fit of anger Sister Rose smacked a wooden pointer on her desk and it splintered into 100’s of pieces. Got my attention. Another time two Sisters had an argument between each other in front of our class , a pushing match ensued and one sister ended up butt first in a trash can. Two of us had to pull her out of it. No Kidding.

Sister Judith You go Girl!

December 28, 2002, 02:25 PM
Preacher, glad you clarified on the "wives"...been a looonnngg time since Sunday School in my Protestant upbringing ...but

Ok I guess Preacher wants in the photo/poster...
Goody, been waitin' on a remake of The Wild Bunch :D

December 28, 2002, 02:56 PM
let's hope for an upgrade to say- the pope.

December 29, 2002, 05:46 PM
I hunt with a priest who has a sizeable collection of firearms (all sorts from military surplus to modern firearms). He pretty much hunts all during all seasons (turkey, deer, dove, etc) and occasionally heads to Canada and other far regions to hunt. He is one cool priest!

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