HELENA — The days began at 4 a.m. Six women who had come to Texas to compete for title of Extreme Huntress ate breakfast and then journeyed into the field in pursuit of game. After the morning hunt, they returned for competitive skills challenges, then interviews with producers and back out to hunt. Sleep did not come until midnight, but the huntresses rose early for the next day of adventures.
East Helenan Taylor Reisbeck, 20, was among those women, chosen first from hundreds of essays narrowed down to the top 20 and then voted into the finals. The six finalists went to the 777 Ranch in Texas to be featured in the Extreme Huntress online show with weekly voting and a black tie event earlier this month to crown the winner.
Although top honors went to Shannon Lansdowne of British Columbia, Reisbeck had no regrets and felt the opportunity was once in-a-lifetime.
“It was an amazing experience. I met a lot of great people out there, especially the women hunters because there aren’t a lot of us in this industry,” she said.
Extreme Huntress was filmed in July, but the episodes aired during the fall. Besides the enjoyment of meeting her fellow competitors, traveling to a different state to hunt unfamiliar animals was her favorite part of the show. Getting to meet hunting industry giants such as Eva and Jim Shockey and Larry Weishuhn was also a great experience, she said.
Episodes can be viewed at www.extremehuntress.com.
Putting herself in the public eye did open Reisbeck up for scrutiny by anti-hunters, mostly through social media. Another contestant reportedly had an anti-hunter come to her house, and some of the women experienced threats to them, their families and pets, but Reisbeck said she was not concerned for her safety.
“Because I’m from Montana and most of us hunt, I’m not too worried, but you never know,” she said. “Even if we try to support why we hunt, there are some people that just don’t want to listen.”
During the times when social media commenters attacked her, she was immediately backed up by others and received a lot of support on the show from people across Montana.
“I’ll never quit doing what I love to do,” she said.
Reisbeck will speak in Helena along with TV personality Kristy Titus on Jan. 28 at the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association Celebrating Women and Youth in the Outdoors event. Her talk will include her Extreme Huntress experience and also some tips for how men can better introduce women and kids to hunting. The free public talk is at the Radisson Colonial Hotel, 2301 Colonial Drive, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Reisbeck had plenty of success this fall, harvesting a bull elk, antelope and whitetail bucks and a whitetail doe. With her exposure on Extreme Huntress, she hopes to continue to stamp out her place in the outdoor industry.
“I hope to be in front of the camera again someday, and I think this helped get my name out there,” she said. “I hope to help women and youth hunters and just be able to promote this and help anti-hunters understand why we hunt.”