A SLOW BUMPY ROAD
Most guides have been hunting and fishing since they were knee-high to a grasshopper, but I’m a little different. As a young girl, I was the one saving critters. When the boys in grade school were killing frogs on the playground, I was catching them and bringing them home in my mind saving them from sure death. My dad would’ve liked me to hunt small game, but as hard as he tried, I flat refused and it would take another 25 years or so years before I would open my eyes and allow myself to enter the hunting world.
OPENING MY EYES
My transformation to hunter was slow, and I do mean slow! At age 35, I bought my first hunting license and carried the appropriate weapon around when I hunted, but I had zero intentions of using it. What I did do was watch our natural world and soak it all in. The more time I spent outdoors, the stronger the pull became to switch to the other side….the hunting side. I watched every hunter I could picking out good qualities and the not so good qualities. I was trying to figure out a way to do this thing called hunting, but at times I heard and saw things that broke my heart and I wanted to run back to the nonhunting side, but I continued being pulled forward and I allowed myself to follow the pull. In those early years, I saw the magnificent beauty in our natural world and very little death. I also realized that hunting was a way for me to spend a large amount of time outdoors with the animals I love so I continued on.
NONHUNTER TO HUNTER - My first harvest
My first javelina (Collared Peccary) hunt started off with quite the bang. Early in the morning I spotted a herd of Javelina heading up a mountain. The "javi" had no clue I was there, which left me plenty of time to get set up. I was steady, scope to my eye, and I was preparing to place my finger on the trigger when I heard a gun go off and it was close! The shooter was right by me but because it was so thick I had no clue he was there and off ran “my” dying pig. I was bummed to say the least, but kept at it.
A couple days later I was walking down a road looking for tracks when I glanced up the mountainside and saw pigs (we call them “pigs” as slang even though they are more closely related to the hippopotamus…seriously)! The distance was closed to 250 yards and with the perfect dead Mesquite tree for a rest, I felt steady and aimed for the heart. It all happened so fast, but it’s forever ingrained in my mind. I took a deep breath, exhaled, and slowly squeezed the trigger. My bullet hit where I aimed and she dropped in her tracks dying in seconds. There was zero hesitation on my end and she didn't suffer. A couple years into this thing called hunting and I had killed my first animal. I was now a hunter right? It’s a question that has been with me since. Just because you kill an animal you earn the title of “hunter” and I would add this title to my rapporteur, but I was still struggling to make it fit and I continued forward. As I got further along on my path, I had one of those “ah-ha” moments or I could compare it to being struck by lightning, but I 100% know this is what I’m meant to do. I am supposed to show others the way to the outdoors and I pushed myself forward.
My friend hosted an annual Women’s Javelina camp and I inquired about mentoring because I knew this was an avenue to reach an important target audience of mine….women! When I started this journey, there was no women's department at the local hunting store and I knew I needed to get more women out here doing what I love. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was qualified to mentor, but I took the plunge in 2015 and committed to mentoring. I was assigned an awesome woman hunter and although she didn’t connect on a Javelina, she did harvest her first animal, a jackrabbit, and we were thrilled! I mentored two other women in those camps and I am very proud to say that all three women are still actively hunting. I know if women are taught the right way the chance of them wanting to hunt again is greater. Mentoring these women showed me I can successfully guide others to the outdoors.
PHOTOGRAPHY - My view into their world
For as long as I can remember I yearned to show others all that I was seeing in our natural world, but my camera would never come close to relaying what I was seeing. Heck, if I wasn’t going to kill them I may as well snap their pic and record my journey, but I quickly grew frustrated with image quality and gave up photography. About five years ago I finally found the right tool a Canon Rebel T3 starter kit and my passion for photography exploded! Finally, I could translate what I was seeing to others. I know very little in the photography world and I'm working on furthering these skills, but what I do is carry my camera everywhere so when the moment presents itself, I’m ready and I capture it.
FINDING MY WAY
I don’t know many people who go on over 30 deer hunts and never harvest a buck, but I did. After a while people started feeling sorry for me coming home empty handed all the time and I had to get used to this. Many judge how good of a hunter you are by your kills (not necessarily your skills) and I hardly kill so you know what that means, but it didn’t matter. I continued on my path learning as much as I could. In Arizona there is a one deer limit per year, but with our generous archery seasons you can hunt certain days in August, December, and January with an over-the-counter archery permit in open units (Arizona Game & Fish hunting regulations). You can also apply for the draw and if drawn, be issued a general season rifle permit. I hunted every chance I could, which meant at least four deer hunts per year. I was seeing the natural world as I’d never seen it before and it was sucking me in.
FINALLY - MY “DIY” COUES BUCK
There is no doubt about it deer hunting was the hardest for me. I wanted the “right” buck, whatever that meant I’m still not entirely sure, but I do always seem to know when it’s time to shoot and I was yearning for organic meat. I'd been without game meat for two years and I was pressured to fill my tag. I scouted more than I'd ever scouted before and found myself a nice little Coues honey hole. I passed on a few bucks early in the hunt, but on morning number three and after 30+ deer hunts I had finally found Mr. Right! I totally got buck fever, but calmed myself down and quickly closed the deal with a 175-yard shot. My sheer yearning for the organic meat made me kill my first deer.
FIELD TO TABLE - Venison
This would also be the first animal I would field dress myself and to make sure I was prepared in the field, I participated in a free field dressing class at Cabelas where a goat was processed. For years I also watched and memorized Randy Newberg’s gutless method video and to be 100% safe I made excellent notes that I carried in my pack. The last thing I wanted was an animal on the ground and the meat wasted because I didn’t know how to care for it. My Coues buck never left me and is absolutely delicious. I took him from the mountain to my house where for the first time I processed an animal myself. It’s amazing what Mr. Google can teach you! I’ve thanked my buck many times for this gift. He also hooked me on Coues deer hunting and I call him my filet mignon of the desert.
A GUIDE IS BORN
To be honest, bass fishing snuck up on me a few years ago. I’ve fished the majority of my life, but for bluegills and catfish. I couldn’t for the life of me understand how people would fish all day only to catch a few green fish, but in 2015 a friend took me bass fishing at a local urban lake. I didn’t get one single bite, but a fire was ignited within me that keeps growing to this day.
I love the catch and release aspect of fishing. I have a blast catching large mouth bass and then releasing them back into the water so another angler has a chance at them too! I started taking family and friends kayaking and kayaking fishing, but the list kept growing and growing until I realized there was a need for a kayak fishing guide. I’m really good at teaching people how to catch fish, kayak, and with my 35+ years’ experience on the Tonto National Forest Lakes, it’s a natural fit for me to guide and this is where my guide business was born.
A STORY TO TELL
This journey has been incredible and it only happened because I allowed myself to open my eyes. Hunting and fishing have been around for as long as man has inhabited our earth. I have worked long and hard honing these survival skills and I’m very proud of my transformation to hunter and guide, but my transformation isn’t enough - I want more! I want others following in my footsteps. I want more people outside hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, kayaking, or whatever it is that gets you outside!
My goal from day one is to encourage people to step outside and enjoy all that was created for us. Guiding has given me the ability to reach people that I could not have reached otherwise. I’m very excited to see where my journey takes me. I'm making a difference in how people view the outdoors and I'm seeing the ripple effect. I will continue to share my outdoor journey and bring others with me along the way into the outdoor world I love so much. - Christina Boggs