There is no shortage of reasons to love autumn in Wyoming — a spectacular show of colorful leaves, moody skies that leave fresh powder on the peaks, the songs of bugling elk, and neat, graceful lines of migrating birds. But when it comes to this season, there’s certainly a particular highlight for us at the Hughes Charitable Foundation: The Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt at The Ranch at Ucross, WY.
Now in its ninth year, this event is a uniquely Wyoming approach to empowering women, helping mothers learn how to hunt and put food on their own tables, and creating an environment for mentorship and relationship development among women and girls.
It was when retired Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kite was hunting antelope with her sister-in-law, Karey Stebner, outside of Rawlins, Wyoming that they came up with the idea of an all-women’s antelope hunt. Justice Kite shared the idea with friends Lynne Boomgaarden (current Wyoming Supreme Court Justice) and Donna Wichers. The women approached the Wyoming Women’s Foundation (WYWF) to organize and host the event. WYWF formed a committee and got started!
Prominent women, including Wyoming’s first female Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kite, Ms. Wheelchair USA 2013, Ashlee Lundvall, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jillian Balow, Julie Golob, captain of Smith & Wesson’s highly successful shooting team, first Native American to serve in the Wyoming Senate, Affie Ellis, and Wyoming’s First Lady, Jennie Gordon, have shared in the hunt experience.
Since its inception in 2013, the event has raised over $600,000 for grantmaking, special projects like the hunt, and programs at the Wyoming Women’s Foundation that improve the economic self-sufficiency of women and the future of girls. Nearly 400 organizations have partnered to support this innovative annual event, and over 90 scholarships have been given including first-time hunters, military veterans, single mothers, and youth hunters.
Hughes Charitable Foundation team includes Executive Director Molly Hughes, Chief Justice Marilyn Kite, and Melissa McGarvin O’Melia (Superintendent Jillian Balow’s sister), Lexie Garrett, and Kaitlin McGuire.
Lexie Garrett, from Cheyenne, WY, is the founder and owner of Alexis Drake: a boutique shop offering beautiful handbags, jewelry, and other accessories. She has contributed her bags to the event’s raffle in previous years, and this will be her first year hunting.
Kaitlin McGuire, a recipient of one of the HCF scholarships, is originally from Junction City, Kansas. She has harvested one big game animal alongside her husband and will be sharing what she learned from this experience with her teammates and other participants. She received inspiration from, and felt a connection to, her grandfather as she began hunting years after he passed away from a heart condition while sitting in his hunting blind. She wants to do the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt to honor her grandfather’s memory, to push outside of her comfort zone, and further her own hunting knowledge and experiences to share with others.
This is the third time I’ve participated in this amazing event, and I look forward to it. Not only is it a great time at the beautiful UCross and a fantastic opportunity to develop relationships with strong, determined women from across Wyoming - what I call ‘Wyomans.’ It’s also a unique way to honor our connection with the landscape and the state’s heritage of hunting to feed our families,” says Molly Hughes. “All for a truly fantastic cause - WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT!”
In addition to the hunting events for participating teams, the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt is hosting a virtual recap of the 2021 hunt and online raffle. Learn more and keep up with this year’s hunt on the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt Facebook Page. Visit the website to purchase raffle tickets (and hope to win one of the fantastic prizes), or make a donation to this wonderful cause.
Good luck out there, ladies!