You don’t mess with Texas, and if you’re a grizzly bear you don’t mess with Tia Shoemaker.
- Tia is a Registered Alaska Hunting Guide and bush pilot.
- She grew up in a wilderness homestead cabin, off the grid, home schooled.
- She shoots a 416 Remington, respects the game she hunts and has agreed to share some of her tales of adventure.
Allow Me to Introduce Tia Shoemaker
Women are all over the hunting world these days. Most are deadly serious and effective. A few seem more interested in self exposure than hunting. Tia Shoemaker is not one of those.
This petite young woman is a Registered Alaska Guide. She grew up home schooled in the Alaskan wilderness in her parent’s hand-built cabin. She shoots a 416 Remington, flies a bush plane, skins brown bears, and stops them from mauling her overly-excited clients who miss. I think she weighs 100-pounds in a parka, soaking wet after a big meal.
Self-effacing, sincere, tough, and a student of Nature, Tia Shoemaker is the no-bull, real deal. She respects our hunting heritage and aims to defend it. She’ll be describing some of her wild adventures and subsequent insights on RonSpomerOutdoors.com at least once a month, more if we can squeeze it out of her. For now, I’ll bow out and let you get a sense of this remarkable young woman in her own words:
My Road to Becoming a Hunting Guide
by Tia Shoemaker
Though it looked like just a ball of fur hurtling towards me, it had teeth and claws. It was 40 yards and closing. Seconds before, my client had taken a shot, hitting nothing vital and consequently sending an Alaskan brown bear in full charge toward us. As a hunting guide, when I fire my rifle, something has gone wrong. This time, though, we got lucky and the 416 I was using did the job. Once the air cleared and adrenaline levels subsided I became fully aware of the situation. It was my first time guiding a bear hunter and all those years dreaming of one day being an Alaskan hunting guide had come true.
I grew up a “bush brat” in the wild of Alaska. A homestead turned hunting camp for our family of four. We were surrounded by thousands of miles of wilderness and wildlife. No roads, telephone lines or t.v. My home school studies were frequently interrupted by recess breaks to check traplines and chase ptarmigan with bow and arrow.
One perk to being the daughter of a hunting guide and growing up in the industry was tagging along on hunts probably before I should have. At ten years old I was allowed to accompany a guide and his client into the field so long as I had my school books in tow. It is difficult enough to concentrate on history and grammar. It’s far more challenging when seated on a tundra hillside with everyone else glassing for moose!
After putting in my time as the longest serving “apprentice/packer” in history, I finally earned my Alaska Assistant guide license. I was 18 years old and eager to start my guiding career.
I attended college, but took fall semesters off to guide, leaving spring semesters for school. Ultimately I graduated with a B.A. in Therapeutic Recreation and a minor in psychology (something every hunting guide should probably study!)
For ten years I conducted an outdoor education program for youth and guided hunters and fishermen for my families’ business. I also managed to squeeze in time for myself to hunt, fish and travel through much of Alaska and several foreign countries. Eventually I had enough experience to qualify and test to be a Registered Alaskan Hunting Guide. There are fewer than a dozen female registered Alaskan hunting guides. I hope to see this number grow during my lifetime. With our unique perspectives and experiences, we women have much to contribute to hunting and the guiding industry.
My first memories consist of running barefoot across the tundra to greet hunters as they slogged back with packs full of meat and antlers. Each hunter had tales of challenge and adventure, all which served to fuel my dreams of one day guiding. I now have firsthand knowledge of what those hunters and guides felt as they stumbled into camp with their stories and an air of wild adventure about them. I now have my own tales of adventure, of stalks gone right and shots gone wrong. Tales of flying bush planes, of packing moose meat through sucking bogs, scaling mountains for Dall’s rams, pitching tents against raging Bristol Bay weather, and marveling at sunsets over the last great places in our hunter’s world. These are my adventures, my memories of hunting, and I’ll be sharing them right here on RonSpomerOutdoors.com.