Repeat, multiple class, Soldotna Hardware Ice Fishing Derby champion, skeet shooter, Alaskan huntress and assistant to Kenai City manager Christine Cunningham has authored her first book that promises to change the paradigm of women in Alaska. “Women Hunting Alaska,” published by Northern Publishing for release January, 2013 is a compilation of 17 stories about Alaska’s outstanding Women Hunters. The author profiles the unique backgrounds that led them to their passion for hunting, and includes some of their most memorable hunting adventures in the Last Frontier.
“Women are underrepresented in Alaskan literature and with the passion I have for Alaska and its year round outdoor activities I started connecting with other women who were hunters and listening to their stories and it became an opportunity to meet these women and tell their incredible experiences and passion for hunting while increasing the awareness of real Alaskan women. I take you along on a hunt with each woman as you experience their diverse philosophies on hunting. The women vary from 20-year-old Molly Copple with limited hunting experience, but unlimited desire, to 84-year-old Ethel Leedy who has taken all 29 species of North American big game. Writing of their adventures has been an adventure for me as well and think will be one for the reader as well,” Cunningham said in an interview.
The book includes profiles and photos of each Alaskan huntress plus the stories of their hunting experiences. Born in Sitka, Alaska Christine says her experience in the outdoors didn’t actually start until she was an adult, “I actually started when I was 27 years old here on the Kasilof and Kenai River flats and once I started participating in Alaska’s outdoors as a hunter there was no going back to just passively observing the outdoors but became a life changing experience that I had to be involved with,” she said.
As a freelance writer Cunningham has been published in Alaska Magazine, Fish Alaska, Wildfowl, and www.womenhunters.com. “I wrote the book knowing that women across the country would identify with it as there is presently a national movement of women joining the ranks hunters and representing the sport. Women are great ambassadors for hunting and are able to connect with each other. I’ve connected with many women’s organizations in the lower 48 that are very excited about the book coming out,” she said.
While saying she really didn’t have a favorite story from her book she did personally relate to Charity Green’s story, “They are all great stories but Charity Green was born here in Sterling and is now an artist in Juneau, her story is about finding herself, her self confidence and about living a subsistence lifestyle. I connected with her story because it wasn’t just a trial and trophy hunting story but it was about finding meaning in life,” said Cunningham. In the day of the working career mother Christine says she has discovered that the tradition of hunting today is more readily passed on to the next generation in a family where the mother hunts. “In my mind women are the future of hunting and this is our opportunity to preserve an American cultural heritage. Hunting with mom is bringing home the families bacon as a team and is a special bonding experience. Most of the women in the book started out as kids hunting with their families,” she said. Christine adds that her experiences as a hunter have inspired her to give something back to the American hunting tradition. She shares her love of hunting and fishing through mentoring youth hunts; by developing unique hunting opportunities for both youth and women hunters; and by writing about fishing, shooting, and bird hunting with her three chocolate Labradors and two English setters. Limited pre-release copies are available at the Kenai Visitors Center and Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware, or on line going www.TonyRuss.com Women Hunting Alaska is $19.95-softcover. Cunningham is planning several book signing events in the local area in January and information on those dates and locations will be available on her facebook page at Women Hunting Alaska Preorders also available at Women Hunters Alaska, Alaska Guides for Women .