Brittany Boddington is the host of “The Boddington Experience” and “Petersen’s Hunting Adventures.” She is a writer for several different outdoor publications, a popular member of the online hunting community, and the daughter of famed outdoor journalist Craig Boddington. Frequent Sporting Classics contributor Gayne Young recently caught up with Brittany to ask about her past, her present, and her future.
Take us on the road from model to outdoor journalist and personality. How did this all come about?
I started modeling at a young age. My friend in high school had booked a modeling job and needed a ride. I drove her to the event and they were short one girl for the show, so they hired me on the spot and I’ve been working ever since.
I only started hunting after high school and fell in love with the outdoors. I couldn’t stand to wait a whole year between hunts in order to go with my dad on one of his trips, so I started going alone. I worked five jobs between trips to afford to go again, and once I could buy the plane ticket, I would drop everything and go for as long as I could.
Eventually a magazine asked me to write an article about one of my adventures. That was the first time I realized that I enjoyed telling my stories to the world. It was at that point that I decided to make my hunting into a career.
Let’s pretend I just met you for the first time and asked what you did for a living. How would you respond?
I’m a hunter. If they ask more questions I will elaborate, but at the core I will always be simply a hunter. I also point out that I make a living by selling articles about my adventures and hosting outdoor television shows.
In 2012 you became the first female ever to grace the cover of Petersen’s Hunting. Tell us how that honor came about and what it means to you and to other female hunters.
Being on the cover of Petersen’s Hunting’s annual gear issue was a great honor. To me, it meant that the magazine stood behind me and my accomplishments. In 2012 the number of female hunters in the outdoor industry was small, and there were very few of us doing tough hunts—even fewer doing these hunts alone. I felt validated and grateful for the opportunity that the cover presented.
You said publicly that you dislike the separation between male and female hunters, maintaining that “we are all just hunters.” And while that’s certainly the ideal way to look at it, women in hunting are treated far differently than their male counterparts. Especially online. Why do you think this is?
I dislike being categorized as a female hunter because the term is sometimes used to put us into a lesser category, as if being female puts us at a disadvantage. For the record, let me say that I am proud to be a huntress and to represent other female hunters. I understand that men are generally stronger physically and that does give them some advantages, but women are quieter, smaller, more nimble in the woods, and generally better shooters. I would say we have the advantage.
Why do you think female hunters are so viciously attacked online, and what can all hunters—male and female—do to stop this atrocious behavior?
I think females are attacked more viciously online because we are seen as a soft target. Women tend to take personal attacks harder than men. What these attackers don’t understand is that female hunters are tough. We are tougher than most because we have pushed ourselves in the field and put ourselves through trial after trial. The pitiful attempts to bully us online don’t shake us. We know that the people who take the time to sit and attack woman after woman online are cowards. The best thing we can do is continue to do what we know is right.
Continuing with the way female hunters are treated, I’ve seen you and other female hunting celebrities at trade shows, conventions, and in public, and have to say some of the comments and questions you get from fans versus what males in the industry receive can be as different as night and day. What’s the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you during one of these encounters, and how difficult is it to remain professional during times like that?
I was once asked to do an interview for a French news outlet, and the phrase that the reporter used was absurd. She said, “I would like to do a story on you hunting endangered species.” I laughed a bit and walked away.
I’ve been pretty fortunate not to be attacked by antis in person. Fans have been nothing but great over the years.
Some have argued that women are only now filling a gap in outdoor media because the number of male hunters has declined in years past, and that men would rather watch hunting on television than actually hunt. How would you respond to this assumption that women can only become popular because of this?
I think that this wave of female hunters emerging in the media (even in the negative reports) has actually encouraged women to get outdoors. I have also met a number of women that took up hunting as a way to feed their families with naturally organic meat. Perhaps the healthy eating trend in the U.S. has something to do with the booming number of females taking up hunting.
Tell us something about one of you hunting adventures that you’ve never told anyone before.
When I was hunting in the mountains of Peru for the Peruvian whitetail, I got the opportunity to stay in a mud-brick home with a family that lived there. The little girl had never seen a pale European woman like me before. She was so curious. She played with my red hair and tried to rub off my freckles. She was particularly concerned about my nails being pink; she asked repeatedly if they were hurt. It was such an amazing experience.
Your career has taken you all around the globe. How many countries have you visited?
Around 30 countries I believe.
In which of these did you experience the most difficulties?
I have had some issues over the years. I’ve been asked for bribes repeatedly in a few different countries. One issue that I find more than I’d like is that in some countries people assume that because I’m a woman, I can’t shoot. I’ve had several outfitters tell me to shoot an animal and then act shocked when I hit it.
Traveling with firearms is always a struggle. It starts at my home airport of LAX. If I get someone at the check-in desk that has not checked in a firearm before then, the process takes forever. Upon landing there is always a different procedure for a different country, and some are more complicated than others. I used to always do my paperwork myself, and there were times when I didn’t do it perfectly. Fortunately, the screw-ups were never too bad and were fixed without incident.
One time my dad and I were hunting in Zimbabwe and we had taken a charter flight into camp. We were at the opposite side of the country from the international airport. When the time came to get on our charter flight to go back to town, the fog rolled in and the pilot said he was unable to fly. The outfitter had other hunters in camp and couldn’t leave, but he gave us a Land Rover, and off we went on the most terrifying drive of my life. Now it is important to note that my dad admittedly is not the best driver in the U.S., but on the wrong side of the road, driving a manual, it was downright dangerous. We had to drive through the night since our flight was the following morning. It was a terribly long and dark drive.
At this time Zimbabwe had just cut about three zeros off their currency and were looking for a bunch of missing money, so every couple hours we would be stopped. We were held at gunpoint and all our belongings were searched. They checked our passports, our guns, and our permits. It was scary every time, but fortunately they let us go and we continued down the unlit and broken road. There would be semi-trucks heading toward us on the opposite side with no lights and a doublewide house on the back. We were pushed into the dirt several times. My poor dad kept it together and got us into Harari safely, but man, were our nerves shot.
Another incident . . . I was hunting in Namibia around 2005. It was one of my first trips over there, and we were staying in the mountains. My tent was on the opposite side of camp from the rest of the group since I was the only girl. One night I was dead asleep and a sound woke me up. I heard something coming toward my tent. I could hear breathing and footsteps. It sounded like a big animal, so I listened closely. I had been warned that there were lions in the area, so I immediately thought it was a lion.
I was sitting up in my cot listening intently when all of a sudden the whole tent rocked. Something had tripped on the tent strings. I grabbed a Ziploc that was lying next to the bed and started waving it back and forth. It made a nice loud noise, and whatever it was took off running. The next morning I told the rest of the camp what had happened and that I was sure it was a lion. They went to check the tracks and started laughing. The midnight terror was caused by Homer . . . a pet cow that they had up there. I slept better after that.
What’s the most bizarre thing you’ve ever eaten while in the field or in another country?
They cooked up the testicles of the buffalo I shot in Zimbabwe. When we ate them, we had no idea they were testicles, and they actually weren’t bad. We were starving after a long day in the field, so we ate them up happily. They were served in little chunks on a toothpick with a piece of cheese and a gherkin. The next day I was not feeling great, and my stepmother and I both threw up. I’m not sure that the testicles were the cause, but I tend to think so.
What’s your take on the camo thing? It seems as though it’s everywhere and on everything. Even lingerie! Has the trend reached a saturation point?
I think camo serves a valuable purpose on some hunts. On bowhunts, for example, it is critical to be as close to invisible as possible. Most spot-and-stalk hunts with a rifle can be done in camo or khaki, or even black, with very little difference. Camo looks cool and people like it, so it has its place.
What projects do you have in the works?
I just filmed an episode for “Dead Dog Walking” on the Sportsman’s Channel, so keep an eye out for that! I’m off to New Mexico in October with tags for elk and mule deer, and in November I’m headed to France to do a horseback hunt for Pyrenees chamois. Both of those hunts will be on “Petersen’s Hunting Adventures” on the Sportsman’s Channel.
This year I have joined forces with World of Hunting Adventure as a Hunting Consultant so I can use all my experience to help plan hunts for people.