Kristy Titus’ first elk hunts were from the back of her family’s mules when she was in high school in central Oregon. She and her father would ride across the snow-covered timber and sagebrush flats hoping to cut elk sign. When they did, they would turn and follow.
“It made for some very long and very cold days,” she said. “But I loved riding, and I loved being outdoors with my dad.”
Now, Kristy has traveled the world appearing on hunting shows and speaking to groups about preserving our hunting heritage.
“For me hunting is all about the experiences. My favorite place is on my feet,” she said. “I might be tired. I might be hungry, but as long as I’m outside, I’m happy.”
Bugle: How did you get involved in the outdoors?
Kristy: I was raised in the backcountry. My dad had mules when I was growing up, and from the time I was 2 years old, we spent every weekend in the wilderness—my mom, my dad, my sister and me. I would fall asleep on the front of my dad’s saddle, my little head bobbing around. It’s really a way of life. It’s the only life I know.
Bugle: What’s your favorite animal to hunt?
Kristy: Elk. There’s nothing in the world that compares to the sound of a big bull bugling. The first time I called in a branch bull on a solo trip changed my life. I hiked in cross-country four miles, set up in a spot where I had patterned these elk, and called in a 5x5. He was 45 yards from me, and I just sat there and watched him.
Bugle: What does hunting heritage mean to you?
Kristy: For me, having my father teach me how to hunt has been the greatest blessing that I have ever been given. Some day I’ll have my own kids, and I can pass along that same heritage. But in the meantime, I really, really love sharing that with other women and kids across the country.
Bugle: How do you get this message out there?
Kristy: I do a lot of seminars. So what’s exciting for me is that I get that face-to-face, that one-on-one opportunity to connect with other women.
Bugle: How does conservation play into your message?
Kristy: Conservation ensures that we have the best wildlife habitat. Because there’s good wildlife habitat, we have good wildlife populations that continue to grow and thrive, and we can be out there as families enjoying them. Conservation is key, and I’m really proud to be part of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its 6.7 million acres conserved. That’s pretty remarkable. And we’re just getting started.
Bugle: You’re a member of Team Elk. What else do you do?
Kristy: I’m currently an ambassador for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation as well as Swarovski Optik, Cabela’s and Under Armour. I was just brought on as the hunting and nutrition editor for Elk Hunter and Western Hunter magazines. So I write editorials in both of those publications. The rest of the time, I’m a professional fitness consultant.
Bugle: What roadblocks do you see for women trying to get into the sport?
Kristy: A lot of women tell me they feel intimidated to ask questions and seek out resources. Women, I think as a whole, are starting to be more broadly embraced within the hunting and outdoor community. I think it’s really important that hunters are a community, and we are a family.
Bugle: Has hunting ever changed the life of someone you know?
Kristy: I took a group of girls blacktail doe hunting this past fall, and it was probably one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I helped this little 12-year-old girl get a doe. We got back to camp and everybody was so excited. There was another girl who was 10 years old, and she was really nervous about going on her hunt. She sat there with the 12-year-old, who now is the voice of experience. She walked the 10-year-old through how she was going to feel. Watching the 12-year-old mentor the 10-year-old girl was a beautiful moment, something I can’t even explain. When the 10-year-old girl came back with a doe to take home for her family, there were high-fives and hugs. It was just amazing to watch these kids lean on each other for support and really become a team.
Bugle: How does something like that affect you as someone who has hunted her whole life?
Kristy: There aren’t even words to describe it. Moments like those, where you impact someone on a level that literally changes their life forever, for the better, that’s what I live for. That’s why I’m here. That’s my purpose in life.