For Katie Van Slyke, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. If you’re one of her more than 231,000 followers on Instagram, you know she’s been going through #deerseasonwithdrawl.
The Nolensville, Tennessee, native began perfecting her shot at a young age — just 4 years old — practicing with her father. Today, Van Slyke is a skilled hunter and her social media posts capture her outdoor adventures on land and sea and her work with major brands including Smith&Wesson, Kryptek, a technical hunting apparel line, and archery giant Bowtech. Or as Van Slyke says:
“Some girls like to wear bows, I just like to shoot them.”
What sparked your interest in hunting and fishing?
My dad had me out in the woods or on a fishing boat since before I could walk. There’s a picture of me at 8 months old with my first gun that my grandpa gave me (even though I started shooting when I was about 4). My mom and I traveled the country showing horses, but hunting was what I did with my dad.
If you were a hunting rifle, which one would you be?
I would be the rifle that I first started hunting with: a Marlin .357 lever action.
Where is the most exciting place you’ve been hunting?
This may sound cliché, but the most exciting place I’ve been hunting is my own land. I’ve been hunting in multiple states, but I get the biggest rush harvesting an animal off of the land I grew up on and prepared alongside my dad.
What is your go-to weapon: rifle or bow?
This is only my second year bow hunting, and I love it! With that being said, my favorite at the moment is my Bowtech Archery Eva Shockey Series bow.
So you vs. Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. Who hits the bullseye first?
I think with a recurve [bow], Katniss may have me beat, but I’d give her a run for her money with a compound! I shot a recurve at the Archery Trade Association (ATA) Trade Show last year, and I think if I got one, it would become an obsession.
How can guys get their ladies interested in hunting?
I tell guys all the time to stop being so strict when getting their girlfriends into hunting. Make it more of an “outdoorsy date” thing instead of something more serious like when you’re going on your own. Most girls who haven’t grown up hunting won’t care about the score of a buck, but they’ll care about having fun and just spending time together.
Tell us about the one that got away.
I’d have to say it was a deer that my mom ended up shooting the afternoon after I saw him in the morning! He ended up scoring 163.5 which is a monster in Tennessee.
Let’s talk social media: Why do you think people are interested in “following” a woman that hunts on Instagram?
I don’t think my following stems just from the hunting aspect. I try to document all things that I’m involved in and love. So that includes hunting, fishing, horses, singing, makeup, etc. I think the diversity of content is what draws people in.
You often use the hashtag #whatevergetsyououtdoors. In a society obsessed with screens, why is it important for you to connect with nature?
I have no room to talk because I spend plenty of time on my phone, but for me, being outside is what keeps me sane. It offers you a place to be passionate about so many things, while also being a natural source of food and exercise.
You wrote “find someone you like to hunt with and date that person” on a photo with you and your beau hunting. What is your deal breaker?
I guess a deal breaker when dating a hunter is if the man has insecurities about dating someone who also hunts. I’ve been there. A true man will admit to being outhunted and learn from his partner and in turn, won’t mind passing along his own knowledge.
Do you have girlfriends that hunt, or have you noticed more females interested in the sport?
I’ve made so many female outdoor enthusiast friends through Instagram. Before I started posting about hunting on social media, I had a couple of friends that hunted, but it’s been so cool to be able to connect girls from all over who have the same passion.
What is your indoor obsession? (Possibly Cabela’s Big Game Hunter video game?)
My indoor obsession is makeup. I love to show my creativity through different looks I can create whether it’s on my face, or someone else’s face.
Ok. Would you rather be stranded in the forest with Bear Grylls or the cast of Duck Dynasty?
The cast of Duck Dynasty hands down. I’m pretty sure they have way more outdoor knowledge and I would get some laughs out of it as well!
“I must be a deer tick, because I am stuck on you” is one of our favorite pickup lines. What’s your outdoorsy favorite?
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost two years, so I haven’t gotten many pickup lines that actually worked for a while! Most pickup DMs that get sent my way are “Are you from Tennessee? ‘Cause you’re the only 10-I-See.”