Air Force First Lieutenant Nina Rogers is a force to be reckoned with in the outdoors.
Name: Nina Rogers
Hometown: Seymour, Tennessee
Current Residence: Stationed in Albuquerque, New Mexico
H&B: Tell me about growing up and how you got into outdoor sports?
NR: I was actually born in New Jersey and lived there until I was eight years old. My dad retired from the Army and moved us to Tennessee. As a toddler, Disney videos didn’t interest me at all, but one day when my dad was watching a hunting show, I sat and watched the whole hour-long show. My dad was an avid outdoorsman, and I always begged him to take me on his outdoor adventures. He taught my four siblings and me how to hunt and fish. I started hunting when I was nine, and my dad bought my first rifle—a Remington 700 SPS youth model rifle in .243 Winchester. My dad took me to the range and put apples at 25 to 120 yards and taught me the fundamentals of rifle marksmanship. I exploded the apple at 120 yards and nicked the one at 125 yards. In my dad’s words, “Not bad for a nine year old.”
Tell me about your decision to go the Air Force Academy and pursue a military career.
My dad served 21 years in the military. He was in the Army for 10 years serving as an Army Pathfinder and sniper—and 11 more years in the National Guard. He also served as a police officer. I wanted to be just like my dad when I grew up, and all I’d ever known was the military lifestyle. I argue that my dad didn’t raise me; he trained me. So when I decided to go into the military, he told me Air Force would treat me better. My mom wouldn’t let me enlist—she said, “you’re going to college.” So I went to the Air Force Academy. I focused on military strategic studies and minored in Portuguese. I also played lacrosse.
Did you hunt at the Academy?
I rarely had time to do anything outside of school. But for two years, I was the only female in the Outfitters Club. We had an annual elk hunt, and in my freshman year I didn’t draw a tag but went for the learning experience. The guy I was shadowing shot an elk, and when we got to the elk, I gutted it with him. After that, I recruited other women to join the club. I think that’s where my advocacy for women and kids in the outdoors started.
How did you get involved with the outdoor industry as an influencer?
I actually didn’t know what an influencer was when I first got a following. In 2017, I came home on leave and went hunting with my dad. I got my first buck, and I knew the tradition of biting the deer heart, so I did it and took a video of it. I posted it, and the next thing I know Barstool Sports and Old Row Outdoors reposted it. And the followers started coming.
Where and what is your favorite thing to hunt?
My favorite thing in the world to hunt is turkey. They’re so interactive—it’s like having a conversation with the bird. And Tennessee is my favorite place to hunt. But I’ll travel anywhere to get my slam.
Best one-that-got-away story?
You mean worst?! I finally drew a tag for the annual elk hunt at the Academy, and I called in an elk. There was a herd running down the mountain, and I chased them for several miles. I waited on the largest bull (my dad always taught me, “aim small, miss small”), and at 275 yards with my .308, I dropped it. He got up and started running. I was following a perfect blood trail, but then the blood just stopped. I searched high and low, and after several hours I finally found him. But when I got to him, someone had cut his head off for his antlers and left his body. The game warden wouldn’t let me keep him because I couldn’t prove it was a legal harvest, so my first elk was ripped away from me.
What’s your most memorable hunting trip?
I went turkey hunting in Tennessee with Maggie Williams, an Arkansas pageant girl and duck hunter. On our second day, I called in a turkey—I wanted Maggie to get her bird. But when he came in, she didn’t get him. We hunted hard for three days and finally left the woods and went to a gas station in the middle of nowhere. A guy in the station asked what we were hunting, and we told him. He said he had a lease where we could definitely get a bird. It was Easter Sunday, and he told us to follow him to his house where his son would take us out. It was a little crazy, but we went out with him (after he finished his Easter dinner), and three hours later we had two birds.
You also fish; did your dad teach you that too?
I fish for bass and trout. There’s good trout fishing in Tennessee. My dad taught me the basics of fishing, but I had to teach myself a lot.
What do you do when you’re not hunting, fishing or working?
I love bow fishing. I go to the gym almost every day. I’m big into fitness. I love to sing—mostly ‘90’s country music. And I love country swing dancing and two stepping! I like to dance at the Dirty Bourbon in New Mexico—everybody there knows how to dance!