RIVERTON — Seven women — two of whom have strong Fremont County ties — have made history as the first women selected to compete in the One-Shot Antelope Hunt, which began Wednesday and runs through Saturday.
One of the seven is State Representative Ember Oakley, of Riverton. Oakley told The Ranger that the One Shot has been a “historically all-boys club,” but that she and the other women were chosen in May after weeks of deliberation by the hunt’s hosts.
She added that she was honored to be part of this first inclusion of women in the 81-year-old competition.
Oakley is part of the only all-female team along with State Superintendent of Education Jillian Balow, and Megan Degenfelder of Morningstar Partners.
Also selected for the hunt is State Auditor Kristi Racines, a Riverton High School graduate. Racines is competing in the same hunting party as Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.
“I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this historic hunt, particularly since it’s in my home county,” Racines said. “In Wyoming, hunting is a critical part of our culture, and for good reason. It engenders respect for our lands, our wildlife, and most importantly, for each other. This hunt honors our past, while carrying these important values into the future.”
According to a statement from Balow’s office, the inclusion of seven women in this year’s hunt has prompted the alteration or omission from several of the traditions.
Ceremonies this year include one coordinated with members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. Hunters will hear the “Legend of the Hunt” and participate in a brothers and sisters ceremony, in which participants’ bullets are blessed for the hunt.
“It is novel to think about ‘breaking through the glass ceiling’ by being the first women to compete in the One Shot,” Balow said. “ But, I assure you that is not why we are participating. “ Like others before us, we appreciate the comaraderie of the hunt and the stories that follow, we grow from the self-reliance of self-confidence that comes from an ethical harvest, and we are committed to conservation of wildlife and outdoor resources.”
Hunters shoot individually and compete on teams of three . The hunt was conceived by hunters Harold Evans of Lander and Hank Dahl of Golden, Colorado, in 1939, when the friends’ campfire chatter turned to the difficulty of early hunting days with muzzleloaders, or, for the American Indians of centuries past, with arrows .
To honor the sportsmanship and camaraderie hearkened by that hunting legacy, the men founded a committee in 1940 that established the tradition of the One-Shot Antelope Hunt that autumn, in Lander.
The competition has included many household names over the years, including Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, entertainer Roy Rogers, baseball star Todd Helton, astronaut Jim Lovell, U.S. Sen. Al Simpson, and Vice President Dick Cheney.