This short biography on Emily was originally published in the NRA InSights in September 2006.
Emily Woulfe is pretty much a typical teenager. She plays volleyball as an outside hitter on two Kenosha, WI, teams: the Tremper High School team and the Wisconsin Juniors—a club team. Her favorite subject is biology, and she isn’t sure what she wants to do in terms of a career. But, this typical teenager is anything but typical when it comes to deer hunting.
Emily began to shoot a bow when she was 6. At age 13, she went on her first deer hunt—a hunt for women only at White Oak Plantation near Tuskegee, AL. The deer-rich land offers good opportunities for bowhunters and the sponsors make it affordable. On the last day of the three-day hunt, Emily took her very first deer—a doe.
She was on the hunt with her mother, Mary, who has been a bowhunter for about 17 years. The pair are more than mother and daughter; they’re hunting partners. Mary began hunting out of necessity. “My husband Ed got me started. He is a deer hunting fanatic, and if I didn’t start hunting, I would not get to see him a lot,” she said. “We don’t have much public land or access to private land to hunt near our home, so we do most of our hunting up North.” “Up North” is northern Wisconsin. “It is about an eight-hour drive, and our hunting time is limited. There are fewer deer, but some big ones in that area. We hunt as a family, so the times we can go and stay are limited.”
“I started with a recurve bow,” said Emily, “and graduated from that to a compound when I was 10.” That bow accounted for her first deer. At the Does and Bows hunt in 2004, her second trip to Alabama, Emily failed to take a deer. But she won the door prize, a brand new Bowtech Liberty given by one of the hunt sponsors, Bowtech. This annual hunt, now in its eleventh year, is sponsored by Nikon, ATSKO, Plano and Bowtech. In October 2005 Emily and Mary returned to the Does and Bows hunt. They spent a little time on the practice range, making sure their bows were shooting accurately. At 2:30 on a hot Friday afternoon, they climbed aboard the guide trucks for a trip to the swamp.
It was nearly 85 degrees and by the time Emily got to her stand, her hair was damp with sweat and the mosquitoes were buzzing. But within an hour, a big doe walked inside her 35-yard shooting range. “I hadn’t been there that long and I saw this doe come walking toward me,” recalled Emily. The bow worked flawlessly and at age 15, Emily had taken her second deer in three years.
For Mary, it was another learning experience. “I saw this doe at about 100 yards and it was facing right at me,” she said. “I was afraid to try and pick up my bow, afraid she’d see me. Then she started walking right toward me, and I couldn’t get the bow up. She just kept walking and walked right past me and I never lifted the bow.”
So Emily, using only archery equipment and with limited hunting opportunities, has killed two deer—her first at age 13 and her second at 15. What makes her successful?
Well, for one thing, she practices all year. Her mechanics are flawless. Her bow is set at about 50 pounds and she handles it perfectly. She understands arrow flight, trajectory and range limits. That knowledge comes from constant mentoring from her parents and experience on the practice range. I personally think the pressure she faces while participating on volleyball teams has helped her handle tense situations when a deer comes by her in the woods. No question, the exercise keeps her in shape to hunt.
I’m also certain that sometime in the future, Emily is going to take a buck. It may not be a big one, but it will surely be a trophy to her. I don’t think she’ll get rattled. Maybe her mom or brother Eddie will get one first. I know that will be fine with Emily. This isn’t competition. Volleyball is competition.