Recently, we caught up with Kristy Crabtree, avid hunter and wild game enthusiast. Kristy hails from Reno, Nevada and is a web designer, photographer, and cookbook author. As a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Kristy strongly supports RMEF’s conservation efforts in preserving America’s hunting heritage.

Being in the great outdoors, this hunter will tell you, “It feeds my soul.” The respect and appreciation for the land has become a constant reminder that life’s too short not to smell the coffee.

When it comes to food, Kristy admits that she’s not a trained chef, but preparing the hunt’s harvest has become a favorite pastime that she truly enjoys sharing with family and friends. Her easy-to-follow recipes are now available in her new cookbook, Wild Game Cuisine.

Why do you hunt?

To be honest, I hunt to eat.

When was your first hunt, and how old were you?

I didn’t grow up in a family of hunters or outdoorsmen. We never went camping, fishing, or shooting guns for sport. But then in my mid-20s, I met a hunter who introduced me to an entirely new world I never knew existed. All I can say is that I was hooked!

What do you like most about hunting?

What I really like most is that it forces you to slow down and take in your surroundings. Watch, listen, and become more in tune with nature.

What’s your most memorable hunting experience?

That would have to be the first time I drew a Nevada muzzleloader bull elk tag. It was opening day, and my hunting buddy and I were hiking to an area where we had seen elk in the past. After an hour of some hardcore cow calling, a bull elk suddenly made his appearance felt. He was screaming mad. Even though I couldn’t see him through the sea of green forest, I just knew by the screaming that this guy was going to be something larger than life. His deep, throaty growl literally made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

A few minutes later, through a small opening in the trees, I spotted a glimpse of him. I remember nervously whispering to my buddy, “He’s huge. And really mad!”

“Papa” elk continued to scream as he pushed through the trees, obviously looking for lost cows. My buddy poked me, pointed, and whispered, “You’d better dial him in. He’s coming through that draw.”

I was ready—or so I thought. Shaking, fidgeting, and trying to catch my breath, I knew this was going to be it. I’ll never forget what happened next. Instead of coming out down low where I was focused and ready to shoot, I heard the loudest scream as Papa burst through the trees, coming directly at me from my right side. He was a mammoth—and now just 30 yards away!

Caught totally off-guard and before I could adjust positions, Papa crashed back through the forest. And that was that. As quickly as it happened, it was over. That’s when I became obsessed. My future hunts were now devoted to finding Papa again. I spotted him a few more times but was either busted by his harem or couldn’t get within 150 yards to take a shot.

Someday, he and I will meet again. You can bet I’ll be ready this time!

Do you have a favorite wild game recipe?

I have so many favorites, but a true staple in our house would be sizzling elk fajitas with fresh vegetables, cooked up on a flattop griddle.

Do you have a “dream” hunt?

I would love to have another opportunity for a muzzleloader bull elk hunt.

What would you say to other women who haven’t tried hunting yet?

I would have to say that if you want to learn to hunt, you definitely should. There’s no better time than now. I never wanted to pull the trigger and take a life until I realized I was ready to take ownership for my decisions. I learned a lot about respect and a lot about myself and what I could accomplish. To me, hunting is not a competition—it’s about you as an individual having an opportunity to harvest some of the finest food for you and your family.