Jessica Olmstead is a 17-year-old senior at Harper Creek (Mich.) High School. In many ways she's like most teens; she worries about classes, gets excited about the next weekend and likes to hang out with friends. But Olmstead has a hobby that isn't shared by many of her peers: She's a big-game bowhunter, a pursuit which recently helped her land big headlines when she bagged a 448-pound black bear on a summer hunt in Canada.
Here's how Olmstead described the experience to the Enquirer:
"When I go out hunting, it's really exciting," Olmstead said. "Whenever I see a bear I just want to go at it. When you're hunting, your heart is racing, your blood is pumping, and you feel that adrenaline rush. I really love to hunt." [...]
"The bear was the first animal I killed with the bow," Olmstead said. "As soon as my dad got it for me I was immediately comfortable and I was ready to use it the next day."
Olmstead's father, Tim, a professional hunting instructor, said his daughter is the quickest learner he's encountered during his 30 years in the business.
"I'm not just saying this because she's my daughter," the elder Olmstead told the Battle Creek Enquirer. "But she's probably one of the best listeners I've every taught. With the bear she showed a lot of patience. She tracked the bear, killed it, and gutted it like a pro, like she's been doing it for years."
There are plenty of big-game hunters out there, but few award-winning female hunters of Olmstead's age. The Pope and Young Club hosts a weekly "photo of the week" contest to honor recent notable takes. Among its 37 winners in 2010, only five have been women ... and none of those five killed a bear; all were pictured with some species of deer.
A hunter is always at risk on a big-game hunt. That vulnerability is part of what gives Olmstead and others such a rush from the sport. Still, the Michigan teen's auspicious start leads one to believe she has plenty more takes in her future.
"She's really a natural at this sport," Tim Olmstead told the Enquirer. "All you have to do is tell her one thing one time and she gets it. It's amazing."